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Roadmap transparency: i.e. How many upvotes does a Feature Request need before you actually implement it/work on it?


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#1 BlazedMonkey OFFLINE  

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 06:43 PM

Feature request:  Roadmap/Development transparency

 

 

In scrolling through the current feature requests, and having put in a few myself, I'm curious:  How many upvotes does a feature request need to get before you guys actually start working on it?  Is there a certain number of votes per period of time, or how do you decide what actually gets worked on?  I ask because I often see a feature request, and the response is generally something along the lines of:

 

If the Emby Team already agrees with the user, the script goes:

Emby team - "It's something we'd like to do in the future, thanks."

But no timeline is given.  A year goes by and it still hasn't been implemented, so the user asks again, and gets a response similar to:

Emby team - "We are working as hard as possible to make everyone as happy as we possibly can. Thanks."

User gets frustrated, asks for an ETA, response is like:

Emby team - "Hi.  We have never stated this feature was slated for any particular release.  It is planned for the future but not under active development yet."

2.5 years have gone by for this feature request, with almost 30 upvotes, and active development isn't even on the horizon.

 

 

If the Emby Team disagrees with the user request, the script goes something like:

Emby team - "This is why we think the way we are doing things is right, thanks"

Users - "Hey, I see what you are saying, but here are 9 reasons I disagree"

Emby team - responds to 1 point of the 9 made to tell the user they are wrong, or that that 1 little point isn't relevant, ignores the other 8 points

User - gets frustrated, keeps pushing

Emby team - "This thread is here to gauge user interest, we will see how many upvotes it gets and may implement it in the future"

Years go by, thread gets upvoted, feature never gets implemented.

 

 

The highest upvoted feature request right now in the top 20 pages of this forum has 63 requests (not even counting how many similar threads may have been locked for being duplicates), and it's not even under active development at this time, despite being created by a developer and being over 2.5 years old.

 

 

 

 

To get ahead of some of the responses I'm sure I'll get, let me just say:

-I absolutely appreciate that Emby exists, and I appreciate and respect the time that goes into its creation and development.  I know that developing a program takes time.

-Yes, I am a premiere subscriber

-No, I'm not just trying to complain about this.  I am simply asking for realistic responses that actually have usable substance and transparency.  Some actual follow through or a roadmap so that users know if their requests are even being considered for active development, rather than waiting for ages only to be told that the item they thought was getting worked on or had a chance at being worked on isn't anywhere on the horizon.

-Yes, I do really love Emby, and I want to see it grow and get better, which is why I have chosen to give you guys my money, and why I recommend it to people.  Unfortunately, that doesn't negate my frustration with this current process.


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#2 ebr OFFLINE  

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 07:56 PM

Hi.  What you have to realize is that being "transparent" to you is being transparent to everyone - including our competition.   So, that is one reason you are not going to see a lot of definite commitments on exactly what is under development at any given time or when things will be released.  We usually will tell you when something is actively under development but may not be able to provide much information before then.

 

There is no hard and fast number for a request and, while we want the feedback out here to gauge user interest in these features (and just give us ideas we haven't thought of), most times, there are a lot of other factors that have to be considered.  One of the most common is complexity of implementation and how much of an impact it will have on the system overall.  Very complex items that impact everything take much longer for us to be able to commit to - and, sometimes, even if the entire community wanted them, they may not make sense to implement just due to their cost or other impact on the system.

 

Also, this wasn't within the scope of your questions, but many times we see people pop into a three year old feature request with a comment like "its been 3 years why hasn't this been done yet".  Well, when that comment is the first activity that item has had in 3 years, then that actually tells us that not many people are interested in it.  That is just to say that the amount of time a request has existed is not a very good gauge for whether or not it should be implemented :).

 

We value everyone's ideas and requests and do really try to react to them as best we can - along with keeping up with all the changes in technology we need to and the competition.


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#3 Sammy OFFLINE  

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 08:23 PM

The Emby team is extremely small and very active on these forums assisting with issues and responding to requests.

The product grown way beyond what I ever expected it to be 6 years ago. I think that they are doing a fantastic job and have Incorporated a lot of feature requests.

Kudos!

Sent from my SM-G960U1 using Tapatalk
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#4 pir8radio OFFLINE  

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 09:04 PM

Hi.  What you have to realize is that being "transparent" to you is being transparent to everyone - including our competition.   So, that is one reason you are not going to see a lot of definite commitments on exactly what is under development at any given time or when things will be released.  We usually will tell you when something is actively under development but may not be able to provide much information before then.

 

There is no hard and fast number for a request and, while we want the feedback out here to gauge user interest in these features (and just give us ideas we haven't thought of), most times, there are a lot of other factors that have to be considered.  One of the most common is complexity of implementation and how much of an impact it will have on the system overall.  Very complex items that impact everything take much longer for us to be able to commit to - and, sometimes, even if the entire community wanted them, they may not make sense to implement just due to their cost or other impact on the system.

 

Also, this wasn't within the scope of your questions, but many times we see people pop into a three year old feature request with a comment like "its been 3 years why hasn't this been done yet".  Well, when that comment is the first activity that item has had in 3 years, then that actually tells us that not many people are interested in it.  That is just to say that the amount of time a request has existed is not a very good gauge for whether or not it should be implemented :).

 

We value everyone's ideas and requests and do really try to react to them as best we can - along with keeping up with all the changes in technology we need to and the competition.

 

 

I've often wondered, why do you care if your competition knows what you are adding to emby?  Who cares if they steal the idea and push it out faster than you, they could just pluck the good ideas from the feature request section here anyway right?   You are not really losing customers?  I mean I don't think emby users are going to rush away from emby to try another server due to a little new feature. 


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#5 rbjtech OFFLINE  

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 07:27 AM

I've often wondered, why do you care if your competition knows what you are adding to emby?  Who cares if they steal the idea and push it out faster than you, they could just pluck the good ideas from the feature request section here anyway right?   You are not really losing customers?  I mean I don't think emby users are going to rush away from emby to try another server due to a little new feature. 

 

This - and more importantly to a lot of people, the one thing your competitors cannot 'steal' is the impeccable support and the fact you are open to new ideas and community lead decisions. 

 

That is what sets you apart from the others, they all play video, they all have bells and whistles - but if something doesn't work in Emby, you and the community will do our utmost to fix it - with the competitors, you are likely on your own.


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#6 ebr OFFLINE  

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 10:04 AM

I've often wondered, why do you care if your competition knows what you are adding to emby?  Who cares if they steal the idea and push it out faster than you, they could just pluck the good ideas from the feature request section here anyway right?   You are not really losing customers?  I mean I don't think emby users are going to rush away from emby to try another server due to a little new feature. 

 

That is only one factor but, no, we're not crazy about being beaten to the market with features.

 

The reality is that, even if we wanted to be "completely transparent", I believe it would just cause more trouble than anything else.  We are extremely agile in our plans and are constantly reacting to feedback and other influences to improve the system.  This often means that things we plan even a month or so out, change.  If we tried to publish this then, many, many times we would just miss expectations and make people even more upset.  You usually know about new things once they hit the beta stage.

 

We can do a better job of selecting and prioritizing some of these feature requests, however, and we will strive to do that.


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#7 Richard Branches OFFLINE  

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 08:20 PM

From my personal experience at least they respond with phrases like that, PLEX team and their messy forums are the worst, they never answer to you to say nothing about anything, that's the main reason I switched to Emby in the first place, here they listen to me no matter if what I asked is ever implemented.

 

By the way, I've seen some of my feature requests come true.


Edited by Richard Branches, 16 March 2019 - 06:29 PM.

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#8 BlazedMonkey OFFLINE  

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 07:58 PM

Hi.  What you have to realize is that being "transparent" to you is being transparent to everyone - including our competition.   So, that is one reason you are not going to see a lot of definite commitments on exactly what is under development at any given time or when things will be released.  We usually will tell you when something is actively under development but may not be able to provide much information before then.

 

 

I get where you are coming from, but the thing is, it's going to happen one way or another.  You aren't making a unique product here, so you can't expect that other competitors won't have the same functions and features as you, as there is nothing truly novel about what we are doing here.  Apple constantly gets beaten to the punch on features by other phone manufacturers, yet you don't see them going out of business, or exiting the phone market because someone implemented fingerprint ID before they did.  Among all the things Apple is known for, they do 2 things extremely well:  First, they have excellent customer service and support. Second, they are smart enough to realize that there is a natural flow to the way people expect things to work, and they are very good at shaping their products to follow that flow.  So when people point out something that doesn't make sense (like this), which is simple to fix (this is literally changing the order of a few lines of code, or alternatively, adding a flag to show that there are extras), it's frustrating to get rebuffed (see my first post above re: If the Emby Team disagrees with the user request)

 

As pir8radio pointed out earlier in this thread, if people really wanted to steal your features, they could look at your product, then look at the forums for what people are requesting, and implement the features themselves.  What keeps them from doing this?  Well, for major things, it's like you said earlier:

 


 

Very complex items that impact everything take much longer for us to be able to commit to - and, sometimes, even if the entire community wanted them, they may not make sense to implement just due to their cost or other impact on the system.

 

 

If you know that, your competition knows that as well, and either: 1. They won't do it either, hence not beating you to the market, or 2. They will spend WAY too much time working on that one thing, thus falling behind YOU, and surprise surprise, you still win. 

 

The only thing keeping your users in the dark does is frustrate them, and cost you more time closing and merging redundant threads on here asking for the same thing.  If we had some kind of roadmap to reference, we would at least know something is on the horizon, instead of going almost 2 years in a thread thinking it was on the horizon, before finding out it's not even under active developtment:  For reference

 

 


 

There is no hard and fast number for a request and, while we want the feedback out here to gauge user interest in these features (and just give us ideas we haven't thought of), most times, there are a lot of other factors that have to be considered.  One of the most common is complexity of implementation and how much of an impact it will have on the system overall.  Very complex items that impact everything take much longer for us to be able to commit to - and, sometimes, even if the entire community wanted them, they may not make sense to implement just due to their cost or other impact on the system.

 

 

Let's be honest here, liking a post really does nothing when it comes to feature requests.  Look through the first 5 pages of the feature request section and you'll see that the vast majority of posts that have over 10 "likes" are at or well over a year old, and have yet to be implemented.  The highest upvoted feature request right now in the top 20 pages of this forum has 63 requests (not even counting how many similar threads may have been locked for being duplicates), and it's not even under active development at this time, despite being created by a developer (i.e. you) and being over 2.5 years old.  If THAT feature request can't even get implemented, why would anyone bother to upvote anything, after seeing that go nowhere for 2.5 years?  Despite this, your go-to response for users is still, "Liking the original post on these topics is the best thing to do."  

 

As far as simple requests vs. complex ones, well, I already addressed the complex.  For the simple ones, it goes down exactly how I described in my first post that started this thread.  If the Emby team agrees with you, you might have a chance at getting it implemented (granted, it will be at some unknown date in the future, and maybe not even then).  If they disagree, you get the script.

 

 

 

Also, this wasn't within the scope of your questions, but many times we see people pop into a three year old feature request with a comment like "its been 3 years why hasn't this been done yet".  Well, when that comment is the first activity that item has had in 3 years, then that actually tells us that not many people are interested in it.  That is just to say that the amount of time a request has existed is not a very good gauge for whether or not it should be implemented  :).

 

We value everyone's ideas and requests and do really try to react to them as best we can - along with keeping up with all the changes in technology we need to and the competition.

 

 

 

 

This is part of the "Transparency" I was talking about.  As I explained earlier, this is more often than not because you guys give convoluted answers that leave people thinking things are getting worked on, when in fact they actually aren't.  If I think something is being worked on, I'm not going to bug the developers about it and bump an old thread.  Look at any one of those threads you are thinking about, and you will see the same pattern of a convoluted answer, no activity for a while while the users think it is getting worked on, then after a year somebody pops in and asks why it hasn't been implemented, cue another convoluted response, wash rinse repeat.

 

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have FAAAAR more server admins on these forums than you do just regular emby users.  So while you may be speaking with only one admin, that one person could be representing 20 different users that are on their server asking for the same thing.  I'm sure you guys have hard numbers on emby users vs. installed server instances, so it can't be hard to understand that you are dealing directly with only a tiny fraction of the people who actually interface with your service.  It's like voting in the general election:  How many people are registered vs. how many actually turn up at the polls.  Just because you don't have 1,000 people beating down your door to get a feature request implemented (i.e. "liking" the post, or adding their commentary), doesn't mean that there aren't still 1,000 people out there that want the feature.  Just like you have a huge number of users with only a small number of admins, you have the same thing within the admins themselves:  Out of all the admins, there are only a fraction of those that are going to get on these forums and put in feature requests to begin with.

 

 

 

 

That is only one factor but, no, we're not crazy about being beaten to the market with features.

 

The reality is that, even if we wanted to be "completely transparent", I believe it would just cause more trouble than anything else.  We are extremely agile in our plans and are constantly reacting to feedback and other influences to improve the system.  This often means that things we plan even a month or so out, change.  If we tried to publish this then, many, many times we would just miss expectations and make people even more upset.  You usually know about new things once they hit the beta stage.

 

We can do a better job of selecting and prioritizing some of these feature requests, however, and we will strive to do that.

 

I'm not going to go back and reiterate, I think I've already responded to all the points in your first 2 paragraphs. I bolded that last line because it epitomizes everything I've been trying to explain throughout this post.  I will end with this:

We appreciate what you guys are doing, and we thank you for doing it.  I wouldn't be a premiere subscriber if I didn't like the vast majority of Emby, and want to help it improve and grow.  That being said, things would go much smoother for both your users and yourselves if we had more information, and some realistic responses that didn't come off as completely canned while providing zero definitive information.  I for one appreciate the dialogue we are having here, and you taking the time to respond.  Thank you for listening and continuing to have a constructive discussion with me, so that maybe things can get better for everyone  :) 


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#9 ebr OFFLINE  

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:27 AM

As I said, we need to do a better job of using this feature request forum for future work.  Point taken.

 

It is interesting that you used Apple as an example because they are the most tight-lipped company out there.  You NEVER know what they are working on until it is a week from release.






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