Xaquseg 711 followers

Xaquseg is the system administrator for FIMFiction, as well as various misc. development, especially related to security. Non-technical problems are probably best asked to other staff members.

News Archive

  • 192 weeks
    Downtime & Server Move

    Hi all. Firstly, apologies for the extended period of unexpected downtime. Obviously any kind of downtime is non ideal, but unexpected is more annoying all around.

    On Friday morning (GMT) we experienced a hardware failure on our database server. To our knowledge there is no data loss of any kind. We have fairly regular backups hosted off-site, regardless. The exact cause isn't entirely clear at this time, but instead of wrestling with trying to get the hardware sorted (it was a dedicated server) we decided that this was a good opportunity to make a server move we've been planning for a long time over to Digital Ocean.

    Read More

    236 comments · 15,250 views
  • 270 weeks
    BBCode updates

    Performance improvements

    Over the last few days I've been working on improving the performance of the BBCode parser. I've managed to implement a few major optimizations, reducing the run time in common cases to around 1/4th to 1/20th compared to the older version. This has reduced total server-side render times on some of the more complicated test pages I've been using to around 50ms–70ms, which should be a noticeable improvement.

    New features

    Opacity

    Read More

    49 comments · 4,823 views
  • 292 weeks
    Recent Changelog

    We've done various unannounced changes of the past few weeks so I thought I'd group up the things we've done so you guys know what's changed.

    • Added account linking page for Patreon / Twitter
    • Added ability to cross post stories, blogs and bookshelf additions to Twitter
    • Added twitter userpage module
    • Added account deletion page
    • Reorganised user toolbar dropdown to better fit more items
    • Added session management page to see logins and active sessions on your account
    • Added new articles system and moved some existing ones into it
    • Redesigned PM page a bit to be cleaner
    • Increased font size in major places across the site to improve readability
    • New cookie consent controls for EU users and updated privacy policy
    • Recommended groups list on groups page - WIP
    • Tooltips in many locations around the site with helpful tips

    Read More

    114 comments · 5,953 views
  • 293 weeks
    Help Articles

    Something I've worked on the last couple of days is adding the ability for us to add arbitrary "articles" to the site which we can use for various things. Sort of an extension on the manual articles we've added in the past like the bbcode page, writing guide, etc.

    So far I've added 3 guides:

    I'd love to know if you guys have any idea for articles that would have helped you out when starting out or anything else that comes to mind.

    65 comments · 5,131 views
  • 321 weeks
    Night Mode

    I've been working on it for ages but only really got the impetus to finish all of it off over the last few days. In the "settings" dropdown at the top on desktop, or the bottom of the slide out bar on mobile you'll find a toggle for night mode. Enjoy!

    Oh, and although I've tried to cover everything there is a 100% chance I've missed styling some things so apologies in advance for any funky pages.

    246 comments · 6,705 views
  • 322 weeks
    Additional Search Update

    Hey folks,

    Over the last few days I've added a few things to the new search system. A lot of people were unhappy with not being able to filter various things as quickly as they used to be able to. To that end, I've added a little filter dropdown to the right of the search box which effectively contains everything the old sidebar used to. It even has some niceties like quick word count filters and a highly rated filter.

    Read More

    132 comments · 5,230 views
  • 322 weeks
    December 2017 Update

    Hey guys, got a whole bunch of updates for you today.

    Tags

    This is a small but important step on our way to the tagging system I envision. The existing way we handled things like characters and genres has all been merged into a single tagging system. That won't result in much difference for you viewing and using the site but it makes it a lot easier to add new tags especially.

    We now have a couple of new tag types: series and warnings.

    The series tag is for identifying what series (franchise) your fanfiction contains. I've added a whole ton of various TV shows, movies, comics, books and games but clearly we will have to add a ton more in the coming future. Stories must also contain one of the four MLP tags which are FIM, EqG, Movie and Comic, as this is a pony fanfic site after all. Feel free to bug me on Discord if you have a requirement for a series to be added.

    Read More

    630 comments · 13,725 views
  • 322 weeks
    Math BBCode tag

    I've added [math] and [mathblock] BBCode tags, which can be used to display formatted math. We've had a few requests for this, particularly for group forum threads and blog posts. Most math-related TeX syntax is supported. (We are currently using MathJax to handle the layout.)

    The documentation from the BBCode guide is repeated below for your convenience.

    Read More

    84 comments · 4,349 views
  • 345 weeks
    Fimfiction API

    If you're not a developer you can probably ignore this post.

    It's been like 6 years, but hey, things take time. The API is currently very WIP still but it's ready for people to get working on in our development chat room.

    API documentation can be found at https://www.fimfiction.net/developers/api/v2/docs and you should join the Discord Chat and PM me to add you to the private API channel and I can help you get started. The functionality is very limited right now but I'm dedicating all my time to it at the moment and would love to have people add their input to the process.

    60 comments · 7,301 views
  • 350 weeks
    New BBCode Tags

    Hey guys,

    One of the features in this new update was reader-side paragraph formatting. This helps improve consistency for readers across the site, especially for those of us who can’t stand reading indented text on a computer screen.

    However, one thing that wasn’t accounted for was the legitimate need for specific indenting of passages and for certain blocks of text to have no paragraph formatting. Some examples would be lyrics and poetry.

    Taking this into account, we have come up with a couple of new tags that remedy this situation which are documented below (copied directly from the bbcode guide)


    [indent] Indent

    The indent tag can be used to, unsurprisingly, indent portions of your text.

    [indent]The indent tag can be used to, unsurprisingly, indent portions of your text.[/indent]

    It also support levels of indenting

    Read More

    168 comments · 6,348 views
Oct
16th
2014

Site Update » New formatting options · 6:02am Oct 16th, 2014

We've added some new formatting options to the chapter formatting dialog. People have asked for better dark schemes, and we now have a few that are tinted towards a color, as well as "Ultra Dark", which has a true black background. Alongside these new options, we've improved all dark schemes to fade out the overall site background when you're reading the chapter, which gets rid of those annoying light-colored bars on the sides of the page, which made those options significantly less useful.

In addition to color options, we've added font options too, including a few common serif/sans-serif fonts that we missed, as well as a bunch of "Cursive" fonts, which attempt to emulate handwriting in some way. Some people have a hard time reading "computer font" text, we hope that the handwriting-like options will at least help.

We've also added some accessibility features to both the color and font lists, there are two new high-contrast color schemes, and we've added support for common dyslexia fonts, if you have them installed on your computer.

Edit: Quote box formatting has been improved inside stories, especially for dark schemes.

Report Xaquseg · 5,613 views ·
Comments ( 100 )
Polly #1 · Oct 16th, 2014 · · 8 ·

OK but can you add a Button Mash tag?

Since this is a formatting post. I've gotten a comment on one of my stories which mentioned that italics do not show up on some mobile devices. Is this an issue that could easily be fixed?

Btw, loving that ultra dark option. Gonna use that for night reading from now on. Far easier on the eyes.

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536097
That's unfortunately an issue with some mobile browsers missing italic fonts and other fun bugs... it's hard for us to fix on our end. They can try setting the font to "Open Sans" in the dropdown, it's the one used by the rest of the site and should support italics on everything...

We still have the Applejack Orange text field when trying to edit chapters or blogs, though.:applejackunsure:

But where is the critical wingdings font?

2536101
Ah, excellent. I've pasted your response onto a reply to said comment. Hopefully said user will be able to enjoy beautiful italics from now on.

2536094
This, please
:scootangel:

Why don't I have a purple name!?

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536102
Fixed.
(I actually noticed the issue when I wrote this post...)

2536114 Thank you!:pinkiehappy: No more eyestrain.:twilightsmile:

Thank you for these changes. As a person who has trouble reading black text on white backgrounds for long periods of time I have always used the dark themes. The fading out of the sides thing is very appreciated. The quote boxes were really awful before, I can't wait until I see the new ones.

Thank you, sweet merciless Admin. Thank you, praise you, give
2536094 his tag. Please.

Comment posted by RazgrizS57 deleted Oct 16th, 2014

Yeah, the darker themes will make reading in low- or no light even more pleasant, thanks!

:twilightsmile:

2536114 Not sure if this is the right place to ask but since this is a 'site update' post... What happened to all the info in the 'personal info' section of the user page? It used to have last log in, joined date, and story views. I kinda liked those - they let you know if someone is active or not. It lets me know if there's any chance stories are going to updated.

Very nice!
Though I wish safari was more compatible with the new site format.

aCB
aCB #16 · Oct 16th, 2014 · · ·

*Look at the new formatting options
*Try the "Princess Celestia" color scheme

3.bp.blogspot.com/-tl4N51R5ric/UD2WGGFR9PI/AAAAAAAAB70/CIn3p92XMm4/s1600/Princess-Trollestia-princess-trollestia-28518921-894-894.jpg

Dammit Celestia!

I actually preferred the lighter bars off to the sides when reading on the computer. (dont see them at all when reading from either mobile device)

One thing I would like to see would be to be able to use different fonts when writing certain sections... but I guess that would not work well with giving the reader the font choice.
I shall check out the new fonts. As for background, I will stay with the medium dark, which is easiest on my eyes.

Overall, the latest updates have proven to be very well done.

One thing I would like to see is the Top rated fics, Most followed users, and top commentors lists returned... A while back, I was told that you was working on fixing that part of the site stats... but now, I see it all gone. Thats a bummer.

I love this! Thanks dude!

A bug I've noticed since the library update that seems to be steadily growing more common is that using an offline dowloader, like pocket or instapaper, results in either no chapter or a chapter that is most definite NOT from the story link, usually previous blog posts for the story in question.

Not entirely sure how this happens or who would take care of it, but its a grating issue, as I prefer the interface of pocket or instapaper over a browser or my HTML reader (which is built for actual paper book emulation, creating quite the odd look)

Yessssss, quotes for us darklings. This makes me way happier than it should.

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536168
The problem with letting authors pick fonts is actually worse than this: there aren't any fonts we can guarantee the user has installed, especially on mobile devices. The font list automatically determines which fonts are supported by the user's browser. (For the privacy worried: we never transmit this data, it is only used locally.) On top of this, allowing authors to pick fonts means authors can pick hard to read fonts, and they might not even realize just how hard it is for some people to read certain fonts!

Consider a dyslexic user for example, it's often very hard for dyslexics to read serif fonts, so if the author were to pick one for a section...

It's just too likely to lead to unreadable text, and authors already have access to a lot of formatting options they can use. (You'll rarely see books change font, for example...)

2536200 lol I'm dyslexic, but I am one who has no issue with fonts... I guess I am lucky in that regard

Awesome! Every useful improvement to visibility and accessibility is highly appreciated. :pinkiehappy:

Thank you very much for adding the auto dimmer to the background of the site. It's much nicer to read on my PC now.

Cool work. The "handwriting" fonts look a little weird, but I'm not gonna be using them anyway. What I would really appreciate seeing the default ordering for all bookshelves being set to "updated".


2536094 Button Mash? We still need a decent Power Ponies tag.

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536221
They're better at larger sizes or high-DPI screens, but they're mostly there for a fairly limited set of users that prefer them. The fonts and colors are intended as options, we expect most users will have fairly specific preferences and find most of the rest uninteresting.

2536224 And the bookshelves? As I recall, the "added" ordering was one of the big complaints early on. The red text to the right of each bookshelf title only helps a little bit.

Oh, one little suggestion: Can you adjust the font contrast on Author's Notes? They're still a tad off. Other than that, I love it!

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536233
Yeah, we know the author's notes sections are still a bit messy, we'll hopefully get those fixed tomorrow.

2536101
Curse you Droid Sans, CURSE YOU! I still don't know what they were thinking when they omitted italics from the default font for a whole set of devices...

As a point of pendantry, I would have called these display options. Formatting, in my mind, would refer to the actual semantic markup. Regardless, glad to see some attention being paid to it. Seems a bit weird having to scroll a whole inch or so of the text offscreen before the fading kicks in, but oh well.

Sadly, the new options still don't cover my preferred theme either (charcoal page background, medium-grey story background, black text), but that's easy enough to fix with userstyles, and I don't imagine I speak for anyone else in the desire for such a color scheme. Might as well mention it though.

Was comic sans in the list before? I don't feel like it was. No comment :scootangel:

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536256
If you do mess with userstyles, formatting #chapter_format will automatically change the page background, the background control logic is already aware of how to figure out what overall color to use. (assuming it picks reasonably accurately, but it should with the named scheme you mentioned...)

Thank you! The white bars at the side when you put the background in dark was bothering me too.

2536258
It's dynamic? That's neat, though it rules out background images. I'll fool around with it and see what I can get it to do, thanks.

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536260
If you set both an image and a color, images should work fine. (setting a fallback color when using an image is good practice anyway.)

2536261
Err, sorry, I meant for the body background. I wouldn't use a textured background behind text :scootangel:

(Edit: That is, in fact, totally a thing I have done :twilightoops: )

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536264
FYI, if you want to use a userscript to add a custom scheme, add entries to the dialog and define stuff for the content_format_valueofoptionyouadded CSS class. Although I will warn that this and the other info I just told you is not to be considered part of an API contract, if we change how schemes work, it might break. (the dialog control has the ID of format_colours and should be fine to inject into, although the timing of it setting the value for the dialog might cause issues...)

zel

since i can actually expect a reply from you, how is that api thing coming along? i have seen some stuff from unofficial sources but none of that /api/v2/stuff seems to work right now

Xaquseg
Server Administrator

2536269
We'll hopefully be able to let a few developers onto the API platform soon.

zel

2536270 sweet
prolly not me though

2536146 I tried it after your comment and I laughed so hard. Thanks.

2536265
That's fine by me. I'm used to my userscripts and userstyles breaking :rainbowlaugh: I probably won't go as far as making a userscript for it, but it's good to know.

Just gave the Dark Purple view a test run, and I rather like the fadeout effect so I hate to be a noodge, but I'd like to suggest making all of the page elements darken -- specifically, the author's note box and the page selection/up-downvote bar came up rather glaring at the bottom of the read.

Incidentally, I really like the 'chapter length' bar across the top previously added. Differentiating between content and commentary is something I'd like to see a lot more websites do.

Given the effects of the Celestia theme (well-played you knobs), I am sorely disappointed that the Luna theme doesn't convert all story text to faux-Elizabethan and put random sentences in all caps.

2536135
Neither of these answers are really satisfactory, but they’re O.K. as a temporary workaround:

last log in

Go to their page and mouse over the icon to the left of their name and that info will come up in a tool tip. The icon itself will be green if they’re online.

joined date

Mouse over their name.

I just noticed something odd. I glanced through the other comments and didn't see anyone else point this out yet. That, or I missed it because I'm stupid.

fc08.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2014/289/2/8/_viewingstory_by_8542madness-d830jtm.png
I took this screenshot while viewing my story. It says I have two stories, but I actually have three.

fc08.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2014/289/b/7/_viewingprofile_by_8542madness-d830jtd.png
This screenshot from my user page correctly says that I have three stories.


Just wanted to make sure that staff were aware of the problem. It felt a bit strange to be reading a story written by someone that was displayed as not having any stories.

2536314
I've seen this problem too, and there is a chance it is intentional. It only happens when you are looking at one of the stories that would otherwise be included in the count.

I am getting a small amount of layout funniness with the Formatting button on the mobile layout:

i.imgur.com/tn7w70Z.jpg
i.imgur.com/6MCfxIz.jpg
(Screen captures from a few days ago, but still accurate for the bug I am reporting.)

Could probably be solved fairly easily by dropping the label and just displaying the stylized A, would give plenty of spare layout room in order to prevent the wrapping.

Incidentally, thank you so very much for the addition of the Post Comment button in the mobile layout. Bookshelves be dammed, I want to buy the entire staff a beer/beverage of choice for that change alone.

This is rather tangential, but I've asked before and didn't receive any answer.

Any chance of spoiler tags being added to the quick bar? Perhaps it's just me, but I use them nearly as much as the italics option.

On more related bits though, I love the new ultra dark. Really nicely crisp and readable.

Speaking of wrong counts, any idea why when you open an unread chapter, the "favourite" counter does not update?
If you change/refresh the page or open a new tab it shows the correct number but when you first open the chapter, the counter stays the same it was before.
It's not really too much of an issue it's just a bit misleading.

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