Hey everyone! Come check it out! Soon to be released: auto-provisioning for cnPilot and Readynet routers via DHCP option 66!
You’ve seen the release notes for our last few builds and it’s obvious we were focusing on bug fixes and feature completion. We’re waiting on two big features to go through our testing process; Web hooks and Option 66 Provisioning. In the meantime, we’re focusing on optimizing all of Powercode for the next couple weeks. With a large, organized push, we should be able to tackle some known performance issues throughout the software and increase responsiveness and scalability. There are some low hanging fruit for us to focus on that should make a big dent in any performance issues.
Remove duplicate processing of database items
Yes… on just about every page load of Powercode, the same information is being pulled from and processed by the database server multiple times. Systematically going through and removing these will help quite a bit, as each query locks the tables it touches. Are we embarrassed? A little, but the developers that thought it was a good idea are no longer here and we’re going to fix it.
Converting to a new database driver for PHP
It’s no real secret what Powercode’s technology stack looks like. The MySQL driver for PHP that Powercode uses is a little outdated. Again, we are making an organized push to replace it all.
Most information about the customer isn’t going to change. We shouldn’t need to process all that info every time you load a customer overview. We’re going to intelligently cache different items throughout Powercode and purge them when information is updated. Unfortunately, this piece isn’t entirely a part of our 2 week push, but is in progress.
Explore the replacement of MySQL with Percona
What is interesting about this is that our exploration alone is forcing us to make necessary optimizations as they are required by Percona. Percona is fantastic for increasing throughput over MySQL given it is configured properly, and even if we don’t make the switch, Percona is a little less forgiving which is helping us optimize.
We have gone through and documented over 90% of pages in Powercode and their load times, query times, and other request profile attributes for more long-term optimization targeting.
Beyond the MySQL database optimizations, we’re auditing the server as a whole and changing some things on the install/update process. Before I started working here, while doing some research about Powercode I came across a post by one of our customers comically questioning the addition of Ruby to PHP and tcl. Being here for several months now, I’m questioning the same.
As amazing as Powercode is for our customer base, there are a ton of obvious things that need just a little love. I’ll keep you guys updated on what we’re working on.
This particular update may come more from me personally, rather than from Powercode as a whole, as it relates to one of the first things I was thrust into when I started at Powercode in November 2016. In case you don’t know, and for those that may have doubt, there are many major things on the board that Powercode needs to implement, re-implement, fix, or enhance. However, there are two things that truly overshadow just about everything else on that list; BMU and IPv6. So where are we on those?
The BMU is one of the strongest features Powercode offers. Having a device like this cohesively integrated with your billing system offers automation on delinquency, repayment, and traffic enforcement. In fact, when the BMU was originally designed, it was genuinely novel in this market.
Over time as new features were added and new developers were brought on for different tasks, the Powercode firmware that ships with the BMU has gone through some rich history. Some of this development over the past several years has led to a small percentage of our users having issues.
Having a network device like that positioned where it is in your topology requires rock solid reliability, and the BMU fell short of that for some users.
It became clear after a couple weeks of developing on the BMU that it would probably require the same amount of time to hunt down and fix the issues as it would take to simply start from scratch.
Starting from scratch allows us to utilize new technologies, firmware and drivers, and implement a true development methodology that I feel this product has been missing for years.
Over the past 4 months we have worked with a number of people who specialize in this field to help us develop a new, optimized firmware for this device with the core of Powercode functionality in mind.
We are getting very close to making this release publicly available. You might have noticed a few weeks ago, your Powercode instances reporting the BMU firmware as being “out of date.” That means we’re getting ready to release this soon.
So, how does that tie in with IPv6?
Unfortunately, IPv6 management in Powercode requires the BMU to be able to handle the sync process with IPv6 components. When I inherited the project there was progress with IPv6, but unfortunately, it needed to be redone with our larger vision in mind. Once the new BMU firmware is made generally available, we’ll be able to finally complete development on IPv6.
However, the difficulties with IPv6 don’t end with the software development. There are real deployment decisions that need to be taken into account, and we have to be able to support a variety of deployment paths for our customers.
The BMU is close and IPv6 isn’t far behind. Once the new BMU firmware is released, I will update you with our IPv6 implementation milestones and release a hard timeline.
One thing lacking on Powercode’s side is updates on feature development. We are working hard to ramp up this blog as a space for us to show you our progress on future features. There will no longer be silence on these matters. We will develop these larger items in the public eye and shape things using your feedback.
- Fixed issue where tax credits would not apply.
- Fixed issue where taxes associated with services would sometimes not load.
- Fixed issue where one-time service charges would not load properly.
- Fixed case where text would not translate in the Customer Portal.
- Fixed issue where updating inventory would not work properly.
- Removed old links from navigation menu.
- Updated customer notes to save without page reload.
Beginning April 25th, 2017, our phone support hours on Tuesdays will open at 10AM instead of 9AM. All other days in the week will remain the same.
We are taking this hour for internal meetings between the development and support teams. There is a unique benefit from having our entire staff together that we will take advantage of.
Our meetings will be focused on transferring knowledge between the departments to re-prioritize tasks, update demands, and digest new data to shape our development of Powercode.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have an emergency during this time, please call in and leave a voice message. On call charges will be waived during this time.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, we’ve posted a couple of release notes over the past 2 weeks. You’re probably wondering, “How do I update?” The reality is, we’ve tweaked our update platform to amplify testing and gain additional real world use prior to making new builds available to all ISPs using Powercode. Let’s dive into some of the upcoming changes.
There are 2 main elements to this, but let’s first back up and briefly explain what our current internal testing looks like.
Internal Lifecycle of New/Changed Code
When we develop Powercode and move our code base forward, the author first tests each and every change they’ve made. Next, that change is submitted to the entire development team and is reviewed before it is accepted as “part of Powercode.”
As different changes from all our developers get submitted, reviewed, and accepted into Powercode, it accumulates in a new build. We decide when to cut off new changes from entering the “next build” by evaluating how much “risk” is created by all the changes in the build.
Now, when we use the word “risk” here, I don’t want anyone to think Powercode gambles with these releases (not since I’ve taken over at least).
What we’re talking about is simply:
- What is the scope of the changes?
- If something were to break, where could it potentially happen?
- If something were to break, what is the worst case impact of that break?
- How will the amount of changes impact our support burden?
Though there a few more factors we think about, the above about covers it.
So now we have our build and we decide this is our release. The next step is to make sure our support and sales departments understand the changes and then have them use their real world experience with our customers to try to break things, offer new perspectives and generally do some more targeted testing.
Support has a fully built-out lab for them to test against, with various hardware pieces, topologies, etc.
After another round of tweaks and changes based on the support team’s perspective, we have a build ready.
New Update Tracks
Now, this is where the bigger public facing changes come in. We recognize that Powercode is used in very different ways across many ISPs. There are tons of options that create many forks in the road. Quite truthfully, some scenarios and situations are not only impossible for us to test, but some are inconceivable to us. There are number of creative option/setting combinations out there that our customers employ to achieve some… let’s just say… “secret features”.
Stable vs Beta
With that said, it’s very important to us to get some diverse, real-world use cases tested before we unleash these builds out into the world. We’re going to accomplish this with two main tracks. One is a customer facing track (you). The other is an internal track for us.
In the system settings of Powercode of the latest release and onwards, you’ll notice a new setting that allows you to upgrade from either the “Stable” track or the “Beta” track. It’s a simple dropdown you use to choose and save.
You’ll always be able to jump back and forth without any consequences. The only limitation is that if you choose “Beta,” and have a version that is ahead of the “Stable” track, you cannot switch back to “Stable” and expect to be downgraded. You’ll need to wait until the “Stable” track gets ahead of you before you see any more updates.
In combination with choosing which update track to follow, we’ve also implemented update groups, an internal setting accessible to us at Powercode. As we track different support issues, use cases, and other variations between our ISP customers, we build groups to get a sampling of different environments we want Powercode to be released against. For example, we have a number of ISPs that run a test instance of Powercode for themselves (This is free by the way. Just call and ask.) to use for training staff, API testing, and more. Internally we will put all of those test servers into “Group 1.” So if you operate a test server, and set it to track the Beta releases, you’ll get all of our releases immediately.
We’ll take any and all feedback from our “Beta Group 1” servers and fix, tweak, or add anything that is necessary then release to a wider audience, “Beta Group 2.”
Only once we’ve gone through this amount of rigorous, real-world testing, will we push the build out to “Stable Group 1” and subsequently, “Stable Group 2.”
Why Multiple Groups For Stable?
You might think, “Well, if you’re calling it ‘Stable,’ why split it into groups?” Splitting it into groups during the “Stable” release isn’t about testing, but rather about making sure the service and support we provide is efficient. Not only has Powercode grown significantly recently, we have some fairly ambitious features in the pipeline. We will be implementing another phase of these update changes which will require these stable groups to be differentiated. The biggest piece of that next phase is attended upgrades, where you will have a Powercode representative on standby during all of your upgrades. This is not “just in case something goes wrong,” but because we want to make sure you implement new features to their maximum return.
Some of this is still up in the air as we iron out the internal processes. However, our goal is to make the pain of updating as low as possible so we can enable everyone to take advantage of the new features, fixes, and enhancements Powercode is about to unleash.
- Fixed an issue where calculating delinquency date would cause a fatal error.
- Fixed erroneously logging for mass update of ticket status.
- Fixed bank payment from not being displayed if ECheck is enabled on the customer overview.
- Fixed error when displaying logs with quotes in Customer Event Log.
- Fixed duplicate ticket titles from displaying after merging tickets.
- Fixed additional case where customer portal minimum payment amount would not validate properly.
- Fixed issue where tax was not being removed when removing a charge.
- Fixed incorrect tax date calculations.
- Added activation of customers upon job completion through Schedule Live View.
- Added option to make contract templates selectable.
- Added option to push a temporary grace date to guaranteed accounts under a guarantor.
- Added line on the customer overview showing when the customer will turn delinquent.
- Added assigned tech to work orders.
- Added ticket history, shows last updated tickets by date
- Added dropdown to export to PDF for tabular data.
- Added option to check monthly for expired credit cards and turn the cards to manual to avoid charging expired cards.
- Added in new link to point all future patchnotes to powercode.com.
- Fixed services not submitting properly on save.
- Fixed multiple identical tickets being submitted on customer overview.
- Fixed report dashboard icon selection from overlapping.
- Fixed certain custom report queries from being incorrectly escaped.
- Fixed missing cancel button for updating services.
- Fixed date format for Customer Balance Report.
- Fixed issue where equipment parents would sometimes not display.
- Fixed usability for adding mac addresses from inventory to equipment.
- Fixed pager counter for call logs.
- Fixed minimum amount and multiple payment submissions on customer portal.
- Fixed customers turning delinquent if an overriding temporary grace date is set.
- Fixed image scale for job completion data.
- Fixed primary contact being changed if not directly modifying primary type.
- Fixed issue where custom customer alerts would try to add duplicate groups to an alert.
- Fixed tax zone report generation throwing an error if the name was greater than 31 characters.
- Fixed loading correct email for a ticket.
- Fixed new ticket form error which sometimes caused an infinite loading button.
- Fixed ticket count in the ticket totals report.
- Fixed attempting to charge tax when tax is 0.
- Fixed archive customer page button formatting.
- Fixed being able to archive customer without first removing or transferring equipment off the account.
- Fixed payments report to display all credit card transactions and totals for all card payments.
- Fixed spamming minimum stock level emails by sending out an alert once per day at noon.
- Fixed being able to add duplicate MAC addresses to inventory.
- Fixed customer status box scrolling instead of floating off screen on Complete Map.
- Fixed an issue with the customer balance report not submitting properly.
- Fixed wrong date displayed on data usage graphs.
- Fixed styling with customer log when viewing more details.
- Fixed add customer wizard clearing billing address on submit, but failed validation.
- Fixed tax entry date for a custom charge being different than the date on the custom charge.
- Fixed column line breaks for reports.
- Fixed arrow navigation not applying to custom reports.
- Fixed custom report display format to be more adaptive.
- Fixed permissions for custom reports and the report dashboard.
- Fixed multiple reports permissions for the same application.
- Fixed error when sending email to customer in which input was failing.
- Fixes permissions with merging tickets.
- Fixes autocomplete on customer portal login.
- Fixes showing duplicate user groups for permissions which would result in a fatal error.
- Fixed issue where radius server information was not being saved.
- Fixed validation for snmp oids, which would incorrectly flag a leading 0.
- Fixed query-based accounting report permissions.
- Fixed completed jobs report permissions.
- Fixed issue where erasing a custom data field name would erroneously remove it from Powercode.
- Fixed call log when editing so it does not cut off longer entries.
- Fixed issue where job completion data was only being loaded for the first clicked job.
- Fixed issue where uploading images for a job would result in a fatal error.
- Fixed all future jpeg/jpg image uploads to be rotated correctly.
- Fixed unnecessary conversion when editing an open access IP.
- Fixed case where adding new credit card did not always work.
- Fixed spelling with Ipiphony tooltip.
- Fixed issue that caused some late fees to not apply.
- Fixed issue where customer logs details would not display properly.
- Added current balance to default amount when making a check payment.
- Added logs to mass update of ticket statuses.
- Added automatic email to be sent out when automatic payment method is removed from a customer account.
- Added separate email triggers for Install and Service.
- Added technician to the network job locations tab.
- Added automatic payment method warning for bank account payments in the customer portal.
- Added customer log when creating a new customer call log.
- Added link back to customer page on elevation profile.
- Added ticket ID and Title to log when merging tickets.
- Added date to batch email customer event log.
- Added warning when assigning customer to an emailed ticket that the email will change.
- Added placeholders for ACH Banking to avoid being saved as config values.
- Allows for TowerCoverage.com Default Category.
- Cleaned up new customer wizard styling.
- Changes default support email account when their category or type is deleted.
- Saving a network site now redirects you to that site.
- Modified customer usage report to only show 3 decimal places.
- Updated signed contract wording to be more specific.
- Updated remote http port to show as link.
- Updated FCC 477 Report to allow exporting individual data.
- Updated custom fields for new customers to be more efficient.
- Updated UI for creating customer call logs.
- Moved custom customer alerts navigation item under Items > Custom.