There’s good news and some not so good news regarding the next major release. First some of the good news. We’re almost done with major architectural changes which include a complete change of the database engine. It also included a major change in the way every table is displayed so that they can be sorted by any column, etc. These changes have been substantial structurally speaking, it’s as though we changed the engine and some of the internals in a car. The not so good news is that these changes have been harder than we expected, and therefore are taking longer to complete.
Sorted Table Columns
What does this mean for you? It means that the latest major release of LandlordMax Property Management Software (version 2.12) will be postponed until February of 2006. In my personal opinion and experience, it’s unwise to force a premature release with major changes this complex out before it has been completely tested, especially considering that next month is X-mas when most people go on holidays (not to mention the X-mas plans of our beta test members). What we’ll do instead is release it in February of 2006, but the good news is that we’ll mark the version as though it was released in December of 2005, giving you all an extra 2 months of free upgrades! I would rather absorb this cost than release a sub-standard version of LandlordMax.
If you’re interested in finding out more details about this release, please read on here…
Before I get into details, let me just say that this has been our most extensive release by far to date. There will be many new features in LandlordMax Property Management Software, not to mention reports, however the biggest changes and costs have been structurally.
Indeed, our biggest cost was changing database engines. Although it might appear simple, where we can just swap database engines as the theory suggests, reality does not work this way. Our prior database engine (hsqldb) had some shortcomings that we worked around that no longer apply to the new database engine (derby). On top of this, we could do some things with the old database engine that are no longer possible with the new one. If you want to read about why exactly we changed database engines, you can find my prior article here.
The hardest task for us in changing database engines wasn’t just the hook ups, it was to make the process of upgrading from one database engine to another seamless, that is to make it happen without the user being aware of it. I know that if I personally bought a product defined as the easiest in its category, I wouldn’t want to know the details of how it worked internally. As an analogy, if I swapped a car’s engine, I would want it to start by turning the key just like it before, I don’t want to manually change the engine myself, or have a bunch of new toggles to manipulate. I just want to turn the key, that’s all. And as you all know, changing a car engine is not a simple task!
The next biggest cost for us was re-structuring each table to give it the ability to sort by any column. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I wrote a whole article here a while ago about the complexities of it, so if you’re interested please read it. I didn’t realize until after writing about how much effort we had put into it. In any case, after having gone through the process, we decided that to release this version in a timely manner, we would forgo the concept of hierarchical tables (tables that can be collapsed and expanded), which would be nice for reports such as “All accounting entries grouped by categories”. Therefore this has been postponed to a future release.
Another major feature that we’ve added is the ability to store pictures in tabbed panels for the building, unit, and tenant workareas. The pictures will be listed in a thumbnail view and can be clicked on to be displayed in a larger popup window. This is a feature that was greatly requested and we’ve been doing our best to implement it. We’re currently in the final stages of developing this new feature.
Although we anticipated having graphs in our reports, due to time it took us to sort the tables (reports), we have come to the conclusion that this feature will have to be postponed to a future release. Graphs would be a great feature, however due to the sheer number of reports, it will take a considerable amount of time to fully implement. It has therefore been postponed also.
The reports section is still anticipated to have several new reports. We’ve already added several and we expect to have a few more before we release it. I won’t go into the details of listing the reports, but suffice it to say that we’ve added many of the reports that have been suggested to us (also every report that is not grouped by something can now be sorted by any column, as well as printed in that sorted order).
There are several other significant changes that I won’t go into details here, but they include the ability to add your logo to the printed reports, auto-update reminder when new releases become available, new fields, etc.
As I mentioned before, I would prefer to take an additional two months to properly prepare the software for release rather than going live with an incompletely tested version next month. Because of this delay, we will honor the release as if it was in December of this year (I doubt many other software companies would do that), and we will do our best to get it out to you as soon as possible. I will keep you updated of our progress because I’m sure that you appreciate it as I would.