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'Tis the season, eh?

12/19/07 6:36pm
Chops's Blog Posts
Blog Summary
6/19/08 4:43pm
The Big Update is done! What's next?
12/19/07 6:36pm
'Tis the season, eh?
10/3/07 7:47am
An Apology
8/13/07 11:34pm
Two Exciting New Things in the Very Near Future!
My "Blog-Update-Frequency" so far as has been a staggering "one-update-every-two-months." Usually, I just prefer doing the work, rather than talking about it, but because some of you are excited to see what's coming down the pipeline, I'll toss out some things about what I've been working on since getting Married in October (hence my previous apology for the slow updates at the time).

So, as those of you who've read my previous blog had known, I got married in October, and near the end of November, we went on our honeymoon (A Caribbean cruise, which was fantastic). The two weeks prior to our honeymoon I worked like a slave: the minute I woke up to the minute I went to sleep, I was working on new features. It was surely exciting to get all those new features out, but it was also exhausting, and the trip was quite fun. I did have internet access on the boat, so that I could continue to answer questions and solve support problems, and to most of you, you may not have even known I was gone. If you didn't, then I succeeded .

As a side note, we returned from our honeymoon on the first day of Wisconsin snow fall, and in fact we had to take an earlier flight out of Ft. Lauderdale due to the snowfall in Milwaukee. It has snowed just about every 3rd day since then, and apparently, it's getting close to setting a Wisconsin record for snowfall in December.

During the two weeks prior to the honeymoon, I added the PvP Arena Team section, which is being populated directly from the Armory. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I have no interest in helping to smash the already strained Blizzard armory, we don't issue a million requests a second to keep the data updated. Instead, there are pauses placed in the update process. This is the main reason it takes so long to update each site: since we're hosting close to 2000 sites, and each guild has on average 100 members, that's 200,000 characters that need to be queried. At one query per second (which is 2 or 3 actual requests for various info), that means we're still at each guild being updated once every 3-4 days. I've slowed it down beyond the 1 second each, to the point that we're looking more at something like a week between updates.

Also adding the new ticketing system helps to control and organize the constant flow of suggestions, and helps me to prioritize the To-Do list. I love the new ticketing system, as it is a much needed improvement over the old "Post on the forum" system.

So I'm back full-force and working on some exciting new changes.

You've seen the newest major change that has been deployed: the "Big Calendar." This allows a much fuller view of the coming events. It's also got built-in drag-and-drop functionality, to move and reschedule events, and a nice yellow "Plus" to quick-add events. Clicking the "Plus" symbol will prompt for scheduling an event, at which point you can choose the Event category for "Quick Add" or you can click "Standard Event Add" to use the standard approach. This functionality is also extended to members, who now have the option of creating their own events and moderating them by approving and denying signups to only their events (administrators can still modify user's events).

The newest changes that are being actively worked on are as follows:

1) A Major hardware upgrade is coming in the next few weeks, and admittedly, this has been where my primary focus has been. If things go well, this might very well be the last major upgrade necessary for a long while, and if all goes as planned, will virtually eliminate the slowdown experienced on WoW-maintenance days. We'll be replacing some older machines with some brand-spankin' new screamers, and getting a new load balancer. Ideally, I'd like to get the upgrade done this coming Sunday, but that's not looking like it's going to happen. Perhaps the following Sunday (the Sunday before New Year's Eve). My goal is to be able to do this update without bringing the servers down for longer than an hour. We'll see, it all depends on how smoothly things go, as always.

2) The forums are getting another innovation, and extension of the power of Thread tags: Multi-tagged threads. A user can choose the Main Thread tag (like currently), but also choose other thread tags to place the thread. A common sort of example would be the Officers discussing the performance of the hunters while raiding. The poster can choose to place it in the "Officer" thread tag, making it only accessible to the Officers, and also sub-tag it with "Hunters" and "Raiding" (assuming those thread tags are created). These secondary thread tags will then be visible while viewing the "Hunter" Thread tag or the "Raiding" thread tag, while still retaining the security of the "Officer" thread tag. Ultimately, this makes cross-posting items in multiple tags a thing of the past. A single thread can then span multiple thread tags. This is the current top priority item.

3) The forums, news, and popups are getting a major upgrade in the form of Advanced Layout Options. While currently, you can only modify your site's layout, but the content of each page remains pretty much the same in style, the new Advanced Layout for news, forums, and popups will allow you to completely customize your site's major pages further.

4) Going from page to page slowly fixing any CSS and HTML bugs to make the site as compliant as possible (ultimately, to get the site out of quirks mode, which is a nuisance to developers). This a long-term goal, but is something that is being actively worked on.

Those are the major changes coming to the site in the near future.

I hope everyone has a spectacular holiday season!