GuildPortal Dev Blog

Updates from Aaron Lewis, GuildPortal Code Monkey

Posted 9/4/2012 12:02 PM by Aaron Lewis. 255466 reads. Share:

Hey all! Please, feel free to rate the dev blog service updates (using the star rating thing), and leave comments! Let me know what you liked about any update, what you didn't like, what you'd like to see more of, and all that good stuff. So far, most of our feedback comes from admins who post in the Help Community, and while they provide many of the feature suggestions that are pushed out every week, they represent .78% of all active guild leaders -- and .13% of all recently active members -- on GuildPortal.

Now, I'd love to get more guild leaders (and even their members -- we know they have ideas, too) into the Help Community, but if you don't want to join that, feel free to leave any comments on any release here on the blog at the bottom of any post, and I will read them

I know a lot of people might not expect much along the lines of responsiveness from SaaS (software as a service) providers when it comes to listening to their ideas. Even fewer people expect to actually see their feature requests implemented any time in the foreseeable future. It's totally understandable, and I empathize.

For example, I've had ideas for things I'd love to see added to Facebook, Hotmail, GitHub, and many other SaaS providers. But I didn't send them in because either 1) they didn't even bother putting up a form or forum where I could submit my request, or 2) I had absolutely zero faith that any human being that was capable of making the decision to implement my idea would ever actually see it.

Now, the guild leaders who know this isn't the case with GuildPortal are the ones who frequent the Help Community. They make feature requests all the time. Here is how we break down feature requests, and how long it usually takes before each category of request is live on production (keep in mind that providing support for existing functionality takes up the bulk of our time, and that maintenance, upgrades, tuning, and refactoring must also be constantly done to keep GuildPortal speedy and clean):

 Who Benefits from Feature Complexity ETA (Cycles) 
        
 Many Guild Leaders Low  1-2
  Medium  2-4 
  High 4-8+ 
     
 A Few Guild Leaders Low  2-4 
  Medium 4+
  High 8+
      
 Many Guild Leaders, Many Guild Members Low 
  Medium  1-4 
  High  4+ 
     
 Many Guild Members Low  1-2 
  Medium  2-4 
  High 4-8+ 
     
 Few Guild Members Low 1-4
  Medium 4+
  High 8+ 

Behind the scenes, our "cycles" are milestones. Every week has its own release milestone. But sometimes single features -- or a combination of related features -- will have their own milestone and branch of the code, so that it can be worked on without its changes (especially if there are a lot of core, architectural changes) interfering with the regular support/feature update milestone code bases. This is a fairly recent addition to our toolset, and it makes the entire development and release process -- including adding new features -- much easier to manage.

Every feature request that is made is reviewed by both Sandy and I, whether it comes in via a post on the Help Community, in a Support Ticket, or a comment on the Dev Blog. It is then entered into our issue tracking system, which is a ticket system developed in-house that integrated with GitHub, where bugs, feature requests, and a lot of other things are stored in a way that allows us to link fixes and enhancements to the actual lines of code that were affected.

Feature requests with no ETA are internally assigned to a milestone specifically for those types of feature requests, and it is regularly reviewed to see if anything in there can be squeezed into the next actual release milestone. Not all feature requests are implemented. For each of them, we need to balance the benefit versus the impact to GuildPortal overall. Also, we have to consider the amount of time each request would take to develop.

But no feature request is ever deleted or ignored.So please, for the many guild leaders out there who haven't asked for anything because you don't think anybody's listening, please, talk to us. We're not Microsoft -- we're entirely family-run by a married couple with a dog who forces us to go outside every couple hours to throw the ball for her. We do listen. Most of the features you see us adding to the service, week after week, are the direct result of a guild leader asking for it either on the Help Community forums or by sending in a support ticket. I'd like to see that extended to commenting on development blog service updates, as well.