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Arimaa >> Site Discussion >> "Opening up" Arimaa.com
(Message started by: aaaa on May 12th, 2013, 8:35pm)

Title: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by aaaa on May 12th, 2013, 8:35pm
During the awards ceremony, Omar indicated he's favorable to the idea of a website that is more conducive to being improved by outside contributions (which would be as opposed to these being communicated to him in some ad hoc fashion, as has become standard procedure here). I fear that such an intention will just remain that (at least for quite some time), unless a dedicated thread here pushes it into becoming something more concrete.

It's likely I'm not the only one here that has mentally accumulated various, often little things (bugs, features, etc.) about the website (and downloadable content) that are just stowed away back in the mind, only sporadically mentioning any of them at times because they don't carry any particular urgency; one can bring a certain issue to Omar's attention only so many times before it feels like pestering to do so again, to say nothing of their quantity or complexity. Although I'm sure Omar is a busy guy, it seems like an awful waste to me if people bring up stuff that they themselves or others would be willing and able to address, if they were just in the position to do so (even if it's something as simple as fixing a typo).

I'm not an expert on this, but the setup I'm thinking about goes along the lines of having as much of the non-confidential content of the entire website (and possibly related data) as well as the code behind it on a repository that is publicly viewable; people can then contribute patches in a systematic way, which Omar can then simply sign off on before effectuating them. It could also be an idea to assign contributors to different tiers of write accessibility based on the trust they enjoy.

Hope this gets the ball rolling and that the specifics can be worked out.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on May 13th, 2013, 1:25am
My gut feeling is that the easiest plan is to set up a brand new website, with the long-term goal that arimaa.com should be like FIDE (making and enforcing the rules) and the new website should be like FICS or ICC (the actual place where people play the game.)  Of course the new website would be licensed under the Arimaa Public License.  Depending on what people want it could be for-profit or not-for-profit.

This is my plan for world domination moving functionality off of Arimaa.com:
Phase 1: data analysis.  There is already a lot of data on Arimaa.com that could be analyzed and/or visualized in cool ways.  An important goal of Phase 1 is to get the infrastructure and organizational structure up and running without in any way jeopardizing the stability of the Arimaa.com website.  This includes a systematic way to report bugs and submit patches, as well as for people to vote on which bugs/features are most important.
Phase 2: build more infrastructure.  I personally think people should be able to log in from Facebook and/or Google.  It would be nice to build a framework (the way Wikipedia did) that allows us to run our website, and also allows others to piggyback off of our work.
Phase 3: Build out the interface.  The Arimaa.com server remains unchanged, but people would have the option of playing the game via the Arimaa.com interface or an interface to be developed for the new website.  (I'd like this to be open-source.)
Phase 4: Build the back-end server.  This is the actual server that processes moves from both players and keeps track of ratings and statistics.  (I'd like this to be open source.)

What I'm proposing is a lot more radical than what aaaa is proposing.  I'm enough of a jerk to suggest this, but I'm not enough of a jerk to implement it without the support and approval of others who have been here longer than me.  In particular, I think it's absolutely vital that Omar retain the legal control that he needs while no longer being a bottleneck to the enthusiasm. creativity, and passion of the people in the community.  I respectfully disagree with aaaa about Omar signing off on all changes; I think we absolutely need a system where Omar doesn't have to be involved in day-to-day operations, and the only way to do that is to start a new website.

[gets down from soapbox]

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Hippo on May 13th, 2013, 11:02am
I always try to maintain a system by evolution (or local revolutions) rather than rebuilding everything from the beginning.
Advantage of it is ... you have functioning system whole the time.

Having one backup system for changing by evolutions is OK, just you must work on one problem at a time and when it's well debuged you can make the small revolution to become the standard.

Problem with uncoordinated development is to maintain updates "separated".

Advatage of single arimma.com is in the database of all played games as well as chatroom history (and forum). I don't expect people to alternate between to many arimaa sites, we are too small community.

So what would I like to have in central site and what could be decentralised?

Centralised:
I would like the centralised database of played games (mirrored).
I would like having centralised chatroom and forum.

Decentralised:
Server bots could play elsewhere.
Live games could be maintained elsewhere.

-----------
This post becomes really confusing, may be the easy summary suffices:
I really don't know what to change and how ...

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on May 14th, 2013, 12:54am

on 05/13/13 at 11:02:31, Hippo wrote:
Advatage of single arimma.com is in the database of all played games as well as chatroom history (and forum). I don't expect people to alternate between to many arimaa sites, we are too small community.
Yes, even assuming starting a second website is a good idea, it's important not to fragment our already small community.  I was imagining that during Phase 1 and Phase 2 the new website would be an additional resource that most people wouldn't use.  I think during Phase 1 and Phase 2 communication on the new site should be limited to reporting bugs and voting on bugs and features, but there shouldn't be any chat or forum that would make people want to hang out and socialize.


on 05/13/13 at 11:02:31, Hippo wrote:
So what would I like to have in central site and what could be decentralised?
This is a really important question!  Regardless of whether something is on Arimaa.com or not, it's important whether it's centralized or not.  (I.e. whether Omar has to sign off on all changes, or whether it can be developed without Omar's direct day-to-day involvement.)

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on May 20th, 2013, 1:06am

on 05/12/13 at 20:35:23, aaaa wrote:
During the awards ceremony, Omar indicated he's favorable to the idea of a website that is more conducive to being improved by outside contributions (which would be as opposed to these being communicated to him in some ad hoc fashion, as has become standard procedure here).

Are you saying that some or all of the website should be open source? Or closed source but with trusted members having access to the code repository? If I wanted to contribute code to the current website I wouldn't even know where to start! Are there any specific areas of the website that you had in mind for being good candidates for being "opened up"? One possibility is to make an open-source Arimaa client.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Brendan_M on May 25th, 2013, 7:35am
I think the single most important thing that needs to be done to the website is to improve the user interface. It looks as though it was written many years ago now and I doubt this has a good effect on the retention of new players.

I've just been and played a couple of games on chess.com for comparison. Here are some of the points I noticed:
1) A single windows contains everything you need
  • Board
  • Move history
  • Private chat for game
  • Other live games
  • Gameroom chat
  • Ability to issue challenges


When I play arimaa I often have, the gameroom, chat and a game window or two open. Challenges can be missed, chat messages not seen for a while, I can't watch a game and chat without switching between windows.

2) The chess board is very minimalist and clean - I like this a lot. I'm not a big fan of the marble background and the stone pieces, I would prefer 2 dimensional pieces on a flat background.

Also I like how the chess board has small numbers and letters to show the row and column, I get this wrong all the time.

3) The UI is much cleaner with the list of games is a single table so there's no need to scroll the page down


I agree aaaa. The website should remain under the general control of Omar but be open sourced to github/bitbucket where people can submit patches for changes. This could maybe be a private repository.

I also agree with mattj256 that the backend server should be made available for access by any clients that people are willing to write. Arimaa is not naturally suited to using a mouse, if you've ever played lightvector's touchscreen version of sharp you'll know what I mean. Arimaa needs a tablet version for both android and iPad and this could easily be done with access to the backend server.

I would happily contribute to this effort

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Marty on May 25th, 2013, 6:12pm
Brendan_M: yes, in my opinion it is hard to believe the interface is allowed to give such a poor impression when the community has a large concentration of people who could make it better

designing a good ui is vital and at the same time a delicate matter. chess.com looks pretty nice, clean and compact. i appreciate detachable game windows, but they are still confined to the browser window, that can sometimes get into way. for such reasons i still slightly prefer standalone clients to web-based ones.

i can recommend gokgs.com for what i consider another good example of a well designed ui, even though the look grew a bit outdated through the years. simple, rooms and chat integrated in one window, with challenges and games in separate windows.

however, design of the gameroom is in fact not that bad. making the list of games more compact and integrating the chat into the gameroom would help. worse is the look.

i already addressed Brendan's 2) in the Abstract set thread (http://arimaa.com/arimaa/forum/cgi/YaBB.cgi?board=talk;action=display;num=1297669968;start=45#45). then the plain text game info and time control in plain colored rectangles, default-look buttons. all at a plain white background. nothing of it really affects comfort of use, but a good product should sell itself (even when it is free) and arimaa.com clearly fails at that.

all this critism doesn't mean omar did a bad job in writing arimaa.com. on the contrary, i consider building a game server a second major factor in promoting freshly started arimaa, just after setting up the Arimaa Challenge. but nine years after its introduction, with many players willing to contribute, arimaa could have a more advanced server than the current one

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on May 27th, 2013, 12:32am

on 05/25/13 at 07:35:39, Brendan_M wrote:
I think the single most important thing that needs to be done to the website is to improve the user interface.

Ok now we're getting somewhere. :)
That's an excellent suggestion!


on 05/25/13 at 07:35:39, Brendan_M wrote:
I also agree with mattj256 that the backend server should be made available for access by any clients that people are willing to write.

That has already been implemented.  The backend server uses the Arimaa Engine Interface (AEI) (http://arimaa.janzert.com/aei/), developed by janzert.  If you want to develop a bot (http://arimaa.com/arimaa/challenge/devBot.html) you already have to connect to the backend as you describe.


on 05/25/13 at 07:35:39, Brendan_M wrote:
Arimaa needs a tablet version for both android and iPad and this could easily be done with access to the backend server.

There's an app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.icosahedral.arimaa&hl=en) already, but I don't think it uses the internet at all.


on 05/25/13 at 07:35:39, Brendan_M wrote:
I would happily contribute to this effort

Yay!  My life is too up in the air to commit to anything, but I want to help with this as well.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Janzert on May 27th, 2013, 5:48pm

on 05/27/13 at 00:32:45, mattj256 wrote:
That has already been implemented. The backend server uses the Arimaa Engine Interface (AEI) (http://arimaa.janzert.com/aei/), developed by janzert. If you want to develop a bot (http://arimaa.com/arimaa/challenge/devBot.html) you already have to connect to the backend as you describe.


Just want to clarify to try and ensure there is no confusion here.

AEI is an interface between bot engines and controllers. Where examples of a controller could be, a GUI client, an interface to an internet server like the arimaa.com gameroom or a tournament runner between multiple bots.

The standard AEI distribution does include an interface the arimaa.com gameroom. That interface uses the http based API Omar has provided for bots to play on the server. Omar has also published the API for human clients to play in the gameroom. Which is similar to, but separate from, and basically a super set of, the bot API.

So yes the access to the backend as wished for in this thread probably does already exist but AEI isn't it. :)

Janzert

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on May 27th, 2013, 10:14pm

on 05/27/13 at 17:48:07, Janzert wrote:
So yes the access to the backend as wished for in this thread probably does already exist but AEI isn't it. :)

Thanks Janzert.  Sorry, I was trying to be helpful but actually I was adding to the confusion. Thanks for clearing that up.
Matthew

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Hippo on May 28th, 2013, 1:27am

on 05/27/13 at 17:48:07, Janzert wrote:
Omar has also published the API for human clients to play in the gameroom. Which is similar to, but separate from, and basically a super set of, the bot API.

Janzert


I cannot find a link there. Can you find it?

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Janzert on May 28th, 2013, 5:44pm

on 05/28/13 at 01:27:23, Hippo wrote:
I cannot find a link there. Can you find it?


I knew someone would ask where it was. ;) Took me a bit of searching to find it but here is the api documentation (http://arimaa.com/arimaa/protocol/). I seem to recall there were some additional "undocumented" things Omar gave details on in a forum thread as well, but I don't see that right now and may be misremembering.

Janzert

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on Jun 9th, 2013, 10:58pm
So... it's been almost a month and I'm not seeing a plan taking shape of how members of the Arimaa community can help to improve the Arimaa.com website.  Are we waiting for Omar?  Is Omar waiting for us?  Are there any plans to make any portion of arimaa.com open source?

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by aaaa on Jun 20th, 2013, 10:42am
You could try contacting Gregory Clark (rabbits), as he experimented with replacing part of the website in the past.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mattj256 on Jul 3rd, 2013, 1:39am
Thanks aaaa!  I'm not going to pursue that lead because I have too many other things on my plate, but I hope something productive ultimately comes out of this discussion...

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by rabbits on Jan 7th, 2014, 8:30pm
I just posted some static files that I designed two years ago to the internet:

http://arimaaland.com

That's just conceptual work though.

Let's build a website.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Hippo on Jan 8th, 2014, 12:42am

on 01/07/14 at 20:30:09, rabbits wrote:
I just posted some static files that I designed two years ago to the internet:

http://arimaaland.com

That's just conceptual work though.

Let's build a website.


I agree these pages look cool ;)

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by mistre on Jan 8th, 2014, 3:11pm
Nice work Rabbits!  It would be nice to have a website like that that wasn't the eyesore that is Arimaa.com.  I am tired of looking at the pale purple color scheme.

If you need help with the site, I would be willing to try.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by rabbits on Jan 8th, 2014, 7:58pm
Okay, here's the plan then. My brother and I will do some hacking, and I'll give access to you (mistre) and others who want to help a month or so from now.

Here's what to expect in terms of technology use: The server will run on the NodeJS Javascript platform using the ExpressJS web framework. The database will be MongoDB. Search will be done with ElasticSearch.  Redis will store session data. CSS will be built with Grunt and Bootstrap so that it renders well on mobile devices. WebSockets (through socket.io) will be used for chatroom/gameroom/client/etc communication. Git will be used to manage the code, and a private repository will be at BitBucket.org.

Initially, this will just be a research project. It will serve to educate me and the others involved. It will be private/personal until Omar wants it to be more public.

How's that for an initial plan? Good? Good. See you in a month.

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by cvic on Mar 15th, 2014, 9:22am

on 01/08/14 at 19:58:45, rabbits wrote:
Okay, here's the plan then. My brother and I will do some hacking, and I'll give access to you (mistre) and others who want to help a month or so from now.

Here's what to expect in terms of technology use: The server will run on the NodeJS Javascript platform using the ExpressJS web framework. The database will be MongoDB. Search will be done with ElasticSearch. Redis will store session data. CSS will be built with Grunt and Bootstrap so that it renders well on mobile devices. WebSockets (through socket.io) will be used for chatroom/gameroom/client/etc communication. Git will be used to manage the code, and a private repository will be at BitBucket.org.

Initially, this will just be a research project. It will serve to educate me and the others involved. It will be private/personal until Omar wants it to be more public.

How's that for an initial plan? Good? Good. See you in a month.



Sounds great. Any news? Do you need volunteers?

Title: Re: "Opening up" Arimaa.com
Post by Kushiel on Sep 15th, 2014, 4:30pm
Can anyone provide an update with what happened to the January initiative?

Assuming that developing another site or changing the arimaa.com website are both infeasible, a backup method for improving visuals is to create an alternate style through "https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/stylebot" or similar software with a css-style sheet that will at modernize the site as much as possible without actually changing html.

Then sticky a link to it in a section of the forum that new people will likely see? I know it's not optimal because it doesn't change the first impression of anyone who finds arimaa.com through the web and it also won't improve functionality in any way but I think it has 2 distinct positive use cases.
1.) It looks nicer for people who use it every day (yay!).
2.) if someone looks over my shoulder at college at what i'm doing, they'll see a cool, modern site and may be more likely to check it out for themselves, at which point I could link them both arimaa.com and the skin so their first experience is also positive. Also if i direct someone to come check out the site myself, if i can get them to install the extension first then their first experience will be good as well.



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