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On v4, continuous updates and infrastructure

George Peppard

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On v4, continuous updates and infrastructure

Continuing on from our recent end of year update, vAMSYS is pleased to provide this further announcement outlining our plans for the new vAMSYS version and the infrastructure changes which will be taking place over the next few months.

Updates and semantic versioning

Long term members of the platform will know that, for many years, we have been rolling updates into "versions". Versions 1 and 2 were legacy versions of the platform, version 3 is what you are using now and version 4 is what we have been working on. Each version is currently subdivided into further minor releases (for example version 3.8) and then subdivided further into patch releases (3.8.1, for example). This semantic system, whilst allowing the development team to mark changes against milestones, does not, in our use case, make sense. Often, changes are released before the version is bumped and the changelog published. This essentially defeats the point of a semantic versioning system at all.

Starting with the next release, we will begin to move away from this system, and instead towards a continuous "release when ready" cycle. This means that as soon as functionality is ready for end users, it will become accessible. Users will no longer need to wait for the corresponding release to be published before they can use features they have been waiting for (which in some cases, have been waiting several weeks for their official release date). You will no longer see version numbers on the platform, for example in the footer. We will provide a method of determining the release you are currently viewing, but this is mainly for internal use, and should not need to be monitored by end users.

Instead of changelogs, we will publish a monthly(-ish) update on what we are working on and what has changed since the last update. This also allows us to cover other topics where required (if you have suggestions for what to include in this "newsletter"-type update, please get in touch), and we hope that you will find the first update around the end of January 2022 to be an informative and interesting read.

vAMSYS version 4

Now that the preamble for this section has been covered, we can say (with context) that there will be no v4 release. The reason for this is simple - there are no more numbered releases.

As discussed in our end of year update, it has become clear that over the last few months the time available to the team to work on the new version is not as high as was originally hoped. It is for this reason that a stark change of tactic is required. We will no longer be "starting from scratch" with v4. Instead, we will take the existing v3 codebase, and begin to make several fundamental updates to it in order to stabilise and prepare the platform for easier addition of functionality. Our starting point will be PHP and Laravel upgrades, followed by code consolidation and implementation of some code we wrote for our internal development version of the former v4.

Instead of vAMSYS v4, the version you use currently will be heavily updated. Instead of vAMSYS v3, you will just be using vAMSYS.

Feature requests and suggestions

We outlined that we would like to eventually move away from the vAMSYS Ideas system for feature requests. This is because internally, we do not consider upvotes as much as the ideas platform makes them out to be - so to continue to use a platform which places so much emphasis on upvotes is, in our opinion, counterintuitive.

We are unsure as to what we will be replacing vAMSYS Ideas with at this stage (it will likely be something integrated into the systems we already use internally to track bug reports and confirmed feature additions), so for now, please continue to raise requests via the existing Ideas system. We will be sure to capture all requests in Ideas when moving to a new system to ensure that nothing is lost.

If you have any meta-suggestions (suggestions for the suggestions system) then please contact George Peppard via Discord or email (george@vamsys.co.uk).

Infrastructure and downtime

vAMSYS is investing around £1600 over the next few months in new enterprise-level hardware and software to ensure the platform continues to operate with stability for many years to come. We are currently in early discussion with our server hosting provider to ascertain exactly when this upgrade will be possible (there are some billing complications, as well as some lead time for the hardware to be provisioned in a datacenter), and we will aim to keep downtime to as low a level as possible (this too depends on what can be worked out with the service provider). We are very excited about this and will be sure to provide you with more information regarding our new infrastructure solutions in the future.

However, the key takeaway is this: in or before Q2 2022, there will be an unprecedented server and service overhaul, which will result in downtime. Please continue to monitor the vAMSYS Discord server for publicity so that you can inform your pilots, in good time, ahead of any planned outages which will affect them.


Thank you very much for reading this update. We hope you have found it's content to be useful and we are happy to answer any questions or comments you have either via the vAMSYS Discord server or the comments below.

The vAMSYS team would like to congratulate Anna, one of our developers, on graduating with a BSc in Computer Science.

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George Peppard
Systems and Infrastructure Advisor to vAMSYS, ex-Infrastructure Director

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