Recent site issues, TF2B 3.0 and misc stuff

Recently the site has been plagued by availability issues. The severity of these problems hit a peak today and I was forced to intervene.

As such, I have made some tweaks to the server configuration and rolled out an update to TF2B in the form of version 2.8 that changes how the site interacts with Valve’s WebAPIs. I shall continue to investigate the issue however, though current data point towards the issue being a result of abnormally slow API request time for the TF2 set of APIs, rather than a local server fault.

On a happier note I’d like to quickly mention that the TF2B 3.0 rewrite is making good progress and I hope to be able to roll it out live sometime in the near future. Once a short live beta test of the new codebase has been completed, I shall resume releasing the source code under a Creative Commons license to the public. The extent of the code release however has not yet been decided.

Utility page updates

A quick heads up for everyone, I’ve begun overhauling the various utility pages tf2b.com provides with more modern versions, first up is the brand new item listing page. This initial update makes use of the new automated on-update icon resizing system (As seen in the Dota and Portal sections of TF2B proper), hopefully reducing the connection abuse of the previous version.

Keep an eye out for sorting and store/wiki links in a future update!

Additionally I’d like to quickly mention the schema updatelog page, a fairly new addition that does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s still in a fairly WiP state – so feel free to leave any feedback/suggestions below in the comments.

Rate limit cache

Quick note for you guys going forward, I’ve instituted a 14 second rate-limiting (Courtesy) cache on API queries. After the 14 seconds the cache is automatically deleted and the relevant APIs will be polled again for fresh data.

At such low an interval, this should not have a notably negative impact on the “liveness” of backpack data, although I will be adjusting the interval in the future as necessary.

 

Upcoming changes and testing the waters

I thought I’d do yet another quick writeup to bring you guy up to date with what is going on.

In the realm of TF2 we have new icons for the Halloween unusual particles “on order”, these would’ve been added sooner – but the guy who makes these has been busy with other projects and setting up a new PC. So ETA on these are “when it’s done” for now. Tweak-wise, I’ve leveraged some CSS3 gradient sorcery to both help normalise the visibility of the new paint dots and give them some cosmetic polish; using the same gradients and earlier user feedback, I’ve also altered the display of team paints to use a half/half split instead of a dot-in-dot solution.

No news in the Dota 2 front, we’re still waiting for API support to add item rarity and other related features.

Beyond TF2B itself we have a brand new revised homepage in the works that will act as a staging point for all current and future functionality provided on tf2b.com. If you have any suggestions for content or features you’d like to see in the new homepage, please let us know in the comment section.

 

Strange rectancular painted dots.

A short blog post to wrap up recent changes.

The new cell sizing is here to stay, with the majority of respondents either not noticing the change, or appreciating the increased item density. With the sole objection being that of cosmetic preference, I don’t see any value in returning to the old format.

On the new paint “dots” that cropped up in the previous post’s comments, this was a change that was made for a whole array of reasons. The main three being the capability to automatically display new paints when added, improved visibility of darker paints and less code bloat handling the different usages of the paint attribute between TF2 and Dota 2.

Lastly I’d just like to announce that Strange item counters in Dota 2 now have their appropriate type assigned. There are a few quirks to work out still, but I hope to have the rank up strings implemented shortly.

Layout changes for TF2

I’ve just pushed some experimental layout changes to the TF2 side of TF2B that significantly change the sizing of item cells.

The new format is wider by 4px, and shorter by 8px with a margin reduction of 1px per-side-per-cell. Due to this change, item density is significantly improved – which with the new 2000-slot backpacks, is a valuable commodity to have.

However as I mentioned, this change is experimental and I want to know what you guys think. Are the cells too rectangular, or too small, or even still too big? Are you encountering cosmetic issues?

Post your thoughts below in the comments section.

Game specific features and Client API

Update: It seems some individuals have had trouble either reading or comprehending the below post, so to summarise – the metal/hat counters have been removed to make way for a client API that will allow users to pick and choose a variety of counters according to their needs. One such addon already exists at this thread on our forums.

As you may have noticed, I recently removed the hat, misc and metal counters from TF2B. These features were removed for being game specific, and to make way for a better cross-game solution.

Understandably those of you that used these features will not be pleased to see them go, but there are two features forthcoming to replace them. First being an improved search feature that will display result totals, and have the ability to search by metadata (item type, class, etc).

The main “feature” in planning is a form of client API for addon developers. With the assistance of 3rd-party developers, this will give users greater flexibility to customise TF2B according to the games they play, and data they want to see. Such a feature could also be useful for related websites to publish official addons, which could extend their site’s functionality directly into TF2B.

To help facilitate the discovery of addons, I will be finding a method to promote the work of these third parties on tf2b.com in some manner. This is all still early days however, so more on that later.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you guys think about the proposed client API, and for any potential devs, what would you like to see in it?