Very good questions, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to address them.
First of all, let’s make one thing clear: OL Connect Workflow is not being end-of-lifed. We are still actively developing it and we will keep doing so for the foreseeable future. At some point in the next 3-5 years, we might decide to put it in maintenance mode (i.e where no new features are being introduced but issues are still fixed), but given the sheer number of users who rely on it, it won’t be EOL for a long time.
That said, we are also actively working on an alternative automation tool that is based on Node-RED. Notice I didn’t call it a replacement tool. The goal of that alternative tool is to overcome the shortcomings of OL Connect Workflow that simply cannot be fixed, due to its aging technology stack. The more obvious of those shortcomings are the half-support for UTF-8 and the 32-bit nature of the application. The Node-RED stack natively supports UTF-8 and is 64-bit, which will allow users to process much larger jobs, from more diverse sources. The deployment model of Node-RED will also allow our development team to react more quickly to changes or issues, while providing improvements at a higher frequency than they could with the current OL Connect Workflow architecture.
The Node-RED stack is the underlying technology of that new tool, but it will still be an Upland Objectif Lune product, with all the standard support that we offer for all our products. The libraries of nodes that we provide for Node-RED are all based on the Connect REST API, just like all of the current plugins in OL Connect Workflow are. So, under the hood, the methods used for generating OL Connect jobs will remain the same, while the design tool and the background service benefit from upgraded technology to orchestrate those jobs.
We also plan to keep providing a Windows installer for the new tool, so that users don’t have to deal with the somewhat arcane procedures required to install everything as separate components.
For several years to come, OL Connect Workflow and the new automation tool will be available side-by-side. Users may elect to use one or the other, depending on the nature of the processes they want to automate. Obviously, at some point we’d like most users to have transitioned to the new tool because it is based on state-of-the-art technology, but we have no intention of forcing users to do so. It is still up to each user to decide which tool they want to use for any given process, and we will support both. Note that we already have a user forum dedicated to the Node-RED stack, so early-bird users can provide feedback and submit issues for the pre-release version.
Hopefully, this will dispel some of your concerns about the future of OL Connect Workflow.