What Santa is delivering DroneDeploy customers this Christmas…

December 19, 2023
Jarrod Krug

What happens when you give 80 software engineers four days and a clear schedule to work on things they want to work on? 

Answer: You deliver over 50 improvements and refinements in the DroneDeploy platform that help our customers do their jobs more efficiently.

Like most SaaS start-up’s, at DroneDeploy we have an aggressive roadmap and release schedule where top-tier features and functionality are built for our customers on a defined cadence. 

And rightly so, these features are strategic to the business and therefore consume the most time and resources to execute. 

So what happens to the smaller features and enhancements that are accumulated through wish lists and sprint reviews? Well, in most cases they’re put in the “nice-to-have” category and pushed down the priority list. Certainly, we can debate their overall impact and importance compared with top-tier features, but they do exist and may be backed by some expressed need from our customers. 

A new approach:

Heading into the New Year, as we looked at the world following our biggest launch to date – unveiling the new DroneDeploy platform, which unifies both ground and aerial data – , we made the decision to prioritize these needs above others and stuff our customer’s stockings with a host of enhancements and improvements. Merry Christmas!

So how did we do it? Very simply, we cleared the calendars for our engineers for a period of four days and gave them an open slate to work on the projects they wanted to work on. 

The only North “Pole” and guiding direction we provided was: Execute on ways to improve the usability and customer experience of the DroneDeploy platform.

A virtual bounty of stocking stuffers:

At the end of the four days, across 80 software engineers, the team was able to refine and create new code for over 50 features and improvements! These spanned from simple UI/UX fixes to new features for navigation and viewing.

While we won’t be able to list each and every one of these improvements, we summarized the top five as a treat for the Holiday Season.

Stocking stuffer #1:

New camera and auto-rotation controls

We heard from customers that they wanted to create animations of their aerial models for presentation purposes. The 3D team added a new Turntable mode that automatically rotates the model and allows users to manually manipulate the speed of the animation. 

This feature is being added for all subscribers in the DroneDeploy platform and will be available in the January 2024 release.

Stocking stuffer #2:

New camera keyframe animation tool aka “Flythrough mode”

On the same thread as the previous feature, we heard from customers that they wanted to create immersive FPV-style flythroughs of their captures. The 3D team added the ability for users to select keyframes based on current camera position and then control the start time and animation speed. 

This feature is being added for all subscribers in the DroneDeploy platform and will be available in the January 2024 release.

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Stocking stuffer #3:

New 3D map view cube

For anyone who has used any of the 3D modeling/viewers out in the market today, you will have grown accustomed to the “view cube” in the upper right-hand corner as a way to quickly switch views in your 3D model. Suffice to say, it has generally become an industry standard – and one we felt was missing from the DroneDeploy platform. 

This feature is being added for all levels in the DroneDeploy platform and will be available in the January 2024 release.

Stocking stuffer #4:

New map selector navigation using arrow keys

Currently, switching between different maps by date in the Exterior View Mode as well as the Map Comparison Mode, required users to use their mouse to click on that new map date. We heard from customers that it was a tedious process to drag and click through a long list of captures. To solve the problem, the team sprinkled a bit of Holiday pixie dust on the code and now users can leverage their up and down keyboard arrows to advance to their next selection – sans mouse! 

This feature is being added for all subscribers in the DroneDeploy platform and will be available in the January 2024 release.

ML successfully removes equipment and conveyor belts while not impacting the volumetric calculations.

Stocking stuffer #5:

Machine learning applied to all digital terrain models

One of the dynamics that occurred when using DroneDeploy to calculate stockpiles with equipment that happened to be in the way was the machine itself being part of the stockpile definition and calculation. Now, by fully deploying machine learning to all of our digital Terrain models, we are able to automatically omit things like conveyor belts, backhoes and buckets. 

This feature is added for all AEC Enterprise subscribers and is available now.

BONUS! Stocking stuffer #6:

Annotation hotkeys

We have all grown accustomed to the hybrid motion of using our mouse and keyboard to point, click, type and navigate. And when you’re in the mode of typing detail for an annotation, it takes time to click back into the interface to execute simple details to support the annotation workflow. Well, the engineer elves at DroneDeploy heard your wishes and added a host of hotkeys to the platform!

Here is a list of the new hotkeys on their way:

  • Cmd + V/Ctrl + V: Duplicate annotation
  • Backspace: Delete annotation
  • Cmd + L/Ctrl + L: Lock (or unlock)
  • Cmd + Z/Ctrl + Z: Undo
  • Cmd + C/Ctrl + C: Copy annotation link

This group of features is being added for all subscribers in the DroneDeploy platform and will be available in the January 2024 release.

The workshop has been busy

As mentioned, these highlights are just a small representation of the over 50 improvements we made during the past week. DroneDeploy customers will be treated to a host of many other improvements not listed above that span the following areas:

  • Better map processing for new drones and multispectral cameras 
  • Audit log improvements 
  • Media sharing upgrades 
  • BIM improvements 
  • DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise improvements
  • Data processing improvements
  • User interface tweaks and improvements

If you would like more details on these or other features in the DroneDeploy platform, please reach out to us or follow us on LinkedIn

Happy Holidays from the DroneDeploy team!

About the Author

Jarrod Krug
Jarrod Krug

Jarrod is a 13-year veteran of the AEC and SaaS construction technology industries and leads the Product Marketing team at DroneDeploy. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two boys, where he spends time writing and riding his bike.

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