Sunday, December 2, 2018

Change Log: 2.84.1603

Tablet resolution night mode tease!
Release 2.84.1603 is mostly a break/fix type release that corrects a laundry list of minor usability issues.

The only major new feature in this release is the new (beta) Night Mode feature. If you subscribe to the Manager (and have the beta features enabled), definitely check it out and let me know what you think!

Among the other minor corrections and fixes, this release also starts to clean up some of the messiness in both the Settlement Event Log and the user interface around modifying a Survivor's Survival: superfluous/redundant log messages are eliminated, Survival-related events that do make it to the log are cleaner-looking and situations where the Manager stops a user-attempted Survival update are logged.

There are some minor touch-ups to the (beta) Gear Lookup feature, so if you use that or have it enabled, hit me up and let me know what you think: the feature will, I hope, be ready to exit beta soon, so what you see in there now is probably pretty close to what we're going to go with for General Availability.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Very Special Milestone

PS: the 2.83.1563 release of the manager just bumped us up to commit #667, which means that the Manager spent all summer on the commit Number of the Beast:

Change Log: 2.83.1563

Anyone else find one of these little guys
in their Echoes of Death box?
Alright, time to shake the rust off and get back to it: Summer break is officially over and release 2.83.1563 has arrived!

The first new release of the Manager in over two months includes support for the new Echoes of Death expansion as well as a number of minor corrections and one or two minor "quality of life" enhancements.

As of release 2.83.1563, settlements can enable the Echoes of Death expansion, which will add the "Strain Milestones" controller to the Settlement Sheet and make Strain Fighting Arts available on the Survivor Sheet.

On the QoL front, the big news is that the back-end process for adding a weapon mastery to a survivor has been revised, clarified and corrected. As a result, the Settlement Event Log will look cleaner and more logical, and the duplicate mastery A&I bug is finally resolved. Big shout-out to @wayforger on that one, for reporting and troubleshooting the issue.

Finally, on the topic of break/fix, release 2.83.1563 commits some more code to the most prolific/persistent issue I've had to resolve in almost three years of supporting the Manager: the dreaded issue #503.

(I will leave the issue open, since it has come back from the dead so many times before, but I think I finally have it beat. Time will tell.)

Thanks for using the Manager!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Change Log: 2.82.1550

Release 2.82.1550 is about as narrow in its focus as releases of the Manager get.

In fact, this release does literally one thing: it fixes issue #505 by adding routes to the API that allow settlements and survivors to be removed and updates the controls in the webapp to use those new routes (instead of the legacy webapp).

The new controls are also improved visually and have a "safety" feature where you "arm" the delete button which is, I think, a little better than the previous method of popping a Javascript alert and making the user click through it.

At any rate, apologies to everyone who ran into issue #505 during the last week.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Change Log: 2.81.1540

Release 2.81.1540 takes the KD Collection feature out of beta: all users of the Manager are now able to maintain a KD Collection and use their collection to include Fighting Arts, Disorders and Settlement Events in their campaigns.

That's about it for "new" features in this release, however. Think of this one as a "quality of life" release that mostly cleans up UI/UX elements, streamlines/normalizes some control elements, etc.

(The inspiration came from a couple of posts on /r/kingdomdeath where people were talking about UI and it kind of jogged my memory about how I said that I wanted to spruce-up the UI for the users to whom that sort of thing is more important.)

Beyond aesthetic/UX QoL concerns, release 2.81.1540 continues the optimization project.

As far as back-end/behind-the-scenes enhancements go, the big push towards a simplified/organized legacy webapp continues. Release 2.81.1540 is actually kind of a milestone in that regard, as it removes all Survivor and Settlement Sheet HTML from the module in the legacy webapp, which is a goal I've been working towards for...probably over a year at this point.

Moving on to a recurring topic on this blog, I'm going to spend a few paragraphs talking about HTML render times (i.e. how long it takes for the the legacy webapp to create the HTML you need for your view) and the project I started back in January to reduce them.

In the aftermath of the May 19th release (2.77.1502) of the Manager, I expected render times on the 'new_settlement' view and the 'view_campaign' view to improve (i.e. decrease), but it looks like average HTML render times have not improved across the board and, in some cases, have actually gotten worse since the January 30 release (2.67.1287):

dashboard     0.05    0.31
login     0.35    0.61
new_settlement     0.03    0.02
view_campaign     0.27    0.3
view_settlement           0.47         0.35
view_survivor     0.04    0.21

Back in January, all of these routes were averaging a half a second or more and, ultimately, the goal here is to have all of these averaging under half a second, so I am making some progress here, but I kind of feel like I'm hitting a wall.

Lately, in light of this and a few other annoyances I'm having with the legacy webapp, I'm feeling like the solution here is to do what the pros do and shoot the hostage, i.e. remove the webapp from the equation and have the whole front-end application be a single, unified JS (e.g. AngularJS 2) app. That way, the user downloads the whole thing at once, we incur an up-front download time penalty, and then performance is down to two factors, i.e. the client machine's ability to run the JS app and the API's ability to respond rapidly to it.

At any rate, that's where we're at in terms of performance optimization as of this release. Moving on.

Finally, I should mention that, in terms of API development, there is only one major item of note in this release. Release 2.81.1540 moves user avatar retrieval from the legacy webapp to the API, which should help performance (i.e. avatar load speeds) out quite a bit. I don't really have that code instrumented (i.e. so I can't quantify the improvement), but it should be noticeable.

(Because everything the API does is pretty much automatically WAY faster than anything the legacy/CGI app does, etc.)

Thanks for using the Manager!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Change Log: 2.78.1502

Release 2.78.1502 is primarily a break/fix release intended to smooth out some of the issues introduced in the last one.

In addition to the normal fixes and corrections, this release addresses issue #502, where clicking on a settlement from the Dashboard sometimes boots you from the webapp.

In terms of new stuff, there isn't much in this release, but subscribers with Beta features of the application enabled will notice that the KD Collections functionality has expanded to include settlements.

If you've got Beta features turned on, you can now create campaigns that include all of the FArts, Disorders and Settlement Events of all the expansions in your collections.

KD Collection features will most likely move out of beta in the next release of the Manager: they're not quite ready for prime time just yet. When the KD Collection functionality does move, it will be generally available to all users of the Manager.

Finally, speaking of the next release, that will probably come some time in June and will be similar to the last production release of the Manager, in that it will mostly be focused on clean-up, optimization and getting the Manager ready for what comes next.

...which, for now, will remain shrouded in secrecy.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Change Log: 2.77.1480

Release 2.77.1480 is primarily a back-end/clean-up type release that overhauls the way that the legacy webapp renders HTML and continues the project I started back in January to cut HTML render times in the legacy webapp to the bone.

Beyond the non-trivial back-end optimization work included in this one, release 2.77.1480 also includes the Beta release of a new feature that allows users to include Fighting Arts and Disorders from expansions in their "KD Collection" in their settlements' drop-down menus.

Additionally, Departing Survivors controls have also got a new beta feature in this release. Once you select a showdown type, the Manager will check your Innovations and tally up the total Survival bonus that applies to your Departing Survivors.

(If you are a subscriber and you would like to check any of this out before it hits general availibility, just enable the "Beta" preference on the Dashboard "System" menu. Please also check in and let me know what you think!)

In terms of general UI/UX optimization, users will notice that the Dashboard and the Campaign Summary have been cleaned up and normalized a bit, in terms of presentation: all of the various arrows, checkboxes, etc. are more tightly aligned in this one.

The form for creating a new settlement has also been overhauled and updated in release 2.77.1480.

Users will notice that the form looks more like the rest of the Manager now and may also notice that new settlement creation speeds are increased. Release 2.77.1480 cuts the legacy webapp out of the pipeline for creating new settlements, so the action is all on the API-side (i.e. requesting a new settlement now requires a single server-side operation, rather than two separate operations where the browser is the middle-man between the app and the API, as it has in the past).

Finally, getting back to the HTML render times I mentioned up top, this release eliminates several redundancies in the process for rendering the Dashboard, Campaign Summary and Settlement Sheet HTML, which I expect to further decrease render times, even versus the enhancements I made back in January.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Change Log: 2.75.1429

Wave Two!
Release 2.75.1429 is mostly focused on break/fix work. It does not push any new features, but the release does polish up the recently released Gear Lookup (beta) feature of the Manager and expose some previously hidden elements of that.

Specifically, release 2.75.1429 adds support for gear recipes to the lookup tool and also adds data for a good chunk of expansion gear (which was mostly absent from the initial release of the feature).

Support for expansion gear isn't 100% yet, but it will be by the time the feature exits beta in May.

In terms of fixes and corrections, there's a laundry list, but there are a couple of pretty major usability bugs that get addressed in this one: the Nemesis TPK bug and the Inspirational Statute bug are both addressed in release 2.75.1429.

Finally, I am currently working on a blog post that reviews the first quarter of 2018 that will explain how I'm doing against the roadmap, why I am not pushing new releases as frequently as I have historically and so on. That should be ready...maybe tomorrow or the next day.

Thanks for using the Manager!

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!

Change Log: 2.72.1337 (The Timeline Release)

Release 2.72.1337 includes a major upgrade for settlement Timeline and Event Log controls.

This release, which I have been working on for almost a month, also contains a small handful of corrections and bug fixes, as well as a minor upgrade to the Campaign Summary Survivor "Quick View" presentation.

(Special thanks to this thread, which reminded me that I didn't include them in the last release, the Survivor "Quick View" display now includes the tips for Courage- and Understanding-related Abilities & Impairments.)

Another thing that happens behind the scenes in Release 2.72.1337 is the deprecation/removal of a ton of vestigial/deprecated methods from the legacy webapp. This massive purge of dead/useless code is phase two of the work I started in the last release to cut HTML render times to the bone. The changes in this release will not contribute directly to decreased HTML render times, but they slim down the overall "weight" of the legacy webapp, and that is a good thing no matter how you slice it.

Speaking of HTML render times, here's how they look in the last seven days of production use, versus how they looked in production during the last week of 2017:


Other than the login view (which I don't have data for in 2017), literally all HTML render times have improved since the 2.67.1287 release. They're still not great (taking almost a second to render the HTML for the Campaign Summary view is definitely no bueno), but they're improving and, as I continue to streamline the legacy webapp, I expect them to continue to improve.

Release 2.72.1337 one also re-does the expansion content controls, which were very old and...let's just say they weren't up to the general standard of the webapp in the last year or so.

Finally, since Wave Two is about to ship, I should mention that this is going to be the last big release until I update the Manager to handle 1.5 versions of the original expansions. The plan, for now, is basically to get release 2.72.1337 shipped, maybe do a quick break/fix/follow-up release, and then get an updated for the 1.5 expansions up as fast as possible.

Watch the Manager's Twitter for more details on the expansion upgrade.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Feature Demo: Timeline Upgrade!

Tablet resolution teaser of the new Timeline controls!
As I mentioned yesterday, I've been hard at work for the last couple weeks on redoing the Timeline controls in the Manager (and clearing out the major quests in Fallout 4).

The Timeline was one of the first features that I implemented in the API (back when I started migrating from the legacy webapp to the public API) and, accordingly, it's a hot mess in both places. Long story short, most of what I've been working on has been clean-up and refactor type stuff, meant to give me what I need on the back end to bring the UI/UX up to current standards.

If you are interested in the gory details, the ticket is here.

If you are not interested in the gory details but you would like a preview of how the new controls are going to look and work, please enjoy the animated GIF feature demo in this post.

Finally, it is still too soon for me to commit to a date/time for when I think the new Timeline will be production-ready, but I am pretty confident that I'll get it in before the end of the month.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Settlement Event Icon (vector and PNG)

As part of the project to refactor/redesign the Timeline, I ended up having to create a Settlement Event icon to help recreate the look and feel of the 1.5 Settlement Sheet.

It's become a custom/tradition on this blog for me to share DIY assets that I create as posts and file them under "DIY". If Google Analytics is to be believed, people are finding them useful.

And so, without further ado, the Settlement Event icon:

Use this link to download that PNG.

And here it is as a vector.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Change Log: 2.68.1299 (The "Showdown" Release)

Upgraded Survivor Quick View at tablet resolution!
I've been working on the main feature in release 2.68.1299 for a while now.

In fact, I've been working on this branch for so long, I even gave it a non-numerical code name: I call it the "Showdown" branch. Which, by the transitive property of branch names, makes this the Showdown Release (which sounds pretty cool, I think).

At any rate, I am happy to say that release 2.68.1299 pushes a major upgrade to the Campaign Summary's Survivor "Quick View" feature of the Manager that should pretty massively enhance the general user experience.

In this release, the "Quick View" has been upgraded to allow better survivor management during showdowns: Survival, survivor attributes (including gear and token numbers), the three major survivor status flags (can't spend Survival, can't use Fighting Arts, Skip Next Hunt), armor locations, hit boxes, Courage and Understanding can all be managed right from the Campaign Summary, i.e. without loading the Survivor Sheet.

Otherwise, there's not a whole lot in this release.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

MAJOR Upgrade coming this weekend!

In response to overwhelming popular demand, the next release of the Manager will upgrade the Campaign Summary so that multiple survivors can be managed without having to change over to their Survivor Sheets!

Rather than explaining it, I've created this feature demo to show how much more control over survivors the Campaign Summary's "Quick View" will have in the next release of the Manager:

Campaign Summary "Quick View" upgrade at tablet resolution!

The new release still has a ways to go before it's ready to go, however, so I don't think I'll have it pushed out into production until Sunday (I'm shooting for Saturday, but...that's not super-realistic, I don't think).

Thanks for using the Manager!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Change Log: 2.67.1287

The optimization project continues! Release 2.67.1287 does not push any new features, but focuses heavily on performance.

Most of the general/non-specific user feedback I've gotten in the last couple of months is about how long the Manager takes when loading a new page or "view".

And while there are certain, critical aspects of load times that I cannot control, such as network conditions, the speed of your client device, etc., there are a few of things that I can control:
  1. the time it takes to render the HTML that constitutes a given "view" (e.g. Dashboard, Survivor Sheet, etc.).
  2. the size of static files, e.g. CSS and JS, that you need to pull down to use that HTML.
  3. the time it takes the API to respond to requests made by that HTML.
The focus of release 2.67.1287 is to massively reduce the time it takes for that first piece to happen, theory being that if the app renders the HTML faster, you can start downloading it that much faster and cut some time from your overall load time.

This is a table that shows the average production render times (in seconds) for the main views in the previous release of the Manager:


* data not available.

And here are the average render times for those same views in 2.67.1287 (again, in seconds):


They say, in the biz, that one second is what you should be shooting for, in terms of having a view loaded and ready to go for the user. Even on very fast connections, views that used to take more than half a second (on average) to render have no chance of being loaded in one second. 

In 2.67.1287, however, everything gets a lot faster, in terms of how long it takes for view HTML to be created by the web application, and that is an important part of the overall optimization effort.

In related (but probably not as significant) news, when I started working on this release, I found that over 18% of the CSS class selectors used in the project's primary style.css file were not in use.

(To put that another way, before release 2.67.1287, there were something like 80 different selectors that weren't referenced anywhere in any of the project's HTML templates!)

All of which is to say that the HTML, CSS and JS files that you have to pull down when you load a new view should come down just a little bit faster now.

Finally, this release also adds some simple unit testing to the legacy webapp.

One of my 2018 goals for the Manager is to basically lock the legacy webapp down: to "finish" it and stop updating it, so I can focus exclusively on HTML templates and API enhancements. Unit tests are a big part of that: locking down the features of the legacy webapp and wrapping them in unit tests gives me the ability to basically stop active development on it, which is a major goal.

At any rate, I've got some big feature enhancements coming up in the next release, so stay tuned!

Thanks for using the Manager!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Development Roadmap: 2018

I haven't done this previously, but I decided that for 2018, I'm going to publish a development roadmap this January and come back to it in a year and measure my progress against the plan.

(The last time I tried something even remotely similar to this was December 2015, and it was more like...a to-do list, than a proper development plan.)

A lot of similar projects that have been inspirations for this one do something similar, and I enjoy reading their roadmap (and roadmap-review/postmortem) posts, so I figured, what the hell? Why not give it a shot?

Best-case scenario, this gives me a rough plan that I can use to stay motivated/focused on the important priorities from release to release. Worst-case scenario, I look back at this in a year and say, "man, what the hell was I thinking?"

At any rate, hit the jump for my detailed/annotated roadmap for 2018 development on the Manager and the KDM API.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Change Log: 2.64.1260

Death Dice!
The last release of the Manager was a big one and touched on a lot of things, so release 2.64.1260 is largely dedicated to break/fix type work.

The only "new" feature that users might notice is that the Family innovation inheritance feature is officially out of beta as of this release, and, if your settlement has the innovation, you'll see controls setting a "donor" parent on the New Survivor creation screen.

There's also a pretty important back-end milestone in this release: as of 2.64.1260, all survivor updates are managed through the API! The legacy webapp is no longer involved in database updates for survivors!

And, speaking of back-end enhancements, release 2.64.1260 also starts a lot of work on the general maintainability of the config files for the legacy webapp, which really needs to improve if I'm really going to change the Manager's supported browsers to include Safari.

As usual, hit the jump for the full release notes.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Friday, January 26, 2018

iOS/Safari Support - Coming Soon

I usually get one or two emails a month about adding or improving support for Safari or iOS devices (or both).

In response, I will typically write a quick email about how/why I can't support iOS and Safari that usually boils down to two points:

  • Less significant: Safari is not as well-maintained as Chrome/Firefox and supporting it takes more work than supporting those other browsers.
  • More significant: the top two browsers used by users of the Manager are Chrome and Firefox, I'm a one-man-show, and I don't have time to try to support more than two different browsers.

As I do every January, I crunched the numbers on how people used the Manager in the previous year  and, as a result of increased Safari usage in 2017, I'm going to be changing that policy in 2018.

The post below explains how the numbers look in the near-/recent-term and how browser-usage looks during 2017.

For those who DO NOT feel like reading the analysis and the background, the executive summary of this blog post is that the Manager is going to start officially supporting iOS devices running Safari in 2018.

For anyone else who wants to see the numbers and read the analysis, hit the jump for the full story.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Change Log: 2.63.1239

Innovation "Quick Pick" feature at tablet resolution!
I figure it's been a while since I shipped any subscribers-only features, so release 2.62.1239 ships three!

Survival +5 subscribers to the Manager will now have access to:
  1. a random name generator on the Survivor Sheet 
  2. an enhancement to the Settlement Sheet that 'draws' random cards from the innovation deck
  3. a new preference that hides the in-line help and UI tips in the Manager
All of the new features both pretty self-explanatory, but I've added some feature demo animated GIFs to this post and the page that explains what Survival +5 subscribers get with their subscription.

Release 2.63.1239 also continues the project of streamlining and optimizing the Manager for speed/performance. Your favorite campaign manager caught some pointed, dead-on negative feedback over in the sub this week, and much like the last few releases, this one tries to reduce 'the chug' that puts so many people off.

Survivor Sheet random name
generator at mobile resolution!
Specifically, this release massively overhauls the way that HTML is rendered by the legacy webapp by replacing hundreds of lines of server-side code dedicated to determining what HTML gets rendered when responding to a request with templates where the browser-side parts of the application do that work instead.

The intended effect is that, any time you load/reload a view, you wait less time to get the HTML you need for your view, and then your browser is able to dial up the API and start rendering what you need for your API that much faster.

Most of this is intended to be invisible to users, but one user-facing enhancement that comes with these changes makes it so that creating new survivors no longer requires a reload/refresh: the new survivor controls are totally AngularJS- and API-based now, which means that they work like the (subscribers-only) controls for adding multiple survivors.

Finally, release 2.63.1239 has also got a few minor presentation tweaks to just iron out the last of the visual weirdness/problems introduced into the Survivor Sheet in the 2018 Survivor Sheet upgrade. At this point, I feel like the Survivor Sheet is probably in its final form, give or take a few minor tweaks.

(Although, who knows what will happen when Advanced KD or the Wave Three expansions drop...I'm probably jinxing myself big time, here.)

Thanks for using the Manager!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Feature Demo: New Survivor Creation Upgrade

In yesterday's post, I posted an animated GIF feature demo that previewed an upgrade to the Manager's controls for creating new survivors.

I got a couple of comments/questions about that overnight, so I was inspired this morning and stole a few hours to finish developing the feature.

I just cut a new demo, so people can see exactly how it works: basically, you fill out the form like before but, when you click 'Create', the new survivor gets made in the background and the Manager shows you a summary link that you can click to view them right away.

The new controls also include an option to create a new survivor with a random sex (i.e. the "?" options): that's been requested a few times over the years, so I took the opportunity to implement in the upgrade here.

At any rate, as I mentioned yesterday, there's a lot of stuff still to do before I'm ready to push the next release of the Manager to production, but look for it early this coming week.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

New subscribers-only features coming this week!

Good news everyone!

The next release of the Manager will include three new subscribers-only features as well as an overhaul of the way that new survivors are created.

For a little advanced info on what's coming out in the next release, check out these tickets:

Between these enhancements and the back-end/API stuff I've got open for The Watcher, the next release won't be ready for a while, so, in the meantime, please enjoy this animated GIF that shows the new controls at mobile resolution.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Change Log: 2.61.1211

Survivor Sheet upgrades; PotStars survivor at desktop resolution!
Release 2.61.1211 mostly addresses presentation and usability issues introduced in last Monday's Survivor Sheet upgrade release.

Most of the presentation issues are related to wide resolution, but I also smoothed out the presentation of the Survivor Sheet "hit boxes" (e.g. Brain, Head, Body, etc.) at all resolutions in this one, so the experience should be a little more consistent across devices/resolutions.

Beyond the break/fix stuff, there are also a handful of usability updates in this release intended to further streamline the Survivor Sheet experience.

The most visible enhancement is related to the "hit boxes" on the Survivor Sheet, which now work with the "roll down" controls: you click the armor box, the controls roll down, you make your changes, hit save and they roll back up.

This not only makes the experience more consistent across the various elements on the Survivor Sheet, it also frees up a lot of space at both tablet and wide screen resolution and makes the app look more like the paper sheets (which is one of the major goals of the recent upgrades to the Survivor Sheet).

Release 2.61.1211 also removes a lot of the loading animations and other things that block buttons on the Survivor Sheet and generally tries to make it feel less like you're waiting on the Survivor Sheet to save.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has written in with issues and comments about the Survivor Sheet upgrade and apologize for the delay on getting this release out: I normally like to do these break/fix releases sooner after the release of new features, but I had to travel for work and then a bunch of stuff came up.

Look for the next release of the Manager next week, when I should have some API enhancements and (if we're lucky) some Timeline upgrades ready to roll out.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Change Log: 2.61.1185

Release 2.61.1185 pushes a major upgrade to the Survivor Sheet and also marks a major milestone for the Manager: as of this release, there are no parts of the Survivor Sheet that require a refresh/reload to update the view!

Behind the scenes, the API has been enhanced to allow for what I call "survivor post-processing", which is going to be the new standard for enforcing the game's business logic. For now, the only piece of biz logic I am enforcing are weapon specialization/mastery, but now that the hook is in place, this will be a feature that we expand as we go (e.g. into Wave Three expansions, AKD:M, etc.).

Thanks for using the Manager!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Next Release postponed; Survivor Sheet upgrade feature demo

I had originally intended to push the next release of the Manager to production today, but I ran into a bunch of issues with the upgraded Survivor Sheet controls and decided to postpone.

I doubt I will have time to wrap things up and deploy the new release tomorrow, so the next release is officially postponed until...probably Monday or Tuesday (at least).

In the meantime, check out some teasers/feature demos of the Survivor Sheet upgrade that comes out in the next release.

Thanks for using the Manager!

Tablet resolution demo of the Survivor Sheet upgrade
in the next release!

Mobile resolution (same survivor).

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year, New Survivor Sheet controls

Classic UI at mobile resolution.
Happy New Year!

The holiday is over, and I have (slowly) been getting back to work on the Manager.

As it happens, I initially planned to push a bunch of upgrades before the break, but a number of issues/requirements for The Watcher popped up at the last minute, and I decided to hang back until I could get those ready to ship with the upgrades for the Manager.

At this rate, I expect to have the next release of the Manager ready to go by this coming weekend (maybe Saturday morning or so). When the new release is ready to go into production, it will include an upgrade to the Survivor Sheet controls that I call "classic UI".

After the classic UI upgrade, the Survivor Sheet (at all resolutions) will look and feel like a combination of the classic/paper/in-box record sheet and the controls for The Watcher.

Check out the feature demo (at mobile resolution) on the right for a sneak peak!

Thanks for using the Manager!