What to Expect from GForge Advanced Server in 2012!

To all our valued customers we want to wish you all best wishes in 2012!

Now that the New Year is here, we wanted to take a quick minute to share our plans for GForge Advanced Server for 2012 and beyond. As many of you know Tim Perdue, the founder of GForge, passed away last September. Since that time our team has been working on evaluating how we do business and how we can improve our products and services and we’re happy to share some exciting information about the direction of GForge Advanced Server.

Beginning immediately we are adopting a formal release schedule that our customers can count on. The release schedule is meant to make our planning efforts more efficient but, more importantly, give our customers a set schedule they can use to plan upgrades to their GForge Advanced Server instances. To that end, we will be providing two major releases per year: March and September. Major releases, as the name implies, will focus on new features and improved processes. We will also be publishing two maintenance releases each year in January and June and those will focus on bug fixes and only the most trivial of new features.

While I have had the pleasure of working with many of our customers over the past four months, I still feel many of you have some great ideas on how we can improve GForge. To that end we are about launching two new initiatives. The first initiative is a marketing survey. For the marketing survey we randomly selected customers based within specific demographics (e.g. size, organizational goals, country, etc). The customers that were selected have been contacted already and the survey will begin immediately. For those of you who did not get selected, we do welcome you to participate and to do so just send a note to feedback@gforgegroup.com indicating you want to participate in the survey and how (either email or phone). The results of the marketing survey will be used to ensure we continue moving GForge Advanced Server in the right direction for you all but, also, to help us identify and better connect with prospective customers.

The second initiative we are launching in 2012 is a customer focus group. These focus groups will occur twice annually to match up with our two major releases and the focus will be on helping us with release planning. This will be the best way to pitch new features, improvements to existing features and any other concerns you may have. The first customer focus group will occur in February or March to help us solidify our September release plan and begin on the March 2013 release. To do this, we intend to conduct these focus groups via two or three conference calls (e.g. GoToMeeting) and we will be sure all current GForge customers get notified of the dates.

A couple of other things of note is we plan to formally offer GForge Advanced Server under a Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) model toward the end of 2012. To facilitate this, we are announcing that we plan on shutting down the domain gforge.org sometime in June or July. This won’t affect many of our customers but the projects currently hosted under gforge.org will be migrated over to gforge.com along with the gforge support forum that was intended for users of GForge Community Edition and non-paying Advanced Server customers who are under the 15 user limit of the default license. Once the data migration happens we will shutdown gforge.org and begin implementation of the SaaS model under the gforge.com domain.

To wrap things up, we’d like to share our plans for the release coming out at the end of March. These plans, while not concrete, should give our you a clear picture of what you can expect in the next release and as we make changes to the release we’ll be sure to share those on our blog. The plan for the March release includes:
Addition of a GForge Daemon Process – The current GForge model uses scheduled tasks to do things like create new SCM repositories and mailing lists. The new daemon will allow much of what used to be in our scheduled tasks to occur immediately.
Document Manager User Interface Upgrade – The document manager, while functional, leaves a lot to be desired. Many of our customers said that the clunky UI simply made this feature unusable and, instead, they opted to use SCM for document storage. The user interface upgrade will make the document manager much more usable and will include basic support for file drag-n-drop into the browser.

  • User-based Git Repositories – Git is gaining the lion’s share of the SCM market and user-based SCM repositories will allow for a more collaborative software environment.
  • Pull requests for Git Repositories – Going hand-in-hand with user-based Git repositories, we’ll be implementing pull requests allowing cloned repositories to send pull requests to the maintainers of master Git repositories. This will make use of GForge’s existing tracker feature.
  • Per-project SCM customizations – Right now GForge Advanced Server support CVS, SVN and Git but with SVN and Git you have to, on a site-wide basis, choose to use HTTPS or SSH. This release will allow the use of HTTP or SSH to be done at the project level.
  • Password aging – Right now there is no default aging process for user passwords. Support for password aging wil include the ability to specify how long passwords are good before expiring.
  • REST API – While our SOAP API has served us well, it introduces a slough of issues with respect to interoperability, file uploads and the SOAP payload is big. The REST API will make integrating GForge with other systems easier and will open the door for us to provide customers with mobile support on iOS and Android devices.
  • Support for execution of workflow scripts – Our trackers have supported workflow implementation for years and this release we’ll be adding the ability to add hooks to execute scripts as part of a defined workflow process.
  • Refresh of the Microsoft Project Plugin – The current version of the Microsoft Project plugin was written in Visual Basic 6 and only supported older versions of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Project. This refresh is a port to .NET which will allow GForge integration into the latest versions of Project using the latest versions of the Windows operating system. We’re also happy to announce that the Microsoft Project Plugin will be free to all customers using the Enterprise Edition of GForge Advanced Server.

Some things we are considering for future releases include:

  • Peer code review
  • Possible Support for Mercurial DVCS
  • Support for Ubuntu (mainly to make evaluation on developer workstations easier)
  • Complete user interface redesign – The goal here is to reduce the number of page refreshes, boost performance and, most important, make GForge more fun to use.

Mobile support for iOS and Andriod devices – These implementations will use the REST API planned for the March release.
As you see, we have a busy 2012 planned and we look forward to working you in making GForge Advanced Server better. As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at feedback@gforgegroup.com.

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