Development update no. 5

Surprise! We're early with our update this week! We have made a number of bug fixes live on the iSpot website this week. Here’s a roundup of what’s changed… Bug fixing progress

Surprise! We're early with our update this week!

We have made a number of bug fixes live on the iSpot website this week. Here’s a roundup of what’s changed…

Bug fixing progress

  • Duplicate observations being posted – We’ve added a “Please wait” spinner to the add/ edit observation wizard. This disables buttons on the form while slow operations like uploading of photos occur. We hope this will reduce or eliminate the incidence of duplicate observations. This is a situation where we’re eliminating a probable cause of the bug (duplicate observations), which may reveal further issues, in which case we will investigate the issues and provide further fixes.
    We’ve tested the spinner across a range of devices. In the Chrome browser on iOS (iPads, iPhones), there is an issue where the spinner does not appear but the text “Please wait” does. All other device/ browser combinations appear to work as expected. (fix now live)
  • We have fixed the peculiar “1970″ date that was appearing if the first photograph used in the add observation wizard contained no EXIF data (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchangeable_image_file_format). For those of you who are interested you can read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_time to find out why the erroneous date was the 1st January 1970! (fix now live)
  • There was another date-related bug, namely dates “disappearing” when you went back to edit an observation or project. This was a puzzler, however in the end the fix involved updating a third party module. (fix now live)
  • Some strange text was appearing at the bottom of the add interaction wizard – on the location step. This turned out to be “debug” text (stuff added by developers to help them solve a problem). It took a little while to find where the text was being introduced, then remove it. We know the interaction functionality isn’t working properly, and we’re looking at this issue now. (fix now live)
  • We’ve reduced the size of pages sent to browser by stripping out non-essential HTML code/comments. (fix now live)
  • Southern Africa localities are not working post-migration - We’ve worked out the cause of the “missing” location title auto-complete options for our southern African cousins. The problem stems from significant differences between the global and old ZA iSpot sites. There are data and even tables that aren’t present in the legacy ZA site, because it only contained one community and species dictionary. We think we’ll need significant down-time to fix this issue, having tested a fix which took 4 hours to run, so we’re discussing how best to tackle this whilst minimising disruption.

What will happen next week

  • MySQL 5.7 migration work will be picked up again, hopefully we’re not too far off completing this work. We anticipate this change will make a significant difference to the speed of the site: it will provide us with a critical feature called “row-level locking” (in place of current table-level locking), which will remove a massive bottle-neck and improve performance. The way the current incarnation works is, any time any user carries out any interaction with the site, Drupal creates a “write” request to the database (even though no writing is required!!), and our MariaSQL database then locks an entire table until the request has been dealt with. The slow performance you’re seeing is iSpot waiting for a queue of requests to clear before it gets to your one.
    The challenge for us making this change of database engine is to ensure we maintain the geo-spatial database capabilities that iSpot requires, whilst making the most of the feature improvements.
  • Investigate why Southern Africa localities are not working post-migration (in progress)
  • Fix “add interaction” functionality (in progress)
  • Begin testing implementation of OU network performance enhancements through central IT department
    Investigate and fix why indexes for projects are not refreshing (in progress)

We hope that these fixes help you enjoy iSpot and reduce the frustrations. Thank you for your patience, and your apparently inexhaustible enthusiasm!

19 Feb 2015
kevmcleod