Delayed DevTalks and Status of Native Access
The Downloads DevTalks I mentioned in my previous post is going to be delayed till the end of July/early August. There have been changes and loads of fruitful conversations that we've been having lately, and some things that we've been working on that have made me forgo writing up the DevTalk for now. To be even more transparent, considering we're still working on updating our download infrastructure, I'm likely going to instead end up chatting about the installation step, and save the download topic for when we've released that update.
That being said, I wanted to give an update on the state of affairs now that quarter planning has rounded off, and share where we're going moving ahead into the next quarter.
You may have noticed we've done two or three releases that seemed to have an adverse impact on the product's performance. For one of the releases, we unintentionally introduced a bug where users get logged out after every system restart in an effort to urgently patch a threat to our backend systems. I've explained this more in this post. Next release should mitigate this issue alongside a better UX should a user's session be invalidated again.
Many users were left confused thinking they had a Beta version of Native Access due to its presence in the main window. While initially linking to the shop was going to be a lot more experimental or potentially removed, we've since decided that we're happy with it existing as is, and as such will remove the Beta tag in the next release as well.
We also identified a few fixes that we can make to address a few of the bigger user concerns. While we're still actively working on loads of the download manager stuff, we've identified a cause for a crash whenever people put their devices to sleep, as well as why some users experience more frequent NTK Daemon crashes (as well as false negatives), so those have been in the works alongside many others that we've found. Some of these will make it into the next release.
We tried to work on too many things at once this quarter, which has slowed every initiative down quite a lot. Combine this with emerging issues and an unhealthy quarter for many of us (especially myself), and many of the things we planned to release just simply didn't get done in time. We're narrowing our scope next quarter as we round off the work in progress for now.
What's coming in the next quarter?
I'm really excited for this quarter. We have three planned releases that we anticipate to get in within the first half of the quarter, with more things getting kicked off too.
Firstly, Light Mode has been merged in. We currently only support Light and Dark mode, but in the future we'll include the ability to bind it to your system's theme (which will be the default on release, so some of you will see Light Mode on the next launch). It will also be available for both windows and mac. You can toggle this setting in the General tab in Preferences. I'll be scouring the community for feedback on this feature, so please let us know what you think! Here's a sneak preview of the main window.
It’ll be shipped alongside some stuff to our diagnostics to get more context into what the system has been doing that leads to a crash so that we can finally explore the issues that our system is causing for users. This was supposed to be our next release last quarter, but turned out to be a lot more complex than we thought.
More importantly, we’re removing the version number from the splash screen. Native Access is a live-service application that should remain up to date, with our intent to eventually stop support for the old versions that we still have some users on. Ideally we want users to have the same Native Access experience, and with this release we feel ready to commit to making this happen. I’ll be referring to the older Native Access version as Native Access Legacy or NAL moving forward, and we’ll work to begin renaming that in all areas as well. We’re getting ready to ship as of posting this, so it should not be long.
After that release, we'll be gearing up for another release containing Uninstall for content products. This will make uninstall available for the largest bulk of our product catalog within Native Access, exceptions being applications, plugins, and third parties. For these products, we'll be updating the knowledge base article you get guided to to focus exclusively on these exceptions and integrate it into Native Access to make it a more interactive checklist-style experience for you. We will continue to iterate as we go moving ahead.
The third release we're aiming for will contain a back-end upgrade to the download manager. We're aware of how buggy the system is, and one of the flaws in our approach is that I've largely been keeping track of urgent changes we need to make alongside that branch. Hopefully our efforts here have been fruitful, but one example of an improvement we're shipping with this is that downloads will continue automatically in the case of connectivity dips instead of stopping. Combine that with a fix that prevents the NTK Daemon from crashing and hopefully your download experience will be a little smoother. In addition to this, for our accessibility-dependent userbase, we're going to enhance the experience here as well by making it easier to navigate to the download manager.
We have a few initiatives in the works. Our backend team is improving our installers which I will go into more detail on in the future, but the gist is that we want to reduce disk space and mitigate the install phase of a product being downloaded. This is especially helpful for updates. Our NTK Daemon does not support Updates for products already using these installers yet, so we will work on those this quarter.
As you may have heard, Native Instruments has some new partners under our brand. What this means for you is that Native Access will become the one-stop hub for everything Native Instruments, and you will be able to use your Native ID across our brands. Over the course of the year, we’ve been hard at work transitioning iZotope products to Native Access. This has been happening in tandem with all the other commitments I have shared thus far. Our commitments to you remain intact, and we will continue to work on these initiatives over the next quarter. I’ll have more details to share in the future as we finalize our roadmap for Native Access, but we're aiming for the first changes to hit in September.
But on top of all that, we've decided that our number one priority is starting to ship meaningful bug fixes. We want the download/install/user experience of Native Access to be better than where it is now, and with all the extra context that the next release should start giving us we can start to address the ones with the most impact.
The next DevTalks will go in depth about the installer technology and will be released by the end of July. I’m really excited to get the work we’ve been doing out there to you, and eager to hear feedback on what we shall do next. I’ll be answering any questions you might have in the comments all week. Hope the summer’s been treating all of you well so far!
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