Friday, April 27, 2007

...and the update is DONE!

Since my last point, I took a short nap yesterday afternoon since I expected to stay up very late to upload the changes.

One thing I decided to try, unfortunately a very last-minute idea that did not turn out as well as expected, was changing people's trail names so spaces were written using HTML spaces. I was trying to get better control over where the browser might break up someone's trail name into two or more lines. Ideally, I want trail names not to wrap. I tried it on my development machine and it worked predictably well, so why not run with it?

At midnight, AQ locked everyone out but me. Actually, there is a special cookie that if you manually set on your browser will allow you to 'break through' that update page and let you back into the site, but of course, I'm not telling what that is. ;o) It allows me up put in updates and test them on the live site before opening it back up for everyone else to start finding bugs.

Wassamatta u triggered the first bug, a result of an update I did to the database earlier in the day. I added a couple of new user preferences, which added a couple of columns to one of the database tables. It's pretty easy to add NEW columns without breaking existing code--it's when I change columns that things tend to break. Since I was just adding new columns, I did to early yesterday. I figured that way, by the time I did the update, everyone would have been logged out of AQ (either by clicking the logout link or by timing out) and when they logged in again (either manually or with the auto-login) it would pick up the new database columns and nobody would be none the wiser. Of course, Wassa was wiser.

The first bug showed up about a half hour after I made the site public again. One of my automated nightly scripts choked. I don't even remember the specific problem anymore--it only affected the caching of clues and no permanent damage done. Nobody using the site would even know of that problem.

But Wassa showed up here minutes later, and AQ recorded an error when he tried to change some of his preferences. Wassa seems to live here, and during all those hours never let his session die. It took about a half hour after I brought the website back up, but as soon as he tried to play with those new options, AQ generated an error. His session variables didn't include those two columns I added earlier in the day.

I sent him an AQ mail suggesting he log out and back in to get that session variable in a correct state, and hoped no one else would be caught by it.

Then a more serious problem was discovered--people were having trouble replying to others who spaces in their trail name. I had just AQ mailed wassa without any trouble, so I figured it must have been a specific link that wasn't working, and I tried to track down where it wasn't working. As I realized the problem was much larger and more extensive than I realized, I renamed everyone's trail name to no longer use the HTML code for a space in it. Problem solved. Actually, it was possible that some people had that HTML space in the trail names on session variables. Once again, I told a couple of people I knew who were affected to log out and back in to reset those session variables.

I'm not not sure why I had no trouble with the spaces but other people did. Maybe it was a browser thing? Or perhaps an operating system thing? Whatever the reason, it was a problem and time to back out. Won't do THAT again! =) It was purely for cosmetic reasons, and pretty minor ones at that. I have no intention of trying to make that work again. I thought it was an easy change, but apparently it's not. *shrug*

I seriously considered deleting all session variables--something I should have done when I had the site down and could be assured I wasn't deleting anything important--but by now the site had already been back up for an hour and I was afraid that deleting all session variables would cause anyone currently writing posts, adding boxes, or whatever to loose what they'd written. To delete or not delete, that was the question? Deciding that only a tiny minority of people were having session problems, I decided not to delete. Just keep an eye on things, and I added a quick hack so AQ wouldn't stop cold if it detected session problems.

I stayed on AQ until about 3:00 am to keep an eye on things. Fixed a few minor, mostly cosmetic problems I found along the way. When I started noticing east coast people logging in, I decided it was about time for ME to get some shut eye!

I woke up at 7:00 and rather than lay around thinking about my day--that's what I usually do in the morning, as reported in my last two posts--I jumped onto Atlas Quest to see what other new problems were discovered during my four hours of blissful sleep.

Nothing especially serious, I'm happy to report. While using the site myself, I noticed that replies to AQ mail were not returning to the message that had just been replied to, which was annoying, so I fixed that. Pungent Bob wanted to see the board names in the summary and simple views of the message boards, so I added that. (But only if all the messages were on several boards. If they're all from the same board, the board name is at the top of the page.) Updated wiki-style documentation to show how to create quote boxes. Minor tweaks as the public at large kicked the tires and made their suggestions.

I did this for about three hours, but I was still pretty groggy from lack of sleep before, so I went back to sleep at around 10:00. Nap time. =)

I slept for another couple of hours before some construction equipment outside woke me up again and now I'm starting to feel normal again. Not too tired. AQ seems to be running smoothly. My biggest decision is if I should send Silent Doug an e-mail to let him know that I finished implementing the message board summary he suggested, or let him find it on his own and surprise him. =)

At this point, I feel safe to leave AQ for a few hours. Time to get out and stretch my legs a bit, before it starts to rain. (Not looking pretty outside right now!) Maybe celebrate the relatively trouble-free update of last night by taking myself out for lunch somewhere. I could finish reading the other half of that Smithsonian magazine that I didn't finish before.

I'd probably get back around five or six o'clock this evening, at which point I'll jump on the computer to make sure no additional bugs or problems have been found while I was gone. And if there were some found, to get them fixed.

All's well it ends well. Tomorrow, I'll start on the next BIG THING. Which, for now, I want to keep a secret and surprise you all with later. ;o)

But I declare the update officially done.

Happy trails!


wassamatta_u said...

Woohoooo!!!! I amde it into Ryan's blog! I'm finally SOMEBODY!!!

Jimmy said...

Wassa...if it makes you feel any better we all think you're something else. :)

*nodding* to borrow from Ryan