Story Delivery Changes

I’ve implemented some important changes in the story delivery mechanism today. The new system has the ability to deliver long stories or long chapters in multiple pages.

Explanation:

Storiesonline is a busy site. Very busy site. In order to keep the site running smoothly and responding as fast as possible to readers’ requests, the reply time for those requests must be kept short. The servers have limited numbers of connections. So the faster each reader got their file and their browser disconnected, the faster the server could respond to another reader. In order to keep connection times short, I tried to keep files as small as possible. That meant for long stories that took a while to reach the readers’ browsers, I used to divide the story into chapters and long chapters into sub-chapters. That’s why some stories have ‘Chapter 1A’, ‘Chapter 1B’ etc…

While the old way was perfectly functional from the story delivery point of view, it created some undesired side effects. The side effects were mostly in management and database size. Each story and each chapter has two database entries, one for the meta data (title, size, etc…) and one for the text itself.

Each time an author wanted to repost a story that had been divided for size, one of us (me or the author) had to make sure that the replacement matched the old divisions. Many readers didn’t realize that chapter 1A and chapter 1B were the same chapter, simply sliced in two in order to keep each part short. It lead to confusion on everybody’s end. It was a mess.

The new system works around all these shortcomings.

So, the new system has ‘Pages’. From the readers’ point of view, it’s a little different.

Each long story (that doesn’t have any chapters), whose size exceeds 60,000 characters (including all html formatting) will be delivered in pages. There will be a mini navigation bar for the pages. When the reader first clicks on a long story, they’ll get a part of the story with the small navigation bar listing the pages. When they’re done reading one page, they click to the next and so on.

Long chapters also get pages.

That change affects on-screen reading only. Downloading archives and using the ‘V’ link to download individual chapters from stories still works exactly the same way as before.

The implications:

Not many implications. For long stories, instead of seeing ‘Chapter 1’, ‘Chapter 2’ etc… you get pages and you click from one page to another. And for stories with multiple long chapters, you won’t see ‘Chapter 1A’, ‘Chapter 1B’ etc… anymore. You’ll also click from one page of the chapter to the next.

For authors, no more ‘Chapter 1A’, ‘Chapter 1B’ in the wizard. Each chapter stays as one entity.

For stories and chapters that were divided under the old system, they’ll stay that way, for now. It’s too complicated to fix for now. Maybe sometime in the future when I have a good chunk of free time for programing, I’ll whip a script that joins those parts.

While I tested the new system extensively, I can never be sure that I worked all the bugs out. So if you stumble on some unexpected behavior, please let me know about it. If you have suggestion for enhancements, I’m all ears.