Category Archives: Dev Rambling

The iToysoldiers 2017 Roadmap

Ahoy! Well, since I’m trying to be a bit more organized I figured I’d also let you guys see into what’s on the roadmap for the rest of the year.  Important: If there’s something you’d like to see on the list feel free to visit the iToysoldiers Support Portal and get it in there.

Q3 2017

  • Return WYSIWIG functionality to the site.
  • Introduce site wide player rankings.
  • Fix any bugs brought in with 5.0

Q4 2017

  • Revamp the Narrative Campaign Manager
  • Reintroduce Faction based stats
  • Improve some of the Event Management features.

 

What’s Inside iToysoldiers Version 5.0

Greetings, commander! I’m deliriously excited to announce the release of iToysoldiers Version 5.0. As befits a major release, there’s just a ridiculous number of new things and improvements.  I’m going to try and itemize them all here for your reading enjoyment. Of course the best way to experience all the new stuff is to visit iToysoldiers.com and experience it yourself.

Improved Site Design

Probably the most obvious change is the site layout and theme.  I’ve opted to dramatically simplify the menus and various widgets on the page because I got a bit carried away with trying to be clever.  The end result is that pretty much everything you might want to see and do can be done from the navigation bar at the top of the page. I’ve also tried to bring all of the features and menus in line with the five major categories of the site.  Navigation is hugely improved as a result and I think you’ll find it easier to explore both the features of the site and the exploits of your fellow commanders.

A change that I think you’ll really appreciate is the “Add Content” menu.  It’s been broken down into categories so the list of things you can create to show off your miniature armies is a bit less… well… random. Here’s how the categories work out:

Gaming: putting the dice on the table (or planning for it).  Battle Reports and Army Lists.

Modelling: Building your models and putting paint to the plastic (or resin, metal, whathaveyou).

Narrative: Telling the story of your armies and their exploits: Narrative campaigns and Army Profiles

Theater: Where, when and with whom you play: Events, tournaments, clubs, and battlefields.

Community: Kind of everything else: Player profiles and leaderboards, Blogs, Galleries, and Forums/Discussions.

There’s a final section – for you technically minded folks – I’m calling Core.  It represents backend and UX improvements that really aren’t really player facing. Oddly enough, Core elements, even though they’re not necessarily obvious, you’d hate the site if I didn’t give them some TLC.  This is stuff like making sure I’m using the right libraries for various things, author experience, performance things, and the like.  Boring, Sydney.  Boring.

I’ve put a bit more consistency into the site.

Comments look the same (ish) whether you’re posting on a forum post, a battle report, or an image that someone’s uploaded.  Author content blocks look the same on all the various content types.

The activity stream on the front page (for those of you who’re logged in) has been dramatically simplified.  I removed that timeline bar from the display so it doesn’t take up valuable space when you’re using your mobile device or tablet to look at the page.  I also did some work on the formatting of how items show up on the page so they’re a bit more consistent.

The layout of pages – both for the battles, lists, blogs, etc that you create as well as the pages that list site wide content have (mostly) gotten a bit of attention.  The display of content is a bit more consistent across the site.

Image galleries are now formatted in such a way that it’s easier to view them and interact with images (like commenting on them or seeing larger versions).

Maps are back

Once upon a time, iToysoldiers had a number of different map based views.  Over time they’ve been disabled – largely ‘cause of technical issues.  Well, that’s changed!  I have a beautiful new mapping repository and library which makes creating maps easy.  Two maps have returned: The battlefield map for battle reports and the battlefield display for players – it shows where a player has engaged in battle.  Gotta tell you, I’m excited to add more.

Categorical Improvements

Since I’ve taken all this time to consolidate the site into five major categories, I should probably list improvements the same way, right?

Gaming

Player battle stats have gotten a major overhaul.  Rather than lumping all of your stats together, battle stats are displayed by faction.

Player battle stats also have “raw data” tables that can be manipulated with various filters to allow for more in depth analysis of your battle results.

The battle report pages have gotten a major facelift.

You can now link a battle to an army list entry on the site.  You can even create an army list from the battle report screen.  It’s totally optional. I’ll be providing real stats for army lists in the near future.

Modelling

One thing I’ve wanted is a list of my models, by army and unit, with how many I have and how many are completed.  Well.  It’s there now.  You can see an example, mine, here.  <insert: http://itoysoldiers.com/user/16/modelling/collection>  Fair warning: I don’t have all my models up yet but I’m working on it.

Community

You didn’t think I’d leave your player profile alone whilst bringing everything into a more consolidated look and feel did you?  Well, even if you did, I didn’t.  Player profiles are now way better because they consolidate your miniature wargaming exploits (and other site activities) into the five major categories.  There’s now a tab for gaming, modelling, narrative, theater, and community.  When you and others peruse your profile they’ll (and you) will have an easier time drilling down to what’s important to them (or you).

Core

There’s a ridiculous number of backend fixes and improvements. Most of it was removing deprecated stuff that didn’t hold up to the new categorization system.  Stuff like that helps improve the performance of the site in general ‘cause there’s no need to reference things that aren’t there anymore.  However…

After much internal debate I’ve decided to use UserVoice <insert link> as iToysoldiers Help Portal. The main reason?  I really value the “I suggest you…” feature.  See, UserVoice is not only a support ticket tracker, it also does an amazing job of helping me prioritize what should come next with iToysoldiers.  It’s also one less thing I have to manage and that’s a good thing.

Speaking of which…

So that’s Release 5.0.  I’m excited.  I think it’s one of the more helpful releases I’ve done.  That said, I may have missed some things.  I might’ve introduced a bug.  It’s even possible that there’s something iToysoldiers doesn’t do that make showing off your miniature wargaming armies easier. That’s why I have the support portal.  Let me know! Really.  Zip over to http://itoysoldiers.uservoice.com and tell me about what I could be doing better.  Of course you could reply here or send me an email at rob@itoysoldiers.com as well.  I aim to please.  I hope you like the new version of iToysoldiers.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Don’t I feel kinda silly

Ahoy, commander! Well, as it turns out the iToysoldiers Help Portal hasn’t been working in like… well… ever.  Kinda explains why the Bug Hunt has been kind of quiet.  Anyway, I fixed it by trashing the old system and bringing in a new one.  I still need to put the knowledge base back in there but you can now submit bugs and feature requests with impunity.

Oh! And because of this, I’m going to extend the Bug Hunt until May 31st.  Feel free to let me know what’s wrong with the Help Portal as well since it’s kind of new and hasn’t really gotten a thorough shake down.  Not at all like the previous version.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

What’s In the Pipeline at iToysoldiers

Ahoy, Commander!

So I just wanted to let you know about what’s currently being worked on for iToysoldiers right now. I have a release scheduled for next week that’ll include the following:

Achievements

  1. I’m redesigning the look and feel of the Achievement pages. They’ll be cleaner and it’ll be much easier to see who’s earned a given achievement.
  2. I’m fixing the “bulk award” achievement rule so that it doesn’t generate quite so much email. This is a little thing ’cause it’s not often that I introduce a whole bunch of achievements.
  3. I’m going through and fixing some of the older achievements to use better code.

General Stuff

  1. In an effort to make navigation a bit easier I’m totally revamping the left nav menu.  Rather than being clever with titles like, “Order of Battle” I’m going to be using the categories of Gaming, Narrative, and Modelling for the major features.  Theater will still be events.  Think, “Where, when, and who to play” and Gazetteer will be collapsed into Community.
  2. General bug fixes that probably won’t really be noticed.

Bug Hunt 2017

Oh, and don’t forget that Bug Hunt 2017 is running right now. If you have any bugs, feature requests, or comments, do not hesitate to zip over to the iToysoldiers Help Portal and submit them.  You’ll be entered for a chance to win $25 at your favorite game store.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Bug Hunt 2017

Ahoy, commander! It’s a little bit later than usual, but the 2017 Bug Hunt begins today! What’s the Bug Hunt? Well, as with any software product, iToysoldiers probably has a few quirks that are driving you mad. You may also have an idea for a new feature. Well, this event is intended to encourage you to tell me about both! Anyone who reports a bug or a feature request on the iToysoldiers Help Portal will be entered into a drawing for a $25 CDN gift certificate for either the store or online vendor of their choice.

The Rules

Bugs reported between now and April 30th at 23:59 will count as an entry.

The winner will be contacted during the first week of May.

Only bugs or feature requests reported on the iToysoldiers Help Portal count as an entry.

Each unique entry from an individual counts as an entry into the drawing so even if someone else reports the same bug you’ll still get credit for reporting it – unless that duplicate is from you.

Only valid bug or feature requests count as an entry.  In other words, the entry has to be something related to iToysoldiers and how it works (or should work).

A bug or feature request does not need to be accepted to be counted (i.e. your bug may be “works as designed” or it could be a feature request that isn’t in line with iToysoldiers).

iToysoldiers reserves the right to consider a report as “not really related” and cancel the submission.

You do not have to be registered on iToysoldiers in order to report bugs (although it’d probably make sense if you were).

And there you have it! Good luck!  I really value the Bug Hunt because it gives me a bunch of feedback that I don’t usually get. So go ahead and get started now at the iToysoldiers Help Portal.

Carpe Acies!
Rob @ iToysoldiers

Oh, Gods! Reversion Control!

Ugh.  So as I continue to work on various Event management pieces I’m finding that I’m breaking existing functionality! WTH! Aaaack!  Curses!

So for the next little bit I’m going to be remediating that.  I’m gonna have to pull the leagues and tournaments into the Event content type just so that I have consistency.  This is not what I wanted to work on this week (or two).

Damn.

Where Have You Been?

No note.  Car’s gone.  You could’ve DIED!

Actually it’s not quite that.  November and December have been super heavy hobby months for me.  I’ve had to get my Phantom playable for an Apocalypse game in early December and then there was the whole Calth Build Off event that ended the first week of January.  I’ve been head down getting those two things wrapped up.

The good news is that I don’t have any real hobby commitments due until the beginning of April so I can procrastinate on those for at least two months.  *snicker.  And that means I’m wrapping up the Ragnorak release and preparing for the release after that.  It’ll be a pretty simple thing with HUGE ramifications for iToysoldiers.  I’m pretty excited about it and I’ll share some more info once I have Ragnorak in the bag.

Anyway.  Not dead.  Still working on making iToysoldiers the best place to chronicle the glory of your miniature wargaming armies.

Rob @ iToysoldiers

The Chosen jQuery Library is amazing!

So I stumbled across the coolest thing ever!  Okay.  Maybe not the coolest thing ever but it’s pretty slick and I have to say it’s going to make some of the UI issues you’ve been experiencing go away.

It’s the Chosen jQuery library (which you can find here: https://harvesthq.github.io/chosen/).  Essentially it does magic things to select boxes on forms and makes ’em WAY easier to deal with.

I’m currently playing around with it on the good ol’ dev server and I have to say, I’m pleased with the results.  It even works pretty well on a mobile device.  Now…  I guess that is to say that it doesn’t modify the interface that iOS throws on top of select fields and that’s actually brilliant.

Oh, I think you’re going to like the results, my friends.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

Wanted: Co-founder who’s good at business stuff

Hey, commander!

So iToysoldiers is pretty well established to some extent.  And I’m delighted with how well it’s been received.  But I’d like to take it to the “next level” and for that I need someone who’s good at marketing and promotion and all that.

I’m looking for a co-founder to help me with the promotional stuff.  I’m pretty good at coding but as a one man shop I don’t have the time to really go and promote the site.  I think it could be awesome if only more folks were aware.  Can you help?  Do you want to? Are you enthusiastic about miniature wargaming? Do you want to promote tools that help wargamers chronicle the glory of their armies?  If so… Let me know and we’ll talk.

Send me an email at rob@itoysoldiers.com and we can chat about what being a co-founder might mean.

Carpe Acies!
Rob

New Home Page and Player Profiles Live

Greetings, commander! iToysoldiers is super pleased to announce the release of “Kilgrave”.  The Kilgrave release introduces a brand new home page for folks who aren’t a member of the site yet as well as a brand spanking new player profile and stat pages for every player on the site. We’re also introducing our new iToysoldiers Help Portal, which isn’t huge news but still pretty slick.

Let’s chat about the new home page first.  The old one was kind of dated and had a few issues.  The first of which is that it didn’t really tell anyone what iToysoldiers was all about. Well, now it does. Yeah, it’s kind of a marketing page for the site but I think that’s okay ’cause it’s important to let people know what iToysoldiers has to offer the miniature wargaming community.  I built it to show off the player functionality ’cause that’s what most people are interested in.  I’m going to be working on the Ironmonger program (for local game stores) and the event management pieces shortly.

Now.  The really cool bit of Kilgrave is the new player profile pages and the stats pages.  Here’s some of the new features:

  • A consolidated statistics page that covers all of your activity on iToysoldiers.
  • A great new player “landing” page that highlights your best stuff on iToysoldiers and provides easy navigation to all of your content, decorations, and media.
  • A fantastic new battle statistics summary page with new charts, and even competitive play stats.  Check it out on the Stats tab of your profile.

And lastly, I’m introducing a new support portal – one that I control rather than a third party so I can be sure that all the usage follows the iToysoldiers privacy policy.  So if you ever have a question or wanna find our faqs you can zip over to http://help.itoysoldiers.com.

And that’s what’s in Kilgrave.  If you run into any issues don’t hesitate to let me know at http://help.itoysoldiers.com or send me an email at rob@itoysoldiers.com or you can comment here.  Curious to know what you think of the new stuff.

Carpe Acies!
Rob