In this blog post I’m going to tell you about some important changes that will be happening with respect to how we provide software updates to the people that use our software tools.
Software Update Email Notification
At present customers that have purchased our software tools receive software software update notifications via email. In addition participants in our beta software programmes also receive software update notifications via email.
Software updates are released whenever we have bug fixes we think should be released or whenever we have new functionality we wish to make public. This can result in releases on a day by day basis or no releases for weeks at a time. We never hold bug fixes or releases back for service packs. We always try to get them to our users as rapidly as possible.
For some people the constant email notifications are too much and they ask not to be notified any more. For other people they welcome the fact that we supply bug fixes and updates on a regular basis. Clearly there is no one-size-fits-all solution to email notification.
Another problem is bounced email. Sometimes valid email addresses bounce. Do we unsubscribe this email automatically or do we try it again the next time (because quite often these email addresses spring back into life)? Either way, over time we end up building a large list of dead email addresses.
Automatic Software Updates
Starting next week, we’re going to release new software versions which are capable of self-updating. These new releases will check for the availability of a new release, prompt you to ask if you are interested in the new release and if you are, login to our server, download the software, install the software and new license keys and then restart the software.
In addition to the ability to keep the software up to date it will also be possible to update the software maintenance from within the software update package. As such you will always know when the software updates are about to expire and when you need to renew your software maintenance.
When you purchase your software tools from us we always provide you with at least one year of software updates as part of the purchase. Up until now we have never enforced that. We have provided software updates for periods much longer than one year for some customers. With this new functionality we will continue to provide one year of software updates but we will now enforce that period from January 15 2012.
As such if you’ve purchased since a year of January 15 2011 your software maintenance will continue for a year from the purchase date. If you purchased before January 15 2011 your software maintenance will need renewing on January 15 2012. Two examples should demonstrate this:
|Maintenance expiry date:||2012-01-15|
|Maintenance expiry date:||2012-08-31|
The reason for this change is because there is a cost to us to provide the software updates and we can no longer provide these for free. We always intended to charge for software updates but for various reasons never got around to do it. Thus some of you, our customers, have had a very extended period of software updates without a maintenance fee.
As of the next software update, the only way to receive updates will be via the self-updating software updater. We will not be sending out software update emails after the next update.
For beta test participants, the maintenance expiry date will be adjusted as the beta test progresses. There will be no maintenance fee for beta test participants.
How does the self-updater work?
We’ve added two menu items to the Tools menu in all full product and beta versions of the tools. These options allow you to edit the schedule when the tool will check for software updates and also to force a check for software updates.
In order to accommodate different working styles we’ve provided a variety of different update options so that the disruption to a given software developer’s workflow is minimized.
The software update schedule can be set to check for updates every day, every week, monthly or not at all. This check is performed when the software is first started on a given day. This means that people running multiple day tests (say doing regression testing on a large test suite) will not be interrupted by a software update prompt. We think that given how the tools are used they are typically not kept open for extended lengths of time and will typically be started when needed. As such checking once during startup is a suitable event to check for software updates.
The date of the most recent check is displayed on the schedule dialog.
If you wish to force a software update just choose “Check for software updates…” on the menu.
When a software update is available the user will be prompted with a confirmation dialog providing the choices to download and install the software, to ignore the download until later or to ignore the download completely.
Options for editing the update schedule or purchasing additional software maintenance are also provided.
If the user chooses to ignore the download they will be prompted about this download (or a subsequent download) at the next software update interval (the next day, next week, or next month).
If the user chooses to skip this download they will only be prompted to download if a new software version becomes available for download. Should the user change their mind they can always choose to force a check for updates using the menu “Check for software updates…”.
If the user chooses to download and install the software, the tool contacts the server and logs in using the user supplied credentials (provided when you purchase the software or join a beta test). If no login credentials have been supplied the user is prompted for the login credentials.
Once logged into the server the software downloads the software with progress shown on a download progress dialog.
When the software is downloaded successfully the tool will close and the software will be installed. Finally the tool is restarted so that work can continue with the tool.
Expired Software Maintenance
Software maintenance has an expiry date. The software continues to work but the ability to receive software updates ceases at this date. When software maintenance has expired a software maintenance expiry dialog is displayed. The user of the software has the opportunity to purchase additional software maintenance to continue receiving software updates.
Software Maintenance Pricing
Given that I’ve discussed purchasing maintenance I should just briefly cover maintenance pricing otherwise you may decide to spend time scouring the website for maintenance pricing. To save you that effort here is the brief summary.
The software maintenance fee is 25% of the listed purchase price on our website. This excludes any special offer pricing. This means that if you received a volume discount when purchasing the software the maintenance fee automatically includes the same volume discount pricing.
The easiest way to purchase this will be by clicking the appropriate purchase buttons on the software. They will log you into the website, choose the correct product and correct number of users and price etc, all automatically. And when the purchase is complete the correct account and expiry details will be updated. Much easier than trying to do this any other way.
This new method of providing software updates will be less intrusive (much less email) and more customizable (you can choose the update schedule). We hope you will find this a useful improvement to our current software update schedule.
Be sure to look out for the next software update email from us. You’ll need to download that software update to get the version of the software that can self-update as described in this article. If you wish to continue receiving software updates you will need the next version of our software tools.
We welcome your thoughts and comments on these changes.