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Getting Out Major Releases (Not a Trivial Task)

by | Jun 27, 2019

With a sigh of relief, we recently put out two major releases in succession.  Our VirtualViewer HTML5 v5.0, that sits on top of our RasterMaster product, came out only a month after RasterMaster v20.

We put out major upgrades only every few years because our Fortune 2000 enterprise customers need to jump through a variety of major hoops to upgrade. Most often it’s quarterly releases that are a lot less taxing to adopt. For the major upgrades the changes are more significant.

The first thing people will notice with the new VirtualViewer 5.0 is the updated, modern user interface (see the photo above).

If they dig deeper, they will notice the much faster load times for large Microsoft Office documents.

But dig even deeper than that behind the scenes and people will discover that there was even more work poured into this release–architecture changes, bug fixes, new features, QA improvements, updated documentation…and more.

Not all of the work behind-the-scenes is glamorous or noticeable, but it all factors into the long process of creating and shipping a massively improved product.

One of our primary goals in creating the new RasterMaster and VirtualViewer products was the need by some of our largest customers to work with ever-increasing and ever-challenging MS Office documents.  Due to the design of those thousand (or more) page documents, finding specific pages requires a lot of repetitive processing unless state information is saved from one page search to the next. We decided this was the time to introduce that capability.  In that deep-dive process we discovered, which is quite typical with software engineering, issues with our old code that could also help, and we fixed those as well. 

These performance enhancements, additional new features, bug fixes, unanticipated fixes and security improvements were all part of the mix. We also massively upgraded our QA processes so that regression runs were 10 times faster allowing much faster turnaround on improvements. In some areas, we modernized 20 year-old code to make the product more fault tolerant for today’s higher performance, more parallel systems.

The result should provide special capabilities some customers have desired  for quite a while. In some situations, customers who couldn’t use us because their files were so large will now come on board. 

I can feel our folks relax. There’s a tangible change in atmosphere from determined effort to some light-hearted talking. They’ve been working for months or longer on these releases and now they’re quite proud. Time to blow off some steam.

But wait, I hear the phone. A customer or partner wants more, they’ve got a new requirement. Well, that’s what 20.1 and 5.1 and their platform variations are all about. That’s what makes this work exciting – we’re not done and we never will be. The most sincere request is a customer saying, “Thank you but I’ll buy more if you do this…”. 

Some of our customers who’ve been using us for over 20 years understand that very weill.