A little something I made using AJAX, PHP, SQL and HTML during the last week of the Tour de France.
How many Tour de France teams can you name?
The 22 teams participating in cycling’s biggest race change from year to year with the inclusion of 4 wildcard teams, changes to the ProTour teams and ever-changing sponsorship deals which dictate team names.
I had to build in a degree of flexibility to the names people entered as getting a 100% match to an official team name is really rather hard – especially with all the European sponsors. Think I got the balance about right between accepting near-matches whilst not letting gibberish or plainly wrong team names through.
I haven’t updated GMB for a three days on the trot now which must be approaching something of a record (there were 212 posts last year). Will also have less time for this over the next couple of weeks as I am approaching the end of term/semester at university. Wasn’t particularly helped by the fact that instead of getting further ahead with my work I (unusually) didn’t touch any of my assignments over the weekend and instead focused on a much needed re-write of the Game Maker Affiliation Service (or Game Maker Affiliates as everyone seems to call it, maybe I should rename it?).
GMA has been online since very early days in the life of GMB and has remained pretty much the same since. The program was initially written by a contact I made a few years ago whilst occupying a forum pertaining to a totally unrelated topic. I did occasionally add features to it but these were pretty minor and I had long known that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up if I were to make any major improvements.
I was pleasantly surprised by my progress. By the end of Saturday I had a functioning service complete with registration, login, code generation, banner displays and statistics more in depth than are available in the present site version. Everything went relatively smoothly on what is (as far as I can recall) the first project I will have programmed from scratch which will quickly be used by a large user-base. Here are a couple of the features I am particuarly proud of:
- Automatic animated banner detection. One of the main features of the website is enabling members to upload small banners which will be used to promote their Game Maker related website across the network. One of my maligned additions to Hardi’s original scripts was the addition of a query which could be appended to the end of a URL to ban animated banners being displayed on your site. It worked but I had to manually flag banners as being animated and to be honest never kept up to date with doing it for new submissions. In GMA version 4 uploaded animated .GIFs will automatically be detected as such and a flag will be applied to them – fully automated animated banner blocking!
- Twitter oAuth integration. I was surprised by how many people were willing giving me their passwords when they signed up to GMA. They were stored in plain text. (Hardi!). Whilst most were pretty good a scary number were one word passwords. Allowing people to login using via their Twitter account not only means I don’t get to see their password (they are now md5 encrypted anyway) but also means they don’t have to fill in the laborious (3 field!) registration process. I hope this will increase the credibility of the site and the level of user registrations. I really am quite fond of this and plan at some stage to allow existing GMA members to link up their Twitter accounts so they can login in this way in future.
The new GMA is more customisable and I think this is key in getting more people to use it. At the moment there are relatively few URL suffixes which effect how the banners are displayed on a member’s website but I hope to add more.
I plan to keep this implementation of GMA (when it goes live) much more up-to-date and hope to be able to continually develop it and add new features particularly in regards to the quality of reporting data I am able to return to users about where their banners were shown and who is clicking them.
I currently intend to migrate from the current version of GMA next weekend.