So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do next?

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So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do next?

Postby Fraxtil on Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:59 pm

(Posting this in the Junkyard because, although I'm looking for serious feedback, it's not even close to being completed enough to warrant a real thread.) ok fine ITG/r21 Discussion it is

Over the last few weeks I wrote a website in Python / Django where you upload simfile ZIPs and it creates a super-detailed landing page for it, like this. Yes, the sample audio actually works and is the same audio you'd hear in the song wheel. You can also click on the charts to get one of these pages. (The slider to the left adjusts the "speed" / arrow spacing.) It also works on double charts, aside from a few minor cosmetic issues, and Pump charts too (though I haven't extensively tested Pump charts yet).

This is all pretty cool by itself, but I know there's a lot more I can do with it. Some of the ideas I've had:

  • Gear it towards collaborative simfile packs: give it a version control system backend, allow simfiles to be edited by multiple users, and so on.
  • Make the parser even more versatile, so that it can handle noteskins, themes, and any other StepMania media you throw at it. It would likely work primarily (though not exclusively) with .SMZIP files if I were to do this. shakesoda has expressed interest in putting this on stepmania.com, which would be pretty cool.
  • Keep it simple, market it as a simfile hosting service. I'm not terribly fond of this idea because my disk space is limited.

So what should I do now? More to the point -- would you actually use this service? What do I need to add so that you'll want to use it? Give me ideas.
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Re: So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do nex

Postby joe#2 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:19 pm

Off the bat I don't like the way the singles/doubles list is set up (why X/N/E/M/H?). Also, maybe you should color code the charts? That's one of the things divinelegy has that's kinda neat, which is why I ask.

If you meant in terms of developing collab packs, I have a feeling most people would probably stick with dropbox or some equivalent (if only because of how simple it is), but I'd like to see this prove me wrong. Second idea is something I would never see myself using (the default ones already look fine to me), but it's a neat thing I guess.

Everything else seems kind of neat (points for sample audio), although I'd probably never use it due to prior arrangements I have for uploading simfiles (basically the same reason I won't use DE). That being said, considering a lot of people today upload to DE now, I'm curious if they'd upload to both sites, drop DE and move to this, or stay with DE exclusively.

edit: Out of curiosity, how would the page handle something if there's multiple .oggs in there (something like the phantoms alternate audio)? Does it just grab whatever file is referred to in the .sm? I know this is a rare case, but I'm still interested in what it would do.
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Re: So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do nex

Postby Telperion on Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:44 pm

Fraxtil wrote:This is all pretty cool by itself


Haha, no kidding, this looks fantastic so far. Echoing joe's notes about the way the charts are listed currently, and sample audio is definitely a useful addition. I'd love to see a specialized version control system.
I do know that one of the things people have wanted to see in my own simfile parser is a way to preview the steps as they would play in SM, and with your ability to pull the audio out of the ZIP you might be in a position to one-up that and have the audio playing with the steps.
If you go the keep-it-simple route, maybe you could also provide an option to not host the ZIP, and just unpack/retain its contents for the user's current session? If you have a way to link to an already-hosted ZIP (say, on DivinElegy) and create a landing page from that, you won't have to worry as much about your own disk space.

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Re: So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do nex

Postby Fraxtil on Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:30 pm

joe#2 wrote:Off the bat I don't like the way the singles/doubles list is set up (why X/N/E/M/H?).

Telperion wrote:Echoing joe's notes about the way the charts are listed currently

Charts are currently listed in whatever order they appear in the simfile. That's pretty high on my list of things to change because it can look like a total mess under some circumstances.

joe#2 wrote:edit: Out of curiosity, how would the page handle something if there's multiple .oggs in there (something like the phantoms alternate audio)? Does it just grab whatever file is referred to in the .sm? I know this is a rare case, but I'm still interested in what it would do.

It uses whatever's referenced by the .SM. The parser is actually pretty robust at this point; I think the only thing it still chokes on is repeated data (like #TITLE appearing twice) and possibly invalid chart data, but it handles a lot of edge cases like missing fields, non-numeric data in #BPMS or #STOPS, and even stuff that makes sense according to the MSD file format but not in the context of a simfile (like #TITLE; with no colon). For those edge cases it generally throws out the whole simfile.

joe#2 wrote:If you meant in terms of developing collab packs, I have a feeling most people would probably stick with dropbox or some equivalent (if only because of how simple it is), but I'd like to see this prove me wrong.

This was actually the whole reason I started working on the project - Dropbox is convenient, but very lacking when it comes to managing entire projects. It's far from a good replacement for a version control system.

joe#2 wrote:That being said, considering a lot of people today upload to DE now, I'm curious if they'd upload to both sites, drop DE and move to this, or stay with DE exclusively.

I've thought about Divinelegy throughout the project, and one of the things I've considered doing is getting rid of the hosting aspect of my app and have users provide their own download links. That way the functionality is roughly the same but I don't have to worry as much about disk usage.

Telperion wrote:I do know that one of the things people have wanted to see in my own simfile parser is a way to preview the steps as they would play in SM, and with your ability to pull the audio out of the ZIP you might be in a position to one-up that and have the audio playing with the steps.

It's been done already, by much more experienced people than myself. It doesn't support BPM changes / stops, though, and I already have a lot of the code to handle that, so maybe that's something to look into in the distant future?

Telperion wrote:If you go the keep-it-simple route, maybe you could also provide an option to not host the ZIP, and just unpack/retain its contents for the user's current session? If you have a way to link to an already-hosted ZIP (say, on DivinElegy) and create a landing page from that, you won't have to worry as much about your own disk space.

Oops, should've read both posts before saying the same thing in my reply to joe#2. Anyway, yeah, that's definitely an idea.
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Re: So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do nex

Postby Schlagwerk on Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:33 pm

Looks great so far, I'd say this should be moved into r21 discussion.

I'd agree on having the chart listing the same way it is in-game (N,E,M,H,X). From a web design standpoint, I think you could do a lot more with the space. There's a big block of negative space to the right of the banner, and I think you could put all the most important information side by side with it (title, artist, BPM/displayBPM, uploaded date) and keep everything else down in the Details section. The Charts could be displayed in a way that uses less vertical space, but with the 900(?)px width you're using that might sacrifice some clarity.

I'd say this would be great for a repository, and being able to upload new versions with climbing version numbers would be great - if they built in a system inside SM that is able to browse and update simfiles automatically that would get the gears in motion to make SM5 a contender. I would like to see a resurgence (and possibly a new version) of .smzip, especially now that we're really digging in and changing more than just the Songs folder.

For collaborative packs, the ability to credit all authors (linked as users) involved should be a feature, but I'd be wary about having multiple people able to edit the upload. I'm all for full-blown version control but I know many use Dropbox and that's something that's going to be hard to compete with without creating a SM-tailored solution.
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Re: So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do nex

Postby joe#2 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:35 pm

Fraxtil wrote:Dropbox is convenient, but very lacking when it comes to managing entire projects. It's far from a good replacement for a version control system.

I agree with you on this, I should have been more direct with my wording. I think SVN is probably the best thing for collabing at this moment (I cannot tell you how many times version control came to the rescue during UFOs), so if this site somehow works as an SVN geared towards stepmania, I'd be very interested in it.
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Re: So I've been working on a cool website. What do I do nex

Postby Psychotik on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:43 pm

Schlagwerk wrote:Looks great so far, I'd say this should be moved into r21 discussion.

Agreed, I don't want this to turn to a shit thread.
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