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The Big Update is done! What's next?

6/19/08 4:43pm
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!
There were lots and lots of requests that ultimately all added up to a single massive solution.

"How can I limit event signups to a particular list?" "My DKP List is too big, and doing data entry is a pain, how do I shorten that list?" "How can I make a separate application process for members who want promotions?" "How can I change members' signups?" "My guild plays WoW and LOTRO, how can I support that?"

Ultimately, all of those seemingly unrelated questions and requests were indeed related, and they culminated into a single massive update that resulted in a fundamental restructuring of the database, interface, and most everything. The original idea (and indeed, the first of the requests) was simply to support multiple games on a single site. There were a few early adopters whom I assured this was planned for release. Originally planned for April of 2007, it wasn't actually realized until June of 2008, after four dedicated months of rewriting. Indeed designing the change for the interface was especially difficult. How do you make add this degree of flexibility to the system without making it inaccessibly difficult to use. Existing users would be able to adapt, as they'd be comfortable with how the system operates, but for new users, this could be a little to cumbersome.

After filling notebooks with design, sketches, pseudo-code, database schema changes, and other random tweaks, as well as hours and hours of actual coding, the changes were finished, and finally launched June 1st (with a fair share of bugs, admittedly).

Very few changes were made between February and June because those changes would just have to be redone again on the multi-game patch anyway. So development, to the external viewer, would have appeared slow.

In any case, it was all completed, all of those features implemented, all those problems solved, and now it's time to focus on the next major overhaul: The Forums!

Our forum system, Thread Tags, is always a touchy spot. It's almost an inherent attribute of humanity: people simply don't like change. And Thread Tags is different. I would argue they are superior, but there are certainly those that disagree with the approach.

How can we take a forum system which is intentionally and almost fundamentally different from every other forum out there, and make it more accessible to those users who don't like it?

We make it better. Make it obviously better than the other forum systems. Speed up the interface, make things flashier, make this more customizable. Thread Tags is still in a juvenile stage. It's past it's infancy, but it's not exactly "all grown up" just yet.

These changes will be it's "Bar Mitzvah." After this coming change, Thread Tags will be all grown up.

The following is a list of some of the major features planned:
* Aesthetic upgrade (always good)
* Advanced Layout for the Forums (customize the layout with HTML just like you can your site's design), complete with at least two different pre-made forum templates to use (which will still work with the existing templates without problem).
* Hover-over summaries/previews of a thread
* Post and thread Ratings
* Thread Merging and Splitting
* Mass Thread/Post Deletion and Thread Tag changing.
* Almost completely AJAX, making the transitions smooth and seamless.
* Comments on Gallery Posts and Blog posts.

While originally planned for Early July, this change might go until late July, given the complexity of the change.

Hopefully this little preview will whet your appetite for the coming changes to the forum.

Those of you concerned that our forum will start going toward the traditional approach, I can assure you the unique feel of the Thread Tags system is only getting enhanced and improved.

I think you'll all like the changes! I'm certainly excited for them myself.