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Why Basenotes is rubbish lately

Rating: 8 votes, 3.13 average.
AKA - where are the marketplace bits in the directory, AKA - why is it offline for hours at a time, AKA - why do I have to log into see the review now, AKA - why is something happening that is really quite annoying...

Anybody that visits the site often will have come across an occasion in the last few months where the site unavailable. This is frustrating for us, so we guess it must be frustrating for you too. Here's what is happening.

The main culprit is the scripts that run the directory. These were coded by myself (based heavily on an application called flattext) back in 2001. I'm a self-taught perl coder, so I kind of made it up as I went along.

How the script works is that when you look at the page for Angel, it looks through 11,000 fragrances to find the stuff to do with Angel. It then looks through 30,000 reviews to find the Angel ones. For those of you who know anything about coding, to have to do this everytime someone looks at a page is pretty inefficient. So why did I write it like this? Well, back in 2001 we had 900 fragrances to look through, and about 300 reviews. Plus we had around 100-200 visitors a day, so there wasn't too much strain.

Over December we were getting about 130,000 page views a day. So the server was getting a bit of a kicking due to my bad coding.

I first thought we might start getting problems last February, and so began recoding six years worth of code. By the middle of the year it was becoming apparent something wasn't working, as we were crashing fairly regularly. Traffic had been increasing regularly after winning a major industry award in Canada, and being featured in the NYT. Being not overly technical, I thought the problem was due to my then hosts.

I then took the decision to move hosting to a different company, paying for a slightly more high-tech server. This started off well, until we started getting busier over the holiday period.

The culprit, as I now know, was not the hosting, but my old code. And since then various measures have been put in place to try and minimise the crashes.

As I said, I'm recoding the whole thing to make it more efficient. I don't know how much longer it will take. In the meantime, the directory will have to come down again until it is resolved (I can't work properly on the code unless I can access the site).

The other option is to pay for more powerful machines to run the site on. The quote we received from our hosts (and others) is about the same as what I pay for my house rent each month, which is just too much right now.

We're entering our eighth year online, and ideally would like Basenotes to grow into something really special. We've got some really great ideas we just haven't been able to implement as throughout 2007 we spent the whole time just trying to keep things ticking over.

I'll keep you informed as to progress.
Behind the Scenes


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  1. JaimeB's Avatar
    Grant, you're a treasure! Your dedication to the site is amazing, and we all love you for it!
  2. echerub's Avatar
    Thank you for all the work you put into Basenotes!
  3. betenoire's Avatar
    I wish you good luck on the coding!
  4. fabame's Avatar
    Keep up the good work and it will all come out better in the end.
  5. EileenS's Avatar
    Many thanks for your hard work! I'm new to frangrance and the database has been incredibly helpful as I work my way through all the wonderful sounding frangrances offered by thousands of different perfumers -- I can't possibly sample them all for myself!
  6. coolnose's Avatar
    Its a great site, keep up the good work and wish you well with the coding.

  7. silverbullet's Avatar
    Thanks Grant for the update. Code Monkey
    Updated 21st January 2008 at 12:10 AM by silverbullet
  8. FRAGFAN's Avatar
    Godspeed Mr. O. You have a great site here. I would be lost(scent-wise) without it. Don't remember how I found it but very glad that I did. You're the best.
  9. Francois Blais's Avatar
    Thanks a lot for the update, Grant!
    My suggestion is that you simplify the directories pages anyway!
    There's no need for everything you put there.
    If I remember well, these pages were more simple in the beginning, and they worked well.

  10. fredricktoo's Avatar
    really appreciate all of your efforts and Danielles. In my 18 months here I've learned a lot and have quite enjoyed myself.
    Updated 21st January 2008 at 01:03 AM by fredricktoo
  11. Dimitrios's Avatar
    Simplification on the search side of things is the way to go Grant ... cheers ,, D
  12. kbe's Avatar
    Thanks for the explaination Grant. Godspeed.
  13. Jock_With_Scents's Avatar
    Thanks for keeping us updated and thanks for giving us such an amazing place.
  14. atrac's Avatar
    Thank you for your dedication to keeping this site up and running. I have been quite curious to know what was going on (even wondering if the problem was on my ISP's end).

    It has been frustrating using the site lately, but knowing that there is someone behind the scenes working on it, I'd say we should all "pay attention to the man behind the curtain" and give him kudos!
  15. JickyMan's Avatar
    As a newbie here, I've gotten used to get many daily doses of BN---when it went down after New Year, I completely missed my new found friend BN. You are quite awesome to explain everything and work yer butt off to keep it going. All the best and thank you very much.
  16. primetime34's Avatar
    I really appreciate all you do...good luck with re-writing the code!!
  17. clarestella's Avatar
    Oh, that sounds like so much work. I have been wondering why I can't access Basenotes some of the time. I'll just be patient. I enjoy this blog very much. Clare Stella
  18. RONNIE G's Avatar
    when will the results for the 2008 basenote awards,be anounced
  19. Mario Justiniani's Avatar
    Thx, Grant.
  20. Sestra's Avatar
    Perl scripting....Grrrrrrrrrr.

    Thanks for the effort, and best of luck.
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