Monday, November 12, 2007

IBD - Recent Updates & Enhancements

WARNING: Longer post due to multiple updates from recent weeks.
In the last week or two, many things have been updated, some minor & others with greater potential.

Stats Header LinksFor starters, based on upon a user request, I added links to a few of the headers in the Stats page giving a bit more direction to some of the profile entry sections.









Stats Header LinksBased on another user request, I simplified the sorting options on the Icon List pages. By combining them into the header of the table only, I think it makes the interface more intuitive & less cluttered. An additional link to the master icon page also seemed like an easy way to add cross-reference capabilities.

Main Page StatsAdded some additional basic stats to the front page of the Dashboard showing total number of icons, as well as total number of users. I figured it was a nice way to keep the pulse of the system visible, and in the next week or two, I plan on adding some additional reference information there.

Set Edit Calendar
Calendar WidgetThe long standing bug of Safari users getting the "lcid_control.asp" error has been resolved with the helpful efforts of soprano, and to help alleviate any additional date entry issues, I have incorporated a calendar window. And before anyone across the pond in the UK, Europe, or even our friends in Australia get up in arms, I have set the default date format to "yyyy/mm/dd". However, I am also working on the beginning day of the week to match with your local language settings. Please be patient.

IB Profile AvatarLast, but certainly not least is a very new feature utilizing screen scraping of profile avatars from IB. Mostly, I wanted to put this feature in place to help identify users with the (currently in progress) Friends & Deliveries portion of the Dashboard. But to get it working, I figured it would be a nice addition to each user's profile page, but ONLY if the user has their IB profile URL filled in. If not, it just shows the default "grey man" known throughout IB for new users.

This is a fledgling feature, and as several users have noted in the last day, some errors have been identified & squished. Please be patient as this is perfected, but also understand that this is NOT an attempt at tying IB & the Dashboard together. While many of you might like that ability, it would ultimately be more trouble than it's worth at this time, particularly since the simplicity of the application is part of its charm, at least in my mind. Feel free to persuade me otherwise if desired.

Some of the more minor updates to the system are:
  • Gold Crown Badge Activated in Stats
  • LCID Language Issue Resolved for Safari Browsers
  • Corrected Extra Token Calculation for 60K+
  • Tokyo Hygiene Hijinx Involving Bad Database Update by Yours Truly
  • Enhanced Database & System Security

Some of the things that are still under development, but haven't been forgotten or overlooked are:
  • Friend & Delivery Tracking
  • FAQ/Help Page
  • Enhanced Set & Family Metrics for Inquiring Minds (Graphs & Charts & Metrics, Oh My)
  • Hash Password Storage
  • User Password Reset Capabilities


Whew! I think that covers it for now, but as always, stay tuned for more.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

IBD - Profile Offsets

Profile OffsetsAs many of you are aware, there's a calculation error within IB that occurred during some of the site slowdowns. Basically, some of the delivered sets by users were delivered & the stamps weren't reduced, or in other cases, deliveries were able to be received twice by the recipients. Please understand that the situation is rare & somewhat isolated. Mostly, the users that have larger point totals & are more active on the site have experienced this issue.

Well, I'm here today to announce that the Dashboard will now handle calculation offsets to help correct your points or stamps totals. Just go into your Profile page, and you can then enter an offset value to bring your totals in line with those on IB.

IconBuffet - My Icons Greasemonkey Script

MyIcons RestyledFor those of you using Greasemonkey (a scripting extension for Firefox), I have created a script to tighten the layout of the IconBuffet "My Icons" page.

Since I've been using the system for a while, I didn't need some of the elements any longer. So, by just inserting modified CSS values, I was able to trim the page layout, giving more of what I like to see & less of what I don't. Check out the script page, and if you have any questions or ideas to expand on it, feel free to leave me a comment.

Inspiration for the icon display section was taken from mik's userstyle written about in this blog post.

Also using THiC's userstyle "IconBuffet Restyled" discussed in this blog post. Highly recommended!

IBD - Icon Edit Tweak

Icon Edit TweaksAs I was working on assigning some "Promised To" values for my needed sets, I realized that the form wasn't quite "right". And as you can see in the screenshot, I noticed that the form controls were aligned incorrectly. It's a small fix, but I think it makes the form a bit easier to navigate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

IBD - Date Internationalization

International DatesAfter a Canadian user of the Dashboard (thank you rossanyl) suggested displaying dates in alternate formats, I started looking into internationalizing parts of the system. It took a bit of reading & wading through documentation, but I ended up coming across an ASP function that someone had built to identify & update an ASP session with the correct LCID (otherwise known as the locale ID).

So in order to view international dates, you just need to have the correct language set in your browser. Rossanyl needed to change her language from English-US to English-Canada, and the system started showing the recognized Canadian format of "dd/mm/yyyy" as you can see in the screenshot. The other helpful indicator is that the LCID from the "user_date_test" page will be something other than 1033, which is for US English.

Hopefully, this is another small change that will make the Dashboard that much more useful. Enjoy!

IBD - New Updates & Things in Progress

Toolbar Login

So with the idea of making the system a bit more streamlined & removing unnecessary overhead, the Login form has been integrated with the navigation toolbar. Hopefully, this should make the system a bit easier to use, and less of a hassle.

Dynamic Icon List SortFrom several user requests, dynamic sorting has been added to the Received & Needed Icon List pages. Now, you will be able to sort the lists according to your desires to see your information easier. And not stopping there, a "select all/select none" checkbox has been added to the table header to assist in moving sets from Needed to Received. With my initial testing, I know that this has saved me tons of energy in clicking checkboxes. May it save you from carpal tunnel syndrome as well.

Icon List ExportLastly, I added the ability to export a current icon list from the Dashboard into Excel format. The layout of the list is a mockup of the text version that debbye is using in her Complete Icon Lists thread. However, I fully expect to modify this functionality into several report formats to give all of you more control over your own data, as well as the data within the Dashboard.

Things in Progress:
  • Calendar integration for easier date selection.
  • Enhanced database & system security.
  • Friend & delivery tracking.
  • Help/FAQ page.
  • Enhanced set & family metrics for inquiring minds.

Stay tuned, and as always, let me know of any possible improvements!

Friday, October 12, 2007

IBD - Modenatroid Value Change

Modenatroid's value was upgraded from a Bronze to a Gold before it was delivered today. I've just made the change in the Dashboard, so be aware that it may have affected your allocations. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

IBD - User Icon List Updates

User Icon List UpdatesOver the past several weeks, some minor but helpful features have been integrated into the IB Dashboard.
  • At the bottom of the Type column, you can find the total number of tokens required for those sets.
  • Based on a request from a user, not only does it show the total number of sets wanted, it also displays the number of tokens necessary to obtain them.
  • Lastly, for those of you that use the Obtain information, I have added a visual line between values to show a sort of grouping for each month.

I hope you like the updates, and as always, feel free to offer any additional feedback.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

IBD - Request for Help

Page Layout Form InsertWell, the Dashboard has been coming along nicely, and I'm starting to get into some of the more nitty gritty of the site. One of the things that has been bugging me, is finding a way to place the cursor into the first form control when a page opens. Now, I'm more than familiar on how to add the necessary javascript code to the body_onload event, however, my situation has prevented me from putting this practice in place. That's where I hope you can help.

As you see in my diagram, I have the header & footer of every page created as a separate include file. This saves me considerable time & energy when making template or layout changes. This also means that the body tag is contained within the Header file. Now, I toyed with just applying a javascript to this body tag regardless, and if a form exists the cursor would move accordingly. An additional layer of complexity is added with each form & first control using a different name or ID based on the control contents.

So my web mavens, have any of you run into a similar situation? And if you have, how have you gotten around it? Is it just a matter of calling a universal javascript function, that can determine the first control on it's own? I'd love to provide an enhanced user experience with moving the cursor to the first field, but so far I'm stymied. My online searches have proved fruitless.

Your assistance is valued & appreciated. Thank you.

Monday, October 01, 2007

IBD - Icon List Sorting

Icon List SortingAs you can tell, I've been doing a lot to the Dashboard today. The latest update involves dynamic sorting on the main Icon Listing page, which is linked from the main page of the Dashboard. This sorting will give you a bit more control over viewing sets & families, especially when you view all Bronze sets from the front page. Try it & let me know how it works for you.

Now that this sorting is in place, I'm hoping to extend the functionality into the Sets Received/Needed pages as well, giving you the same amount of control.

As always, if you have any additional thoughts, please don't hesitate to let me know.

IBD - Received Families Stats

Received Families StatsAnother update for today is the addition of more links & data in the Families Received section of your stats. As previously requested, I have added the total number of family sets after the number that you have received, and there are now 3 links across each line of the table.
  • The first now links to the sets you need to complete a family collection,
  • the second links to the received sets that you have collected for that family,
  • and the third shows you all available sets for that family (in list view).

This is just another added feature to add more flexibility & dynamics to the Dashboard. Enjoy!

IBD - New Icon Selection System

New Icon SelectionAs some of you may have noticed, a new icon set selection system was deployed late last night. As many of you requested, you can now select multiple icons that you have "received" & check them in with the press of one button.

I apologize to those of you that were forced to use the slower more difficult one-click process. If it helps at all, before I had this new system, I was forced to use the one-click process several times over while I was verifying user accounts involving math errors.

So while many of you have been unable to enjoy this new improvement, please know that I'm hearing your requests, and putting the good ones in place promptly... time permitting. Once again, thank you for your patience & support!

Friday, September 28, 2007

IBD - Admin's User Detail

Admin User List

Admin User ListWhenever I sign up for an application, particularly one like the Dashboard, I tend to wonder what is going on behind the scenes, and if my experience is safe & secure. I'm sure many of you have had the same concerns or curiosities. In order to establish a level of trust, I wanted to show you some of the behind-the-scenes views of the Dashboard, and give you an idea as to what I am able to control & modify.

The primary page that I've been spending a lot of time on since Monday has been the Admin User List, shown at the beginning of the post. As you can see, I have a lot of information at my fingertips, but I've tried to make it concise without being overwhelming.
  • First is the indicator for Administrators in the system. Based on user adoption, I think 3-5 would be the magic number, that way one person isn't solely responsible for the entire operation of the site.
  • After that is whether the user is new, or joined less than 48 hours ago. This isn't hugely critical, but has helped to indicate any new registration & possibly to welcome new users in the future.
  • Username is self-explanatory, and the link on this text leads to the Admin User Edit page.
  • The IB icon is for anyone that has entered an IB profile URL, and can help me jump between the sites.
  • E-mail address.
  • Indicator as to whether someone would like to be contacted with news or information about the site (although I haven't used this feature yet since I don't want to abuse it).
  • In the last login time, I have code that determines if someone has visited within the last hour, and if so, I turn the entire row pink. It's another useful feature to help show peak usage times & when people are using the site more often.
  • The red icon helps me reset any user's password to a default value, and the trash can gives me the option to delete a user entirely, including their associated icon sets. However, each of these are tied to "Are you sure?" javascript functions so that I can't do anything without purpose.

Admin User Edit

Admin User EditThe Admin User Edit page, as you can see, is quite simple really. It gives me the ability to change a username or nickname (in the event of someone choosing something inappropriate), e-mail address, notification setting, and whether to allow administrative control. Nowhere on this page do I even display their current password.

Sure, it might make it easier to have full admin control & change passwords when requested, but honestly, I don't want it. Since I know from my previous experience that passwords can often be similar or the same for related sites, I didn't want users to be concerned that I could pillage that data. Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't a bank site. If I was so determined, I could download the database, remove the input mask from the text field, and then find out someone's password. But really, I don't care that much. Really. I have a lot more things to occupy my time.

So I hope that gives you a bit of insight into how I've designed part of the Admin section. Over the coming weeks, I have more planned, and even some features that will travel to the users as well. Don't worry, I'll gladly be sharing what I can, and keeping your minds at ease about your personal information.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

IBD - Recent Updates

Stats Filter LinksI worked much later than I intended last night, but it was for a good cause:
  • Added filtering to the Received Sets page.
  • Added links from the Stats page to the Received Sets page allowing views of icon categories as well as icon families. (See Graphic)
  • Removed the "Obtain" column from the Received Sets page & removed the "Received Date" column from the Needed Sets page. This cleans up the data shown in each page, and keeping things feeling less cramped.

Check it out when you have a chance, and as always, your feedback is appreciated!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

IBD - New Family Page

Full Family List LinkPer a statement made by iconmaster in the IB forums, I created a new page that displays all of the available families & their respective icon set counts. That way the front page remains condensed, and a new reference page is born. Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

IBD - Menu Bar Text Changes

After getting some feedback from users in the IB Dashboard, I realized that the links in the menu bar were never entirely clear. Part of this is due to some of the carry-over that came from IconBuffet. When I build a site, particularly one designed as an add-on to another, I find that I bring a lot of the initial concepts into my own design. It's only when I reach critical mass of the features that I find ways to convert those "carry-overs" into my own concepts. To that end, I was still holding onto the "My" text on the links for "Stats" & "Icons". No more.

So, the menu bar has decreased in horizontal space, along with changing "Account" (another carry-over) into "Profile". Let me know your thoughts, and expect many more changes & updates in the next 30 days.

IBD - Set Allocation Display

Set Allocation PreviewFor the IB Dashboard, I just added the set allocation display to the "Needed Icons" page. This will help to show your monthly allocations of icon sets. It dynamically determines your VIP status, and sets the token threshold between a red or green box based on 10 or 30 tokens. At this time, I do not have it taking into account any bonus tokens for your account. That will be rolled into a future update. Until then, I apologize for any confustion.

IB Dashboard (IBD)

Well, for the past 4 weeks, I've been hard at work putting together what I call the IB Dashboard which is derived from tracking icon sets collected at IconBuffet. It's been an interesting exercise simply because I've never built a full web application from the ground up. I've been involved in many web projects, but typically, it was work on existing systems, that were undergoing a refresh, or needed additional enhancements.

So this has been an incredible learning experience. And with that, please understand that I'm sure bugs & issues will pop up, so just be patient, and I'll be working diligently to correct them & streamline the application as much as possible.

Thank you & enjoy the use of the IB Dashboard.