Incomplete SW - I’m upset


#1

I’ve been waiting very patiently. I’m not even that upset that there have been so many, many delays. I’m along for the ride. I’ve been enjoying this forum. Delaying gratification can be good for the soul. Building this thing well takes time, and they calculated it wrong. I completely made my peace with that.

I’m making an assumption just from reading reports from current users: the software is incomplete and buggy. The camera is not aligning things accurately. The usable space is temporarily smaller, many features like continuous auto focus, auto align when flipping, pass through alignment, kerf management, auto detect objects, etc etc etc. it’s very incomplete. I know it’s coming, but there is no schedule as far as I can see. Could this be well into next year? Certainly. Probably. No way to know.

I’ve been thinking about the state of the software, and the reports of such incomplete and error prone software is really upsetting me. I expected that when they extended the schedule to work on the hardware and logistics and packaging and shipping, they gained way more than a year in extra software development time. They should have hired an extra developer if they were all hands on the hardware deck. By now, the punch list of original advertised functions would be tested and deployed, and they would be half way through that “hopper”. Slip the date, add to the project plan.

Again, I’m not complaining about the delay. But I’m in SW development. I see it as very poor project management to be so behind on the software. Really. I totally see how the hardware was harder then they thought, and some of the software. The developers had this original list more than 2 years ago with the original deadline. The head of software was given the gift of time. It’s amazing when that happens. If it were me, I’d never release a long delayed product with the software in this condition. I’d staff to the plan. Add developers to meet the deadlines. Still work like hell, not stretch the same tasks to the new timeline. I’m just not satisfied with production-quality software being promised “some time” in the future. I wouldn’t even bring it up if they were even close to on time.

Ok. That’s off my chest. Dont get me wrong. I’m a fan. But I’m very disappointed and I worry that GF project management is not good at creating a realistic, achievable plan. It’s what we call in the biz a “better to ask forgiveness than be accurate “ plan. SWAG.

Again, forgive the rant. The crazy developer in me took over my thumbs. It just sorta happened.

J


#2

Lol @ jonnyvermont!

Maybe we should ask GF to delay the hardware until the software catches up! Then we would get everything at the same time.

How does that sound? :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


#3

Oh, I agree. I want to start playing with it as-is ASAP. And I’ll be a willing troubleshooter and bug reporter and community helper. But my point is my point. You know I wasn’t suggesting delaying delivery. There’s really nothing to figure out here. And thanks for listening. I hope I don’t upset anyone.

On that note, has there been any discussion of their feature completion plan? Any promised dates? I seem to remember reading something like they are handling the hardware first, then the software. Did I get that right?


#4

Lots of non-authoritative discussion, no promises of feature specifics beyond those originally advertised and no dates for any of it. The software is classified as “beta” and no commitment to when it will be production.


#5

The ship hardware first and catch the software up later model would work so much better if this were open source. Being able to see the progress, even being able to contribute to it, would be amazing compared to the loose “working on it” and “is’s in the hopper” comments we get now.


#6

Well said… I agree.


#7

I certainly agree that the software is not complete as promised. I know folks bought the Glowforge for very particular use cases and until those are working as expected, it’s unfinished. I would love to flip cut 1/2" oak. That certainly would extend the range of possible projects.

But how does one judge percentage of completion? I can only give my experience though of the software as I used it over these past three days. I was able to align every print to material exactly as I intended and use up material in such a way that it uses up almost everything. I do my placement in the design software and then get it to go pretty well where it needs to go with camera positioning. Someone else’s accuracy needs might be different, but it works as I need it to.

I didn’t order a Pro, so that counts me out of all the discussion about pass through readiness. But my Basic worked without error all weekend except for the little time yesterday evening when I had to log off and log back on again to connect. There are some strange things that pop up but I just expect it to work and it does.

I too am concerned about the ability to deliver on some of these final features. Having experienced many incremental improvements over the past nine months tells me that they are steadily improving things but I wonder at what point they will call camera alignment good enough. I could live with this, but then again I didn’t order a Pro. And all my judgments are discounted $1,000 since I ordered in that first month. Anyone paying the full price might have a totally different calculus here on ROI.

I’m getting quite a different perspective on manufacturing than I ever have had. It’s a gorgeous machine and just seems sturdy and well built. It pains me to see what shipping keeps doing. I would love to know what has been happening behind the scenes with both hardware and software development. I’m wondering what were and what are some of the difficult problems that have shown up that must have been and still are a challenge. Not just, 'It’s hard, there are problems" but what exactly makes it hard? Why are there problems? I know that becomes the valuable knowledge base gives added value and that I can’t expect it to be forthcoming. However, with the long delay and the incomplete features, I can’t help but feel that I am owed a bit more information at times.

Then again, we are getting tons of information each day in the forum Hard to process and evaluate it all, but it’s still there. Hard telling how bad things really are. What is the culture of posting here? I know that there are many long time forum participants who have posted much less after they got a Glowforge. I wonder if their experience is good. I don’t think we can really judge the status of things by the number of founders rulers that are printed. Do people at this moment tend to post more about their problems rather than their successes?

Having a direct, company-staffed support category is pretty bold. It’s out there for everyone to see. I was very surprised when the categories got re-aligned and official support would take place also in the forum. Things are resolved, but there always seems to be the lingering question of “now why did this problem happen?” We don’t really now what causes problems and sometimes not even sure how they get solved.

@jonnyvermont, I appreciate your perspective from development. What might you guess to be the holdups to delivering a complete, as promised, user experience? Take the phantom ring around the bed image that shows up from time to time. It’s image processing issues. What are the challenges to developing the software to do this?

And take the issue of the head crashing occasionally. Folks say just put some limit switches in. Why haven’t they done this? Why would the head be crashing?

Anyway, just trying to engage and learn.


#8

I’m no software developer but I have to imagine the multiple interfaces add a certain degree of complexity.


#9

The entire history of software project management is about the struggle to understand why everything takes at least three times as long as planned. I think The Mythical Man-Month should be required reading, although it’s quite a depressing story, given that it’s about how a project from the 1960s went off the rails and you’d hardly need to change anything to describe the state of software development half a century later.

I’ve been in this field for a long time and I’ve been part of failures and successes, and I’ve seen that there are many ways to achieve both. For the past several years I’ve been paying a lot of attention to project management. There are ways to get better about predicting how much you can get done and therefore how long things will take, but in the end that’s just a signal back to product management, which is the thing it’s taken me the longest to realize the importance of. Everything is a trade-off, and ultimately, understanding and managing the product — from having a coherent shared vision for what it’s supposed to be and who it’s for, to the day-to-day tactical decisions to prioritize one thing over another, knowing when to reduce scope vs. stand firm on requirements, and working together with engineering leadership while retaining the essential conflict necessary to stay grounded in reality — is the hardest thing to even know you need, let alone get right.


#10


#11

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! IMHO, there’s nothing to forgive. I wouldn’t even call what you wrote a “rant.”

I’m sure you know this already, but I’ll say it anyway… You’re not alone in your feelings. For many of us, the thousands we invested is not an insignificant amount. So when things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be, it can be difficult to shrug it off and say “Oh, they’ll get there eventually.” I don’t think we can judge their project management because we don’t have enough information. We don’t know what their internal software priorities have been, we’ve never had a roadmap. So we don’t know if they’ve fallen short of actual internal goals, really. I wish it all worked as promised. It definitely doesn’t YET. I’m sure you’re not wrong about some features not showing up until next year. Including finishing off some existing features that aren’t quite up to snuff yet. In fact, I don’t expect to see any huge improvements for the balance of 2017. So anything that does improve in 2017 will be a nice surprise.

That said, I actually have one of these machines. Even with its missing/incomplete feature set, it is AMAZING. SO incredible to use. And this is from somebody with 0 previous laser experience. I’ve had it for a few months now, and still, when I see the result of a job, it amazes me every… single… time. You get very used to working with it very quickly. It’s really just a joy of a tool to own.

I’m sorry that you and so many others are still waiting. Hopefully that will be a very short wait. But I want you to know that you’re really in store for something amazing. I can’t imagine you’ll be even slightly disappointed with your machine even as it is today. And improvements are coming and we’ll all be even happier. Meanwhile you’ll make incredible things, quickly and easily.

I hope that helps you out at least a little.


#12

My own two cents: weighing what it can do against what is promised (and may never come to be), along with the attractive price point, the balance is that it’s a keeper for me.


#13

My PRU was a work horse this weekend after I got past the Corel to SVG issue. I got 10 hours of straight engraving & cutting done yesterday. A half dozen teabag houses, slate coasters, Death Star clock, 6 wine butlers, pizza peel, 50 round tuits and some slate cheese trays. Heading to New Orleans for the week so I had to get it done so I’m ready for the MakerFaire Saturday.

No hiccups, pauses, temp alerts or trouble homing. Just cranked away eating my stack of PG :slightly_smiling_face:


#14

WOW…

that green colored GLOW from your monitor? Oh that is just me.


#15

Oh, I really meant to say this too and got distracted by talking about software. It’s not like the software for the other laser I’ve used is any good at all. We’re setting a high bar because we can see how much better it is out of the gate, and what the potential is.


#16

It is not so much the incompleteness that worries me but the poor standards of software development. No proper error messages, no visible version numbers or release notes.

Bugs to do with size limitations and very slow render times are all poor coding when you are running with unconstrained resources on a virtual cloud server. I.e. not shoe horning it into a tiny embedded system.

This is only processing 2D images but is about a slow as a 3D slicer running on a RPI.

Not being able to home reliably after more than two years of trying leaves me wondering if the architecture is fundamentally flawed.


#17

That’s everywhere. How many times have you, personally, seen “An unknown error has occurred.” in any number of applications. The fact that it’s ubiquitous is no excuse, of course, but it puts them in excellent company.

Yeah, there’s just NO excuse for that.

I’ve been seeing that more recently than I ever have in the past. I don’t get it. I HATE it. Is it just laziness?


#18

On that note, I was wondering : is there anywhere on the forum where someone with previous experience with laser cutters has shared their feedback on the glowforge ? From what I’ve read, there are mostly people with little to no prior experience who did it: of course it’s really useful and nice of them to do so but I can’t help but wonder what part of their feedback is about laser-cutting in general (which is really cool) rather that the Glowforge specifically ?


#19

I believe @takitus is one, but I know there has been more


#20

In addition to @takitus, @jamesdhatch has another laser and he occasionally gives his opinion of the two. Check his postings.