It’s the time of year where it’s good to review how far we’ve come with Affino’s development since we set out the 2013 Priorities. The big picture is that we’ve wrapped up one of the two biggest initiatives this year which was to re-architect Affino for super-scaling.
It took us half the year to get there, but we’re now seeing great up-time figures across the board for Affino’s SaaS services. There are still more refinements to do, but Affino has been transformed in it’s ability to be auto-scaled.
The next major performance update is coming with the advent of the new Responsive Skins in Affino. We are completely re-working how all public facing pages are being served, which means serving many more elements from memory for a faster response time. We’re also re-architecting Affino to make the pages fundamentally more stable, secure and to reduce the chance of bugs arising.
The Responsive Skins themselves will also be fundamentally faster across all devices with the new code compression, new toolkits, JS and CSS structure and fully CSS driven page designs and styling. All of this will be in place by the year-end.
The second major initiative is now well and truly underway, namely the new Responsive Design roll out. We have split off the old design centre to become the Classic Design Centre and are busy rolling out the new Responsive one. We’ve hit the first major milestone, namely the core framework for the new Object Designer. The new Object Designer will be much more solid than any of the previous versions, especially as we’re now working more directly with core CSS.
One example of the improvements coming is that we have built in full undo / redo in the Object Designer from the outset, both for layout and content. This is a great development and will make it much easier to experiment with designs in Affino in the future. It is just one example of how the new architecture is a big step forward.
A great win with the new Design Centre has been our ability to retain all the core concepts we have in the Affino Design Centre, updating some and introducing just one new element: the Breakpoint Profile which will allow you to evolve your Breakpoints over time. Everything else is an evolution of what’s already in Affino.
We’re close to wrapping up the second key milestone which is the new page rendering framework for Skins. This should be wrapped today or tomorrow. Once in place the rest of the steps, although significant, is just a case of filling in the blanks.
The new Design Centre is a big evolution though and is requiring us to rewrite virtually every single line of display code, so this is our major task for what’s left of the year.
The Affino Analysis Centre has had updates throughout and is now much more powerful and effective than it was before. We’ve rolled out the new distributed Bot Detection system to all Affino sites. This allows Affino to identify and manage bot behaviour across all Affino sites, with daily updates to bot lists. As a result all the stats in Affino are that much better.
We’ve made Affino’s stats far more scalable, with all the core stats engines now handling up to two years of data, and we’ll build from here. Most of Affino’s Analytics interfaces are now optimised, fast and incredibly accurate. We’ve identified a couple which need further work which will be done later this year.
We have also been tying Analytics much closer into the rest of Affino with great new Control Centre analytics, direct Campaign and Messaging analytics and the new Commerce Analytics.
We’re still working towards having the new Dashboard v2 this year, and in the meantime expect to see steady improvements throughout the Analysis Centre.
Affino’s promotion capabilities took big steps forward earlier this year with the new Messaging v2 launch. Affino’s ability to send personalised messages and SMSs have advanced considerably, as has the ability to analyse the Message Campaigns. We have also greatly improved Affino’s mailing list handling.
Affino’s Auto-responder messaging has also moved forward dramatically with all the new triggers available through the Customer Ladder. In fact Affino’s messages can now be better personalised and targeted than ever before.
Key projects we’ll be working on later this year are the new A/B and Multi-variate testing engine and rolling out Schema Org schemas throughout Affino.
Affino has seen one big improvement on the Social side with the advent of Invites 2. Affino’s new invites system puts it right up at the leading edge for professional invites. The next step will be to roll out deeper integration between Affino, Facebook and Twitter invites.
Although we’ve made some minor improvements on the member profiles and search, we would be looking to improve on them significantly once we’ve made the move to responsive designs. We’re also looking to get the v1 realtime one-to-one chat into Affino by the year end.
We’re currently working on the biggest update to Affino’s commerce engine, namely making it excel on mobiles and tablets. The two big commerce projects we’ve already wrapped are the v1 Commerce Analytics and the new Store Credits engine. The Store Credits in particular is a breakthrough because you can give credits for everything from social sharing to answering support requests.
There’s still a host of key projects lined up on the commercial side, so expect more to happen here before the year end.
Media is waiting on the big Media v3 project, which we’ve pushed back till after the Responsive Design roll out since it doesn’t make sense to re-work everything just to have to re-work it again. The other media projects are all connected with the move to mobile, and will be wrapped up by the year end.
2012 was the year when every Affino release was built around having the most usable experience. This year has been much more incremental, however we have rolled out two big updates. Related Items v2 is a big step forward for creating content relationships. It now takes a fraction of the time to look up related content and assign it, including two-way relationships.
Making all the popup selectors Ajax driven has caused a bit of confusion, because they’re now simply one-click affairs. Once you get to grips with them, you’ll notice how much faster things get done.
Affino’s long running tasks such as imports and exports are in the middle of a major upgrade with full status tracking and greatly improved error handling for imports.
We have continued to make dozens of refinements for each Affino release, ticking off many users individual usability update wishlists. My personal favourite is the ’Nuclear Refresh’ button on the App Bar which is a one click solution to resetting the page for all users and bots.
Of the remaining tasks for 2013, Affino 7.5 will touch nearly half of them in one way or another, so stay tuned. We’re currently on track for October delivery and will keep you posted.