Spring Cleaning

The last few releases have seen some major changes to FreeAgent: a new design and reordered information architecture, invoicing without a project and most recently, estimates.

What's perhaps not obvious is these were all interconnected. When we decided we wanted to tackle estimates, we realised the existing information architecture just wasn't going to cut it. We needed to rethink how the app was organised to structure the existing functionality more clearly, and allow us to add new features in the future. While we were at it, we gave the app a lick of paint but the IA changes were the real driver.

We also quickly realised that we couldn't create estimates with the existing dependency between invoices and projects, because it would needlessly complicate the conversion from estimates to invoices. This meant we had to decouple invoices and projects, which was great because it was an annoyance to many users and something we wanted to fix anyway. It's constantly surprising to us how seemingly innocent development decisions early on in a project can come back to haunt you in ways you never even imagined.

With that issue resolved, creating estimates was relatively straightforward, especially given the awesome feedback and beta testing that some of you were kind enough to help us with.

Which leads us to the subject of the post: spring cleaning. Given the new features that have been released in the last couple of months it was inevitable that a backlog of unresolved issues would creep up on us. The little things that you always mean to get round to, but somehow never find the time. Refactoring code, fixing minor bugs, improvements to existing functionality and the user interface all need to be continuously attended to.

Olly calls this paying off technical debt. I call it spring cleaning.

We've got some exciting new features planned for the near future, but we're going to take care of some of this spring cleaning first. Some of this will be improvements you'll notice, some of it you won't, but it's all necessary to allow us to ensure FreeAgent is the most usable and robust application it can be. We want to make sure that instead of just adding new features, we're going back and improving the existing ones as well.

Improved user access levels, late invoice email reminders and better handling of attachments are all on our immediate horizon and some of these will be mixed in with all of the other small but necessary changes we're focusing with the next few releases.

As ever, thanks for all your support and keep the discussion going on Get Satisfaction, because we're listening to everything you say.

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