Posts Tagged ‘thewall’

First beta of my new webapp,

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

After a late night working until 2:45am on the finishing touches, my phone alerted me to the fact it was 5:35am and time for the first Live Photostream to take place.

The stream? Roger Waters – The Wall, from the Burswood Dome in Perth, AUSTRALIA. Special thanks to Paul Andrews for taking the pictures and doing a lot of testing beforehand.

From those that watched the stream in realtime – about 23 people based on the counter that I didn’t reset from my testing – I did receive a bit of good feedback and collected a lot of data to analyze.

Rule #1, do NOT keep modifying things during a live event. I saw a minor tweak, made a change, and broke some functionality. While it didn’t affect things, it did bug me to see the problem during the first test. Live with things until after the event – unless it is truly a showstopper. In this case, it was just an html tweak which caused some javascript to wrap and broke the JQuery click handler.

Rule #2, you can never collect enough data. While watching the stream, I realized I had turned off almost all of the debugging hints in node.js during development as it was really noisy. While most of the static assets are served with Varnish, those requests aren’t hitting the backend, so, I didn’t have a good indicator of real traffic. Running varnishncsa in one window while watching node.js with a bit of debugging turned on allowed me to see things, but, not logging pageviews, socket connects/disconnects and other data eliminates the ability to review things after the fact. I did think about putting some hooks into some of the express events (express being the framework I’m using).

Rule #3, always test your production environment well before the event/launch. As I had a very compressed development timetable knowing on Jan 13 that we wanted to do the first event on Jan 28, some infrastructure decisions I had made were not tested thoroughly beforehand resulting in having to run with a less than optimal setup. While Varnish and do work well together, some browser combinations had issues when doing brief usability tests. Fifteen days to write a scaleable architecture and an Android app is difficult. While I had no experience with node.js or prior to Nov 11, and haven’t touched Java since 2002 or so, I did spend a bit of time dealing with issues that came from lack of exposure to both.

As it isn’t recommended for node.js to handle static content, I used Varnish in a ‘cdn’ setup to offload static assets and media content. This worked very well except when I made a modification to some javascript and due to some of the rules in my VCL, I strip querystring arguments – making it impossible to just add ?v=2 to my javascript include. Bans for the CDN were only allowed from another host (remember that ‘test your complete production environment’ before launch?), so, a little manual telnetting from another machine allowed me to purge the javascript.

All in all, a great first test, several positive comments, and a nice, long list of requests/enhancements. I can see that this might be a fairly popular project.

If you would like to help beta test and have an Android phone, Download the app, take a few snapshots or enter texts and watch them show up on the Beta Test page.

If you have an event or are attending a concert where you would like to use SnapRelay, I can create a custom app specifically for your event. Let me know in the comments.

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