Light Point Web LogoToday Light Point Security has reached another important milestone. We have just finished the 0.7 version of Light Point Web. While this is still a private beta version, and not ready for public consumption, we have taken a big step in that direction.

What’s New in Light Point Web 0.7?

Cloud Manager

The biggest improvement from 0.6 will be invisible to a user. We have added a new server-side component to manage our cloud computing infrastructure. To make a long story short, it means we can now handle an arbitrary number of simultaneous users where 0.6 could only handle one user at a time. On top of handling a possible large number of users, we had to do it with as few wasted resources as possible. Turning on a cloud computer is expensive, and stays that way until you turn it off. So our cloud manager is in charge of deciding when to turn a new cloud computer on, and more importantly, when to turn it back off. This is the last infrastructure component to complete. This is important because I can now switch away from writing completely new infrastructure components to improving and adding features to existing ones. This means improvements and new features will be happening at a faster pace from here on out.

This was an interesting part of the project, because it was the first time I have written a program whose job it is to decide when and how to spend my money. So a programming error could have a negative effect on my bank account. Kinda scary!

New Firefox Extension

The next biggest change is a complete rewrite of our Firefox extension. The Firefox extension is the component that hooks into the Firefox user interface, so we can intercept user actions, and so we can update the Firefox interface with our own information.

This change will also be mostly transparent to a user of a previous version. The previous version was based on another public Firefox extension that was doing most of the same stuff I needed to do. So it was a great starting point for a first version. However, I was never happy with its implementation. It worked by searching for actual Firefox javascript code, and overwriting it in place with code to do what it needed. This means if the Firefox code in question changed with a new version, the extension would be broken. This seemed like a maintenance nightmare in the making. So I have rewritten the code to base itself on published Firefox interfaces which will be very unlikely to ever change. This gives me more confidence that a Firefox bug-fix update will not break Light Point Web.

Friendlier Plugin Interface

The least important, but most visible change to the user will be the new plugin interface. This one is tougher to explain in generics, so I will give a few specific examples of what I mean. In previous versions, when starting Light Point Web, the Firefox window would go black, and the entire interface would be frozen until the connection was finished. This could take 10 seconds or more. During that time, nothing was displayed, and the user could not do anything. It was very disconcerting to a new user. With 0.7, a progress bar and informational messages are shown directly in the browsing window. More importantly, the rest of the Firefox interface remains usable.

As another example, if in 0.6 your connection to the server was dropped for some reason, your browsing window would simply turn black. With 0.7, a message will show directly in your browsing window which says the connection was dropped, and it gives you several options on what to do about it.

There are many more interface messages like this which allow Light Point Web to be much more fault tolerant, and user friendly.

What’s Next for Light Point Web?

First off, we will be giving some 0.7 installers to people to get more feedback, and learn what people like, what they don’t like, and what is missing.

In the meantime, our attention will be shifting to overhauling this website. We have a new theme we will be rolling out over the next week. We will be putting a lot more information on the site about what Light Point Web does and why people should buy it.

After that we will be putting in infrastructure so someone actually could buy it. We are looking at 2 services to handle this for us: Spreedly and Chargify. These services will handle user subscription management, which means its one less thing I have to worry about. I have been reading a lot about these 2, but still can’t decide on which one to go with.

Once we get these things set up, we will be able to launch officially…. and that’s when the real fun begins!