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WoW-GPS Dev Blog

WoW-GPS 2.0 Vision

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Last week, I revealed that I had some admittedly large plans for the future of the WoW-GPS project. Here's a bit more info about what I think the future WoW-GPS looks like.

The User Account
With v1.0, I intentionally avoided creating a series of resources that would require people to login in order to access. At the time, I felt it was too much overhead, and unnecessary "hoop-jumping" for something that didn't really add a lot of additional value. Keep in mind, that the original module was the Saronite Shuffle module, and I didn't really expect people would be accessing it on anything more than a semi-regular basis, if even that. Things have obviously changed with the inclusion of additional modules, but most importantly, when looking at the full scope of what I'd like the project to be, I can realistically envision something where people would be coming back weekly, daily, or even more frequently, depending on how active a goldmaker they are. This not only makes the User Account more worthwhile, I believe it opens some doors to rebuilding the entire resource around the Account concept.

I see the WoW-GPS user account as becoming a sort of centralized, connecting element for the entire site, potentially even excluding access if people weren't logged in (Really depends on how useful the "general" versions of the resources would be). Either way, the most valuable tools and resources would become accessible once people had logged in to access their personalized account. Everything else that you did via the site would then become personalized to each person's unique experience, which is what I feel truly enhances these resources in comparison to static ones, like spreadsheets.

Connect Toons
One of the primary goals with WoW-GPS 2.0 would be data-driven automation (where it makes sense, since I know that's a controversial term ). The first step with towards this would be some means for people to connect their toons to their account, similar to the way wowprogress or diabloprogress works. I know some people (especially those who value their "supposed" anonymity) will be reluctant to have all of their character information pulled together in one place, but I hope that the benefits will far outweigh any potential risks.

I think some of the biggest, most obvious benefit lies in the profession data via the Character armory. Once you've linked all your toons, WoW-GPS would have access to determine which professions you have available to you, what skill level they're at, and also which recipes you know and which you don't. This would be extremely useful in streamlining any profession resources, such as a shuffler, etc. Instead of having to manually select/remove/update the resource with only information pertinent to you, WoW-GPS would already have a good starting point, without you having to even lift a finger. It would also be able to determine when you skill up a profession further, or learn new recipes and it would be able to seamlessly adapt. There would also be a greater opportunity to help with profession levelling, since it would have access to both your skill level data AND the AH data all in one place, being able to make more meaningful suggestions which are innately personalized.

The next set of data you'd have access to through connecting your toons would be the AH data, itself. I know this may seem like a no-brainer, so let me outline some of the possibilities I think this would open up. Some of these might work well, some might not, but here's a few examples:

- Restock notifications. The AH data can obviously already help you determine how many of a given item you've got up on the AH, but what if you were to combine that with some account-level thresholds? I'm not sure how feasible this would be, but it doesn't have to be live notifications, as something that was accessible out of game to help you better manage your in-game routine I believe still holds some value.

- Historical data. In-game addons are already quite capable of tracking your posting, cancelling history, pricing trends, etc, but the way that API data can take that a step further would be to compare that against everyone else on the AH, or the AH as a whole. What sort of results do your personal posting strategy yield against others', or how much more or less aggressive you are than your realm - these are a few examples of the sort of thing that can potentially be extrapolated and tracked.

- Competition analysis. This is a topic/project I know I've mentioned a few times in the past, so obviously it's something I've put some thought into. That said, I don't know how effective it could be on a toon-by-toon basis, but by leveraging the WoW-GPS toon connections, you can isolate ALL of your own toons and then analyze the behaviour, strengths, weaknesses, etc. of your competition more effectively.

The last major set of data that I feel could be incorporated into the WoW-GPS account is local addon data. I'm primarily thinking of accounting data, for obvious reasons, but I don't think it necessarily needs to stop there. Destroying data can be useful in determining output yields for many of the resources, and things like crafting queues and operation / group settings can be remotely managed and expanded upon through automation and various conditions not currently available in-game. I know it might seem like overkill, or even unnecessary, given the fact that you wouldn't even be in-game at the time, but just imagine if you could setup several operations for a TSM group, and have API-driven events automatically switch between them, given some pre-determined triggers. Then, you'd simply download your new settings file before logging into the game, and post away without ever having to manually adjust your settings. This is just one example of what I feel could be an alarmingly large number of ways in which you could incorporate in-game data.

Another benefit of allowing users to upload their addon data would be crowd-sourcing. Destroying data, accounting data, and much more could be consolidated to increase data validation and provide a better reference point for some of the game's most volatile metrics. I'm sure the argument can be made that this information can be easily manipulated, but I think that the WoW-GPS account context helps to alleviate most of that. Instead of randomly uploading data into a pool of data, users would be uploading data that would be directly used for their own purposes and benefit, and then indirectly added into the pool. There's not much point in fudging your sales data if you're then expecting to turn around and use the WoW-GPS recommendations and results that are based on that very sales data, is there?

Resources / Integration
After connecting your toons to your WoW-GPS account, the "meat" of the site would lie in the various tools/resources that would be developed. Various profession-based tools, like shufflers would instantly benefit from the connected toon information, as non-pertinent crafts, etc. would be excluded from use/suggestion by default. It would also already have access to your individual realm of choice, and due to the persistent account settings, you'd be able to save/update any manual overrides or changes you might make.

The other huge advantage I foresee with such a setup would be a better level of integration beween various resources. Want to know if the jc shuffle is a better use of time than dmf or glyphs? Done. Comparing results between different professions would be far easier to manage since all of your settings/results would be directly associated with your account. No need to have 3-4 different spreadsheets open, tabbing back and forth, comparing data - a simple summary page would give you a quick overview of everything you need to know.

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Hopefully, this post has provided some additional insight into the direction I'm really hoping I can get an opportunity to take WoW-GPS in. It undoubtedly raises some additional questions - that's expected, given that's it was more of an overview than a roadmap. In the next post, I'd like to outline some of the next steps and potential obstacles on the horizon. I'd also like to setup some processes and venues for obtaining user feedback, given the potentially large scope of this 2.0 rebuilding.

Please let me know what you think about some of the features and functionality I've described in the meantime, though.
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Comments

  1. Saliira's Avatar
    Sounds like your plan/vision for the productivity suite has a lot of potential! I look forward to seeing how it develops.
  2. Thracken's Avatar
    Man, your last couple posts have me /drooling - I've got high hopes for GPS 2.0!

    You've even got me wanting to tinker around with the armory API a bit, but I'm afraid I'd be in over my head. Got any tips for someone just dipping their toes into the API?
  3. Kathroman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Thracken
    Man, your last couple posts have me /drooling - I've got high hopes for GPS 2.0!

    You've even got me wanting to tinker around with the armory API a bit, but I'm afraid I'd be in over my head. Got any tips for someone just dipping their toes into the API?
    That really all depends on what platform your background is with. I've got some experience using the API data with both PHP and Ruby on Rails, now, so I could speak directly to either one of those. For other platforms, I could probably point you in the right direction
  4. Thracken's Avatar
    I know enough PHP to be dangerous - if you could point me in the right direction, that'd be fantastic.

    I'm also not opposed to learning Ruby on Rails - almost all of the programming languages I know started as a side project I was tinkering with, and grew from there, so if you think RoR is better for working with the WoW API, I'll have a look.
  5. Kathroman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Thracken
    I know enough PHP to be dangerous - if you could point me in the right direction, that'd be fantastic.

    I'm also not opposed to learning Ruby on Rails - almost all of the programming languages I know started as a side project I was tinkering with, and grew from there, so if you think RoR is better for working with the WoW API, I'll have a look.
    ANY PHP knowledge is dangerous

    That said, you might want to check out my old http://stormspire.net/addons-macros/...in-system.html . The code is over 2 years old, but I'm sure some of it should at least provide a starting point. Either way, PM me if you have any questions about it.

    In all seriousness, PHP is a fine language for web applications - perhaps not the most glamorous, but it's wide use makes finding help/support a bit easier, I'd say. RoR isn't necessarily better for the WoW API, it's just better in general. Better philosophy, more "complete" development solution, easier to use, etc.

    A few years ago, I was in the exact same boat as you - knowing just enough PHP to be dangerous (which, for me, was that TGS). Today, I use PHP in my day job (not by choice, mind you) but for fun, I use Rails. That should give you some idea about whether or not Rails is worth picking up. If you ARE interested, I highly recommend http://ruby.railstutorial.org/ruby-o...-tutorial-book as a nice place to start, and the guides at http://guides.rubyonrails.org/ are not bad, either.
  6. DiscordDave's Avatar
    Sounds like an excellent future. I used to be one of those ones that wanted to remain super secret, but am coming to terms with how that's nearly impossible if someone is determined to figure out who your toons are. And I'm also realizing that it really doesn't much much of a difference if they know. So logging in to an account and getting the level of detail you are talking about is awesome. I look forward to being able to sign up for any beta you decide to do, and wish that I had more time to progress beyond the "knows enough php to be dangerous" so that I could offer to help, but I'm sure you know all about the demands of IRL.
  7. Kathroman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DiscordDave
    Sounds like an excellent future. I used to be one of those ones that wanted to remain super secret, but am coming to terms with how that's nearly impossible if someone is determined to figure out who your toons are. And I'm also realizing that it really doesn't much much of a difference if they know. So logging in to an account and getting the level of detail you are talking about is awesome. I look forward to being able to sign up for any beta you decide to do, and wish that I had more time to progress beyond the "knows enough php to be dangerous" so that I could offer to help, but I'm sure you know all about the demands of IRL.
    There are definitely other ways to help, beyond sharing development time. Being part of an Alpha, or a Beta release and providing meaningful feedback is a huge help, and even offering suggestions early on that could potential help shape the future of the project. All necessary. Co-development was actually an area I was going to address in my roadmap post (probably next week), so stay tuned