Flowcode V6 – Behind the scenes with the Dev Team

Hi, my name is Carl Hegarty and I’m the Development Manager here at Matrix.

It’s great news that we released Flowcode version 6 in September and we are looking forward to the feedback from users, directly or via the Flowcode v6 section on the forum (http://www.matrixmultimedia.com/mmforums/index.php) but there’s more going on internally than just Flowcode v6 work.

Casting my mind back 12 months to version 5, the reality is we had little infrastructure to support the product really so one of the challenges has been implementing processes and products that allow us to be much more proactive and efficient when it comes to software management. Patches were non-existent, fixes and files would be mailed to individuals or posted on forums and generally there was no formal tracking of bugs/issues other than peeking around the forums or buried away in a notebook or an email. In addition creating a product release was complicated to say the least and so incredibly time consuming you wouldn’t believe. We had to do this across all 4 chip variants for Flowcode v5! Painful does not even begin to describe it!


Moving forward we really had to improve the foundations here at Matrix around software development so alongside the last 12 months of Flowcode v6 development, we have installed bug tracking software. We chose an out-of-the-box application called Jira, which is very flexible, and is used internally to track bugs, issues and future features for Flowcode v6. We are considering external exposure of the application and integrating it with Flowcode v6 so it will be even easier for users to report issues back to Matrix.

We knew we had to start from scratch really with respect to bundling version 6 into an installer. We spent some time evaluating a few products such as the well-known Install-Shield product that is the most widely used installer worldwide. We ended up with a product called MSI-Factory, admittedly based on cost but also from a technical viewpoint as MSI-Factory is based on Wix – (Windows Installer XML) which gives us much greater flexibility around builds should we decide to tighten up the build/release process even further in the future

We have new interim patch system which allows us to rapidly issue patch-sets (or service-packs for want of a better term) incredibly quickly. As soon as Flowcode v6 is built, we can have a patch-set ready and uploaded to the website within 15 minutes. This simply was not possible with version 5.

Alongside all of this, we also decided to re-design our help system for Flowcode v6, moving to a Wiki style format rather than having to maintain old Windows CHM help files which was another painful process.

We are definitely reaping the benefits of the changes we have made already but there’s always more to do!


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