Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Don't ACT!

Why is ACT! Development now so difficult?

Up to version 6 of ACT! the product was based on a fairly simple file structure and the developer interface was well documented and easy to use. Most of the functions within ACT seemed to be reasonably straight forward to implement. I wrote the original Phonix to ACT interface in a weekend and it worked very well. We obviously then spent a lot of time enhancing the interface but it wasn't rocket science.

ACT Professional introduced 2 major changes. Firstly the simple file system was replaced with SQL in an effort to "improve" performance on large systems. Secondly, the whole thing was redone in .NET. As Sage have also discovered in Line 50 2007 this isn't necessarily a good idea. This change to NET means that ALL previous add ins will no longer work and need to be totally rewritten in .Net. This is a huge task. The programmers have to learn a completely new language (that seems to be obscure just for the sake of it), purchase the new development tools and then rewrite the addin. As if that wasn't enough a lot of the functionality that was there in version 6 can't be replicated in the new version. Just to make life more interesting the ACT Professional documentation appears to have been badly translated from the original Klingon version by someone who really wants to make your life as difficult as possible. And the product itself is full of bugs anyway.

Still we pressed on and redeveloped our interface. It only took 3 months. And we sold two.

We get the odd marketing survey from Sage asking what they can do to improve the developers life but strangely they never respond to any issues raised. Nor do any of the Sage / ACT management respond to any phone calls or emails. Presumably if your face fits you get a response as an ACT add-in for another version of Sage recently won a Sage prize. Makes me feel so much better about paying our Sage Developers fees every year.

1 comment:

Normandy said...

Well said.