Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Site Maintenance -- July 25

We have completed our upgrade to a new database server. Everything went smoothly and only took about 15 minutes.

One of the features of our new database server is something called a Full-Text Search. It is very similar to the process that Google uses to return results so quickly. While it's not operational just yet on FictionDB, it will speed up the synopses searches tremendously (well, the documentation says so). We should have the kinks worked out in a few more days, so bear with us.

Thanks for your patience during this process!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Synopsis Search Problems in Advanced Search

Many of you have e-mailed us in the past couple of weeks about server timeout errors when doing a synopsis search. Rather than answering everyone individually, I'll address the issue here.

FictionDB appears to be outgrowing its current home. We have added a lot of extra information in the database over the last couple of months and our search performance is reflecting this. On average, a synopsis search takes around 16 seconds, while any other search takes from 2-5 seconds. Why is this? We now have over 60,000 synopses in the database averaging around 200 words each. For every synopsis search, the server has to go through each word in each synopsis before displaying the results. If lots of people are searching through synopses at the same time, you can imagine the result -- timeout errors. Our existing server is just getting overwhelmed with requests.

We are looking at options to fix this intermittent problem, but what can you do in the short term? The easiest answer is to add additional criteria to your search. The fewer synopses the server has to check, the less likely you are to see a timeout error.

So when will this be fixed? The answer is complicated. We may need to find a new home, but we are hoping to upgrade our existing space. FictionDB hasn't had a site outage since August 2004 and we don't want to create one by making any snap decisions. We also don't want to move just because one small part of the site isn't performing as we'd like. We are thoroughly researching our options and will be making a final decision soon. If we do have to move, the site could be down for several days.

Okay, that's the story. I hope it answers all your questions.