Lone Wolf Development Forums  

Go Back   Lone Wolf Development Forums > Realm Works Forums > Realm Works Discussion

Notices

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
rob
Senior Member
Lone Wolf Staff
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,927

Old October 9th, 2018, 02:52 AM
This is the first of the weekly RW progress updates that I promised would start this week. Iíll try to avoid going into too much detail and provide a summary of where time was spent on RW over the preceding week. When things arise that aren't expected, I'll also include a modicum of explanation, as is the case this week.

Please note that this thread will be locked so it can serve as somewhere that everyone interested can monitor the progress. You are welcome to start other threads to discuss these updates, if you like.

Without further ado, hereís the recap for the past week, thru October 7thÖ

One of the big items thatís been looming is how weíre going to be managing everything for KS backers once we get everything completed. Thatís something that will ultimately be handled by the CS team, but nobody had yet assessed what was actually in place. So I took a close look last week and discovered we had some ancient spreadsheets that were both incomplete and out-of-sync with everything we have on the server regarding accounts for backers.

We have many backers with wide variety of situations that will all need to be resolved by the CS team. We also have discrepancies between the backer spreadsheets and whatís actually in the database. Reconciling those discrepancies manually would be a huge amount of work for the CS team, and managing everything into the future for 1800 backers via a spreadsheet would be a daunting task, not to mention exceedingly prone to errors. We needed a better way.

The CS team needs to do a lot of work to get everything into shape before we can deliver anything, making it clear this couldn't be dealt with later. So I mapped out a way to cleanly handle it all by partially automating the process and addressing the biggest problem areas the CS team faced. Once there was a solid plan, I put some of the foundational automation into place. I also outlined further automation pieces for Steve that heís coding this week, and I began coordinating with the CS team on everything they will need to do.

That effort consumed all of my Realm Works time this past week. However, it allows the CS team to get things into place in parallel while development work continues over the weeks ahead. Steve will be finishing up all the automation work and then getting the CS team oriented in detail. While heís doing that, Iíll be switching my focus back to the issues down in the guts of Realm Works.

Thanks, Rob
rob is offline   #1
rob
Senior Member
Lone Wolf Staff
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,927

Old October 17th, 2018, 01:23 AM
Albeit a day late, here's the update for the past week, thru October 14...

On the health front, I reached a critical milestone last Monday. I’m finally completely off the nasty meds, and subsequent tests have confirmed that everything looks good. Huzzah! The downside is that, after being literally wired for almost two years straight from those meds, my body is burnt out now that the meds are gone. So I’m continually exhausted, and a much bigger chunk of this past week was spent sleeping. My energy should return, but I don’t know how quickly that will occur.

Despite the lack of energy, a bit of progress was definitely made. Some last-minute tweaks were needed, but the remaining pieces are in place for the CS team that I mentioned last week, and the CS team is now getting all the data sorted for KS backers. Down in the guts of the product, I managed to get two issues fixed that have been a problem – one bug and one limitation. One of the most common and annoying crash bugs that users have been encountering is now resolved, so that’s a good thing.

The constant exhaustion makes it hard to focus on complex problems right now, so I’ll be tackling less intricate issues this week. I’m also working to get things into a state where I can enlist the assistance of another developer on some items. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be in that effort, but it seems like the smarter approach based on how I’m currently feeling.

Thanks, Rob
rob is offline   #2
rob
Senior Member
Lone Wolf Staff
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,927

Old October 23rd, 2018, 03:32 AM
Here's the update for the week thru October 21st...

While this past week has been difficult for me physically (see above), it’s actually been reasonably productive from a coding standpoint. I’m also at a point where I can talk publicly about something that I’ve been working on. Specifically, Realm Works is essentially now ported to operate as a native 64-bit application. We’re still not entirely out of the woods yet, as testing has uncovered a number of problems thus far – and a couple of them still need to be resolved. I’ll be focusing on those in the days ahead, and I’ll be doing a lot more testing, but it’s looking quite promising at this point.

Many of you are probably quite happy at this news. Some are saying it’s about time. And some are questioning what the big deal is. So allow me to quickly address the latter two groups.

Converting RW to be a 64-bit application was not a simple matter of recompiling the product. In fact, there were a range of complicating factors that had to be dealt with. We leverage many third party components, some of which don’t play nice in a 64-bit space – and one of those components is still being wrangled. We have our own custom components that we wrote in C++ with 32-bit assumptions, where the logic does a bunch of byte level data manipulations for performance – those had to be overhauled to run smoothly as 64-bit. We need to support both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, since some users are still on 32-bit machines, so that means everything has to adaptively switch based on what machine RW gets installed on. None of this was rocket science, but there was quite a bit of work involved.

As to why this is a big deal, it all boils down to memory. A 32-bit application is limited in how much memory it can use, which is much less than you actually have on your computer. RW often uses lots of memory – the exact amount depends on the size of your realm and how many pictures, maps, tabs, and whatnot you have open at one time. In fact, memory related crashes are currently the third most common issue that users run into. And all the huge adventures we’ll be providing to KS backers and offering in the Content Market will exacerbate this problem and likely make it the #1 problem if we don’t address it. By switching to 64-bit, all those memory issues will basically disappear for the vast majority of users.

During the week ahead, I’ll be finishing up the 64-bit conversion. This includes a lot of testing to make sure everything works correctly after conversion. It also includes investigating and resolving whatever issues I uncover, and the number and complexity of those issues is a complete unknown at this point. Meanwhile, David has been helping out a bit and Steve will be shifting his primary focus to issues in the RW UI this week. So I’m getting reinforcements, and we’ll hopefully continue to make good headway.

Thanks, Rob
rob is offline   #3
rob
Senior Member
Lone Wolf Staff
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,927

Old October 30th, 2018, 03:21 AM
It's time for the weekly update, this time for the week through October 28th...

Progress on the health side for me has been mixed, but weíve definitely made some meaningful headway on Realm Works this week. After lots of testing and a few necessary adjustments, I believe we are now completely out of the woods with a 64-bit version of the product. We still need to wrangle some annoying build automation wrinkles and all the necessary installer changes, but the product itself appears solid in 64-bit. Huzzah! And thanks to having Steve helping out heavily this past week, a variety of UI issues have been resolved, as well.

Weíre steadily working our way through the items that seem to be causing users the most grief and getting them addressed. One of the big remaining issues is something that three of us are now actively investigating. Itís a serious problem with the UI framework that we utilize Ė one that comes to light only when working with a large realm. After debating a few options, weíve concluded that we need to do some fundamental rework in order to properly bypass the framework problem. Weíre getting started on it this week, but itís a task that will take many days and probably involve multiple people. Iíll have more details in the update next week.

[Note: Weíre hoping that the above rework will also mitigate the slow load times of tabs, which is due to the way the UI framework behaves, but itís way too soon to be sure.]

With the announcement of 64-bit support last week, a few users have suggested that we completely abandon 32-bit support, so we took a closer look at the numbers from this year. While itís quite true that the vast majority of users are now running 64-bit computers, we still have a contingent running on 32-bit machines. Since a main focus of the next product release will be fixing problems of various sorts (bugs, behaviors, inefficiencies, etc.), we donít want to leave those folks out in cold. That said, we will definitely phase out 32-bit support at some point in the not-too-distant future, since it will be too cumbersome to continue supporting it long-term.

Another detail was made clear from looking at those same numbers. There are very few users still using an operating system older than Windows 8. Consequently, weíre currently assessing whether to make this the last release that supports earlier versions of Windows. Thatís likely to be the case, so please consider this a heads-up.

Thanks, Rob
rob is offline   #4
rob
Senior Member
Lone Wolf Staff
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,927

Old November 5th, 2018, 11:56 PM
Another week. Another update. With pretty good news...

Solid progress is being made on the serious UI framework problem I outlined in the previous update. The solution entails a major overhaul of the navigation pane for topics and articles. We’ve reached the point where we’re pretty confident (95%) that the new approach will work well. However, there are a LOT of tendrils to this change due to how integral topics/articles are within Realm Works. Consequently, we’re projecting that it’s going to take another full week to get it all completed, and it could even spill into next week. Once fully implemented, we’ve got lots of testing to do so we make sure there aren’t any gotchas lurking. So we’re definitely not out of the woods yet, but it all looks quite promising at this point.

One big bonus of this new approach is that it will definitely provide a significant speed improvement when loading and switching tabs. We thought that might be the case in last week’s update, and we’ve now confirmed it. The performance gains will scale with the number of topics/articles in the realm, so users with big realms will experience huge improvements.

A few more high-frequency crash bugs were also squashed this past week. As I indicated previously, our primary focus is on the things that users are encountering most frequently, and we’ll be continuing to work on more of these bugs. We certainly won’t squish all of them, but the product should become significantly more solid for everyone shortly.

On that note, let me give you a quick heads-up on what we’re currently targeting. We want to put out a new update of Realm Works immediately prior to the long Thanksgiving weekend, which starts November 22nd for those outside the States. The planned release will resolve all the bugs we’ve been fixing, plus it will include 64-bit support. We’re working out how to do it in a way that will be safe for everybody, which means making sure that users can switch back to the existing version if they run into anything serious with the new version. If we can’t make sure of that, we won’t release it until after the Thanksgiving break.

Before closing, I want to respond to a few comments we’ve received over the past week. First of all, the overhaul outlined above deals with only a single component of the UI framework we utilize and is not a wholesale replacement – full replacement would entail effectively rewriting the entire product. In addition, while there are definitely a few Realm Works users still running Windows 7, they represent far less than 1% of our total user base. As we run into difficulties supporting Windows 7 – an operating system that hasn’t been actively supported by the manufacturer for almost 4 years now and will be completely abandoned in one year – we simply won’t be able to continue doing so.

Thanks, Rob
rob is offline   #5
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® - Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
wolflair.com copyright ©1998-2016 Lone Wolf Development, Inc. View our Privacy Policy here.