Product Plan

Background

Our Company Strategy sets out 4 pillars that our product work is focussed around

Principles

Convention over configuration

We want the default configuration of FlowForge to be the best user experience for the majority of users.

Every new option we add to the platform, whether for an administrator or end-user, represents another choice they have to deal with. This increases the cognitive burden of using the platform and can have a negative impact on user experience. It also increases the engineering cost to develop and test features where there are many possible combinations to consider.

For every feature we add that has some scope for configuration, our starting point in the design is to identify the right configuration and hard-code it in.

This removes the choice from users' hands and minds. It does not prevent us from choosing to make it more configurable in the future if user-feedback/business-needs requires it.

Where there is a strong case to expose an option to the end user, it should still be provided with a sensible default value where possible that removes the need for the user to set it themselves. This gives users the ability to customise the option if/when they are ready to. But the default value should be the right answer for most users.

Some configuration options cannot be defaulted - the user has to do make a choice. For example, setting up email on the platform. The UX around these options must be carefully considered to help the user get to the right choice with a minimum of effort.

Node-RED provides a lot of configuration options. We should not assume they are all candidates to be exposed to FlowForge users. For example, options to customise the editor appearance should be reserved options that we determine the right values for to ensure a consistent user experience across FlowForge instances.

Options that have an impact on the behaviour of flows will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. But the starting point should always be to pick the right default and only expose to the user if absolutely necessary.

See also: Convention over Configuration on Wikipedia.

2022

Until the end of 2022 we will focus on the following:

In order to provide the best Node-RED experience;

  • We will continue to expose the most useful configuration options for Node-RED meaning that people can use Node-RED on FlowForge in more use-cases
  • Custom Domains for projects will also improve the Node-RED experience allowing users to publish their applications to the web with their own identity.
  • Persistent context will alow users to build flows with better confidence in the integrity of their data.
  • Additional service like Message Brokers and Persistent Storage will provide additional utility and value to the platform while providing the opportunity to increase revenue through add-ons
  • We will work to identify a sustainable solution for building interfaces as part of FlowForge, either through the Node-RED Dashboard and its successor or via another service.

In order to Enable Users to Run Node-RED at the Edge;

  • Introduce the concept of Devices to the platform allowing users to manage their edge installs
  • Create an Edge Agent reference install for the Raspberry Pi which allows user hardware to be managed by the FlowForge platform and run a project.
  • Work to rollout that Edge Agent to other devices such as PLCs either via our own development or through partnerships with hardware manufacturers.
  • Provide functionality to allow for debugging of flows running on edge devices
  • Enable users to manage and deploy flows to multiple edge devices
  • Allow edge devices to communicate with both the cloud and other devices.

Features that Enable teams to collaborate when working with Node-RED;

  • Duplicating Projects allow teams to have dev and prod projects and to move flows between them
  • Team level templates allow teams to create baseline projects that can be reused.
  • Team Libraries provide a way for teams to share and reuse parts of flows
  • Version control of flows gives teams the ability to track changes.

We will build the following to Meet the compliance needs of the enterprise;

  • Integration with at least one major enterprise SSO platform eg Okta, Active Directory etc.
  • Full Audit logging of events
  • User lifecycle management, delete, suspend etc.
  • Customizable password policies
  • Secure storage of secrets in environment variables
  • Custom Node Catalogs
  • Comprehensive platform monitoring and reporting.

## Open Source & Enterprise

We offer a number of ways that users can run the FlowForge product, we will always offer an open source version that has the core features. Features that offer higher business value or permit users to share across larger groups will be offered as part of our paid enterprise proposition. FlowForge Cloud is our hosted public cloud offering, this will generally include all features that are availble but may not offer certain features such as SSO where integration is required between the platform and an enterprise. We will offer customers the ability to have a dedicated cloud instance managed by us if thats is a deployment model they require. A more detailed breakdown of the pricing and split between our Open Source and Enterprise Editions is on the pricing principles page