The Audio Portal
EDIT 2016-07-10: TheAudioPortal no longer exists, meaning a lot of the original links in this article are broken. I’ve replaced most of them with the label in square brackets.
Well, the secret project has been out for nearly a month now. It is named “The Audio Portal” and can be found here: [link removed]
That’s right, I’m only now getting around to make a blog post about it. TAP, as I like to call it, has been in development since August 2009. I’ll admit, the site was inspired by Newgrounds. As if it wasn’t obvious yet. Over the 2 years I’ve been active in the Newgrounds audio community, I kept hearing about the same problems with the system, as well as experiencing them personally.
We all (we being the active community) realized that complaining about it wasn’t going to fix the problems we experienced, instead, we frowned upon forum topics regarding so-called “zerobombing”, or topics about missing genres and so on. I felt that there should be something like Newgrounds, but focussed just on music.
So anyway, in july 2009 I started learning PHP; I coded little things for my site here, michhimself.com. I got to a point where I felt I knew enough to start making a user system and related things. The idea of an audio portal was still lingering in my head, so I figured it’d be a fine idea to just start making something like that. Soon after that, the basics of “AudioNova” were there. It was called AudioNova because I hadn’t googled that name before. A couple of weeks after I started making it like that I realized that there was a manufacturer of hearing aid devices, and a band utilizing that exact name.
Either way, as the site wasn’t anywhere near finished, I decided to leave that problem for later on. I invited some people to sign up (as I had finished the basics of that system), so they did. They were [pHate] and [TheGirl], pHate being a good friend I met through Newgrounds, who’s also interested in php and all that, TheGirl being my fiance, who’s ‘into music’, you could say.
I made an IRC room for the place, so we could talk about it. I also invited [loans], whom I had been talking with a lot in the Newgrounds IRC room.
As I continued making new parts of the site, the project got more and more serious for me; the more I coded, the more I actually wanted to make this a real site, with real users and everything. Soon after I finished the initial private messaging system, I started building a forum from scratch. Some people told me I was nuts to do that, that it was really complex and whatnot. That and there are established forum systems out there.
I guess that’s something typical about me, I want to do things by myself. I didn’t feel like integrating a third-party forum system into my existing user system. The forum worked out, although it was rather buggy. I’ve actually rewritten half of it, to make it more efficient, as it would take up tonnes of resources on the server to simply load the topics list. Months later I redid the engine from scratch again on that note.
I started making a basis of a portal system; I basically built up the listen page and the submit page. The first few songs were submitted manually, on that note. I kept on learning as I went, started improving the core elements of my code, which caused various parts of the site to be outdated. For those of you that like the more technical side: I started making all the code object-oriented, which makes everything so much easier to manage. This caused lots of systems to be outdated, compared to my new code, so I’d have to redo a whole lot again. This is an annoying side effect when you build a big project while you’re still learning.
Because I was rather discouraged by all the work I had left to do (renewing code), I took a pretty long break from the project, and made some other side things.
I made some [design example], started some [FL studio tutorial mini-website], which never got finished, but looks nice nonetheless. And I think my most important side project was the Newgrounds chat quote database, which can be found here.
Either way, I managed to get the courage to start working again, after a lot of encouragement from loans. I made a todo-list of things I had to re-code. These were the PM system, the forum, and the account edit page. I managed to get that done with a lot of hard work, but I’m rather glad about how it turned out. Those systems all work rather smoothly now. The forums aren’t fully featured as they were before I re-coded them, but I’ll get to that eventually.
When that was done, it was time to really invest time in the most important part of the whole site: The portal. For this, we did a whole lot of brainstorming in the chat room. We’ve literally spent hours upon hours thinking out systems, some of which are yet to be implemented. Over the course of time, I had invited more and more people to our secret little club. [Hades] has been a huge help in brainstorming and various little research tasks. Later on [Stupor] helped a lot in brainstorming too. Stupor really wanted to help a lot, and has done so, but sadly I really didn’t have much he could do at the time.
The review system really took a whole lot of my time, it took loads of testing and tweaking, but I’m really glad I got it over with. I’m confident it’s been the heaviest part to make of the whole site. loans and I set a release date for the site, by which we’d make it public. This was the first of may, 2010. Later on, I heard I’d have an exam at school before that. I really wanted to get the deadline, but it didn’t work out. Added to that, I didn’t do incredibly well on the exam either, as I invested tonnes of time in TAP, instead of dedicating more time to education.
The fourth of May, we released TAP to the public, and the response has been great so far. On that note, pHate is the one who came up with the so simple, but so brilliant name “TheAudioPortal”. I was blown away when he suggested it and I typed it in the URL bar, only to see it was still available. Naturally I registered the domain name as fast as I could.
Before the release, I closed down the whole site for little under a week, so only loans and I could get on; this was for the surprise effect of the new design. The old design can still be seen on for example http://michd.me/audionova/bbs. If you drop the ‘/bbs’ part, you’ll just be redirected to TAP.
Either way, that’s the story of TAP’s development in a nutshell, I need to get going now, but I’ll talk about it some more later. I hope you liked the post.