If you read this article, it means we successfully switched Whatthemovie to new servers! Sorry for the maintenance, it was necessary as this is not only a change of servers: a lot of things also changed under the hood and we want to explain in details how it is important for WTM and for the future.
Since @tliff and @naut stopped working actively on WTM in 2011, I am the only developer with @MisterZob and @Asmodai doing the moderation. Even if the creators of this awesome website are now inactive and gave us complete freedom to run WTM years ago, we were still running the website on tliff's servers. Basically everything necessary to run WTM was still being maintained and paid by him with the help of you, supporters!
For a few years, it was somewhat acceptable, but afterwards we realize it was starting to be a real problem.
The first problem was how WTM was installed and created. We didn't have a deep control of things regarding the infrastructure of the website, how things were really installed, how to change things without breaking something and asking tliff desperately for help. We needed him to fix a lot of bugs, issues, crashes because we didn't have a complete understanding of the whole setup which led to numerous incidents, including data losses.
We needed to rebuild the whole infrastructure from scratch, to understand exactly what we were doing. We thought it was also the time to run the website on our own, completely. The new servers and domains are now being maintained and paid by myself – with again, the help of supporters.
Instead of simply copying the project to another location, WTM's infrastructure was redone entirely and is now more modern, more future-proof. It uses the Cloud for various things, including hosting and delivering snapshots and should be easier to maintain.
The other problem was how old the engines that powered the website were. WTM was created more than a decade ago and except for security patches, we never really upgraded anything: the engines and the code itself. Instead, we slowly introduced more and more bad code on top of the first old releases and it was starting to be a complete mess to maintain.
I started in 2017 to upgrade our engines and rewrite the codebase to make it work while also trying to clean a lot of bad codes that were used for our main features. I gave up back then because the work to do was massive. A few months ago I started working on it again and this is it.
There are still a lot of things to do, but we thought this version was enough stable to be deployed and used despite many bugs and missing features.
New version and issues
For you, this version doesn't seem to add any new interesting feature, I agree. But this rework opens many possibilities. Since the code is getting more and more clean, so is our infrastructure, we can safely think about creating new features and adding them on top of our code without breaking everything.
Since this rework started in 2017, some features might actually be missing from the website you were browsing a few days ago. Also, since the codebase is large, there are obviously bugs and errors we haven't caught yet and we count on you to report them to fix them as soon as possible.
You can report any issue on the dedicated thread on the forum if:
- You encounter an error page ;
- You don't encounter an error page but something is not working as intended.
Please try to give detailed instructions on how to reproduce the bug, that will make things easier. If you spot a very nasty bug that could be dangerous (meaning security issues), please don't post it publicly on the forum and contact us directly through the feedback page or by email at email@example.com.
There are some issues and missing features we are already aware of so please don't report them. Here are a few:
- The supporter stats are not working. Right now, we didn't re-imported the stats because they take a lot of space in the database and if we would have tried to re-import them with the rest of the database during the switch, the maintenance would have taken way more than a week-end. We wanted to bring the website back as soon as possible. Also, to fix the size problem, we are currently brainstorming to offer stats in another way while still being attractive for players. Any idea is welcome by the way.
- The popup that suggests usernames when typing "@" on shots doesn't work. This script has not been rewritten yet and might re-appear later as a different system.
- I don't get suggested keywords from the IA model anymore while uploading shots. Our artificial intelligence has not been deployed yet to the new server. It would be back soon after being upgraded to, hopefully, be better at suggesting keywords.
- The website is slow. As explained, our infrastructure is entirely new and might need some fine-tuning.
- Images are not displayed automatically on some pages. We now use lazy-loading. It is a technique that only loads the images when necessary, when they are in front of you on the page. It doesn't load the images in some areas of the page until you explicitely go there.
- The font is weird. We're trying new fonts to slowly make our website a little more modern. Any feedback is welcome again.
- The SotD/M/Y mini-banners are not displayed. They were temporarily removed from the website because they were not implemented correctly (i.e they were generating a lot of requests for nothing). We are thinking about bringing them back if necessary if we find a better approach.
- The carousel is broken. When you're browsing snapshots on movies/series snapshots pages or on the SotD overview page, when you reach the last shot of the gallery, the carousel gets broken. It is a known issue and will quickly be fixed.
- The DVD Shelf is broken. I haven't updated entirely this part. It should be back quickly. By the way, the IMDb ratings import should be fixed now. Your ratings should be imported and your watched movies/series would be listed in your DVD Shelf – same for your favorite movies/series if you asked to automatically add some.
Let's be honest, we won't release a brand new website in the following months, including a refreshed design. This switch was already two vast projects at once. But now, this is more doable than ever. It's not a dream anymore, this is something on the roadmap.
For the following weeks and months, we will focus instead on:
- Fix the bugs we introduced with this release with your help ;
- Re-introduce if necessary some of the missing features just like they were before or differently ;
- Keep working on our codebase and our infrastructure to make it cleaner, safer, quicker and future-proof.
After that, we would be able to start thinking about a new design and new features. Why a new design instead of features first? Because thinking about a new design, a complete new one, might lead to new features indirectly as we won't redo the same design you see right now.
The road is long, but we hopefully think we can make WTM better and still an awesome place for movie lovers. Time is rough, we lost a lot of players and we hope better times are coming.
We are grateful to all the uploaders, newcomers and old ones, that make this website enjoyable every day. Your contributions are very important to us and to the survival of WTM, please never stop uploading! No matter the type of shots – title, character shots, awesome uploads –, all of them are important to us. We're also grateful to the people who support this website by donating a few euros, it is definitely appreciated to pay the bills generated by the website, thank you!
A special thanks to @tliff and @naut for creating this beauty and for accepting me as a maintainer a decade ago. This adventure had a huge impact on my personal and professional life and I'm happy to be fully part of it now. Also thanks to @MisterZob and @Asmodai for all the work they do in the background and for supporting me!
When the website will be stable enough, we will start making contests again. In the meantime, take care of yourself, be safe and play fair.