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The Data Guy: Meet the dev behind The Undermine Journal, Realm Pop, and more

The Data Guy Meet the dev behind The Undermine Journal, Realm Pop, and more
Every now and again, a double facepalm moment occurs among potential news tipsters deep in the bosom of the WoW player community. "Say what?! 15 Minutes of Fame hasn't featured this guy yet?!?" It happens. There are only 52 weeks in a year, after all (even if weeks like this one manage to include a few extra minutes of fame).

So let's get cracking. You know that cliché about people who "toil quietly behind the scenes"? This interview is with that guy. Meet the unassuming Erorus, the man behind The Undermine Journal, Realm Pop, and a handful of other hard-working WoW resource sites.

WoW Insider: We WoW players are in your debt, Erorus! One look at your centralized project website, everynothing.net, and it's obvious that you're a very busy guy.

Erorus: EveryNothing.net was supposed to be a list of all the things I'm working on, both inside and outside of WoW, but I don't keep it as updated as I should. Most projects end up being something I spin up in a week or two and let run, the only projects I really kept up with over time were Quick Armory back in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King days, and The Undermine Journal since the auction house came to the armory back in early Wrath of the Lich King.

My currently supported projects are:
  • The Undermine Journal Auction house pricing history and event notification system
  • Realm Pop Realm census and population statistics
  • Phenix Armory A spiritual successor to the now-defunct Quick Armory; look-ups for characters focusing on achievement, companion and recipe collection
  • Goblinventory A small addon and website to help you view and share all the items in your bags and banks
  • Transmog Fashion A tumblelog that displays random transmogged characters

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Blizzard releases third-party API usage policy

Ever since earlier this year, Blizzard's API data streams from the WoW Armory have hit the scene in a big way, with developers creating such awesome web tools as apps for better gear checking, more accurate reforging calculators, and transmogrification fashion websites. As Blizzard continues to push its API data to web developers and app creators, the API usage policy is finally here with guidelines on how this data is to be used and what limitations exist for premium applications.

The third-party API usage policy has a lot in common with Blizzard's addon creation and usage policy. No premium applications or web tools that use WoW API data are allowed, which means you will not be able to be charged for access to information that is freely given. App creators will also not be able to put commercials or advertisements inside of applications that hinder the use of the application and data. Developers will, however, be able to host these apps or web tools on hosting that has advertisements -- you just can't force people to watch them or do something in order to use the app. Remember, you should not be paying for applications that use this data.

Take a look at the full third-party API usage policy after the break. If you're interesting in coding with these new APIs to create programs, web tools, or mobile apps, check out Blizzard's community platform API forum on the WoW community site. You will be in awesome company.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Blizzard's APIs and You: Cool information and tools coming down the pipe

Recently, Blizzard disabled the WoWArmory Facebook application, signaling that the time of the modern WoW Armory is over and we will soon live in an age when new Blizzard APIs will transform our out-of-game experience. And change it, they will. These forthcoming APIs will change the way you interact with WoW outside of the game in ways you cannot even think up yet. How do I know this? That's the power of information facilitation, and some inventive hypotheticals will show you what Blizzard's APIs will do for you in the near future.

Over the past few months, Blizzard has been preparing to roll out a new set of APIs that will take internal information from the Armory, the new community site, and more, parse it into easily manageable data streams, and make those streams available to application developers. With these new streams of information, savvy developers can craft web applications, smartphone apps, social media plugins, and anything else under the sun to provide you with new and dynamic WoW experiences on the internet. I know that sounds horribly cliché, but hear me out -- this stuff is pretty cool, and the back end could bring about a new standard for information availability and MMOs.

I'm not a developer. In fact, a lot of us in the community are not developers. Writing this story felt like an exercise in obscurity because, frankly, all this back end information isn't in my wheelhouse. As I dug deeper and began to realize the potential of the systems being set up, I fell in love with the idea that Blizzard is opening up easy access to so much information. I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate for those of us who have no idea what APIs are capable of, to break through the programmer/developer talk and discuss what these APIs mean for us, at the end of the day.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Armory now displaying mounts and pets

The World of Warcraft Armory/community site has been updated with a useful new feature showing players the mounts and companion pets they have collected so far. You'll be able to see where each pet or mount comes from or who drops them, a picture of each, and even a listing of not-yet-collected pets and mounts, making it easier to be an achievement hunter or collector.

The armory has changed drastically from its original interpretation and implementation, adding features over time that give players a more cohesive out-of-game experience. What is most interesting are the potential tie-ins later on with the previously announced WoW APIs coming down the pipe in the near future; we are still unsure of the amount of data that developers will be able to access from the WoW armory. I would not be surprised to see collected pet and mount data also being part of that package.

We've got a pretty full-featured armory at this point. What other types of data do you think the armory could or should provide? Perhaps next we'll see a tabard and title tab, showing players' collected tabards and a scroll list of titles earned. The sky is the limit, apparently.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Blizzard previews character, guild, and arena team APIs

Blizzard previously announced that certain APIs were going to become available for applications and players to access from the community website. We've finally got a preview of the information feeds that tap into character data in the near future. These feeds can be used in applications, websites, and more for user-created, World of Warcraft ... well ... anything.

Blizzard's opening up of these information feeds is pretty cool, and you will likely see some ambitious applications of this data being used in the near future. One of the illuminating aspects of this preview is that after finding the right way to do it, the devs are thinking about opening up quest ID information so that you can see what quests characters have or have not completed. There are tons of applications of that data out there and I'm sure the community is really excited to make use of this API information. Check out the full preview after the jump.

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Filed under: Blizzard

The ins and outs of chatlinks

I know -- most of you will hear the word "chatlinks" and think of horrible times in Trade channel where people are spamming the names of abilities and items in different ways, from nonsense to offensive. But chatlinking is a skill that isn't talked about much, and there definitely are place where it's useful (telling guild members about an item that might help them, or linking an enchant to show what mats it needs). So, encouraged by this thread over on Epic Advice, let's run through a few of the ways you can put links to items in the chat channel.

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Filed under: Enchanting, Items, Tips, Tricks, How-tos, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Guides

Creating an open source WoW database

This is an interesting idea -- Daniel over at Marenkay.com is the creator of phpArmory, which is the closest thing we have to an official API for Blizzard's Armory site, and he's now turning his eye towards unofficial databases. Sites like Wowhead and Thottbot are extremely informative, but the one thing they don't allow is player access directly to their own data -- obviously they have a monetary interest in keeping their information on their site. But an open source site, as Daniel says, would allow players to get at that information whenever and for whatever purpose they wanted.

Very interesting idea, and it sounds like he's got the coding chops to do it -- he's already got a working prototype together, apparently, and he's taking suggestions on where to go next. We'll keep a curious eye on this one. Competition is always good for customers, and while the current database sites might not be interested in an up-and-coming open source version of themselves (actually, the great WoWWiki is pretty open already, though they don't really collect as much numerical information), having widespread open data on drops, kills, and gear would be very beneficial for players. This could turn out to be a very important and helpful project.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, News items

WoW-Achievements.com starts tracking achievements as best they can

You knew this was coming, but I'm impressed with how it's done over on WoW-Achievements.com. With points to track and players to compare, it was inevitable that we'd have a site show up to track achievements, and here it is. While the Armory itself doesn't show individual achievements (yet), they've apparently come up with a way to figure out a number per player, and there's a worldwide player list (or at least a list of the 53, 901 characters they surveyed somehow). You can also post a pic of your achievement info, and they'll update it on the site. There's no way to see your individual stats yet, but if and when Blizzard adds that functionality to the Armory, we'll probably see a couple of sites show up like this, that allow you to do more with achievements and tracking them than the official UI does.

Of course, the Xbox 360 is the gold standard for achievements at this point -- while other MMOs and WoW have used the mechanic in their own way, Microsoft has built achievements into Xbox 360 profiles available online to anyone, so that's where most of the great web tools are right now. But the one that stands out for me, that I'd love to see replicated in World of Warcraft, is 360voice.com -- it basically creates a blog of what you've been up to on the Xbox that presents your activity in a readable, fun format. With Achievements build into the Armory, something like that could be easily used to power a timeline of your character, and let your friends see from day to day where you've been and what you've done. Lots of very cool ideas to develop here -- hopefully Blizzard will release Achievement info in an API sooner rather than later.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Achievements

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