As I write this we are putting the finishing touches on GForge Advanced Server v6.2.1. I’ll share a few of the things you can expect from that release in a separate post, however, I wanted to share our plans for v6.3.0 which our engineering team started on today.
Like any software shop, we take support very seriously. Our ability to help customers iron out any issues and to get the most out of GForge is closely linked with our success and while we have done a lot to improve the initial quality of each GForge release (as noted in Quality Improvements on Untestable Code) we haven’t improved our support system. We decided this growing problem had to be addressed and to do this we not only wanted to improve how we deliver the best support possible, we wanted to provide our customers the same support tools we use as part of their GForge projects. For this to happen, we will have to change a few things.
We are currently using an open source product that we’ve customized over the years to provide support. This product is missing a number of key features like the ability to search existing tickets, the ability to send out reminders to tickets waiting for customer feedback or the ability to send email reminders to our support team on open tickets still requiring action. As we thought about how to solve these problems, it didn’t take long for us to realize that with a few tweaks, GForge’s Tracker feature could do all of this. With that said I wanted to share the key features of the support system we are implementing inside of GForge:
- Support tickets should be able to be opened by simply sending an email to (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- New and existing support tickets with attachments should have the files tied to the ticket.
- Customers should be able to access, search and update any of their tickets .
- Customers inside the same organization should be able to access, search and update any tickets tied to their organization.
- Customer should be able to respond to tickets by simply replying to the support updates sent from GForge.
- Customers should receive email updates when one of their tickets is updated by our support team.
- Our support team should receive email updates when a ticket is updated by a customer.
- Customers should receive regular updates on tickets awaiting feedback from them.
- Support engineers should receive regular updates on tickets awaiting their action.
- When a ticket waiting on feedback from a customer reaches a configured age, the system should email the user letting them know if nothing is done the ticket will be closed.
Not only do we want to provide our customers these features, we want to expose these updates to all GForge projects so our customers can take advantage of them on their own projects. And this is just the start of what we have planned or GForge v6.3.0. Once the support implementation is done, we will be using it as our primary support tool from gforge.com and begin working on some other initiatives, most notably the addition of a new REST API.
While the existing SOAP API in GForge has served us well, it has proven fragile, frustrating for our customers and it limits our ability to bring bigger and better updates in the future. The GForge REST API will scratch a few key itches for us:
- Our REST API will, for the first time, include a complete test suite allowing us to ensure as we improve GForge that we are aren’t breaking anything.
- The REST API will allow us to give GForge a much needed user interface overhaul.
- Integrating other tools with GForge will be easier for customers who use REST instead of SOAP.
This is an exciting time for our team because soon we will be able to give customers better support and with the REST API we will finally have the foundation needed to bring some significant features to GForge in the future. If any of you have any questions or comment please feel free to post it here or to send an email to email@example.com