Saturday, June 17th, 2023

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I remember reading Word Freak back in college, a book that delved into the realm of competitive Scrabble. That is where I was first introduced to Nigel Richards. This video highlights how impressive his mental acuity is for Scrabble.

6/17/2023 5:29 am | | Tags: scrabble, boardgames, nigel richards

Behemoth has begun

Last night, I finally truly began work on what I've come to call 'Behemoth.' It is the generalized collection management app that I've been thinking about for a few years now. Originally I was going to call it CeMeNT for "Collection ManagemeNt Tracker" but the more I thought about this project and how big it would be, I decided to give it a more impressive sounding name.

The idea centers around a flexible abstract database design which would allow a single centralized system to manage collections of all different types. The two most notable for Katie and me are her PEZ and my Magic: The Gathering cards. (Disclosure: I work for the makers of Magic, Wizards of the Coast.) But we could also track our vinyls, books, boardgames, and metal lunch boxes in a system like this.

Elwood woke me up at 3:30 this morning and I sat down to re-diagram the database schema. I came up with initial schema design back in December of 2021:

And at the time, when I first shared it, I framed it as a concept that I wouldn't write because I knew it would be a very large project. So I sat on it for the past 18 months, occasionally it would come back to mind and I'd think more about it. Over that time I'd refined the concept a bit mentally, but I had never sat back down to redo the schema.

Well, with this morning's wakeup, I found my brain iterating on the Behemoth project and thinking about the database.

So, I sat down and rebuilt the schema which is a bit more robust version 2:

The biggest change from V1 to V2 is that I formalized a design where you have the 'library' which is the "master list" of possible things in a collection. This simplifies a few things in the overall management, though it introduces its own issues.

A lot of the "version" details are tracked in the library rather than the individual collection. This makes sense as you'll have new items which refer to the library. But, collectors love to collect random things. What if your collection has something which isn't part of the larger library, whether by obscurity, or maybe something like an artist signature - how is that tracked? I'm not sure yet. I'm letting my subconscious chew it over right now.

Another thing is that collections come in two varieties. I have come to think of them as the vertical and the horizontal. Verticals are the ones which are "easy." They have a very clear backbone, whether it is "Magic: The Gathering cards" or "PEZ dispensers." Horizontal collections might be for an IP or fandom, where it is much more broad in varieties and details. Think of a "Star Trek" collection which might include DVDs, books, clothes, toys, etc. Currently Behemoth is well suited for vertical collections, and so I'm trying to figure out how best to handle horizontal collections.

To that end, I'm still trying to come up with different collections, and find corner cases which might be out there that this structure can't handle.

Even as I seek more unknowns, there are a few known things I need to add and account for. That said, I am quite happy with the concept V2 currently represents.

Two of the things I know I still need to account for:

  1. Commenting / discussion - Allowing additional conversations on the collection.
  2. Transaction tracking - Tracking when we buy or trade for things in the collection. Tracking the acquisition price, where we got it, etc.

While the database comes into focus and crystallizes, I'm also preparing to actually start coding.

I'm going to build this in PHP using the Laravel framework. I'm still deciding on the CSS, probably Tailwind. The database will be MySQL. I debated if I should use MongoDB to allow it to be more flexible, but the truth is I don't know MongoDB well enough to schema it properly. So I'm sticking with what I know, MySQL.

We'll see how this goes.

My intent is to open source the project and allow others to contribute to it. In theory. If it works and I'm not embarrassed at the quality of my code.

6/17/2023 5:57 am | | Tags: programming, project

Automated Archives for June, 17th 2023

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Chess For the Day

Record: 3-0-0
Net Elo Change: +17

Games Played

Blog Posts On This Day

6/17/2023 10:45 pm | | Tags: automated, chess
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