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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
We’ve got a bit of everything in this week’s work summary, another hefty performance fix, a new UI feature and helpful safeguards.
First up is the display of trade bans and probation, this is something I’ve wanted to implement for some time, but the data has not been available outside of the Community XML feed. Not wanting to touch that shambling horror again, the feature has largely been on hold until the recent availability of a new bans API. The current implementation will flag probated users with an orange name and title; banned users are displayed as red with an additional warning emitted above the first page of the backpack.
In the realm of performance we have a fix for the prior poorly implemented event handling. Previously, 4 events were attached per item cell to handle the tooltip effect and creating the link to the item summary pages. This method was an ugly, ugly hack and has been replaced by delegating the event handling to a common ancestor. (In this case, a HTML5 section element with id “backpack”)
Last on the list are numbered page tabs. This feature is largely self-descriptive, you can also use this feature to link to a specific page in your backpack by appending #1, #3, #20 and so forth to your backpack URL.
Because I’m unoriginal and lack inventive names for post titles.
Two big changes recently for you guys. First off is that Nano mode now works with the Dota 2 section, with according cell-sizing – with an improved switching system.
On the backend, I’ve switched out the old crufty method of storing item data in the markup in favour of HTML5 data attributes. This has the advantage of significantly reducing the number of elements in the DOM, so the change should result in improved page render times.
That all being said however, if you use any userscripts that are dependant on element structure/order, there is a fair chance they will now be broken.
On the cards for future updates we have a re-implementation of the specific item counters, and page tagging/anchoring. But more on that later.
As always, remember to drop your feedback and bug reports below or via our IRC channel. (#tf2b on Freenode)
The last couple of weeks have been incredibly rewarding for TF2B, with the textmode listing seeing a significant set of upgrades; notably the ability to sort by column. Plus a host of server tweaks that should prevent most site outages during combined high load and API timeouts.
In the realm of Dota 2, we have the new 8-by-8 cell layout to match the in-game backpack. This is most advantageous when compared to the native Steam Inventory, which still utilises a 50-slot view. There are also improvements to the handling of Unusual couriers – the assigned colour value will now be previewed in a swatch on the item cell itself, with the hexadecimal colour code listed in the tooltip.
In TF2-land, we finally have the release of the oft-requested TF2B icon pack, you can go grab the downloads over here.
That about wraps up the last month or so of happenings in and around TF2B, over the next couple of weeks I hope to roll out some further improvements to the game independant theme TF2B now uses, and fix or replace the quality dimmer bar to work with Dota 2.