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A Commitment to Longevity

February 16, 2023

Seth Berman
President & CEO
News Category: 

With VAST Platform 2023, Instantiations is starting the year with another solid release of VAST. New features, plus enhancements to existing frameworks/tools, have been the hallmark of recent VAST versions, and this latest release is no different.

Instantiations itself is continuing to grow as new opportunities have presented themselves in the past year. It's clear that the customer-centric approach that drives new features and innovations for VAST is also resulting in growth opportunities for Instantiations itself...not only in the near term, but for the long term too.

Customer Needs Drive New Features

The backbone of Instantiations' success has always been persistent, quality service for our customers. One of the most important parts of this service is listening to customer needs. By staying highly engaged with them in support channels as well as discussions at events, we get great insights into how they use VAST and what features they need. These factors are blended with our research and development of current and new technologies, and ultimately culminate in future VAST roadmaps.

In short, responsiveness to customer needs allows us to keep VAST an important part of their enterprise systems, and continue to demonstrate VAST's exceptional productivity and leading edge features.

VAST: First Class Citizen of the Enterprise

We've seen the VAST Platform's importance be reaffirmed in the enterprise due to its robust back-end services that work well alongside other software. Where VAST has been previously held back by limited Unicode support, it now has a best-in-class Unicode framework that improves upon what other languages and runtimes offer in terms of usability and speed. The result is easy-to-use and superior multi-language capabilities in VAST.

With additions and enhancements to communication protocols like MQTT, LDAP (and Secure LDAP), VAST is prepared for future inclusion and expansion into even more enterprise environments, and in some cases, completely new platforms, like IoT and the cloud.

Bringing VAST to New Places

While new technologies being added to VAST are important, VAST must also deploy to new architectures when they become important in the IT space. ARM processors are becoming more popular, and may eclipse Intel®/AMD® processors one day, so it's important for VAST to stay ahead of the curve. As a culmination of this release and the last, VAST supports various Linux® distributions for ARM, but also runs on Windows® 11 for ARM.

Interestingly, this also extends to excellent performance on Apple® computers with M-series processors where VAST can now run virtualized on Windows 11 ARM with virtually no slowdowns. Additionally, cloud-based ARM servers and even IoT devices, like the Raspberry Pi, are all available deployment targets for VAST 2023. Extensibility, ease of deployment, and cost savings are vital for the longevity of VAST, and Instantiations is therefore looking to extend VAST to additional architectures and platforms as technology progresses forward.

UI and Tooling Improvements

Fundamentally, VAST is a development platform and a runtime. As a result, we must continue improving the development tools themselves, not just adding to the platforms we support.

In VAST 2023, improvements continued on the Windows table widget with better API access and useability updates (like column drag-and-drop). 3 way diff and profiling tools have had significant improvements with more responsive UIs and Scintilla-based code editing features.

Even VAST's Hi-DPI implementation continues to be refined to account for all the inherent complexities of different displays with varying pixel densities, resolutions, and zoom factors.

Further enhancements to SUnit have allowed for better automation support, and Tonel Tools improvements continue to provide Git-friendly functionality (that complements ENVY) to allow for an alternate method of collaboration for distributed teams.

More Heavily Tested Than Ever Before

However, all this innovation must come at a cost, right? How can we maintain (and even improve) the stability of VAST with each version if we're also adding complex, new features?

This "cost" has been mitigated by automated testing and frequent builds. With these procedures, Instantiations can actively develop new features and push new technologies into VAST. As a result, we can maintain (and even improve) stability from previous versions.

In fact, a large portion of time has been committed in every recent release of VAST to create new automated testing, re-reviewing testing procedures to ensure they meet rigorous standards, and only then do we continue to push the envelope for new features. In fact, VAST's testing is more rigorous than it's ever been before.

This is the way we must do it, and it's the responsible way to do it. While we cannot guarantee bugs will never exist, it certainly reduces their likelihood significantly. This process helps keep the pace of innovation sustainable and ensures maintainability.

The Future

Many people have asked me:

“Smalltalk is not as popular as many other programming languages, how does Instantiations stay profitable?"

The reasons are probably now clear: it's a result of continuous and relevant updates to VAST and our customer-centric approach. We help our customers accomplish their goals on a daily basis through world-class support and new features in VAST, and it’s been clear to many customers that we're in this for the long haul...just like them. Ultimately, this allows Instantiations and our customers to grow together, and for them to feel confident that their investments in us are being well spent.

Our approach continues to allow Instantiations to have one of the most talented tech teams in this space with ongoing expansion of this staff. Through new ventures that put Instantiations (and by extension, VAST) into new places and industries in the future, we're committing to keeping VAST and Smalltalk at Instantiations' core for many years to come.

Stay tuned for updates to our feature roadmap for VAST 2024, coming soon!

Together, we can build something great.

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