Small fix to the URL Argument Trimmer. It now doesn't freak out and do nothing if the URL you feed it ends in a useless &.
A tiny update to the Game Search, mostly dealing with a feature I failed to mention a few days ago. I made a test "side version" of the game search that would give the SQL used to generate the game list a weekish back. This was to make it easier for people to work around the limitations of the search, by giving them a basis for modification of an existing search. With the search's new capabilities this will be needed less often, but it was still pretty cool and worked fine so I tossed it into the main version of the search. However, it's a bit prominent for something that most won't bother with, so today I made it so it starts off hidden, but will display when the relevant bit of text near the bottom is clicked.
Another change that was put into place a couple days back was the splitting of the single Garaph Game Search search plugin into two: one for the original LIKE method and one for the newer BOOLEAN method. However, if you get one and want to do a specific search with the other type easily, it can be done. Start a search in the BOOLEAN plugin with "LIKE ", or "BOOLEAN " in the LIKE one, and it will comply with your wishes.
Still needing to be improved on the search page: a description of the new capabilities.
Another change today is in the "forum-friendly" type URLs generated by the URL Argument Trimmer. In the process of being converted back to regular URLs, certain characters don't behave quite as they should, so I have to put in a workaround. "+" has been added to the workaround list. It was being turned into " ". A bit off for displaying game titles, but now that Game Search input can actually use the + character for Boolean searches, it turning into a plain space can drastically change a set of results you're trying to share.
A related fix on the individual game and software group pages. To make things easier for copy/pasting purposes, they were relatively recently switched so the images and image links on those pages use the forum-friendly form. However, titles with a / character were causing freakouts--that character is supposed to be used to separate sections in the forum-friendly URLs. The titles just needed to be encoded into uglier form. A simple fix, though. Pokémon Diamond / Pearl thanks me.
Another big change to the Game Search that's been brewing for a few days. Three of the search options (TitleEnglish, Platform, and Publisher) now have the option to do searches using a Boolean method, rather than the old (and still default) LIKE method. You can read pretty detailed rules on MySQL's boolean options here, but as a crash course on the things most important to us: By default it will search for entries that match even one of the words typed in. To force one of the words to be in the result, put a + in front of it. To remove results with a certain word, use - in front of it. Want the words together, put them "in quotes". Groups of words can be put in (parentheses).
Also, since you can't put solely negative things in the Boolean search (-PS2 for Platform won't work), you can use NOT (all caps) at the beginning of one of the fields to cause it to get the opposite results (NOT PS2 for Platform will work). This works for both LIKE and Boolean search types.
Small fix to the "big three" (Japanese hardware line, Japanese software line, shipment line) today. When one line ends earlier than another, or for whatever reason isn't displaying something for a given X value, as a matter of programming it's holding a non-numeric value in that spot. These values can in a sense be considered greater than numbers when directly compared. This means that when checking for the highest value needed to display, it was sometimes getting goofy answers. End result: It wasn't always leaving enough room at the left of graphs to show as many digits as necessary. I think I've fixed it.
So the hardware shipment line graphs have been updated to the new style too. That finishes off what I'd consider the "big three", though I suppose I could do similar things with the less-frequently-used bar and pie graphs.
OK, so I updated the Famitsu weekly top 30 bar graph too. Relatively simple since there's less user input and thus variance. This one doesn't even change left margins based on how high sales go. Since everything else is so fixed, I figure it's best that a small week and a large week share the same image width.
So the Japanese hardware sales line graphs have been updated in the same style as the softwares ones were recently. New color, tighter margins, little logo and so on.
The legend in particular has seen some shrinkage. As new options kept being added, that thing kept getting bigger. Now things are compressed a bit, though this probably makes things hard to understand for someone new to all this. Now platform, group, and tracker all share a line. This is done by shortening the latter two. "HardwareFamily" becomes "HF". "Manufacturer" becomes "M". "ShortName" is the default and left blank. "MediaCreate" becomes "MC", "Famitsu" becomes "Fam". The next line is the start date. If necessary, the next line is the sum from date preceded by "SFD". If necessary, the next line is the sum through date preceded by "STD".
Modifications to the individual software and group pages. Mostly cosmetic. The intention was originally to make the individual software pages match the group pages in features and looks (why wasn't some of that content centered like everywhere else on the site before?), but then they both got some updates. Alt text for the displayed images, meta descriptions, titles at the top of every page, other minor things.
The Game Search has been updated yet again. Last week's game search update was prompted by the realization that the minor "software released between two dates" tool I made was very similar to the game search, and they should be combined. This time it was the realization that with its newer sales-displaying and sorting capabilities, the game search could do almost everything the total platform software sales page could do. The one exception is that that page had the ability to display what the total situation was like at an arbitrary point in the past, whereas the game search always displayed the present.
So a "Sum sales through the week of:" option was added, as well as an option I can stick in the url ( &opt=0 ) to hide the stuff up top. That way someone can be linked to a set of relevant data without necessarily needing to scroll down before seeing much of it. The stuff at top can be expanded back out for details to be viewed.
Old page showing GCN software sales through the week of 2004-03-15
Game search showing GCN software sales through the week of 2004-03-15
I guess there are two things the Game Search still lacks. One being that it doesn't have a "Rank" column, which should be something easy to add, but best leave hidden as default. The other is that bit that tells it it's the GCN's 132nd week. That's not always relevant to Game Searches, especially when searching for games among all platforms. Perhaps it could be set to only mention it when a single platform is used?
Big changes in a specific area today. No new features for you, but a different output. Since I started posting at LotusCharts I've been making quite a few 400x250 graphs to fit in the narrow-ass columns. The graphs made here can be of arbitrary size, but they didn't really make good use of space at that size. I decided it was time to kick the efficiency up a few notches, and while I was at it ended up making some cosmetic changes. Success, I think! I started with Japanese software line graphs. The space the main line section of a graph can change from various factors in the data, but picking a representative 400x250 image, the line space is now increased by 56%. The increase is less drastic at larger sizes, but a 700x400 image still sees an improvement of 22%.
A rundown of the efficiency modifications:
- The shadow effect is gone. Saved 5 pixels in width and height, and no longer leaves little white squares at top-right and bottom-left where it doesn't match the background of whatever page it's on.
- The margin at the top is slightly decreased, though I was already near the minimum possible for that title font.
- If the title is too long to fit, it will try a smaller font size. If that doesn't fit, too bad.
- Bottom margin decreased; X axis values moved a few pixels higher.
- Left margin no longer static. Takes into account how many characters it will need to display at maximum, and then allows for a few pixels extra on both sides.
- Similarly, the right margin is no longer static. It measures the optional abbreviations to determine how big it needs to be.
- Even beyond the abbreviation thing, the legend has been tightened up to waste less space between rows of text and on either side of the color line.
A rundown of the cosmetic modifications:
- Once I started specifying an exact location for the legend to be placed as far as left/right, it wanted one for top/bottom, too. So rather than being centered, it's now located just under the margin where the title goes. This is an advantage in that even a too-long list shouldn't cover part of a title.
- Background color changed from default-gray to a bluish gray. Looks less like an out-of-the-box JpGraph image, and matches the color used for the headers of tables on Garaph.
- Legend background changed to white. The default light gray wasn't particularly good or bad, and plain white will best show off the colors as they'll actually appear to the left.
- A little Garaph logo on the bottom left. This is the change I'm most hesitant about. I don't mean to claim ownership of the data or dissuade others from displaying it where they wish, but it should help identify various Garaph graphs as coming from the same source. And really, is a 16x16 logo mixed into what would otherwise be an unused part of a graph really more of a mark than the browser favicon or page title you see while actually here? I was also worried adding this little bit of complexity would increase file sizes, but it turned out to be a very tiny difference.
Once I'm sure I'm done tinkering with these I can apply them to the Japanese hardware sales graphs and hardware shipment graphs.
Phew. A lot of little changes behind the scenes, but the big difference looking in is that... lines can end. Yesterday I talked about being able to view groups as they were in the past; now the images they display will cut off at the proper point, too. Example: Metal Gear as of the beginning of 2005.
This was done by implementing a "sum through date" parameter into both the software and hardware line generators. The hardware one is useable through the creation page, but right now the software one is just implemented by the past group views. If you're really in a rush to use it, though, the new parameter for both the software and hardware line generators is &std=2004-12-30 . Modify number and date as necessary.
So I worked a bit more on those software group updates. They're more in place now, but still more of something for power users (read: probably mostly me) and I haven't tried to make it very user friendly yet. Basically, softwaregroup.php can now take "week" and "orderby" arguments, both features of other pages around these parts. With "week", an earlier week can be specified, so, for instance, you can see Animal Crossing group sales as they were at the end of 2007. The "orderby" argument is from the new search, so if you have an order you like from there, you can pretty much copy and paste that bit of the URL. This way you can, say, view Animal Crossing group ordered by release date, rather than descending order of sales as is the default.
The images shown and linked lower on the page are partially modified to reflect these changes, though it will take some further work to make it match as well as it could. It takes alternate orders into account, so the first software listed on the page should be the first software in the graph. It takes the week into account in that games not released by a certain week and thus not showing up on the page won't show up in the group image. HOWEVER, it won't cut off sales early if your week value only goes through half of a game's life. This is the main thing that will require further tinkering.
Near the bottom of the group pages there are links to the previous and next weeks of the group's history, like there has been on the platform software page.
Quite a number of changes today. Going from smallest to largest...
Some updates to software group pages. Mostly it's behind-the-scenes stuff. Preventing a person from going to nonexistant Group IDs is the main thing you'll notice. Started adding in a few more options, but for right now they're incompletely integrated so I won't mention them yet.
Recently I started listing these recent changes on the front page. Now older changes are available at the Changes Archive, and if you want to be kept up to date automatically there's now a Changes RSS Feed.
The biggie is the new Game Search. The old one was archaic. Last year when I first started putting software in the database I wanted a page to display what was in there so far. When that list became too big, with a few options slapped on as a frontend, it became a surprisingly useful search tool. However, now that I've been doing all of this interlinking software stuff for the better part of a year, I can do better. I put together a tool recently to find the top-selling software released between certain dates, added in a few other things people could specify... and realized it was doing almost everything the search did and more. So I worked on combining them and adding a few new features.
Key differences: Default order of results is no longer by platform then release date, but release date then platform. However, if you want to get a bit more advanced you can order results almost any way you please. Release dates and prices can now be given as a range, rather than just as a single entry with wildcards. Lifetime sales are listed along with entries. Columns can be hidden if they're not relevant to you, and the two that are probably least often relevant start out hidden. The Game Search entry and results page is the same, so you can slightly modify a search without needing to hit Back, and if anyone links you to a set of results you can easily see what exactly they input to get those results.