finPOWER Connect Version 4 and 5 Strategic Plan

Monday, 24 January 2022 by John Rickard

To help our finPOWER Connect Users plan for the future we have developed an outline of what the next two major finPOWER Connect versions will look like. We have reviewed a number of options for the future of finPOWER Connect and decided on a cautious approach that should provide many benefits in the long term.

Every few years we seem to have major shifts in the technology environment that we rely upon, whether its moving from DOS to Windows, Access to SQL Server, VB6 to .NET or Desktop to Cloud.

With this in mind and looking at where technology is headed we thought we'd give an update on our strategic plan for finPOWER Connect over the next few years. Our plan covers the next two major versions, culminating in version 5.0 in 2024.

Where is technology headed?

  • The Cloud/ Web
  • Automating functionality

Where is finPOWER Connect headed?

  • Technology is changing and finPOWER Connect needs to keep up with changes
  • The Cloud/ Web
    • As we move to the Cloud, some functionality in finPOWER Connect simply cannot be transferred
    • For example, Page Sets cannot be used in finPOWER Connect Cloud, so Page Sets should be avoided; use HTML Widgets instead
  • For now, there are no plans to make finPOWER Connect solely cloud based
    • BUT, we want to get to a place where everything can be run in the Cloud
  • Fine tune interfaces to provide more functionality and flexibility out of the box
  • Remove old code/ functionality (where possible) to lessen code maintenance and to provide a better service to Users

Note, we have not gone into things such as version x will have this new feature etc, as this is more of an strategic plan looking at technologies.

Version 4

  • Focus on finPOWER Connect Cloud
  • Remove some obsoleted functionality
  • Release in 2022 – likely October or November

Version 5

  • Focus on switching the technology platform
    • .NET Framework to .NET
  • Remove support for more obsoleted functionality and old technologies
    • E.g., Summary Page 1 scripts, older Word/ Excel "VBA" based Documents, the newer Word Document and Excel Workbook will still be supported
  • Release in 2024

.NET Framework v .NET

finPOWER Connect is currently built using Microsoft's .NET Framework.

Microsoft .NET Framework

  • In 2019 Microsoft announced that version 4.8 was the last release of the .NET Framework
    • There will still be updates, primarily to support Windows and Security updates
    • The .NET Framework 4.8 will continue to be distributed with future releases of Windows and will be supported for as long as the version of Windows it was released with is supported
      • Windows 10 – released July 2015, end-of-life is October 2025
      • Windows 11 – released October 2021, likely 10 years from release per Windows 10
  • It is the final version of the .NET Framework, all future work going into the .NET platform

Microsoft .NET

  • .NET is the future as the .NET Framework will not be developed further
  • .NET is cross platform, i.e., not just Windows, but includes macOS, Linux etc
    • This does not mean finPOWER Connect will support these Operating Systems
  • .NET 6 was released in November 2021
    • This is the first version of .NET to fully support Applications using Windows Forms (which includes finPOWER Connect)
    • Since this is the first version of the .NET Platform supporting Windows Forms we want to be cautious and let .NET mature first
  • .NET 8 scheduled release November 2023
    • This is the release we will target with finPOWER 5

Compatible Database

  • As far as practical we will maintain database compatibility
    • Especially for 4.0.0 and 5.0.0 releases
      • So a User can run, for example, version 3.4.x and 4.0.0 on the same computer and open the same database
      • E.g., if you find you are using an obsolete function in a script you could continue using the older version while working on resolving the issue
  • This does NOT mean functionality is backwards compatible
    • E.g., if you started using a new feature in version 4 and then reverted to version 3.4 the version 4 feature may cause version 3.4 to not work properly
    • This is the same now - if running multiple versions of the same major/ minor version of finPOWER Connect

What does this mean for finPOWER Connect Users?

  • Obviously, there are significant changes coming
  • Both versions 4 and 5 should be treated as major upgrades
  • Users should review their systems and prepare
    • There are new utilities to help identify areas to review
    • Stop using obsoleted functionality and old technologies as soon as possible
    • Stop creating new scripts etc using obsoleted or old technologies
    • Review and update existing scripts and other functionality
  • The technology environment will remain largely the same as it is currently
    • You will still host your own Database, Application and Web Server
    • Albeit, you may use a hosting platform such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Summary

  • finPOWER Connect must:
    • Move towards a full application in both the Windows desktop and Cloud/ Web Browser environments
    • Move to .NET in the next few years
  • Version 4
    • Focus is on finPOWER Connect Cloud
    • Release in 2022
  • Version 5
    • Focus on switching the technology platform from .NET Framework to .NET
    • Release in 2024
  • Users must prepare for these changes

For more information

You may download our full "finPOWER Connect Version 4 and 5 Strategic Plan" here.

If you have any questions, please talk to your Intersoft Dealer.