This week, we made a couple minor changes to the platform that will be important for new pack releases. First, we re-added the ability to have teaserpages, which are always a big hit, and are once again hosting the old teaser pages for existing packs. The second thing we did is a follow-up to a change we made a couple months ago. In March, we removed some older packs from the list of default packs in the launcher. However, those packs' pages still said "Included in the Technic Launcher"! You could still search for these packs from the launcher, but it was frustrating if you were trying to install Tekkit Classic on a new launcher. All official packs that are not included with the launcher now have a Platform API Link on their Platform page.
Additionally, this week we will be reinstating stats in the launcher. The path to get us there has been a long journey from sct but we're just about ready to unveil that, so look forward to it!
A Word About Hack Slash Mine
This week, we removed Hack Slash Mine as an official Technic pack and we wanted to drop a quick word about that. We really like HSM and have been playing it for years, so it's not a decision we came to lightly. Unfortunately, recent Java updates have broken Hack Slash Mine and Frizzil has not been reachable. Frizzil is now a professional game developer who's worked on some really impressive titles, and doesn't usually have time to work on HSM. As a result, we understand why it hasn't been updated, but unfortunately, we can't endorse the pack now as we could a few months ago. We also have no means to fix the problem ourselves.
Users can get it running by installing Java 6 or Java 7 and selecting that java version from Launcher Options, so it is runnable. We are not going to remove it from the Platform as we do with other packs that aren't Java 8 compatible, and we will continue to host and maintain the pack the best we can. However, it will no longer automatically appear at the top of relevant search results and will no longer appear in the official modpacks list on the Platform. We apologize to fans of the pack and hope that Hack Slash Mine will return again someday.
That's Pretty Much It!
It was a quiet week, but a lot is going on just under the surface- you'll see soon! Come visit us on IRC, our forums, or reddit, and tell us what you'd like to see!
It's been awhile since you've heard from us, but we haven't been idle! We've been working hard on a lot of fronts to make 2015 the Summer of Technic! You're going to be hearing from us a lot more often over the next 3 months, but let's round up all the great things we've been up to!
Welcome To Florida
Over the past 6 months, CanVox and Technic's artist, TheHave, have been undertaking the cross-country move necessary to put them in Florida, home of KakerMix and sct. This has taken up a lot of our time, but we're now closer than ever, and getting more done than we thought possible. This move has been really stressful, but you're going to start to see some real benefits!
No, he's not yet another Pack Welder. Zehn is a new Technic guy who's going to help us out with your support questions and also work Modpack reports so we can respond more consistently to problem modpacks, and restore modpacks when they've been fixed. We know that this has been a problem area for us, so it's Zehn to the rescue!
Are You Ready for New Packs?
This is going to be the summer of brand new 1.7.10 packs for Technic! We've been working hard on packing, testing, and providing exclusive Technic content for all of our packs! The first one will be released by the end of June and we think you're going to be pretty impressed. This summer, you can look forward to a new and improved Official Technic version of Blightfall, Tekkit, and Hexxit. And by the end of the year, a new, super-secret pack that we can't even talk about!
In the meantime, enjoy these teasers for some of the great new stuff coming in Hexxit II!
Boots of Ultimate Parkour:
A brand new mod allowing magical abilities to be added to the game!
Platform, Platform, Platform!
Some important improvements have been made to the Platform lately to really improve the speed and scalability of the website. You may have noticed that in-launcher stats display and the website's personal Feed have been shut off. This is a temporary measure- soon, both features will be back up and faster than ever, allowing for great performance on the weekends once again. Let's go over what we've done so far:
First, stats tracking. Stats have been a major scaling problem with the platform for some months. We wanted to store the stats in a way that would allow pack authors to produce reporting and see trends. While the initial data structure supported that, it was too granular, and the database bloomed out of control.
We've fixed this problem for new data and old data is being processed to be less granular. Unfortunately, the processing is taking much longer than we anticipated. We're currently working on a solution to allow the website's Redis-based stats display to be used on the API, so that stats display can return to the launcher before the database table is ready to be used.
Secondly, new Solder linkages with the Platform. It used to be really easy for a badly-configured Solder server, when linked to the Platform, to break your pack's platform page with very little information. We've fixed this issue, but it's kind of squirrely so please let us know if you're bitten by this in IRC.
Next, database load. Most site slowness is caused by load on the database from lots of people using the site. We've re-examined the way we're retrieving certain types of data (mainly, ratings and whether you've +1'd an item you're looking at). We'll be reorganizing the queries for these over the coming weeks to reduce load and allow us to bring back the dashboard feed and even expand functionality without hurting performance. If we need to, we're not unable to or opposed to upsizing the database, but we'd like to try optimization first. Please bear with us while we explore solutions.
Lastly, we had to add a throttle to the launcher API. We didn't want to, but unfortunately someone chose to execute a DOS attack against us in April that targetted us by fishing for cache misses to place load on the database. We were only able to defeat the attack by placing an API command limit with a cooldown. We're very sensitive to legitimate users being bitten by this limit, so please make us aware if it's a problem for you.
We're also tracking an issue with the platform currently where sometimes when a pack owner or contributor saves the pack, it fails to hand off the new data to the API. If you've saved your pack, restarted the launcher, and the new data isn't visible in the launcher. Try resaving the pack on the platform and restarting the launcher again. This generally fixes the issue, and we will be implementing a possible fix this week.
Launcher Updates: v4.301
4.301 was released some time ago, but here are the release notes for that version.
Updated Czech translation
Updated French translation
The library seek & download method has changed. It now uses the Maven library "Aether" to build a real dependency list for select libraries in version.json instead of merely building a URL from the artifact data and downloading it. This allows version.json to support things such as SNAPSHOT builds, which is vital for experimental libraries such as Mixin.
When the modpack's version.json overrides a dependency library version in minecraft's version.json, we will no longer preference minecraft's version during the launcher problem. This fixes an issue which was occurring with newer version of forge in which packs were crashing on launch because forge wanted a newer version of a library and we were not correctly providing it.
And Much, Much More!
When we say this is going to be the Summer of Technic, we mean it! More great stuff for players, more great stuff for pack authors, server owners, this is going to be nuts! Keep checking back here and keep playing!
If you were keeping up with Technic Tuesday over the past month, you'll know that we've been uncharacteristically silent these past two weeks. There's a couple reasons for that- for one, the site and API have been behaving, meaning that a lot of people care a little bit less about what we're up to these days. The second reason is we are deep into crunch on a pack that will be released very, very soon. We'll tell you more when we're ready to get you hype.
If you haven't played Blightfall yet, just go ahead and stop what you're doing and go play it. It's a perfect example of the sort of pack we'd love to see more of on the Platform, and we're very excited to have it here. What we're even more excited about is that Blightfall's author, Talonos, has joined Technic as a Pack Welder! We have him working on our best, most super secret project and we've already seen some really incredible progress! We know it's going to be a great pack and we can't wait to tell you more... soon! (TM)
So Let's Talk Uptime
What are the numbers these past two weeks? Well, we're definitely proud of them, let's take a look: here are the statistics for Tuesday, February 17 through Wednesday, March 4.
Platform Uptime: 99.69%
Fresh Modpack Installs: 2.6 million
Modpack Runs: Over 12 million
Launcher API Uptime: 99.96%
Launcher API Estimated Satisfaction (T=0.1 seconds): 97%
Launcher API Requests: About 300 million
Official Solder Uptime: 97.05%
Official Solder Estimated Satisfaction (T=0.1 seconds): 91%
Official Solder Requests: About 140 million
We've been having some occasional solder outages on the weekend, culminating into a a pretty major one this past Saturday. We're currently working on porting the API half of solder to NodeJS so that we can give it the same treatment we gave to the Launcher API. This alternative NodeJS implementation will be open source for anyone who wants it, but our belief is that only that official Technic solder receives a level of traffic that justifies its use.
Some Pretty Great Platform Changes
These past couple weeks, while I've been getting this new pack in order, sct has been working on some truly excellent changes to the platform. Pack pages are now better-laid out for pack authors to communicate with their users and drive discussion. He's also been hunting down some of the remaining issues and sprucing up the admin site for us. Here's the changes that matter to you guys:
We made changes to the way the Platform's Redis cache is configured. You should now experience far less 500 and 520 errors while navigating the Platform.
Packs now have a Discussion tab which allows all users to post status messages to the modpack.
The Overview of a modpack now contains the data which used to be contained in the About tab.
The About tab has been replaced with an Updates tab, which now contains the pack news which used to be in the Overview tab.
The "announcement" widget in the right gutter, which is usually the latest Technic news, will be a modpack's latest update when navigating a modpack page.
Made a few improvements to the way the site acts in maintenance mode.
Speaking of Maintenance
Our host for everything except the Launcher API has been performing rolling maintenance on most of our boxes over the course of this week. This is a mandatory maintenance for us, and we do not have the power to stop or reschedule it. You may have noticed a brief outage a few nights ago as the search box had maintenance performed on it. There may be momentary glitches throughout the weekend as various web servers and nodes have maintenance performed, but our balancers should pull the serviced nodes out of the rotation almost immediately after the service begins. There are two key maintenance windows you should be aware of. Sunday evening, there will be some brief website downtime as the site's cache machine is serviced. On Saturday evening, there will be downtime on both the website and the API as the database is serviced. This will mean a worldwide launcher outage during which you will not be able to install or update packs. These outages will both last less than 20 minutes and the services will be restarted just as soon as we get the OK from our hosts.
Older Packs And You
If you don't play our older packs (Tekkit Classic, Tekkit Lite, Yogbox, Big Dig, Hack Slash Mine, and Voltz) you may notice them missing from the launcher now. Don't worry, they're still here! You can pull them up and install them from the Search or Add Packs bar just like any other platform pack. Additionally, users who have these packs installed will still see them in their rightful position. Some of these packs, such as Hack Slash Mine or Voltz, could make a return as default packs in the launcher if they receive an update from the individuals who they now belong to. But for now, we wanted to hand over more launcher real estate to your packs, so it's easier to play a lot of Platform packs without doing a lot of scrolling. These older packs were taking up a lot of space for people who aren't too interested in them, so now only currently-maintained official packs have a slot in the launcher by default.
Currently, the only way to add these hidden packs are by search in the launcher. We're currently working on adding the ability to copy platform API links from these official packs' pages just like any other Platform pack. In the meantime, just search!
Launcher Updates: v4.283
These are all the launcher changes since v4.272: v4.282 has been live since February 24. v4.283 went live tonight. These changes are not significant, as I have been spending my time working on packs these past few weeks.
Updated German launcher translation.
Updated Chinese (Taiwan) launcher translation.
Some behavior fixes for official packs that have been removed as default packs.
The currently-detected OS is now printed in the log at launcher start.
Minecraft now correctly receives its logging configuration from FML instead of the Mojang launchwrapper. This will allow Minecraft to format its logs correctly when launched from the Technic Launcher.
The statistics for a modpack will now round to the nearest value instead of always rounding down. This should cause the statistics shown in the launcher to more closely track those shown on the Platform. There will still be occasions, due to API caching, when the launcher will show slightly lower values than the Platform, however.
The statistics for a modpack will now always show at least two significant figures at all times. So "5K" will become "5.2K", etc.
The incremental garbage collector has been turned off in Minecraft once again. We chose to experiment with forcing Minecraft to run with it because of the sheer number of sources advising us to use it. However, it made performance significantly worse in a number of situations.
Errors when attempting to authenticate with Mojang will no longer show an error to the user identifying the failed connection as "auth.minecraft.net". The target server will be correctly identified in error messages as "authserver.mojang.com".
Solder v0.7.1.0 has just been pushed live! Here's the changelogs!
Testing, testing and more testing.
The past few commits have been devoted to testing. We've setup a base set of Unit Tests for Solder to help prevent breaking changes during development. Woot! Breaking less things! The tests are currently being built on Travis CI here: https://travis-ci.org/TechnicPack/TechnicSolder/builds You can actually see the builds happening in real-time if you are curious.
Amazon S3 image support added
The next big change is image hosting, We've re-added support to host your images on Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). This can be setup in your solder.php config in your app/config folder.
Update Checker: Slim and fit
The last change is a big one. We've ripped out the current interation of the Update Checker. It was too monstorous and combersome for what we want in an update checker. It affected performance and was very buggy in its implementation. With our priorities changing for the applicaiton, the checker has been slimmed down to provide you an alert when an update is available, thats it. This should provide a better experience for Solder administrators. There has been no change to the actual update process.