Saturday, January 01, 2011

Starting 2011 With a Bang!

Fireworks at the Space Needle--
that's what I watched to ring in 2011! =)
The long awaited Next Big Update (NBU) has come to pass, and it's packed full of stuff. Given the enormous amounts of new code in this update, I fully expect a lot of bugs to crop up. In fact, I already found and fixed five of them, and the update hasn't even been in place for a half hour yet. Make that six now. (I keep checking for errors AQ detects at the end of every sentence I type.) In any case, please be patient. If something isn't working correctly, I'll fix it.

Now--what all is new in this feature-packed update? Undoubtedly, there's something for everyone to love, and something for everyone to hate. =) (But I hope the former outnumbers the latter.) I won't get into details here (too many bugs to fix!), but I will run down some of the major additions and changes and let you guys poke around and figure out how it all works. I'll be updating the help pages the next few days to answer questions and add additional details to get the most out of the features.

So, without further ado.... some of the major things to look for:

  • Removed maintenance comments. After spending the better part of an afternoon removing maintenance "requests" such as "box is missing" and "watch out for mosquitoes!" I decided it was easier just to get rid of them. The icon can still be applied to a box--but no note can be attached to it. Any previously existing notes were added to the top of the clue page. (At least if it was an AQ hosted clue.)
  • There is no limit to the number of planters that can be added to a box. This probably won't matter to most of you, but if there's a box that was jointly planted by three or more people, you can now all get credit for the plant.
  • Carvers will no longer be notified of finds or attempts on their boxes. Before you start freaking out, please keep in mind that almost nobody will even notice this change. Anyone who was a carver on a box I've added as a contact--so you'll still be contacted for that reason. And when a box is first added, the carver will automatically be added to the list of contacts. For all intents and purposes, all carvers will still be notified of finds and attempts. The difference now is that they can drop themselves as a contact if they no longer wish to receive those notifications--an option that was not allowed before.
  • There's now a "Trackers in the Night" in profiles you view. It's like the "Ships in the Night," except this one shows the most recent trackers that you and the person who's profile you are viewing have both signed up for and has already launched. (Unlaunched trackers are not included in the list.)
  • There are new preferences now available. The Letterbox Preferences page (new!) is the key one to check out. You can now set it up to identify your search preferences. Do you want your plants and hides automatically hidden when you run a Simple Search? Now you can! You can also specify if you want attempts, strikeouts, abandoned boxes, and old last finds hidden (or not) by default.

  • On the Advanced Search page, you'll find three more search options available. You can now search for Box of the Week boxes, historic boxes, and rarely found boxes. Since this is automated, "historic" is purely a matter of numbers: Any box that was planted more than ten years ago and has been listed on Atlas Quest for at least five years is considered historic. I know a lot of you like to find those hard-to-find or unique boxes that few other people have, and that's what the "rare find" option does--it returns any box that has a last find date that's more than a year old. While the search page has icons associated with these options, these icons do not show on the box listings.
  • At the end of the Miscellaneous Preferences page, there's now an option for "App Password." Our resident app developers wanted to be able to create apps that allowed people to log in so searches could do cool stuff like hide your plants and finds or run searches based on the tags you've selected. You can increase the security of your account by creating an app password. When using the app, it'll ask for your trail name and password. They aren't supposed to store your password or later use it to log into your account, but I don't really have any way of making sure app developers are good and honest. By logging in with your app password, you can keep your real AQ password secret. If you do not select an app password, your real AQ password will still work with apps. But if you do have an app password, only that password will work--your real AQ password will not.
  • And finally, themes.  You'll find that the themes page has been completely rewritten from the ground up. Anyone can now list a theme on Atlas Quest, just like listing a letterbox or tracker. The themes are searchable, and you can even be notified of new themes matching your favorite searches. Right now, the only themes listed are those created by Wassa and myself. The "theme details" page includes any relevant information about the theme (it's creation date, last modified date, the CSS used for the theme, etc.), but it also applies that theme TO the page so you can see it in action. And when you've selected a theme, there's a new "about theme" link (under the original link, if there is one) that will link to the theme's details page. There aren't any new themes added with this update--but how themes work has radically changed with this update.
And that, I believe, are the major changes you'll see. You might also notice any number of smaller and generally not-very-noteworthy changes as well, but the big ones are covered. =)

Happy New Year!


Goofy girl said...

Thanks for the updates and I love the idea of the "trackers in the night" additions! Thanks Ryan for working nights, weekends, and holidays!

knottyknitterdirtmonkey said...

These are awesome! Thanks!

jackbear said...

OH yes! App password... this means big things to come in the mobile environment. Cool. Super thanks!