If your internal body clock has gotten attuned to our regular release cycle here at RemObjects (or even if you just did the math ;), you might be expecting our new set of Fall 2009 releases right around this week.
No worries, these Fall releases are in the works, but this time around, we have decided to grant ourselves another two weeks and ship them to you in the second week of September, instead. This has several reasons:
For one, as you might know, we also shipped a new major release of Delphi Prism this month, which is making its way to customers (and available as trial) now. Originally, RTM for Delphi Prism was planned for a few weeks earlier than when it actually happened, for a variety of reasons, so Delphi Prism has kept us busy a bit longer than we had anticipated. We did not want the other products to suffer from that and see a rushed release, so we made extra time.
For another, Embarcadero also just shipped a new version of Delphi/Win32, and we wanted to get final and official support for that into the new releases, as well. Of course we’ve been testing our products with pre-release versions for a while now, and had begun to get ready for Delphi 2010 early on (and there weren’t really any complications, either), but while that is all fine and well in the proverbial lab, there was still a lot to do and test once we received the final binaries and could install those on the build servers that crank out the shipping products. We could have done it in time, but once again, we did not want to rush things and give more than a good week of testing to builds coming off our build machines with D2010 support (and ship a beta or two of those to our external testers, as well). So two extra weeks came in really handy here, as well.
If you’re detecting a general theme here, you are not wrong. We’ve been asking our customers (that’s you) what we can improve, and one consistent feedback we got was: Quality. New features and bug fixes are great, but (understandably), you have told us that you need to rely on new releases to be of high quality and on upgrades to be as risk-free to install as possible. And while i believe we’ve made great improvements over the past year or so in that regard, there’s still room for more improvement, and we intend to leverage that.
So we have scaled down the scope of both this upcoming Fall release and the next Winter release (due in November), in order to focus more of our resources onto better quality assurance. More unit tests. Way more unit tests. More automated non-unit tests. But also way better infrastructure to exercise these unit tests. Over the past month, we’ve started to set up a sophisticated infrastructure for Continuous Integration (and i’ll blog more about that in a separate post, soon); we’re setting up enhanced infrastructure for automated testing and reporting based on our internal Afterhours testing framework. We’re also reworking programs such as our beta tests, and TeamRO, to provide a better experience for everyone involved, more frequent beta builds (with more details about them) and tighter feedback loops.
I hope the upcoming Fall release, two weeks from now, will show the first, tentative, fruits of this shift, and that there will be a noticeable impact on quality with the Winter releases.
Of course this does not mean that the upcoming releases will be entirely without new goodies. Two IMHO very exciting new features we will be shipping are integrated support for Roles in RemObjects SDK (i’ll write more on this, soon), and the Delphi port of our new PCTrade sample suite for Data Abstract. We’ve also been working on a new component for Data Abstract for .NET, the “Local Data Adapter” which will work similar to its Remote counterpart, but allow easy access to data from within the middle tier.
The LDA will not ship in the Fall releases (another factor of our renewed focus on quality-over-features), but i’ve been using it myself in a couple of internal projects for a while now, and it is shaping up nicely. I’ll be talking more about the LDA, and other things we have in the works for November, soon.
In the mean time: new beta builds of the upcoming Fall release are available for all active customers, on beta.remobjects.com. If you want to get an early peak, or are desperate for Delphi 2010 support, make sure to grab those; they are pretty stable, at this stage, and we’ll be updating them frequently as we near release. Or, sit back and relax for the next two weeks, until the official Fall 2009 releases will be available, September 12.