Designing an Upgrade… for NetrunnerDB

Our faithful NetrunnerDB has served us well for a long time, but is increasingly showing its age.  As NISEI has grown, we’ve learned a lot about what it does well, what it does poorly, and what is missing. Today, we’d like to share with you some of these limitations and news about how we’re addressing them.

First off, NISEI supports multiple play formats and as you have probably seen… NRDB does not.  At least it doesn’t support them well.  This is pretty fundamental to the app’s design and despite a lot of hacking, format support is far from where it needs to be.  Each printing of a card from a different set is treated independently, leading to clunky issues in deck building.  The app looks and works like a time capsule of early web 2.0 tech and doesn’t either reflect modern app design and functionality or have a design and feel that is appropriate for the game we all love.

Under the hood, the app is built on an ancient PHP framework and an early version of the Bootstrap UI toolkit, and has many code quality issues.  Nothing else in our portfolio uses the same tech, increasing our burden as devs and maintainers.  Cobra, which we took on last year, is more modern and built on the Ruby on Rails framework and we are standardizing on that stack for our offerings going forward.

We’ve decided we are at the limit of in-place improvements we can reasonably make to the app as-is. As such, the Web Dev team has started work on a brand new version of NetrunnerDB!

We’re starting with the API that powers the app (and great integrations in Cobra, AlwaysBeRunning, bots, deckbuilder apps and more!) and building things out in several phases. Here’s what we’re aiming for:

  • Public API functionality that supports card pool, search, format, and ban list functionality
  • New UI on top of this API for public functionality, including new support for community alt-arts!
  • Private API / deckbuilding functionality
  • New UI for private and community features

Internally, we are working with NISEI’s Organized Play, Rules, and EDI teams to ensure the app has what we need.  We also want to hear from YOU about what you want to see as we make this new version.  If you are a user or a developer, please share your thoughts with us.  We’ll be collecting some of this feedback for the next few weeks and using it to refine our plans. 

This won’t happen overnight, and don’t worry: we won’t be turning the lights off at the current NetrunnerDB until we have feature parity. However, we will be making the new API and app available as we progress through these milestones. Stay tuned for more updates, links to our project plans and beta URLs.

Thanks for all your feedback to date and we look forward to installing this upgrade in a new server soon!

Author

  • Jason has been playing Netrunner since 2014 and very occasionally plays it well. He lives in Milwaukee, WI, is a professional software engineer, perpetual photographer, and avid gamer.