This page shows the version history of the PL/SQL Challenge Website.
Version 2 of the PL/SQL Challenge is a major upgrade of this very popular site for Oracle technologists. Here are the highlights:
- New and improved interface: earlier versions of the website were very text-heavy, with minimal use of color and images. We believe that the new site will be easier and more enjoyable to use.
- More flexible architecture and offering of quizzes: PL/SQL Challenge V1.X was built completely around the daily PL/SQL quiz. This approach wasn't really flexible enough to handle existing requirements (such as the monthly Toadworld quiz and the quarterly playoff), and it certainly wouldn't let us easily add other kinds of quizzes on other technology areas. V2 puts in place a platform that not only offers more flexibility and clarity today, but will make it easy to add more quizzes in the (near) future.
- Guest-related features: now, even before you register, you can check out up to five quizzes in the library and play a sample quiz. We hope this will make the site more welcoming and encourage more technologists to play. If you visit the site and you are not yet logged in, you will now see a Welcome page that offers these features to guests
- New messages system: no more ticker across the page, we now offer a separate tab on the menu, Messages, in which you can view both news, broadcast to all players, and personal messages, directed specifically to you. When you have unread messages, the Message button will blink.
- On-line reviewing: now both reviewers and quiz authors can review, comment on, and edit questions. This will make it easier for the broader player community to help build and quality-check the quizzes.
- Polls: you can, right within the website, take polls to help us enhance the PL/SQL Challenge experience for all players. Polls are built on the same foundation as quizzes, so it was a nice verification of the generalized platform we built. We hope that you take the time to take those polls and make a difference at the PL/SQL Challenge!
- Behind the scenes: as much as the player-facing pages of the PL/SQL Challenge website has changed, the "backend" component of the application has also been transformed. We are now automating many more of the tasks required to operate the PL/SQL Challenge. This will make us more efficient and responsive.
We have successfully upgraded PL/SQL Challenge to release 1.8, which includes these significant new features and changes:
- Remember Me: a long-requested enhancement, you can check the "Remember me" box before you login. We will then automatically log you in to the PL/SQL Challenge on subsequent visits to the website. If you do not visit the site for seven days, you will be prompted to login again.
- Public Profile: you can now record much more information about yourself and your career as a PL/SQL developer. This information is then made available on a public player profile page - but only if you explicitly approve the publication of that content. All player names on the site are hyperlinked to this page. We also provide you with a public URL so that this profile can be accessed from outside of the PL/SQL Challenge website (such as from your blog).
- Streamlined "Take the Quiz" process: You no longer have to scroll down through assumptions and advice. You can choose to view the information or simply press the Play Now button to get right to the quiz.
- Post-Quiz Survey and Player Notes: after you take the quiz, we now invite you to provide us with feedback on the quality of the quiz. You can also record notes regarding that quiz for future reference. The notes will appear on the Past Quiz page. You can also take the survey at any time after you take the quiz.
- Submit Your Own Quiz Idea: you can now submit your own idea for a quiz directly from the website, both from the "Submit Quiz Idea" on the home page and from several other places on the site as well. If your quiz is accepted, your name will be posted the day the quiz is taken. Get creative and share your expertise with us and players from around the world!
- Reorganization of Rules and Assumptions: the Rules page is gone, long live the Rules page! Most of the content of that page is now available in the FAQ. In addition, rules, assumptions and advice for the quiz is provided on the Take the Quiz page.
1.7 Key Features and Enhancements
- Home page: view a random selection of past quizzes that you can visit for a quick PL/SQL refresher, plus recent achievements by players. The home page is, I admit, a bit crowded, but hopefully you will enjoy access to all this information.
- Past Quizzes: Search through all past quizzes by topic, difficulty or date, and then drill down to see a new, more detailed description of the quiz and your results. There is, for example, now a separate section containing the verification code so that you can more easily verify our answers and learn the features more easily. You can also ask to view the quiz without the answers, so you can practice taking the quiz (though you cannot - yet - resubmit answers). Soon you will also be able to see much of the same information in your daily emails reporting on yesterday's quiz./li>
- Interactive Rankings: built on top of the APEX4 Interactive Reports feature, you can now see rankings by player, country, organization and company (for a given period: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, lifetime). You can build your own custom reports. We believe that many of the requests we have received from players for better rankings information will be satisfied by this feature (for example: if you want to keep track of and rank players in the same company, simply choose one of the Rankings by Player reports and then filter by company!).
- Take the Quiz page: Each quiz now includes a "No choices are correct" option at the bottom of the page. You must check at least one of the choices before you can submit your answer.
- Player Profile: you can now tell us the year you started working with PL/SQL and also provide a short description of yourself. We will be adding even more options for describing yourself and what you've done to make yourself a better PL/SQL Developer, all of which will then be made available to other players through a public Player Profile page.
- Assumptions: we've made some minor tweaks to the assumptions, so please review them before you take your next quiz.
- Blog access: you can now visit the PL/SQL Challenge blog by clicking on the new Blog tab button.
09 August 2010: Version 1.5
- New sponsors framework: we have upgraded support for sponsors so that we can have different kinds of sponsors. A part of this upgrade also implements a much more flexible foundation for defining competitions and awards for those competitions. This will mostly be transparent to players, but we thought you'd like to know.
- Add ability to let a user play for educational purposes only, and not participate in ranking-based competitions/prizes: If you do not want to compete for ranking-based prizes, check this box. You can still win a raffle prize just for playing the quiz, but you will not be ranked with other players. Choose this option if you want to play in a way that violates any of our rules (for example, you want your development team to play the quiz together) and you do not want to be penalized. You can switch back to competitive playing only within the first week of a quarter.
- Minor changes to Assumptions: please read this section in full before you take your next quiz, to make sure you are fully aware of all assumptions.
- Remove account: you can now remove your account from the PL/SQL Challenge from the Edit Profile page. This action will erase all results for your email address. This action cannot be reversed.
- Changes to Feedback form: you are now required to choose the type of Feedback. The more accurately you set this type, the more easily we can administer the PL/SQL Challenge.
- Changes to Rules and FAQ pages: please take a moment to read through these pages to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of how the PL/SQL Challenge works and how you can most effectively play and compete.
- Login and Forgot Password button locations changed: in response to player feedback, we have switched the locations of these buttons. So take a look at what you are pressing before you click!
10 July 2010: Version 1.4
The main focus of this release has been to implement the new logic and pages needed for the championship playoff.
Other changed/improved/fixed features are:
- All quizzes are now rendered as images on the "Take Quiz" and "Past Quizzes" pages. We're aware that this is an issue for visually impaired players using screen readers and we regret to take this drastic measure, but unfortunately it's necessary in order to prevent copy/paste of the quizzes into a PL/SQL editor.
- Reminder emails that can be configured to your liking.
- Players can now submit their own Statistics queries.
- Rules text enhanced.
- Quiz text improved.
- Twitter link added.
- Best week fixed.
6 June 2010: Version 1.3
- Medium redesign of UI (UI of emails remain as is for a little while).
- Fixed many cross-browser inconsistencies in UI.
- Different statistics on Home.
- New profile section in upper right corner when logged on, showing player-specific statistics.
- Some statistics now have an associated chart.
- Additional statistics: My Profile, Rankings by Country, Rankings by Organization, Weekly Score History for Player.
- New page Testimonials.
- New page Welcome for first time players.
- Now hosts the monthly Toad World Quiz.
8 May 2010: Version 1.2
- Improved capabilities on the Rankings report: Period type weekly has been added and can now filter on organization affiliation and country as well. Furthermore also shows the top percentile (either overall or within the filter), quiz rate (how many of the possible quizzes the player took) and how many seconds the player has taken to answer.
- News ticker added to weekend quiz page.
- Feature through which you can invite your friends and colleagues to participate via email.
- For browsers that don't support auto populating your email address and password when requested to log in, a "Remember Me" functionality has been implemented, such that your email address is remembered. This requires that your browser is configured to accept cookies.
- How to Play readability improved through table of contents and section separators. Quarterly championships description improved.
- The Prize Winners report was sorted incorrectly.
- When presenting the quiz, the quiz's difficultly level is now displayed.
- A new statistics page with quiz statistics. Not yet incorporated into the menu.
- A new version history page with information about the releases of this Web site over time.
- Ensuring that we don't have duplicate display name/first+last name combinations.
- Players can now specify email address when submitting bug reports.
- A couple of small fixes of incorrect text.
- A couple of minor UI changes.
24 April 2010: Version 1.1
The major focus for this release was the following areas:
- Provide the ability to view previous quizzes, not only yesterday's.
- Replace the news ticker with something more powerful (yet less CPU hungry), capable of streaming relevant PL/SQL Challenge news to the players as well as improved "quiz time" information.
- Tidy up the interface such that menu items and buttons reflect the quiz status (not taken/taken/none to take).
- Yesterday's Quiz renamed to Previous Quizzes. Through a listbox it's possible to go back up to 14 days.
- New page: News page with all current and historical news.
- A replacement of the time ticker with a news ticker that will show current news items and "quiz time" based on server time. The news ticker animates and cycles the news items. You have an option of stopping this animation, moving to next/previous news item, jump to the news item showing the current quiz time status (time left to play on weekdays if you're not logged on or haven't played it), when the quiz was taken if you've already taken today's quiz, plus time left until the quiz starts again, during weekends.
- Menu items "Take the Quiz" are renamed to "No Quiz Today" over weekends.
- Menu items "Take the Quiz" is renamed to "Quiz Taken" over weekdays if the player has taken the quiz.
- The button "Take Today's Quiz" replaced by "No Quiz Today" over weekends.
- The button "Take the Quiz" is renamed to "Today's Quiz Taken" over weekdays if the player has taken the quiz.
- Header menu changed to non-fixed with in order to accommodate more menu items.
- Many minor UI adjustments for consistency.
- Page title should be centered: Today's Quiz Already Taken!
- Page title should be centered: Take the Quiz (part 2 of 2, part 1 of 2 is OK).
- Home/Take the Quiz: News ticker links broken in Safari: Doesn't render the resulting page fully.
- Home/Take the Quiz: News ticker links: In Firefox, the link isn't activated when clicking on the text, while the text is still being animated. Workaround is to click in the division, outside the text, wait until all the text has been animated or click on the jump button on the news ticker (the button with the hand).
- Previous Quizzes: Quiz Date listbox only shown with monospace font in IE.
- If your computer doesn't obtain a network connection immediately when it's starting up from sleep/suspension/hibernation, the news ticker no longer synchronizes with the server for as long as you stay on that page. It synchronizes again when you navigate to another page with the news ticker on.
8 April 2010: Version 1.0