Ask Reuben

Early Access Program (2024)

What is an Early Access Program?

Why is this Early Access Program shorter? 

Should I participate in an Early Access Program? 

What happens if I don’t participate in an Early Access Program?

Before reading this, you should hopefully have seen the announcement about the Version 5 EAP (Early Access Program) in the Product News section of the website, and/or the post in the forums.  If not you need to make sure your processes are such that you are alerted by these, that is an RSS feed or similar for the website pages, and forum notifications enabled for the forum posts.

With the version 4 release, I had an Ask-Reuben article about Early Access Programs that formed the basis of this page on the website.  Looking back at that article I am quite happy with what I wrote and there is not much I’d change.  So apart from the odd place where it is timestamped with version numbers and references to particular versions I think it has stood the test of time and I’d encourage you to read it or the webpage again.

What that article has also done is it has been very prophetic.  There have been several times since 4.00 was released where customers have downloaded 4.00 for the first time many months after the general availability release date  and commented upon some of the differences associated with the move from Native Rendering to Universal Rendering.   Those differences were typically present in the Early Access Program for 4.00 and even 3.20 before that.  So if you fall into this category, the following three paragraphs were from that Ask-Reuben article in the middle of 2021  …

What happens if I don’t participate in an EAP?

The biggest danger is that we change something that breaks your code or changes your application on some way. We try not to do this, but it can happen.  During the EAP we have more options available to us to resolve any issue.  If you don’t participate in the EAP and only discover an issue after the release has occurred, then you may be in a position where you have to wait until a maintenance release for the issue to be resolved, or we may decide that this is the future path and you have to amend your code.

Also if we add any new feature, when you go to use it at a later date, you may find that you are restricted in its use because it is missing a feature that is important to you.

It is much more difficult for us to make change after a release has occurred.  With any subsequent maintenance release we …

  • don’t want to force developers to edit 4gl code in order to install a maintenance release
  • don’t want to force developers to compile 4gl code as part of installing a maintenance release
  • don’t want to force concurrent installation of two or more of our products as part of a maintenance release

The best time for us to make changes is in the EAP period BEFORE a product is released to GA.

I intend to skip a release, should I participate in the EAP?

The decision to participate is always upto you and you need to weigh up the positives and negatives of participating, and just what your level of commitment is.

I will give you this example, in recent months I have seen customers upgrading from 2.50 to 3.20 i.e skipping 3.00, 3.10.  They have encountered issues where upon analysis we discover that some behaviour was changed between 2.50 and 3.00, and they are the first to report a negative impact of this change.   If they had participated in the 3.00 EAP 6 years ago  we could have take their feedback into account and made adjustments accordingly, but now 6 years later we have to consider that users of 3.00, 3.10, 3.20 are accepting of the change in behaviour.

Is there any particular reason I should look at this EAP (4.00)?

This is the first release with the user interface standardised on Universal Rendering.  Native Rendering is no longer shipped inside the front-end clients.  If you have not taken the opportunity to review Universal Rendering in any of the 3.xx releases then this is your last chance.

… hopefully you can look back and think perhaps I should have invested more resources to the EAP and provided feedback earlier.

The v5 release in early 2024 has less change than v4.  The Early Access Program is only scheduled for two months, not six, although that can change if there is a lot of feedback.  I would describe v5 as more about performance, stability and consolidation than a big technical change as the transformation from Native to Universal Rendering was.