• 8 November 2012 20:32:44

    New NMM version and site fixes

    posted by Dark0ne Site News
    We’ve officially designated this week “fix the sites and make them work properly week” among the Nexus developers. We’ve not been happy with the status of either NMM or the Nexus recently, and we know you haven't been either, but thankfully you guys are pretty understanding, which means we've been able to get on with fixing it without worrying about a full-blown riot.

    The first step in fixing the problem (past knowing there’s a problem) is finding out what the problem is. We think we can safely point our fingers at NMM for most of the performance issues at this point. Turns out we’ve made a pretty good home-brew tool to DDoS our own servers. Go us. Over the past year more and more people have been downloading and using NMM. We’re at over 1.2 million unique users at the moment, which means we’re getting about 100,000 new NMM users each month. To begin with this wasn’t a big issue, but now it kind of is, and we’ve been so busy trying to fix bugs and implement new functionality that the fact NMM is affecting the performance of the servers has kind of slipped by. Not our proudest moment. But this is exactly why NMM is still considered a Beta program. We know it’s not ready to be considered a “stable” release and until it is, it won’t get my seal of approval and we won’t bring it out of beta.

    Having NMM in Beta, and you remembering that it’s a Beta program is still very important. I understand that lots of you now rely on NMM as your mod manager and if it doesn’t work then your gaming gets affected, so when we make changes we try to prevent disrupting things as much as possible. However, many of you are treating it like it’s a stable release and you’ll roll-back to older versions if it’s not working rather than actually helping us debug and troubleshoot the problems with the latest versions. That’s kind of counter to everything you’re meant to be doing as a beta tester. If no one reported bugs to us then NMM would never get any better (and no, “it’s broken, I’m rolling back until you fix it” doesn’t help!).

    NMM version 0.33.1 is the beginning (and maybe even the end, if we've done a good enough job!) of our optimisations to get things back on track and with it come a couple of minor, but really important changes to the way NMM uses the web services:

    The first is in the NMM version checker, the little screen that pops up for a split second when you first start NMM that checks if there’s a new NMM version available. In past versions NMM would check for new versions on every start-up of the program. We’ve changed that so it will only check, by default, every 3 days. You can change the amount of days between each check yourself within your NMM options from 1 to 7 days, or turn this off completely (as you could before). This will help to cut down on requests to our web services considerably.

    The second is in the file version checker itself. As you know, NMM will query all the mods you have installed from the Nexus and let you know if the author has uploaded any new versions. Originally NMM would do this every time you started it. We’ve now changed this to only check once every three days, but we’ve added a button within NMM for you to ask NMM to check again whenever you want and once again you can change your preferences to change how often NMM will automatically check for new versions. We’ve done this because if you have 100 mods installed, and you open NMM 10 times a day to install mods or because you use NMM as your game launcher, you’re going to be making big calls to our web services 10 times a day when you might not always be using NMM to check for new file versions. That’s a lot of wasted calls to our web services when you split that across 1.2 million other people. It's important to note that the first time you use the update button NMM might become slow or unresponsive for a little while; don't worry, it hasn't crashed and it will come back. Subsequent uses of the button will not have the same problem and will normally update all your latest versions within a couple of seconds.

    It's important to note that due to these changes NMM might be slow to start or become unresponsive the first time you start NMM. Leave it to work away and it should finally come back. This should only happen the first time you run NMM after installing the latest update and should not happen again afterwards.

    On the downloading front we’ve added some pretty cool (I think they're cool, anyway) options to ensure you’re downloading from the fastest servers at all times. You can find these options in the Settings section of NMM under the “Download options” tab. From here you can choose your nearest download location so that when you go to download a file via NMM, NMM will always try to use the servers in those locations first. This should really help to ensure that you’re getting the fastest download speeds possible at all times. If NMM can’t use those locations nearest to you for any reason it will just default to the least overloaded server. Similarly NMM will now tell you what file server location you’re downloading from. If you’re in the UK and the only file server available is in San Jose, you’ll understand why your download speed is going a bit slower. Please note that NMM doesn’t know where your nearest location is, so if you want to use this feature you’ll have to change the options yourself. Otherwise NMM defaults to using the least used file server at the time of downloading.

    For Premium Members, in the same section you’ll find two new download options. The “Premium only” option will force NMM to always attempt to try and download from the Premium Only file servers, which should give you better speeds as there are far less people downloading from them. There are also options to change the number of connections/threads each download starts. Most people will want to keep this on 4 threads, but if you’re on a slow PC or if your ISP connection is a bit dodgy it might not like you making lots of connections at once, so this option is for you.

    In other good news we’ve found the cause of the constant log-out issue, which is also the reason why some of you have been unable to upload large files recently (because the site logged you out half-way through uploading), and this has also been fixed. Thank the heavens, because that one was really annoying.

    We’re turning off our old web services that past NMM versions have used (any before this latest one); not because we want to force you to use the latest versions but because as we release new versions and fix vulnerabilities or improve the performance of our servers we want to drop support for the older, inefficient versions as soon as possible to protect the integrity of the sites. That means if you want to stay using the older versions of NMM then NMM won’t be able to find new versions of your mods, and you also won’t be able to download through NMM either.

    I'm pretty excited about this release of NMM because it's what I wanted the new download system to be like, and how I wanted it to work from the start. It works perfectly for me, and for us, in our internal testing, so my fingers are crossed tight that there aren't any major issues and that you guys are getting the same sort of performance I am out of it. However, should you run in to any problems (once again, touch wood you don't), as always please use the bug tracker for posting any bugs. And in other good news, we'll be putting online our two new file servers, one in Amsterdam and one in San Jose at some point a little later tonight.

    This new version of NMM, along with our file servers, have had a number of efficiency tweaks applied to them and we’ll be monitoring the sites over the next 24 hours to see how much the changes have helped. If we think it needs more, we’ll do more, but we’re pretty confident that these pretty small changes are going to make a really big difference to everything and that we can get on with the new functionality we’ve been working on recently, which includes the ability to endorse files within NMM and the long awaited ability to make and sort your mods into categories. On the site side, we’re working on our much needed brand spanking new moderation suite for our staff to use, a new Nexus site and not one, not two, but three announcements of Nexus collaboration with three separate game developers, for games currently in development, along with a new type of Nexus site that will focus on pre-release information for these games.

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