Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Change Log: 2.75.1415

Gorm + White Lion kit-bash.
Potion belt + regular belt.
I call this guy, "Geralt"
There are two major upgrades in release 2.75.1415:

  1. an overhaul to the controls for managing Departing survivors.
  2. a new beta feature I call "gear lookup". 

The enhancement to the Departing survivors controls was inspired by a great conversation I had with a user of the Manager about how there should be more of a "workflow" to managing departing/showdown details: shout out to Brian K for the feedback.

The upgrade to the controls, which brings their presentation more inline with the other presentation elements of the Manager, also fixes a few annoying usability issues, including the unpredictable effects that returning survivors could have on the settlement timeline.

As far as the new beta feature goes, the big idea behind "gear lookup" is that you use it to rapidly find gear cards and get their complete info (including crafting recipes, affinities, affinity bonuses, etc.) just by typing in the name, location, attributes, etc. of the gear.

Basically the features is designed for people like me who can never remember which gear lives in which location. I think it will also help groups who find that they're losing time/focus constantly looking up and/or having to remind each other what they need to get to craft the thing they're trying to craft.

At any rate, it's beta in this release and, if all goes well, it will be come a regular subscribers-only feature at some point soon.

Finally, in terms of corrections and fixes in 2.75.1415, there are a bunch of tiny ones and one major one to note..

Mainly, this release fixes the automation for adding weapon mastery innovations to a settlement that broke several releases ago. Long story short, moving from the legacy app to the API broke the functionality that automatically adds/removes specializations to/from living survivors when a mastery is added to or removed from the settlement (by any means). Special thanks to John F for the help getting this one nailed down!

Thanks for using the Manager!


Monday, April 9, 2018

New Release ACTUALLY coming this week & another Feature Demo

Tablet resolution feature demo of the new controls
for managing departing survivors!
Surprise! I ended up deciding not to do a release of the Manager last week.

The tl;dr is that, after the new gear lookup feature code I teased last week was looking like it was ready to go out, there were still a bunch of usability issues I wanted to address, and the only way I could really address them was to refactor the controls for managing departing survivors, so I ended up doing that, which took longer than expected.

As you can see from the demo attached to this post, I'm mostly done with the upgrade to the controls, but I've still got some QA and some presentation fixes (across other areas of the Manager) to work on, so my current plan is to have these new controls and the beta version of the gear lookup in production by Wednesday, i.e. in two days from now.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

New release this week + new feature demo!

Tablet-resolution feature demo.
Since release 2.73.1380 dropped last week, I've been working on a feature that I started working on several months back.

As everyone knows, one of the biggest show-stopper design problems in Monster (especially when playing with others) is pretty much everything to do with crafting gear. There are some good paper solutions out there--I especially like putting the cards in coin-collection sheets and then scanning those and distributing them to players--but no good digital ones.

Enter the Manager's forth-coming beta/subscribers-only feature, gear card search/look-ups, which tries to solve the problem of knowing which gear you're trying to craft and/or how you want to build your survivors.

By the time the feature is done and ready for general release, the Manager's gear search feature will include available recipes and other helpful info, e.g. which expansion a piece of gear comes from, etc.

For now, check out this new animated GIF demo, which shows how the feature will work when I release it as a beta in the next release of the Manager, which should be ready to go in a few days (or so).

Thanks for using the Manager!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Change Log: 2.73.1380

Release 2.73.1380 is mostly a break/fix type release that continues the ongoing project to clean up logging and get us fully migrated to Semantic Logging.

The effects of that work will be subtle, of course, but a couple of things in this release that users will definitely notice are a.) the deprecation of Twitter from the Manager and b.) an updated "Info" modal (i.e. the the thing that pops up when you click the little "!" button) on the Dashboard that contains webapp alerts from the API.

I've been working on this one for a few weeks, since I feel like it will be important for general release of the API: I want to have a hard-wired, always-on type of methodology for communicating notifications and issues downstream to users of the production API.

Another thing in 2.73.1380 that will appear new to most users is the "Help!" item on the Nav Bar. This was beta in the last release, but I feel pretty good about how it's been working out, so it's now GA.

Finally, look for another small-scope release like this sometime soon: I've got a personal goal of having all of the logging stuff migrated, upgraded and burned in before I start working on any new features, and the easiest way to do that is in these little releases.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Change Log: 2.73.1369

Expansions of Death!
Release 2.73.1369 cleans up Settlement Event Logging and adds some new help, support and notification enhancements that I've been working on for a while.

This release does not, however, add the help and notification enhancements for everyone.

Rather, subscribers of the Manager who have the "beta" preference enabled will notice the 'Help' option on the left-side navigation bar. This new feature contains campaign- and expansion-specific tips and notes as well as "alerts" that come directly from Yours Truly.

The idea behind the alerts features is that I'm starting to phase out Twitter as the official source of emerging issues, announcements about features and fixes, etc. and these alerts will accomplish the work that the Manager's Twitter account has been doing for the last several months.

Eventually, the help tips and the notifications will probably become generally available functionality, i.e. visible to all users, but, for now, they're beta functionality (until I'm comfortable with how they look and how I'm using them).

On the back-end, release 2.73.1369 devotes a good amount much-needed TLC to Settlement Event Logging, which got a little weird/broken back when the Timeline release went out.

All users of the webapp, both subscribers and non-subscribers, will hopefully notice improvements to the presentation, verbal clarity and overall usefulness of Settlement Event Logging.

I'll save the details for the change notes below, but there's a ton of tiny updates in this release intended to bring all of the API's settlement Event Logging up to a standard and basically pay down the technical debt I took on when I cut the API over to Semantic Logging back in December 2017.

(When release 2.59.1140 went into production, it shipped the basic hooks for Semantic Logging, but it didn't really change how the API logged settlement events. Now, in release 2.73.1369, I spend a good amount of time bringing the various Settlement and Survivor methods up to the current standard for recording events to the log)

Finally, I created a new project for expanding the Manager's support of expansion content. The basic idea is to go through and smooth out all of the expansion assets and features and tune everything up. I plan to start going through my Wave Two box this weekend and opening tickets.

I expect to have a better sense of how long it will take to update the Manager by Monday.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Change Log: 2.72.1348

Shout-out to the guy who packs my KD boxes and makes
these little illustrations.
Release 2.72.1348 is a break/fix release meant to clean up the last big feature release of the Manager and resolve issues that were introduced by the Timeline upgrade.

The release also includes a few corrections/fixes/updates to some miscellaneous stuff, but most of that's pretty minor user-proofing, typo-correction and low-stakes back-end optimization stuff: if you hit the jump and read the change notes, it seems like there's a lot going on here, but most of the code that this release pushes fixes issues with the new Timeline.

On the topic of the Timeline, I should say that during the first three days that the new Timeline was in production, close to a dozen people checked in with detailed feedback/bugs/screen captures/etc. The response was super helpful in getting everything addressed. Thanks to everyone who gave that good feedback!

In terms of what's next, I just checked USPS/FedEx and it looks like my Wave Two stuff is going to be here early this coming week. Once it arrives, I'll be working pretty much full-time on bringing the Manager into compliance with whatever changes/updates/fixes are included in the new printings of the expansion content.

Depending on what exactly needs updating, that could be one big release or a bunch of little ones or...maybe something else. Stay tuned!

Thanks for using the Manager!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Today's deployment: outage/downtime postmortem

Normally I don't like to deploy new releases on Saturdays. 

Generally speaking, I like to push code on Sunday, or even better, on Monday mornings. Mostly this is because those are low-usage times when there are only one or two active users (if any) in production.

As regular readers of this blog and users of this website know, I am bad at software. And, like most people who are bad at software (but insist on doing it anyway), I expect my deployments to be total shit-shows and I like to give myself a nice, long window to untangle whatever messes I inevitably make when I do end up having to deploy code.

At any rate, I went against my better judgment and decided to roll today's release out while there were a dozen or so users in production and, of course, I ended up causing an hour-long outage. 

And so I just took ten minutes to write a postmortem that explains exactly what happened.

Mostly I did this to publicly shame myself (because Shame is the Great Educator), but some of you may find it illuminating. 

So hit the jump for the play-by-play of how I broke the website this morning, if you're into that kind of thing.

And thanks for using the Manager!