Whether you’ve just started kicking the tires, or you’ve been working with Terra on a daily basis for months or even years, you’ve probably had some ideas of how Terra could do more or work better for you. To that end, I wanted to bring to your attention the Feature & Documentation Requests section of the Terra Community Forum, which is the best way to let us know what you’re thinking.
Specifically, this part of the forum serves as a suggestion box where you can propose ideas for improving Terra based on your experience using the platform, whether it’s a small tweak to the interface or a major new feature. All suggestions are public, and everyone can comment and vote on ideas proposed by others.
The discussions in this section are monitored by members of the support team, who translate incoming requests into tickets on the product development team’s Jira project board. From there, the product managers who are responsible for the relevant part(s) of Terra assess the suggestions and decide whether and when to integrate them into their development plans.
So how do the product managers make those decisions? There’s a lot that goes into it, but generally speaking, it’s a combination of how well a request aligns with existing product development goals, how much effort it would take, and how many people it would help.
Relatively minor interface changes like making it possible to sort workspaces by the date they were last modified tend to be the easiest for the development teams to fit in, yet more complex requests like providing a mechanism for deleting intermediate files generated by workflows will also be considered if the benefits are sufficiently clear and impactful.
Keep in mind however that very complex features typically require months-long effort from multiple teams to implement, and are therefore difficult to fit into development plans under the rubric of continuous improvement. That is why the majority of really big feature development in Terra is driven by large infrastructure projects that bring in dedicated funding to support the more ambitious workstreams. One great example of this is the addition of Galaxy as part of the AnVIL project.
For those requests that do get selected, the timeframe to go from suggestion to implementation can vary a lot, so support team members who curate these requests do their best to suggest alternate ways to achieve the desired result in the meantime. For example, when someone made a request to make the gnomad python library work in the built-in Hail environment, senior support specialist Jason Cerrato provided a custom startup script that satisfied their immediate need pending a more integrated solution — and updated the thread when the gnomad library was added to the default Hail environment configuration.
So whatever you’re trying to do with Terra, we encourage you to let us know what we can do to improve your experience, either by posting your ideas, or by upvoting other people’s posts to add the weight of your voice to theirs. To be notified by email when new suggestions come in, click the “Follow” button for the entire section, or follow individual discussions to get notifications only about feature requests you’re specifically interested in.
We look forward to hearing from you!