Ham Radio Deluxe Newsletter for 2018-02-21

Ham Radio Deluxe

Greetings all!

In this edition of the Ham Radio Deluxe Newsletter, I want to provide an update on the priorities for HRD Software during 2018. The content I’ll use here was presented at the Orlando Hamcation this month and was well received.

Brief Review of 2017

No discussion of this year’s priorities would be complete without reflecting on what was accomplished in the prior year. Among the highlights:

  • Management and ownership changes were made on 1/1/2017
  • Almost every single technology platform we run or use was replaced.
  • Our software manual was updated and put in an online wiki (https://wiki.Ham-Radio-Deluxe.com); also will be available for direct printing.
  • Product Development produced 9 releases with 150 changes. The majority of this work was done by the very talented Mike Blaszczak, K7ZCZ.
  • From a business perspective, we finished the year slightly better than 2016.
  • We put our customers first – always. We had nothing but positive feedback from our customers about the way they were treated.

Product Development Priorities for 2018

While much was accomplished in 2017, I recognize there is much left to do. I spend a lot of time interacting with our customers. We like to think of you as clients, because it’s our intention to establish long-lasting relationships with you. I meet you in-person at hamfests or at club meetings. I talk to you on the phone. I exchange email with you. And I jump into our support system and help you when I can.

Most often, I get the same general feedback and the same questions:

  • Would you please stop working on new features and (a) make the things that are already included in the software work properly and/or (b) fix the bugs I reported to you years ago?
  • What new features have you added to Ham Radio Deluxe since ? (Or, have you added ?)

At first, you might think these two points are mutually exclusive. How can you do both at the same time – fix bugs AND introduce new features?

Towards the end of 2017, after hearing this feedback and desiring to take it seriously, I concluded that the path forward is based on “balance.” Adding features sell software. But fixing existing things is the foundation of client satisfaction. So, in balance, I decided that – in general – each new release should be composed of 80% bug fixes and 20% minor enhancements/features. Our development backlog is very close to 80/20.

The development team and management – after gathering feedback from our clients and our support team – would pick some items from the development backlog and move them into the development queue. Run the builds through our beta team, get validation, and publish the release. We would desire to repeat this process every four weeks with the 80/20 balance described here.

Since we acquired the intellectual property rights to Ham Radio Deluxe (past, present, and future) from Simon in 2011, we have carried forward all the development backlog that was in-place then. Much has been completed. Some new content has been added. At this point, there are 643 items in the development backlog. It’s not fair to expect a single developer to jump in and tackle a list that large.

I have a very transparent approach. You can all go view the full list of 643 items in our development system at https://development.Ham-Radio-Deluxe.com. I desire that we hide nothing. There are certainly some items in that list that have been fixed, but not verified. There are things in there that are duplicates. But this list establishes much of our priorities short-term.

Therefore, I liken our approach to that of a “troop surge.” That is – I’m adding additional part-time freelance developers (“hired guns”) for the sole purpose of cutting through the backlog.

We have one full-time developer – Roger Hardin, who joined us in November of 2017. Before the end of 2017, I also added Tomas Hood (NW7US) as a part-time member of the team. In early February of 2018, I added freelancer Doug Sawyer. By the end of February 2018, it’s my intention to add two more freelance developers. Our goal is to substantially eliminate the items in the development backlog using this 80/20 approach within about six months. That’s aggressive. I can’t make any guarantees about that. But this is our goal.

Examples of things that fall into this backlog are – adding new radios (like the IC-7610), completing the full functionality of the APIs that enables Ham Radio Deluxe to inter-operate with programs like WSJT-X, JTAlert, N1MM, and so on; fixing QSL label printing; eliminate any lingering crash scenarios, and so on.

We also need to replace our software activation/license key server. This internally developed software license key server has out-lived it’s usefulness and (frankly) there’s a lot of negative karma associated with it. Much effort is put into its care and feeding. We have purchased a commercial product and we’ll be moving to it as soon as it’s feasible to do so.

Our long-term goals – once these short-term goals have been completed – are to focus on a handful of bigger enhancements. Among them:

  • Re-write the Rig Control application so that the radio configuration files are separate from code. Clients can define their own radios. This will dramatically accelerate the speed to market for new radios.
  • There is an entirely new vision for Remote Access. It will be completely re-written to control all aspects of ham radio activity remotely through software.
  • I’d like to have a competitive contest function in Ham Radio Deluxe. We’ll get there through product acquisition or ground-up development.
  • We seek to add foreign language versions of Ham Radio Deluxe. We have had volunteers willing to assist us with Spanish, German, French, and Russian.
  • We would like to offer versions that will run natively on Linux and/or Mac. This is a tough goal, as the development tools used to create Ham Radio Deluxe are deeply tied to Microsoft’s Visual Studio and related dependencies. This goal is the furthest down-field. But we do have it on our road-map.

New features will be tied to Software Maintenance and Support, as explained in the previous newsletter.

Approach on Release Schedule

It's my goal that we have 8 or 9 releases each year. I am opposed to doing releases between Halloween and New Year's Day, as it tends to impact a time of the year where we should be entirely focused on Sales and Support. These releases will be spread out between January and October.

Closing

When I presented this information in a presentation to those who attended the Orlando Hamcation earlier this month, I received 100% positive feedback. The attendees overwhelmingly supported the balanced approach and the way we view prioritizing the short and long-term goals. I hope you will too!

I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the folks who are involved in Ham Radio Deluxe every single day and have made all this possible.

  • You – our valued clients
  • My partner, Randy
  • Tech Support Team (Tim, Kevin, and Ferry)
  • Sales Support Team (Tammy, Veronica, and Peggy)
  • Full-time Developer (Roger)

We’re grateful for all of you.

Finally, all these newsletters will be republished on the blog pages of our website - https://www.Ham-Radio-Deluxe.com/blog, along with stories of common interest to ham radio operators. However, please feel free to FORWARD this email to your ham friends. I often hear from people that they did not know about this newsletter. Sharing is caring!

Until next month… 73 de Mike, WA9PIE