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DataShed, maxgeo’s database management system, is constantly evolving to keep up with the changing requirements of the global mining and resources industries. In the lead-up to June’s new releases (DataShed 4 version 4.6.4.5 and significant updates to DataShed 5), Product Manager Steve Dexter gives some insight into the continuous development process that drives DataShed.

“We aim for a full release each year, with updates every six months”

Steve DexterDataShed Product Manager

Steve Dexter, DataShed Product Manager is no stranger to change. After spending many years as a geologist and business analyst, he retrained with Apple for a career in software. A two-year stint at the maxgeo support desk followed, allowing Steve to become thoroughly familiar with DataShed before being named the Product Manager in 2020.

It’s a natural fit: like Steve, DataShed is always changing, with up to eight developers working on the program at any one time. “We aim for a full release each year, with updates every six months,” says Steve. “At the moment, the focus is on functionality.”

As a database management system, it’s no surprise that functionality is key. The goal is to empower mining and exploration companies by integrating data from all activities into a single platform, allowing for simple viewing, management and reporting.

In order to reach this goal and make each update as effective as possible, the DataShed team collate client feedback and support desk notes to understand how companies use the program and what features they’d like to see.

It’s a process that’s familiar to Steve, thanks largely to those years at the support desk, but he sees parallels in other areas, too. In his previous life as a geologist, he often worked on a FIFO basis, flying back and forth between sites. An irregular schedule often makes it difficult to form routines, but Steve was surprised to see some things flourish – namely, his collection of bonsai trees.

“It’s actually a perfect way to grow bonsai,” he laughs. “They develop gradually and require a lot of patience. You do a bit of shaping work, then wait to see how the tree responds before tending it again.”

The similarities between cultivating a bonsai tree and developing DataShed are not hard to spot – client feedback informs updates, providing greater functionality, which is then refined through further feedback. With each bug fix, integration or patch, the program is trimmed of dead wood to encourage new growth. It’s the reason that DataShed continues to lead the pack two decades after its initial release.

While well-tended bonsai can live for centuries, the future for DataShed is mapped on a slightly smaller timescale. The June 2021 updates will see GDA (Geocentric Datum of Australia) updates for DataShed4, Imago image integration capabilities for DataShed5 and additional QAQC reporting functionality, while the longer-term focus is to migrate more of the robust DataShed4 features to the web-based DataShed5.

If the bonsai comparison breaks down anywhere, it’s in the functionality. Bonsai trees are grown for philosophical and aesthetic reasons, while DataShed – though packaged with a very appealing interface – is all about helping people to be more productive with data.

If you’re a DataShed customer, you’ll receive more information about the latest updates via email. If your company is not using DataShed yet, contact us to learn what your data can do.

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