Some Upgrades and API changes

Posted November 10th, 2014

We've fixed a couple of bugs around the site this week. The code modification page is more robust. Some backend database work has been done. Cron now filters through the votes that have been cast on images and products and applies the changes automatically, in a most clever way, I might add.

Let's talk about the API.

I am happy to provide the API service to developers, however, with more and more people joining the site, my current server will soon be unable to handle the additional load that the API is placing on it.

Until I upgrade to a higher tier of server resources, I will unfortunately be placing a stricter limit on the free API system.

Currently, the API is not limited in times of high server load. From now on, when the server load begins to increase, the free API system will throw a new error message. Members that have subscribed for API requests will not be limited to server load.

Thanks,
-admin

Scoreboard and API changes

Posted March 24th, 2014

The scoreboard is back up! It's been down for a long time because it was low on our priority list. The old scoreboard used a bad method of calculating scores, causing a large drain on server resources.

The API has also changed. Because of some users taking advantage of the API system, I've added a quota to the number of API calls you can make per day. Right now, I've set the quota at 1,000. This should be more than adequate for any user or developer, but if you need more, please feel free to contact us.

We've also fixed the image upload system.

Also, please help moderate!

Thanks,
-admin

Better Search

Posted February 26th, 2014

This week, we've been revamping the way searches are handled. Before, you would have to type in a barcode number exactly. UPC-A barcodes don't care if you have an extra zero on them, but our search couldn't handle it.

We're almost finished our new search algorithm which will allow UPC-E and EAN-8 codes to be searched for just as easily as UPC-A and EAN-13 codes.

In a last little bit of news, we've completed our brand-new moderation system. The old system required users to be logged in in order to moderate. The new system will use a vote up/down method of determining whether a product should be verified, modified, or deleted. This new system will be live before the end of the month.

We've also removed our iconic barcode graphic from the header of the site. Miss it? Search 'barcode' in the top right search box for a neat easter egg!

Thanks,
-admin

Table Changes

Posted February 8th, 2014

I've been making somewhat subtle changes over the past month, but I figured this one warranted a blog post.

I've just revamped the add code page with new fields that I've been incorporating into the database. Three of these new fields include:

  • Manufacturer - Manufacturers will now be recorded. Hopefully, we will be able to predict who made a certain item
  • Category - Potentially useful in the future. Still in a testing phase.
  • Alias - Useful for developers. Alias is a short one or two word title for an item, like "Milk".

In addition to the new database changes, I've also uploaded over 13,000 new UPC images.

Thanks for everyones support,
-admin

Instant Search

Posted January 6th, 2014

I've had some time this holiday season to fix some bugs and add some features to the site. I've imported a small database of known codes, which will now show up as verified.

I've also built a new search feature, instant. Instant search will allow you to find a product with ease by searching both the product title and description, as well as by product code as before. If there are no problems with this new search feature, the old one will soon be out of here.

Keep checking the changelog for all the little changes. Thanks to everyone that's helped out with the site.

-admin

Happy New Years!

Posted January 1st, 2014

Keep a lookout for some changes coming this week!

-admin

Domain Down

Posted October 7th, 2013

For some strange reason, Godaddy did not automatically renew the domain like they usually do. For this reason, the site has been down for the past few days.

I apologize for the inconvenience. I will be making some calls to find out what happened.

-admin

New API

Posted April 10th, 2013

We have just launched our new API! The old one will continue to work until the 1st of November, 2013. The new API provides support for our new feature, alias, which is basically a shortened product name. Perfect for shopping lists!

The new API also brings back slightly different field names, so be sure to double-check your application.

-admin

Update to Search

Posted April 6th, 2013

With the database growing in size, searches have begun to get slower and slower. I've just created a new search index in the upc table to speed up searches on item numbers. I've already seen a noticeable drop in load. Lookups could previously take up to 3000 milliseconds, but this has dropped back down to below 150 milliseconds.

Searches using product names are unaffected.

I've also been through the core php files and have optimized them. This also resulted in a noticeable drop in CPU usage.

<3 admin

PS: Changes to the API system coming soon!

Quick Update

Posted December 4th, 2012

I've just finished the new scoreboard. Scores are calculated differently now because of the new actions the site is capable of. Your score is calculated as:

( (codes added * 4) + (codes modified * 3) + (codes deleted) * 2) + (codes verified) * 2) + images added + images deleted

We continuously work on the site, so see what we're up to by checking out the changelog

-admin

Image Upload

Posted November 20th, 2012

We're now beta-testing a new image upload script. If you're on a product page that does not have an image associated with it, you can find one online and then just drag the image over and it will automatically upload.

Check it out!
-admin

Code Modification Tools

Posted November 15th, 2012

We have just released our code modification tools. You can now modify codes and submit codes for deletion if you feel they do not meet our standards.

If you are logged in, you can also mark codes for verification. Verified codes are products that have proper titles and barcode numbers.

Thanks,
-admin

Advanced Search

Posted November 13th, 2012

I'm very pleased to announce the release of our full-text search function. You can now search for items using words instead of just UPC codes.

As always, please report any bugs to us. Actually, our e-mail system is down right now, but we will be releasing a feedback section soon.

We are also working on our moderator control panel, so that users and submit deletion requests, modifications to codes, and add images to codes already in the database.

Thanks,
-admin

Quick update

Posted November 4th, 2012

This is just a quick update regarding our new launch today. As expected, we had a few bugs that we had to iron out. For the most of the day, users could not register, codes were not being looked up properly, and the API had some issues.

These issues have been fixed, as far as we can tell, but there are still a few small bugs to iron out, most notably the scoreboard on the left hand side.

These smaller issues will be resolved tomorrow.

On another note, since the changeover, we've seen a huge reduction in server load. The average has gone down from over 150% to around 20%.

Thanks,
-admin

Brand New site!

Posted November 4th, 2012

The database was created almost two years ago, and today we've topped 1.6 million codes! When the site was in it's early stages, I didn't put that much effort into database optimization or site performance. As a result, the site gradually began to get slower and slower as more data was added to the database. Now, a random lookup takes over 5 seconds, a normal search takes over 3 seconds, and a simple pull request from the database takes over 300 milliseconds. While this doesn't seem like a particularly long time, it is noticeable while navigating the site and looking up codes.

For the past week, I've been rebuilding the site from the ground up. I've kept the basic layout the same, but the search function, the CSS, the images, and the database structure itself underwent major optimizations.

Here's a few things that are different:

  • The site now uses the Spacelab Bootswatch for the major CSS styles.
  • The database has been optimized to improve search and lookup capabilities.
  • The site's width has been reduced from 1000px to 900px.
  • The QR code generator's script has been optimized, and you can now create an image right from your browser.
  • The Check Digit Calculator is much more efficient, and it now handles UPC-A, UPC-E, and EAN at the same time.
  • The database will soon be subjected to a test of validity. Products will be flagged with a 'valid' flag if certain criteria are met.
  • The QR Code wallpaper page has been converted into a QR Inspirational Quotes page.
  • The ".php" extension on all of the pages have been removed. This looks much better.
  • The product page layout has been significantly changed. The image is now on the left and the barcode looks much better.

Coming soon:

  • A new API.
  • A new moderator control page.

 

Let's keep it going!
-admin

Hot new updates!

Posted January 7th

We've been pretty busy this past week creating new things for the site! We created a more elegant-looking product page table layout, replacing the pastel colors we had before with a new blue/grey color scheme. The voting bars on the product pages were also buggy, so we recoded them from scratch too.

In order to accommodate these changes, the entire cache had to be purged.

We also fixed a number of bugs around the site, a list of which can be found in the changelog. Most of the changes were code optimizations, so while you won't notice much visually, the site is running much more smoothly

Since we moved to our new VPS over Christmas, we noticed that the server load would go up and down each day, so we added a sine wave to the server load graph and modified it to match the load!

We had a banner up on the site for the past week, but in case anyone missed it, we hit one million codes on December 31st!

Thanks,
-admin

New Moderator Panel

Posted December 30th

We are pleased to announce our brand-new moderating system!

Instead of displaying the moderator panel below the item on the lookup page, the moderator panel now has it's own page.

From here, you can edit all of the item details. You can even select an image for the item just by clicking on one of the relevant images provided.

 

A call for moderators!

We've been running a poll for the past few weeks asking you if you would be willing to moderate the site, and quite a number of you said yes. We are indeed looking for moderators, so if you truly want to help out, just e-mail us with a short message telling us why you would like to moderate and your username, and you'll be making edits in no time!

Thanks,
-admin

Small Outage

Posted December 29th

I want to inform and apologize to everyone for the small outage that we experienced in the past 24 hours. There was a small problem with our new VPS server and as a result, we had to migrate over to another server. This migration did not go as smoothly as we had liked.

Anyway, everything back up and running. The site now has more resources at it's disposal, meaning everything should be as fast as ever.

Thanks,
-admin

New Server!

Posted December 25th

Happy holidays everyone! I am pleased to announce the UPC Database has moved to a brand new VPS server. This will allow us to significantly expand our services and the codes we can deliver.

The site was moved over last night, so please let us know in the comments or via e-mail if you experience any problems with the site.

Happy holidays to all,
--admin

Update

Posted December 5th (Updated December 7th)

Right now, our password recovery tool is not working because of the database glitch below. We are working on it, so please check back in a few hours.

The password recovery tool has been completed. You may use the link below to create a new password.

Password recovery

Sorry for the inconvenience,
-admin

Database Glitch

Posted December 5th

There was a minor database glitch today which resulted in passwords being reset for members whose accounts were created after October 21st. If you can log in with your old password, then your account is unaffected.

If you receive an invalid password message, then you will have to reset your password via e-mail. If for any reason you cannot access your e-mail account used for signup, you can e-mail us and we will reset both your e-mail and password manually, just let us know your old e-mail address AND username you last used.

We are so sorry for this inconvenience. We estimate only 40 members are affected.

-admin

User Registration

Posted November 10th

I just noticed that a change I made on November 4th prevented users from signing up. I can't believe I didn't check the signup afterwards!

It's fixed now!

-admin

Downtime

Posted October 30th

I just want to apologize for our recent downtime this past few days, we've had some issues with our hosting provided. We are now back at 100%.

-admin

New API Services

Posted June 27th

Just a quick announcement regarding the API services. The XML API has moved to a different location. The old location will still work for a few more months, but we suggest you switch to the new one as soon as possible.

Additionally, an new service has become available, JSON API. Application developers can now use the JSON API as well as the XML API for their applications. More information regarding the API can be found on our API page.

-admin

A quick update!

Posted May 29th

I just want to inform everyone that the glitch where users could not enter codes into the database has been fixed. Apparently the code insert script broke a few days ago when we made changes to the database.

On another note, there have been some improvements on the site as of recently. What are they? A new User Control Panel, more statistics, QR wallpaper, and a new site header image you can see when you are logged in.

Check the changelog for more info!

Thanks,
admin

The mobile site is live!

UPCDatabase Mobile ScreenshotPosted May 16th

I am very happy to present to you our very own mobile version of the site!

This mobile version is replacing the old AIR search feature that we originally had. The mobile version can be access either by visiting:
m.upcdatabase.org or air.upcdatabase.org

This past week I have also managed to significantly increase the performance of the site through better database queries, fewer redirects, better use of the cache, and overall code fixes.

 

On another note, I modified the home page layout a bit more to include a introduction and the poll on top of the page, then these blog posts below that. This way, the poll will always be visible and users will get a nice little greeting when they visit the site.

-Admin

Name Search, a Poll, and more!

Posted May 8th | Updated May 12th.

You can now search by product name! I will be working on this feature more and more in the coming weeks, but for now, the basic functionality is there. Give it a go!

Also, as I mentioned in the post below, I won't be making a whole new post every time I make a change, but I will keep this post updated with notable updates as they happen.

Don't forget to check out the changelog and the QR Code Generator!

-Admin

PS: I just noticed that the code insert script was broken, again! It's been fixed.
PPS:
Added the "Poll of the Month"!

 

Another Post!

Posted April 29th by admin.

I'm just posting a quick update to let everyone know that I haven't disappeared! Because the site is almost fully functional, I will be posting here less and less regarding site updates and new features, even though I am working on the site almost every day.

Having said that, I've made a few improvements since the last post. I've worked hard on making the site faster, and today I've just finished a script to cache search results. Search result pages rarely change, so there's no need to dynamically generate a new page each time.

The database import is still coming along, I wrote a new sitemap generator, pages glow red when error messages are displayed, we added a QR Code Generator (It's pretty neat, check it out), and the site is overall working well and bug-free.

We love hearing from our users! Send us an e-mail telling us what you think!

Thanks for all the support!
-the admin

 

Some new features

Posted April 7th | Updated April 9th

I've been working on many new features for the site this past week. Here's a run down on what has changed:

• The login and registration scripts have been finished and pushed live.
• The User Control Panel is nearing completion but it does have some basic features.
• Scores for entering items into the database are being kept.
• A Moderator Control Panel is being worked on.
• A new page, search.php, has been added to take some stress off lookup.php
Codes are now displayed in the URL as upcdatabase.org/code/123456
   instead of
upcdatabase.org/lookup.php?code=123456
• A new interface, AIR Search, has been added to the site to allow faster searching. www.upcdatabase.org/air
• The "Beta Workshop" has been renamed to "Feature Workshop" and now contains a changelog, works in progress, releases, etc.
• A Leaderboard!
• A "Site User Manual" has been added.
• AIR Search now displays code's in it's own format! Check it out: http://www.upcdatabase.org/air/wind.php?random
• Statistics now update daily instead of every page load.
• As a result of the above change, pages load 10 to 20 times faster. (From 2-6 seconds to less than 200 ms, wow!)
• I will be working on a patch for this soon.

The user control panel is still under construction, so bear with me. Also, I just noticed a change I made last week prevented people from entering UPC codes. Whoops! This has been resolved. Also, another change I made prevented users from registering. This has been fixed as well.

Please let me know if you encounter any errors anywhere on the site. Everything should be bug-free, but I may not have tested everything.

What features would you like to see? Please let us know!

-the admin :)

 

Progressing nicely.

Posted March 25st by admin.

Wow, we've gotten quite a bit of work done this week! The database import is coming along nicely, we're at 10% at the moment, so it looks like it's going to take about 7 weeks instead of the previously estimated 4. We've also added new pages to the site, including a FAQ, a barcode facts section, and a check digit calculator.

We're still working on user account creation and the possibility of a leader board!

Also, thank's to the user who gave us our first stumble!

-the admin

 

Some Database enhancements.

Posted March 21st by admin.

Here's just a short update on what's been going on. The user account creation interface has been put on the back burner for now. We have just received a large text file containing many many many UPC product codes which we are working on importing into the database as I type. We expect the import to take just under a month. (It's quite large)

On a site note, remember that you can check the changelog for all the small updates that go on. For example, in this past week, we've optimized a bunch of scripts (thus making the site faster), and SIGNIFICANTLY improved the way that UPC lookups are handled, and any errors that come up while searching for a UPC code actually make sense and are much more user-friendly.

Stay tuned!
-the admin

 

A few more improvements.

Posted March 13th by admin.

We have just completed a small side project, site statistics. You can now look at a history graph of the total amount of codes and the amount of codes entered each week for the past 28 weeks. Because the graph is new, the data does not go back this far, but it will automatically update itself every time cron is run. (See the footer of the site for the next run time.)

This week we will be working on the user account creation script and database.

-the admin

 

Major improvement to code search.

Posted March 8th by admin.

We have just made a major improvement, to they way you search for codes. Instead of filling in the entire UPC code, you can now just enter part of the code. We will automatically search our database for the best match. If you are too vague, however, we will just return the first result we find. Try searching for '12', for example.

Thanks for your support! Keep the ideas rolling!

What do you think should be our next project? Twitter feed? Better API Support? Mobile version? You name it! Just e-mail us and let us know what you think!

-the admin

 

Some new upgrades to the site.

Posted March 7th by admin.

We have made some upgrades to the back-end of the site. Here are some of the changes we've made:

  • If you enter a UPC code that starts with one or more 0's, it will ignore them when searching the database. This has been a big issue in the past and we're happy its finally solved.
  • You may now enter spaces as part of the UPC code. Before, you could only enter a string of numbers as a space in the search field would cause an error to be displayed.
  • We have created a simple monitoring system to keep track of potentially bogus UPC codes. This system will inform us of any codes that need to be checked manually.
  • We also revising the way the information is displayed. We are making the interface cleaner, and now if there is a photo IN the database, it will not display random ones anymore.

Thanks for your support! Keep the ideas rolling!

-the admin

 

A new format.

Posted March 5th by admin.

Welcome to the UPC Database, this is our first post of our new announcement blog. We have moved the statistics over to the left hand column and have moved the welcome message to the About Us page.

Having this blog will allow us to keep you informed of new ideas, releases, and information about the site.

Thanks for being part of such a great project!

-the admin