I know it has been awhile since there has been a general "Here is going on with FusionBB" announcement and I know that lack of communication has some of you concerned.
As FusionBB is a small company and we have always prided ourselves in the tight knit community of FusionBB users that lack of communication is even more unacceptable then what you would find from a much larger company.
I'd like to start with an overview of what has transpired in the last year as well as what our plans are going forward.
I think the famous opening line from The Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", can accurately describe FusionBB's trip through 2008.
For the "Best of times" side of things, we achieved a number of accomplishments last year that we are very proud of. Use of the FusionBB software climbed to record numbers and we achieved the highest sales figures that we have ever achieved in 2008. We also launched a new billing system that allows us to give everyone access to the FusionBB forums, as downloads are now controlled by the billing system. Chris, Lori and Couch worked harder then ever on helping our new clients get their software setup, on coding 3.0 (by far our largest release), and writing lots of documentation.
With those great accomplishments came a number of challenges, and drawbacks that we have been fighting in the background. Though being a small company means that we get to know our customers and their needs it also means that we don't have a building with 100 developers cranking out code. So 3.0 (which will be our best release ever) has definitely presented a challenge as it is an ambitious release that probably could have actually been two smaller releases. Furthermore 3.0 has been plagued with "Feature Creep" there were many times where we were close to getting it out the door, but we added another "small" feature, which then turned out to be a bigger problem then expected.
We did have a few issues with the involvement of our Alpha Team, many members who used to test for us, did not participate in testing 3.0. This made the testing more tedious, and took us longer to find and resolve bugs before we could release beta. A big thanks goes out to our current Alpha Team as it stands now. They worked harder then any Alpha Team ever has to help make this a successful version. Once 3.0 is out the door and as we start on 3.1 we will be looking for additional Alpha Team members. If you are interested in joining the Alpha Team please PT Josh.
Probably the largest roadblock we stumbled on, especially towards the end of 2008, was support. We found ourselves sitting on the side of a double-edged sword quite a bit with support issues in 2008. Josh, myself and everyone at FusionBB has always strived to offer above and beyond support for FusionBB. Though our support policy has always been "Forum Only Support" we have many times logged into users board and given them some 1 on 1 support. This is something that many of our competitors charge large support fees for. However as we got deeper into 3.0 it became more difficult to offer this level of support at no cost. Though we officially only offer "Forum based support" I think that the not being able to log in and make fixes for customers that have received this in the past has created some frustration. We realize that we did not even offer an option and that we put some users in a hard spot with this. So for 2009 we will be offering some new support options.
So we would like to share with you the simple steps we are planning on, and are already implementing as part of our 2009 game plan:
1.) We are about 90% through with the bug fixes for 3.0, which I know has been long awaited.
2.) Before we start development with 3.1 we will be making some changes with our Alpha Team to get it back to the size of previous Alpha Teams. We also have plans in place on how to better involve the Alpha Team in the development process and have them start testing features earlier on in development which should make the Alpha and Beta testing processes shorter.
3.) We have created some new internal strategies and processes which will remove the dreaded "Feature Creep", which had greatly slowed the development of this version.
4.) With the launch of 3.0 will be coming the new support desk. All of our KB articles have been re-arranged for easier searching of them. This also allows us to use a true ticket system to more effectively communicate with the customer directly (especially when more then one of the FBB staff is involved in the ticket resolution).
5.) We will be offering additional support options for those times when more in-depth hands on support is needed, and we will be post the different levels of support more publicly so everyone knows what they can expect.
6.) As soon as 3.0 is launched both Josh and I will be regularly posting to our blogs (at least once per week) so that you can actively track the development work and future of FBB rather then waiting around for a post like this.
We feel that FusionBB is a great piece of software, but more importantly we love how much of a community has been built around our product. We try not to share too many of our plans as we don't want to get people's hopes up for features that are still 1 year + away, but we do have long development and company goals and we are well on the road to achieving all of them even more quickly then expected.
Thanks for being a customer!
Managing Partner, FusionBB
If you would like to comment on this announcement please do so HERE.
| Billy Cooter|
Managing Partner, VertexHost.com