The last software update was in September, and there were also updates in May, June, and July. Interesting that you chose to say
the last update has been a while ago
in this much older post. Oh well… here you go:
We’ve been working very hard on a variety of aspects of FarmBot technology and our business. Some of these things will have no effect on past customers such as yourself but are vitally important to our long term strategy and sustainability. Let’s start with software, because that does affect you.
Our main focus for several months has been the development of a “variables” type feature that will allow users to make generic sequences that can be run with different inputs. A use-case example: you’ll be able to make a single watering sequence that you can use on any plant in the garden, rather than hard coding into the sequence which plant it should tend to. By extension of this feature, you’ll also be able to run that sequence on a group of plants. So this single watering sequence could be scheduled with an event to water all plants, plant A, plant D, or whatever, without needing to change the sequence itself of make new sequences. This will also work with weeds and all other points in the FarmBot system. Some other examples that will be possible with this feature:
- You’ll be able to have a single mount-tool sequence instead of an individual one for each tool.
- Sequence to address all weeds (without needing to change which specific weed points to move to)
- Sequence to take a photo of every plant in the garden (without needing to update the plants to go to as you add/remove plants)
This feature has been a huge undertaking, requiring substantial changes and new code to every software codebase except the firmware. We still have a ways to go, but this will be a major turning point in making the FarmBot faster to program, more powerful, and easier to maintain.
Once this feature rolls out we’ll also begin seeding new accounts with default sequences. This will be helpful for getting new FarmBot users up and running faster.
Additionally, we have a number of other smaller features, bug fixes, and performance improvements that have been in the works and will probably be deployed next month. We’ll detail those when they are released.
In terms of evidence of what we’re working on, you can see progress usually 6 days a week on our code repositories on GitHub. If you feel it is going too slow or not at all in the directions you want, PRs are welcome.
Regarding farmware - the entire reason we have the farmware system is for people to add functionality that we don’t have in the core app. As time goes on, we’ll build more features into the core app, which will make some Farmwares obsolete. In the meantime though, we’re very grateful and excited by the farmwares that are being developed, and it’s great that you’re using them to get what you want done. That’s the whole point.
With v1.4, we used all of our available capital to do the largest manufacturing run we could handle. We did this so that we could get the best possible prices on the hardware and purposefully have a lot of inventory leftover after fulfilling pre-orders. When we aren’t having to deal with the logistics of manufacturing, we’re more freed up to work on everything else. Having inventory available to ship right away also significantly reduces the headache that comes with pre-order customers, and boosts sales because people know the product will come in a few weeks rather than having to wait several months. In short, having a nice amount of inventory is a great place for us to be, and I wish we had had the resources earlier this year to have built even more v1.4 devices, especially Genesis XL kits which we’re getting low on.
The v1.4 hardware is much better than v1.3, which was much better than v1.2. While I know that the new hardware doesn’t affect you so much, a lot of people would be scratching their heads and still waiting for the technology to improve before diving in if we weren’t making advancements in hardware as we have been over the last two years. These hardware advancements have been a big driver of our growth, and our new customers love the improvements we’ve made. To name a few major ones:
- Farmduino - dedicated rotary encoder hardware and firmware, optimized board layout, high quality FarmBot-specific connectors and circuitry.
- UTM - integrated PCB with pogo pins, fully pre-assembled, connectors to the cable, injection molded quality.
- XL sized hardware - 50% of our customers today are purchasing XL kits, provides user with significant more value.
- Electronics Box - custom design optimized for FarmBot, fully pre-assembled, push buttons and led indicator lights, easy-to-use latches.
- PSU - waterproof, single output and modular cable, safer.
- Injection molded parts - weight savings, lower cost, faster to manufacture.
Moving forward, we are continuing towards our vision of “FarmBot as a home appliance”. In terms of hardware, we’re currently working on a new product that will be launched next year that will be a big leap in that direction.
These advancements in hardware are crucial for driving our growth and bringing this technology to many more people, and I’m continually disappointed that you don’t seem to have an appreciation for the work we’ve put into this area.
With growth, it has become increasingly challenging and time consuming to handle customer support/inquiries, and all of the business parts of the business. This is an area where we’ll hopefully be hiring next year.
In other news, we have two announcements on the business side of things coming up next month - one to do with payment options and one to do with our open-source business model.
I understand you want us to focus as much of our development and resources on stuff (like software features) that will directly benefit you. For the last two years, and currently, about 75% of our effort goes into software. FYI, that percentage will likely remain somewhat constant, as we have no intention of scaling back the amount of effort we put into the development of other aspects of this project.