I introduced a bug in the last update of music4dance and then went on vacation. This is a pretty classic software engineering blunder and I’m very sorry for the trouble it caused. The good news is a bunch of people noticed it and cared enough to report it. Thanks, everyone for that and I’ll be sending you your bug bounty shorty! The bad news is that I had another series of other issues that meant that I didn’t actually see the feedback until I found the bug myself.
In any case, the bug is now fixed and things should be back in working order. The reason that I didn’t notice the bug as I was testing is that I was working on a feature to help show member activity on songs to improve the feature I talked about in a previous post and the bug cropped up for people that aren’t logged in which I failed to check with the very last change.
It’s entirely possible to set up a system where automated testing would catch this level of bug. And I certainly have that kind of testing in place for the sites that I build in my day job. But that kind of testing costs both in my time and dollars for infrastructure. Since music4dance isn’t even a break-even proposition without adding more infrastructure, I will probably leave that level of testing on the back-burner for a while. The good news is that I checked and the last time I had this level of an issue with the site was well over two years ago.
Speaking of the finances behind music4dance, I will take this opportunity to note that if you find the site useful I’d really appreciate your support. While financial support is always welcome, I know everyone is not in the position to provide that so there are plenty of other ways to help the project. I’ve listed a bunch of them on the Contribute page. Please check it out and do what you can.
Again, I’m very sorry for the inconvenience that this bug caused and wish everyone the best dancing during the upcoming holiday season.
There are a bunch of features that folks have requested that I am really interested in working on. These are basic features like adding your own songs, community features like being able to ask what to dance to a song or seeing all of a specific dancer’s recommendations, and practical features like more versatility in exporting search results.
But you may have noticed that I released the last significant new feature last year and overall the evolution of the site has been pretty slow recently. This is partly because music4dance is a passion project that I manage in my spare time and partly because it’s a big and complex enough project that something breaks for one reason or another and I lose days or weeks of project time just maintaining the status quo.
All this to say that for the past six months, I’ve been spending the bulk of my available music4dance time upgrading the infrastructure so that I can more easily add features moving forward. I’ve just completed the first (and largest) of several pieces of that upgrade. This should be nearly invisible to you. The main change that you should see is to the account administration pages. Any other changes you see are most likely bugs.
Which brings me to the main reason for this post. Even though the site looks the same, a large part of the infrastructure has been updated. This involved a whole bunch of small changes each of which potentially introduced bugs. So the site will probably be a bit buggier than usual for a bit while I continue to hunt the bugs down and deal with them. This process will go a lot faster if all of you help out and let me know when you see bugs on the site. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve established a bug bounty to reward you for reporting bugs. And now, it should be that much easier to find them.
I’ve still got a decent amount of infrastructure work to do to get to the point where I’m churning out new features as the main part of my music4dance time. But in the meantime, please keep the feature requests coming in as well as the bug reports. And thanks again everyone for all of the ways you support the music4dance effort.
One final thought: Dancing is such a community based activity that these times are particularly hard for those whose lives and livelihoods are dependent on being in the same room with others. Everyone please stay safe and sane in these crazy times and hold tight until we can all return to our respective dance floors.
Software bugs are miserable things in any context. But when you have a small project like music4dance where there are so many external dependencies, bugs can creep in even when nothing has changed in the project. Add that to all of the normal avenues of bug creation and things can turn into a mess very rapidly. I have to balance very limited amount of time on music4dance between creating content (like this blog post), curating content on the site, adding new features, testing and fixing bugs. Not to mention adding automated testing and production logging.
Needless to say,
this gets very complicated very fast and things slip through the cracks. And then you end up with anywhere between a
slightly annoying to a completely unusable experience. This obviously not good for anybody and
frustrating for all.
But there are
thousands of you out there that visit music4dance regularly. So if you report bugs as you see them,
hopefully we can nip them in the bud and make the experience better for
everyone. I can’t promise to fix every
bug that comes through but I’ll do my best to keep up so that everyone’s
experience is improved.
And to sweeten the pot I’d like to offer a bug bounty for each unique bug reported. Check out our Bug Report page for details.
As always, I’m interested in feedback beyond bug reports so feel free to respond to this post or use our feedback page.