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Public Roadmap?


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If this thread should be in a different section of the forum, I apologize. I've been thinking over where to put it for a while now.

I was curious if there were any plans for a public roadmap to be visible for FusionPro.

Aside from the M1/M2 support, which I have eagerly been waiting for, I'm also curious to see if there's anywhere where someone can look at planned upcoming features/planned bug fixes/etc ... even just a centralized forum post would be neat.

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Thanks for asking.  As someone who's worked on FusionPro for a long time, knowing that there's interest like this in the future of the product is heartening.

We don't tend to release public roadmaps.  Probably the main reason is that plans and timelines can change, based on a myriad of factors, some of which are beyond our control, such as changes that Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and various standards organizations make that we have to keep up with.

I can say that we are actively working on support for native Silicon chips (M1, M2, M3, etc.) on Mac, and that we have several enhancements planned for FusionPro 14 which I think people will be excited about, things that will make template-building easier.  Beyond that, we have a lot of longer-term plans and ideas on several fronts, from architectural improvements to new areas of functionality.  Sorry I can't be more specific.

But just to give a bit of insight, we do get pulled in a lot of different directions.  Some of this is the nature of the digital printing/publishing industry.  On the one hand, print is far from dead, and printing technology continues to improve and advance, and there is a huge demand for improvements to things like imposition, for finer control over barcodes, charts, and tables, color correction, and other things that go into putting toner on paper or other substrates and fulfilling print orders, including postal sorting and barcodes in different countries, as well as an ever-growing market for label and package printing.  On the other hand, there's rapidly increasing demand for digital delivery PDFs, which are primarily viewed online, and which, according to various regulations in different countries (and just because things should be this way), need to be accessible to people with visual impairments, which means they need to conform to accessibility specifications for tagging and reading order, which, when you're merging in variable content with static content from the background PDF, can get complicated.  We've also been working for a long with partners around the world, mainly through Ricoh, including our friends in Ricoh Japan, to add typesetting features specific to Japanese, Hindi, Arabic and Hebrew, and many other languages, which have a lot of complex requirements.  And we work with many partners on integrations, including with MarcomPortal, EFI DSF, Avanti, RSA's WebCRD, and others.  So, there's a lot on our plate, and just prioritizing all of those backlist items is a challenge.

The other thing I can say is that feedback here on this forum is definitely taken into account in our planning.  Your ideas, suggestions, and even problems you report here do inform our priorities.

So... what do you want to see on the roadmap?

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Thanks so much for your reply! I really appreciate all of the insight you've given with your post – everything you've gone over makes sense, especially how complicated it becomes when you're dealing with multiple other organizations, both for the actual development itself and for making sure you're staying up to certain standards.

I suppose I can break down my wants for a roadmap into two different categories:

  1. Performance enhancements – though as I am operating off of Rosetta at the moment, I'm not sure how valid some of my concerns may be (as an example: when composing a document with many text/graphic frames, the speed at which it is composed significantly slows than when there's only one or two frames. Happy to provide more details there if they're wanted). As I'm not personally familiar with how developing plug-ins for Adobe software works, there may be some things that simply aren't possible (an example myself and my boss have discussed is how potentially multi-threading could help increase speed issues...but, it may be impossible for the FusionPro plugin for Acrobat to ever be multi-threaded, since Acrobat itself is single threaded and likely will be for the foreseeable future. And, of course, multi-threading isn't just a band-aid you can slap on something that'll magically help performance...etc, etc). But – if architecture improvements could lead to speed increases – I'm certain everyone would be happy about that 😀
  2. Feature updates – as an example, it was very exciting when FP13 introduced the updated CopyFit GUI & the ability to return "empty" in the drag & drop GUI. The other new features – while not things that are as necessary for my workflow – are fun to see, in case I do ever need to utilize them. And – knowing if something like bullet points (which as far as I know, aren't present in Creator's markup tags) are on the horizon helps me to plan out changes I may need to make for future repeating jobs.

It may also be good to have some sort of hub for known issues – hopefully, it'd help mitigate people all reporting in with the exact same issue (though of course, when dealing with problems, getting MORE sample data is always useful). Perhaps some sort of "here are known issues, if you're experiencing them submit info specifically related to the issue to the support email to help our team fix the problem" post?

As someone who only uses Creator and is with a small physical-only shop, there'd likely be many things that don't apply to me, but I'd hope that others would also find the information helpful. Knowing that what people report on the forums helps impact development is wonderful; I'll definitely be sure to speak up if anything comes to mind that I feel would be an improvement in the future. (In fact, there's a potential bug I think I may make a post on soon if I can replicate it with the most recent version of the software...)

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Thanks mailstar.  Regarding performance/speed, we do have some enhancements in the works along those lines.  That said, any significant architectural changes, such as multi-threading, would likely be targeted towards FusionPro Server and Producer, which run on Windows only, and not towards Creator (on either Windows or Mac).  Also, it's a very badly-kept secret that Creator already runs faster on Mac than it does on Windows (though Server and Producer are still faster, especially for high-volume jobs).  So I wouldn't expect much to improve for your Mac-based Creator workflow.  Things might be slightly faster under native Silicon than under Intel emulation via Rosetta, but again, I wouldn't expect anything significant.

Also, in my experience, 99 percent of FusionPro templates which have "many text/graphic frames" have been painstakingly put together by copy-and-paste, and also have dozens of rules to populate all those frames, and often the logic in those rules is very repetitive, which makes FusionPro do much more work than it should to accomplish what you want.  Usually these kinds of jobs can be greatly optimized, and made more maintainable, by centralizing all of that logic into just a few rules, using things like the "Re-evaluate this rule for every text flow" setting, repeatable components, on-the-fly frame creation, and other strategies to abstract out the business logic.  I would bet that kind of thing could be done with your jobs.  I would have to see one of them to offer suggestions, of course, and I can't commit to fully analyzing and optimizing it, but I'm sure I could point you in the right direction.

Regarding feature updates, thanks for the feedback about Copyfitting and the Drag and Drop rule.  Can you please elaborate about bullet points?  You can use the &bull; entity to output a bullet, generally followed by a <t> for a tab.

We do have an internal JIRA database of bug reports and enhancement requests.  It's not public, but when issues are reported by multiple users, those do count as "votes" of a sort to inform us that they should have a higher priority.

Thanks again for the feedback.  Please keep it coming!  (Feel free to start a new thread about any specific suggestion or issue.)

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Elaborating on the bullet points –

Right now, there's nothing like <ul> <li> in the FusionPro markup, like what you'd find in HTML to create a list automatically.

Of course, you can just use tabs or &nbsp; to brute force something, but I was a bit surprised initially to see it not natively built in.

If I encounter any other issues or bugs in the future, I'll be sure to report them here. As well as perhaps digging up some of my jobs that haven't run as smoothly and seeing if there's any rule optimization or the such that could be done to make things run faster...

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