2011 roadmap digest for our VCL products

02 December 2010

As promised in the webinar this lunchtime, I wanted to make sure that our VCL customers were not left out in the cold with regard to plans for 2011 despite our discussion for VCL occurring after the webinar was over. Here are our plans.

Overarching  goals

Like with our other product lines I talked about in the webinar, I’m first going to define the overarching goals we have for VCL in 2011. These are:

  1. Changing our sales and distribution model
  2. Providing evaluation versions
  3. Provide more content in the form of tutorial videos, webinars, blog posts

Up to now, we’ve had a crazy mix of how we sell our VCL products. There’s the traditional way of selling individual controls (traditional in the VCL market, that is) where customers buy an individual product and then get free updates for life on that product. The only way we can further monetize that product is to provide a major update which which we then charge for. Then there is the subscription model for the entire suite, where you purchase an annual subscription for all updates during that year, but you can use the package for as long as you want to even if you don’t renew. The latter is how we sell all of our .NET products and packages.

We are going to change this sales mix as soon as we’ve worked out pricing and discounts for existing customers. From that point on we will only offer three suites, all on a subscription basis. We’ll beef up the ExpressQuantumPack suite with printing and skins. We’ll add a new pack, the ExpressGridPack to contain the grid, tree-list, pivot grid and printing. And then there will be the usual full VCL subscription. Doing this gives us the opportunity to provide better and more increased functionality across the board, without having to ignore some controls in favor of beefing up the main ones in order to provide a more compelling paid upgrade. It also helps us retire old versions of controls and avoid the complexities of managing interactions between an old version of control X and a newer version of control Y. With all controls on the same upgrade and testing path, our job is made easier and you get more stable and robust controls.

Along with this change, we are going to move to a biannual release cycle for major releases with intermediary minor bug-fix releases released every month or so. In essence, the VCL team will be following the DXperience release cycle. and the major releases next year will be dubbed v2011 vol.1 and v2011 vol.2 (or 11.1 and 11.2 for short) and will appear in quarter 2 and in quarter 4.

The next big change is that we are going to restrict which Delphi/C++Builder/RADStudio IDEs we will officially support. For Delphi these are Delphi 7 (we know a lot of you are still using it), Delphi 2007 (it’s the last ANSI string version), and Delphi XE (for UNICODE string fans). For C++Builder, it’s C++Builder 2007 and C++Builder XE. (Of course, these include the equivalent RADStudio versions.) Doing this means that we can spend less time in testing and support for a myriad of compilers and more time in writing new functionality. 

OK, that was pretty much everything under that first overarching goal. The second goal has been requested for time immemorial, ever since we started DevExpress: provide a trial version. Goal 1 made this goal much more viable since it reduces the number of trial versions we should produce. Remember DCUs cannot be shared across IDE versions so every version of the IDE would require its own evaluation version. Three evaluation versions are easier to produce (and be more likely to be produced) than 9 or 10 under the old system.

The third goal is merely a statement that VCL is a first class citizen of the DevExpress product line and will participate in the usual customer benefits and services.

After all that, here are the plans for the two major releases in summary form.

v2011 vol.1

  • Provide evaluation version of our VCL components – first IDE: RADStudio XE.
  • ExpressPivotGrid
    • Support compact layout for hierarchical row values (like the WinForms XtraPivotGrid in v2010.1)
    • Extend summary types (for example, count unique values) 
    • Add end-user capability to easily change the SummaryType of data fields
    • Improve export to Excel – make it possible to export data in a simplified layout to support further data analysis
    • Improve OLAP support
  • ExpressScheduler
    • Increase performance by redesigning the data store
    • Add an agenda view
    • Add task groups and subtasks for the Gantt view
    • Add milestone indicators for the Gantt view
    • Implement a treeview-like hierarchy for events and tasks in the Gantt view
    • Add iCal support
  • ExpressQuantumGrid
    • Add grid design wizard
    • Improve data controller performance
    • Add more chart views (examples being considered: splines)
  • ExpressBars
    • Add VS2005 (and later) docking indicator to the Docking manager
    • Add Office-like color selection dropdown

v2011 vol.2

  • ExpressQuantumGrid
    • Add server mode
  • ExpressEditors
    • TcxDateEdit - provide a way to specify edit mask/display format
    • TcxScrollBar as a standalone component
    • Allow to use TcxImageList in TcxButtons
    • ReadOnly style
    • Extend functionality of Rich Text Editor
    • Add Windows Explorer breadcrumb editor
  • ExpressScheduler
    • Add an agenda view
  • ExpressQuantumTreeList, ExpressVerticalGrid, ExpressSpellChecker
    • Miscellaneous improvements

More details to come when I publish the full roadmap towards the end of the year.

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