@Hennie The inclusion of the two versions of the Dutch Concept report is about the only time that I am aware of when the developer has done something like this - apart from the old and new custom reports forms. What he did there was a good idea. He released the new feature, whilst keeping the old one and asked users for feedback on how it works in real use.
I think in those two particular cases he wasn’t sure how it would work and required users to provide him with feedback. It wasn’t so much a question of him listening to users, but rather because he couldn’t proceed further without input from customers. However, it is pointless to debate this point as we don’t know and it’s not really germane to the discussion anyway.
I am not expecting the developer to keep everyone happy and secondly, I don’t think that he needs to discuss every single change with users as you are quite right that it would end up in very long discussions and be very time consuming. I work in IT and I have the same issue. I don’t consult with my clients about every single change I made, because I would never get anything done as result.
But there are times when implementing a new feature that it makes sense to have input from customers before rolling it out to all users.
For example the following changes caused a lot of frustrations to users when these changes were just implemented without warning!
Changing the summary page from the old format to the new format - The developer had to spend quite a lot of time resolving all the various complaints from users about the new layout. I still agree with a lot of people that the loss of aged payments and receivables was a step backwards and I am still waiting for this to be brought back! I really hope that the developer brings aged payables/receivables back as this is information that should be on the Summary Page.
Changing tax from debit/credit to payments and receipts - You yourself were affected by this issue and when it comes to tax records, the developer really has to be including end users in the decision making process. You cannot alter previous tax records in the program so it not longer matches the figures that you submitted in previous years. I am hoping that the new solution (which I thought was quite clever) has fixed your problems, but I submit that this whole angst was entirely unnecessary. The discussion should have been had before rolling out the changes, not afterwards. One user actually updated the program just hours before he was due a meeting with his accountant to discuss his accounts. Not good at all. I would have been furious as I don’t need accounting problems hours before going to my accountant.
Linking customers and suppliers to payments and receipts. - I personally am very happy with this feature, but @Tut was hopping mad about this, because he doesn’t use customers and suppliers and he quite rightly pointed out that not every business works the same way. In point of fact, Tut made the exact point that I am trying to make here. Every business works differently, which is why the developer needs a feedback panel to see how new changes will affect all businesses, not just how he would have the business setup. As Tut said, every business is different so you cannot apply a one size fits all solution like expecting all businesses to use clients and suppliers in order to put a payee or payer in the field on the payment/receipt forms. Again this angst would have been avoided with a feedback panel forum.
Adding three new tabs in relation to bank and cash accounts - The changes here could really have benefited from feedback from users before implementation. Many people are not convinced that the current design is optimal. We have lost functionality that was in previous designs and now have more tabs as result. I actually made a post somewhere where I provided a solution to amalgamate a lot of these extra tabs into fewer tabs whilst still retaining all the information. The implementation of this could be a lot better in my opinion. Bank reconciliations I understand had functionality in it that was lost when the new design came out. I speak under correction, but this has still not been addressed.
My suggestion of having a development/stable track would simply mean that discussions would take place on the forum as they have always done, but the difference would be that users would not be upset that their live business accounts have been altered. The new features would be implemented on the development track and any users who wishes to join in the development track beta basically has their live business on the stable track and a copy of their live business on the development track. This means that their live business is safe and they have a chance to provide feedback on new features rolled out onto the development track without getting annoyed because they have lost information or whatever on the live business. Also it would ensure that only people who wish to contribute to the discussions are involved instead of having users who just use the program having to login and complain that they have lost something as a result of the update. The current design makes every user (paying or otherwise) a guinea pig in the development process. The vast majority of users just want to use the program - they don’t want to be on the forum discussing Manager feature changes. This factor needs to be considered. I enjoy being on the forum discussing Manager, but I use a lot of programs and I don’t want to be on the forum for every program that I use to discuss development of it.
Mozilla, Microsoft etc all have insider rings or beta testers. Why does Manager development not recognise the benefits of having a development track that allows new features to be provided feedback on before those changes are rolled onto the stable track. It would make no difference to the amount of discussion because we already discuss all the changes to Manager on the forum anyway. The difference would be that the changes we are discussing would be on the development track not on our live businesses! We could provide feature improvement feedback before rolling out to live, not after!
As for @Patch asking who chooses the membership - it would work the same way as Microsoft and Mozilla and other companies do it. Users can opt to join the development track. Nobody chooses who is on this panel. All users who want to participate can join. The key point is that you have your live business on the stable track and also have it on the development track - I am not exactly sure how the developer would get that to work, but that to me makes brilliant sense so you don’t have to keep exporting and importing your business between the stable version and the development track.
I really hope that we get a live and development track soon as well as a roadmap!