TSM 4.10 launched as announced this past Sunday, which is a huge milestone for the TSM Team! We’re so glad that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and thankfully after a stable beta the release was stable too!
If you haven’t already, you can check out the full Change Log here.
As part of the launch, the TSM Team did a Q&A with questions submitted to a reddit post and had a general chat about 4.10, how we work and what we’ve got planned in the future. Below you’ll find a link to listen to an uncut audio recording of the 70-minute session, and an accessible transcript to read.
Gumdrops: We’ve just crossed the hour so we’ll go ahead and get started! Thank you, everybody, for joining our “live” Q&A – I say live, it’s partly live because you guys submitted questions ahead of time on the reddit post. We are celebrating the launch of TSM 4.10, which so far – fingers crossed and knock on wood – has been very smooth! If you do have any issues, or bugs, or feedback, do feel free to share that here on Discord in the #support channel, or #classic-support if you’re on Classic. The TSM team is all here, we’re watching and taking everything on board.
If you haven’t already updated, the TSM Application will do that for you the next time you log in – or you can grab it off Twitch or Curseforge, whichever is your preferred method – and we hope you enjoy it!
We’ll just jump in and introduce everybody on the TSM Team, if everybody is here, I’ll go first since I’m already talking! I’m Gumdrops, I started this Discord server as an extension of the WoW Economy community and integrating the TSM Support and community in to it as well. I run the WoW Economy subreddit, and I do all of the support and community management here on the TSM Team. So if there’s any feedback or comments, or issues or bugs you’ve reported it’s normally me along with the rest of the team that handles that. That’s me, who wants to go next?
Sapu: I’ll go next! I’m Sapu, I guess on the blog post my title was listed as the Founder and Lead Developer, which sounds roughly accurate. I do a little bit of everything on TSM, most recently my time has been spent working on TSM 4.10, but otherwise I just hopefully keep everyone happy.
Muffin: He’s the official cat herder!
Gumdrops: That’s very accurate.
Muffin: I’ll go next! My name is Muffin and I’ve been on the TSM Team I believe I believe in December will be 7 or 8 years now. I’m a Backend Developer, so I don’t work on the addon proper much, only in rare instances. I do most of the code that’s responsible for pulling prices from Blizzard’s API and then doing all of the number crunching, turning it into things like market values and historical values that you’re all familiar with. I’m happy to have everyone here, this is really cool and we’re all really excited!
H3GGERS: I’ll go next. I’m H3GGERS, I am the Designer for TSM 4.10 and I guess all of TSM4, the website and all sorts of things. Yeah everything, that’s me!
Gumdrops: You make the buttons?
H3GGERS: I make the buttons!
sigsig: Hey, I’m sigisig. I’ve been on the team for about 6 years or so, I work on the website and I’m working on the new App.
ButchMonkey: Hey I’m Butch, I’ve been on the team for two and a half years now. I’ve been mainly working on the TSM App, although I did do some of the addon dev in the early start.
Resike: Hey I’m Resike, I’ve been a developer since two years so I’m one of the most recent members. Most recently I’ve been working on the Addon, like everything on the Addon specifically.
magurokun: I’m magurokun, I joined the team about three months ago now. I’m a web developer and I’m working on the unannounced project that I’m sure we’ll get to talk about a little bit later.
Gumdrops: Very exciting stuff, can’t wait to get that in to the hands of everybody. I think that’s everybody unless I’m missing some secret team member?
Sapu: I hope not, as this’ll be the first I’ve hearing of it.
(00:05:15) Start of Questions
Gumdrops: We’ll just dive right in to the questions. It’s going to be an open format, so I’ll pose the question to the group and then everyone in the team is free to jump in and share their comments, or add anything that they’d like to it.
The first one that was submitted to reddit from user RHAGU, what was the reasoning behind naming the addon 4.10 instead of TSM 5? There are a lot new features and improvements to the addon, to the extent that it could have been a TSM 5 but what was the reasoning behind naming it 4.10 instead of TSM 5?
Sapu: I guess I can kick us off here, but I’d love for others to jump in as well. I think the main thought process there was really with TSM4 and all of the other previous major releases – we’ve basically started from scratch and re-envisioned large pieces of TSM. That wasn’t really our approach with 4.10, our approach was more: We’ve worked on TSM for like 8 years or something at that point, we’ve got a ton of feedback on TSM4 and we really wanted to take a stab at integrating that feedback and iterating on it, and coming out with something in 4.10 that we thought was really the gold-standard of what we wanted out of TSM 4 generation of the addon. We were chatting a little bit earlier with other people in the team, and there’s nothing totally groundbreaking in TSM 4 – for example, thinking back to TSM 2 we added Groups and Operations, so there’s nothing totally revolutionary or fundamental like that, but there are a million small things that, by themselves, are super awesome – and we think make the experience really good. So we didn’t really feel like it was a TSM 5 release, as far as how we were planning it and the scope of things.
H3GGERS: Just to throw my two cents in there – oh I just saw TSM Vista in the chat that’s hilarious, but I hope it’s not TSM Vista, this should be like TSM Windows 10! But yeah, I always thought of it as that we’d established a base with TSM4 and it had a lot of great things going for it since it was built from the ground up as Sapu said. Then 4.10 was just an extension of that, we had spent a lot of time listening to the feedback, and we had learned a lot from TSM4 and had some ideas about some stuff we wanted to do differently. It was a bit more iterative on TSM4 so it didn’t feel like a brand new release in that sense.
Gumdrops: I agree with that and for me it where we wanted TSM4 to be at the beginning. We were kind of restricted on how far we could take TSM4 in terms of the launch of BFA and the timing of things. Not to say that we didn’t have some bad timing with 4.10 as well, because we had other hurdles thrown in amongst that like Classic, and the new Auction House in patch 8.3. For me, 4.10 is where TSM4 really wanted to be so it made sense to do that justice before moving on to a more iterative project.
Sapu: One other thing I’ll add if I may. In general, the goal is not to make TSM5, 6, 7, 8 – I think if we can get to a place where we are shipping constant iterative updates that are bringing a lot of cool new stuff, then that’s sort of ideal. There’s not really an incentive, necessarily, for us to go to a TSM5, it’s more how can we approach some really nice features without rewriting the whole thing, and make that a TSM 4.12, or 13 or whatever that might be.
Gumdrops: I’ll take a quote from Community Manager Lore‘s book here and say “Sounds good, makes sense”. Moving on to the next question, bit of an easy one – How long have you been working on 4.10?
Sapu: So I did look back and it’s been about a year and a half since we made the first technical change on 4.10, and ironically that was made by H3GGERS..
Sapu: You probably added some new textures or something? But we’ve been thinking about it probably for about two years now.
H3GGERS: Yeah I know we had some early designs, as I said so much of 4.10 at least from the design perspective wasn’t great [I think he meant to say TSM4 – editor], and in a way it was a response to feedback. I went to pains to really listen and read just about everything that was written, or said, in response to TSM 4. I immediately started relooking at the UI, acknowledging the steps and looking for areas of improvements. I’d have to go back and look at when the first pixel was placed, but I think 4.10 was started pretty quickly, or not long after the release of TSM 4.
Muffin: As someone that didn’t work a whole lot on the Addon directly, I have to give a tip of the hat to them and H3GGERS especially. Engineers and Designers aren’t the people that like having their work critiqued to the extent that TSM4 was, usually – and those on the team like H3GGERS with his designs went back and listened to feedback and took a hard, hard, look at missteps to acknowledge them. I think that speaks to our team as a whole and is one the reasons why a lot of us have been on the team for so long – we all enjoy that camaraderie so it’s pretty cool!
H3GGERS: Yeah 100%!
Gumdrops: I think that also speaks to the community as well. The fact that so many of you guys listening, and so many people using TSM are enjoying using it so much, and sharing how you want to use it and what you don’t like about it. It’s to the extent that it’s something that you’re passionate about, it’s similar to how players of the game itself share feedback because you want to see it succeed and you want to see it do better. I think we’ve got a community that has that freedom to share that feedback and not feel like it gets dismissed because we are listening to everything. I hope we can show with 4.10 it has been taken on board and this is how we want to approach things in the future.
H3GGERS: Yeah I definitely want to second that, this community blows me away! In terms of how quickly we get passionate and thoughtful responses to decisions we’ve made – very rarely does it turn in to, what does Taliesin say – it was a shit show..
H3GGERS: Obviously! I don’t think it ever gets to that level, it’s nice. I have reached out to more than a few of you one-on-one and asked to know about a particular opinion or process and workflow – because admittedly I’m not an expert at gold-making, a lot of you guys are. Some of you out there are experts at using TSM in a way that I can only dream to be frankly. So it’s great to have you guys, you’re a tremendous resource as a designer.
Muffin: We all definitely play WoW at different levels, Sapu what was your max level again?
Sapu: I did level a 110 to test some Rank 3 Alchemy stuff, but I haven’t played it, to your point! But to echo what H3GGERS said, we definitely listen to basically everything that is said about TSM. I have a bad habit of reading reddit and Discord obsessively – I don’t respond that often in #support other than when we’re doing something like today with a major release. But I’m pretty sure I’ve read nearly everything ever said in our #support or TSM Discord channels, and we definitely appreciate all of the feedback.
(00:14:31) Time Check
Gumdrops: For sure! So this one is mostly for Sapu and Resike maybe – other than the UI in TSM 4.10 being different, how different is the addon under the hood? Did you do any major revamps or refactoring of the addon under the hood?
Sapu: Maybe I can start with this one. I think with TSM4 there were a lot of really big under the hood changes, and that was sort of intentional as we wanted to rebuild all of those infrastructure systems to make it easier to work with in the code base and support some of the features. One thing in TSM4 we added a whole new object-orientated class model that we follow when we implement a lot of stuff now, and databases that we use to store all of the various data that TSM tracks, and all kinds of things like that. With 4.10, it wasn’t the case that we wanted to go and rip all that up and iterate on it – but there were some major changes mainly around Auction scanning. That code was basically rewritten from scratch to support the new partial-result loading that we do on retail now, so if you search for /armor or /battle pets or something on retail you’ll see what you’d normally see in the Default UI when you do that initial search, where it just shows one row per item. Seeing that in the TSM UI I think is an awesome feature, and that definitely required a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get that running smoothly.
The other major piece that I’ll call out is one of the big features of 4.10 is that you can change the appearance, so going through and standardising in the addon how we handle all that stuff in a way that we could then allow customisation of it was a major effort. But in the long run, that will definitely pay off! Anything you want to add Resike?
Resike: Yeah a couple of things. We also threw away a lot of ineffective elements that prevented the addon from being snappy in some ways. Other than that there are a bunch of quality of life improvements that make your life easier or makes things go much faster!
Muffin: One of my personal quality of life change is scaling the UI, you know when you hold shift you can drag the corner and scale the UI and text. Also moving columns around! I love being able to do that.
Gumdrops: That was a pretty big design change. We’ve talked a little bit about development under the hood and the processes that we follow, but Vahdis would like to know if that process has changed over time especially as the team has evolved?
Sapu: Maybe someone else can kick this off?
Resike: Yeah I usually just bug Sapu to do things, then eventually things happen.
Gumdrops: That certainly works!
Muffin: One of the things back when I started it was just Sapu and I, and.. I’m forgetting..
Muffin: I was thinking Bill for some reason, I hope Bart isn’t on he’s going to murder me! We just kinda did our thing! But if anybody listening works in any kind of IT department, or engineering or design team – we’ve grown to the point now where we are a proper engineering team! We have weekly meetings every Sunday, Sapu has proper one-on-one’s with most of the team, then we have individual sectioned meetings just about the app or meetings just about the addon. It takes that kind of organisation and that kind of discipline as a team, because we’re so large, to keep us all focussed and on track. This is why I joke about Sapu being a herder of cats because it’s necessary for us to reach a level of success with TSM that we’ve attained at this point. It’s just really cool, as somebody that does this as part of a day job there are some parts of working on TSM that are actually more efficient than what I do working for a nation-wide company, so it blows me away on what we’ve been able to accomplish.
H3GGERS: Yeah 100% on that! I’m in the same boat, I work in enterprise software and a lot of what my day job is mirroring some of the processes that we have in place for TSM. But frankly, our processes work so much better in a lot of ways, and there are things that I think “man, I wish I could bring this to my day job!” Muffin touched on most of it, but we keep a very robust – and have done since day 1 that I joined – we keep a robust board, trying sprints and kanban. We keep a thorough backlog and we track what we’re working on, we plan milestones – we’re getting better at it with every release.
Muffin: Proper pull requests, and code reviews. Pipelines that are automatically checked for linting errors, we have the whole package man!
H3GGERS: Yeah! This team alone has taught me more about how to do a pull request, and I bring that back to devs at my day job and they’re like “you’re a designer, why do you know anything about github!”
Sapu: I think just to add to that, part of what I learned over the years of I guess “managing” TSM – we’ve tried a million different ways of doing things, as far as JIRA or different ways of doing project management. It’s one thing I’ve painfully, at times, tried to grow in to. At my day job in parallel, I’ve been in similar roles so I’ve really tried to take some of the good things I’ve found in my day job and tried to apply it to TSM. Really for me, the ideal for any kind of project management or organisation structure – is that it shouldn’t be getting in people’s way or it shouldn’t be something that people despise doing. So at least from my perspective, if people don’t like the way we’re doing something then we should do it a different way. I don’t have a horse in the race as far as how we do things, I just want to make sure that everyone generally knows what’s going on and we all feel like we’re moving in the same direction and it’s not just the wild west of people working on different things.
Gumdrops: Excellent answers there guys, we touched on some of the questions further down the list which is great because I think we’re very keen on chatting a lot here and we haven’t got through many questions! We’ll move on the next one.
Sygon in the chat and RHAGU on reddit said, how do you approach the line between “let’s add this to 4.10” and “this is out of scope”? Where did we, or how did we draw the line and say we’re going to continue working on this and add more and more stuff.
Sapu: I can touch on this and others can feel free to jump in. In general when we set out to do 4.10 we had a relatively defined scope of what it would be – as I mentioned earlier we weren’t setting out to totally reinvent groups and operations for example. We wanted to look at every UI and make the things that that UI did better, and figure out what other functionality we could fit in there that people have been asking for or didn’t really feel right in how we had currently implemented it. So having that initial scope of “that’s what 4.10 is going to be”, it’s not going to be an entirely new addon as far its feature set. This helped us draw that line at “this is something that we think could be cool, but it doesn’t really fit with the rest of what we’re doing with 4.10” – in that case we would punt it. But when someone says “I wish I could filter auctions by the new /collectable option” that is something within what the addon is doing and brings value, so it’s something that we pulled in.
Gumdrops: Anyone else have anything to add there?
H3GGERS: I think Sapu covered it pretty well!
(00:24:36) Time Check
Gumdrops: Excellent. So more of a general question. Not many other addons have this kind of functionality, but how does the beta release mechanism work? How does that system get put together and how does it make its way through the app to users during the beta outside of twitch or the normal addon distrution channels?
Sapu: I can touch on that. As Muffin mentioned earlier, we have some pretty nice infrastructure stuff set up! So every time either Resike or I usually, or H3GGERS if he’s making a texture change, every time we put up a pull request there’s a bunch of automated tests that run to make sure we don’t break anything. Then that gets reviewed and merged. Once it’s merged we run a few more tests and generate a build that then lives on our server. Then the app knows where to find that, and in the app anyone that’s been in the beta knows we have this concept of release channels – so we have a whole access list of which users are allowed to see which release channels. Those release channels correspond to a specific version that would be the latest version for that channel, so 4.10 during the beta that was the latest beta version. People on the normal release channel would have been 4.9, whatever we were on version 38 or something – I don’t remember it’s been so long! But that’s generally how it works, it’s all distributed through the app, and the app knows where to find the latest version – it’s all pretty automated, we basically just press a button when we want to deploy a new version either to beta or to release. So far we haven’t pressed the wrong button and we haven’t shipped a beta version to the release channel, knock on wood!
Gumdrops: You’ve gone and jinxed it now!
H3GGERS: It’s such a robust development, or pipeline for lack of a better work, I have a great hope that we can get to a point that we can even leverage it for A/B testing which would be great. Some of you, one day, will get a totally different UI, and I’ll hear from which of you that hate it and which of you love it but we’ll keep testing!
Gumdrops: Were there any surprises during the development of 4.10, in terms of things that the team thought were possible but they were not – or thought weren’t possible but turns out that they were possible? This comes from Nixl and Bilis in Discord.
Sapu: Not to put you on the spot H3GGERS, but I think this would be a good question from your perspective on the design side?
H3GGERS: Yeah, I remember early on I think we talked about this in the development of TSM4 – but the stuff that we’ve done in the table view, I remember asking early on “can we resize those columns?” and simpler things like hiding them. In general my first thought was there’s no way we’re going to get this super flexible, almost equivalent to an excel spreadsheet experience – but you and Resike blew me away with what you were able to achieve there. The latter part of that question there were definitely things I didn’t think would be possible, that being one of them.
Sapu: And there are things that you’d think would be super trivial like underlining or bolding text, and I say no we can’t do that?
H3GGERS: Oh you want to get me started on that? Yeah I mean why can’t we have just a simple block of text with two different font weights. That’s something I don’t understand.
Muffin: Blizzard are also using a pretty old version LUA for addons which doesn’t help matters either!
H3GGERS: The more I complain about the font thing, you will go and write some magic that basically gives us that ability. One day you’ll just say “Hey I figured this out!”
Sapu: I will make textures of every single character in the alphabet, and we’ll render those in real-time.
Gumdrops: RIP FPS! Following on from that for H3GGERS, what was your approach in terms of the design of the addon overall compared to version 4 and 4.10?
H3GGERS: I guess as I said earlier, so much of 4.10 was taking a hard look at what I had done, or what I had proposed and what we had done in 4 then looking at the feedback and trying to rethink some things. There were things that made it 4.10 that I don’t think that we had time to get to with TSM4. I guess the better question would be what was in my head when I was designing for TSM4 – which for me at the time was a completely new experience. I had used TSM3 a fair amount, but it was a challenge going in to that, especially aesthetically I wasn’t quite sure what kind of look we were going to hit on. Thankfully, after listening to the community 4.10 was easier – this UI should be sleeker, it should maximise on space, it should be more modern even though thinking about addons being modern in a fantasy-based game is a little discordant. I’d love to support at some point something that would have a little more harmony with the game skin, but that was kind of a ramble but that’s how I approached that!
Gumdrops: No that was some good insight thank you H3GGERS. Just to kind of wrap up this section of a meta-discussion, in a previous AMA around 6 years ago Sapu you said that TSM2 was what you had always envisioned TSM would be – how has the vision for you for the addon changed over time, and how close is 4.10 to that vision?
Sapu: I guess anything you post online is going to come to bite you, huh?
Sapu: Actually, to be honest, I still stand by that, back in TSM2 we added groups and operations. I mean could you imagine TSM without groups and operations? Unless you played a lot around that time, or before then, I don’t think you’d be able to recognise what that would look like. From that perspective, TSM2 had all of the major components that make up TSM today – as far as what you think about when you think about what TSM looks like. In the meantime, since then, we’ve made a ton of improvements on how usable the addon is and fleshed out a ton of areas and a ton of different features. So I’m super happy with where 4.10 landed, but I think there’s always more work to be done. I don’t think TSM is ever going to be at a point where we can say we’ve done everything we want to do, which is what makes it fun. So that’s what we’ll continue to do.
Resike: I have a follow-up question to this one, that I feel is kind of missing. Did you ever think that you’d have a such a team and a business model that works around a World of Warcraft Addon?
Sapu: Uhh, no! One thing that’s sort of crazy, that most people probably don’t know unless you happen to follow me on Twitter, but I was actually working on TSM full time for about four months between March and July when I started a new job. That was mainly by choice, and it was pretty awesome that I was able to do that – and it’s definitely not something I ever thought could be possible when I started, or even just a few years ago. In general, the way I think about it, obviously we pull in money from Premium and there is the aspect of TSM that technically is a business, but the way I think about it is all of that stuff allows us to do a lot more than we would otherwise. We spend a lot of money on servers and there’s no way we could do that if we were just being supported by people clicking on ads on our website. So really all of that Premium stuff goes back into the addon and allows us to do a lot of things and try a lot of things that we wouldn’t otherwise – so we’re definitely grateful for that.
Muffin: I think a lot of the servers that Sapu and I used 7 years ago when I first joined the team, we were getting like $20 per month from ad traffic, if that. It was largely just paid out of our pockets in the very beginning just to get things off the ground. Before then, the app itself is what hit the Blizzard API, so there was no database and there were no servers involved to host data or price tracking and historical data. It’s just crazy what TSM is now.
Sapu: The goal for me as far as the business perspective is that we can maintain a place where don’t have to think twice. If we needed to buy or if we needed to buy Trello or pay for any sort of tool to make our lives easier, we can just do that and we don’t have to sacrifice on the efficiency or happiness of the team over $20-$50 per month.
(00:35:03) Time Check
Gumdrops: Some really good stuff there, thank you! We talked about a little bit about the past and where TSM has come from, but what about the future? What kind of things can we expect in version 4.11, 4.12 or maybe even a TSM 5 in the future?
Sapu: As I mentioned there’s definitely a long list of things that we still want to implement in TSM. There’s definitely no end in sight as far as the addon and improvements that we’re going to make there. I don’t think we’re rushing to make a TSM 5, at least for me I’d be perfectly happy continuing with 4.11, 4.12 and so on. We’ll see if that changes in the future, but there’ll be no shortage of updates to TSM coming in the next months or years even.
Muffin: I think some of the next really big things that we’ll probably see won’t be in the addon itself. I’m working on completely rewriting the backend from the ground up. I’ve learned a lot just from being an engineer for another 7 since doing the original version, if you can believe it the version running now is the same version that’s been running for 7 years now with some changes for things like bonusIDs when they’ve come along. We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years, so I’m in the process of rebuilding that from the ground up. I’m hoping it can better support things like Black Market Auction House notifications, the notifications on our website haven’t always been the greatest in my opinion and a lot of that is on my shoulders with the backend. A lot of these changes will allow sigsig to do some cool website shit in the future, so I’m excited for a lot of the stuff being built around TSM in the future.
H3GGERS: From a design perspective I can echo everything that’s been said so far, I’m in the same boat and I want to make iterative improvements from here on out. In terms of the addon, we have a huge list that we want to turn our attention to. Design-wise we’ve heard you, there’s lots of interest out there from the community about expanding on the appearance stuff like getting your own custom colors in to the addon, things with fonts we’re looking in to. We definitely want to address and do anything to make the experience more accessible and more comfortable for our users, that’s always going to rank highly. I don’t want to give away the entire road map, but there’s so much fun stuff coming!
Gumdrops: For sure, and I think we’ll be hearing about one of things a little bit later. What else have we got here, Vahdis would like to know if we’re going to get any more price sources, completely changing the subject, or value sources that maybe speak to the volatility of an item, or maybe references the WoW Token?
H3GGERS: Vahdis haven’t you had enough price sources?
Muffin: Vahdis you’re cut off!
Sapu: You need to go on a price source detox! But the short answer to that is yes, we want to add more price sources. The balance is looking at the development time and is this something we can support. Performance of price sources is also something we paid a lot of attention to in 4.10, making sure that if you add some price source to every price string that you have in the addon that it doesn’t kill the performance of the whole addon. This takes a lot of thinking and development time, so it’s not just a case of adding one line of code to get a new price source. If anyone has any cool ideas on price sources that you’d like to see, we don’t currently have an exhaustive list so we’d like to hear from you.
Muffin: I think a cousin to price sources that I’ve seen mentioned recently, probably by Bilis, is a log function which I think would be really cool. There are a lot of things that are potentially on the table, with 4.10 out we can start having conversations about those.
Gumdrops: Excellent! A question that came from RHAGU on reddit and Sygon in Discord, but they miss the old additions and plugins like PriceChecker and GuildSorter – as a team do you still support other addon authors making things to integrate into TSM, or do you prefer to take ideas and make them in-house?
Sapu: If there are things that people find super interesting in other addons that are related to TSM, or in the case of the question, things that potentially directly add functionality to TSM – those are definitely things that we look at and consider adding a proper TSM feature. As far as supporting addon authors integrating into TSM, we do provide an API that allows others to pull data out of TSM and leverage some of the TSM functionality like custom price strings and inventory data with 4.10 and things like that. One thing that we did before is let people build plugins that show directly in the TSM UI itself, and that’s something we’ve mostly shied away from as it doesn’t always look good and sometimes break the UI. So we encourage things like LootAppraiser and things that can live on their own.
Gumdrops: That’s fair enough. Changing directions again, this one from Bilis – if you could have had a hand or say in the way the new Auction House was developed by Blizzard that was launched in patch 8.3, what would you have done differently to accomodate TSM?
Sapu: In general Blizzard designs their APIs to support their own UIs, so unless there is an issue with their UI then they’ll unlikely change it. I gave them a ton of feedback during the PTR of 8.3 about things that would make our lives a lot of easier – I haven’t actually checked if they’ve made any changes on 9.0, but there are lots of things they could improve, so I guess we’ll see what the future holds.
Resike: The more communication to the addon developers would be nice! However, the Blizzard addon developer team got remade twice in the last year so it’s not really their fault.
Gumdrops: That’s unfortunate! And following on with a question from metket in the Discord here, what kind of communication have we had with Blizzard in the past and has there been any kind of influence in TSM or from TSM with how things are implemented?
Sapu: I think the short answer there is no, there hasn’t really been any communication. We’re definitely open to working with them if they have any feedback on how we can tweak TSM to make the game a better experience for everyone, and how we can change how we’re doing certain things to reduce load on their servers. They haven’t approached us with anything concrete there. So that’s where we’re at!
Gumdrops: If Blizzard are listening, we’re here to talk!
Muffin: The backend API guys have been a bit more communicative, there are some of them on Discord and some of the addon development communities. They’ve been a big help with the recent migration to the Blizzard API to their new Community Data API which drastically change the format of the Auction Data. It would be great if we could get that Blizzard-wide, it’d be awesome.
Sapu: That’s funny, that used to not be the case. The Web API team used to be in totally the same style as the Addon team, and I mean the organisation not the individuals – in terms of how they approached communication, but they totally turned that around and now they’re doing a great job on the web side.
(00:45:05) Time Check
Gumdrops: Sounds good, let me see if there’s any questions left to pick out of the first part of the list. We already talked about appearances and the price sources. You mentioned briefly 9.0, but now that 4.10 is released, has there been any thoughts on how TSM will work in Shadowlands with regards to the Relics of the Past? Or is that still to be discussed.
Sapu: That’s still something that we need to figure out. There hasn’t been a ton of effort in making TSM work on 9.0 other than making sure it doesn’t immediately crash when you load it, so that’s something we’re going to be spending time on over the next couple of weeks before that launches. Then as Shadowlands gets going, it’ll be interesting to see how people are using TSM and what functionality they’re missing to deal with the new relics, and everything else that might change. Hopefully we can respond to that quickly.
Gumdrops: For the final question of this section from reddit user Elvaanaomori, what kind of plans do you have to make TSM easier to use – and how do you balance things that you implement for advanced users vs novice users?
Sapu: Maybe H3GGERS can talk about this, I’ve been talking a lot!
H3GGERS: TSM is one of those, I’ll just use the term application because it really is at this point, where it’s so dynamic and so flexible to be tailored to everybody’s usage that there’s this huge hurdle for the new user trying to jump into it. One thing that we’ve always hoped to achieve, and I think we’re getting closer, is thinking about the new user experience and ways we can help guide a fresh TSM install, or a user that has never thought about gold-making. We can guide them towards a proper setup, whether that’s getting them a head start with their groups – and we made a leap with TSM4 with regards the Base Group and the Default Operations we started supporting. A lot of those things work great out of the box, but maybe we need to message that a little better in the future and that new user experience would come in to play. The challenge is making something that’s helpful, and not like Clippy to use the example that most people are familiar with. We don’t want this to be popping up all the time and getting in the way and make it so it’s easily dismissable so those that know the addon through-and-through and maybe the just did a new install and they don’t want to see that. Being smart about when we surface that information is key.
The other thing too, outside of the addon I think there are also tremendous gains to be made. For a start leveraging this community, there are a ton of people here that make some amazing content that helps a lot of new players and I kinda want to get out of the way of that – I think you guys do a great job, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! There’s that aspect and our other platform areas like that website and the desktop. We’ve talked about a lot of cool things with the website where it can be a second area where you’d really manage your gold-making. We’ve made some huge steps forwards in creating groups, but in a lot of ways making groups on the website and send them to the addon that’d be cool – but I’m just talking offhand here! I like the idea of a wago.io alternative.
Muffin: One of the other things in 4.10 that has been really cool, even as someone that is relatively experienced with TSM I’ve found it incredibly useful along side those that are new, is the Base Group now being aware of all items that TSM itself is aware of. So anything that’s in the TSM data, you can easily make groups from that without having to find searches on wowhead or using the group maker – you can find the items in the Base Group. I’ve seen a lot of excitement around that!
H3GGERS: I think that’s probably my favourite part of TSM 4.10, and I remember that goes back to that earlier question about what did I think was possible or not possible – I remember discussing with Sapu, and saying TSM knows about every item in the game more or less, so shouldn’t we have a search experience of that? I really hope we get to a really robust filtering system on that search so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
Gumdrops: Definitely a lot to come! And something on my side, in terms of the support of TSM – now that 4.10 is out and available, I’m hoping to expand the Support website and the Knowledge Base as a documentation hub, as a reference point for users new and old to understand what a particular thing in the addon does. Not necessarily how to configure it to do what you want it to do, but more how it functions as a starting point to build on from there.
H3GGERS: Something that explains the concept of groups and operations I think would be extremely beneficial. A lot of new users get pointed towards TSM and expect it to be this thing just makes them gold, but they need to understand at least those two fundamentals before getting much further.
Gumdrops: Especially coming from other addons that don’t have that concept, they try and use TSM in the same way and it doesn’t necessarily work out in that way. That can cause some frustration.
H3GGERS: We have a lot of good ideas for that fresh install and the new user experience, there’s a lot more we can be doing to help users set up that first group list – whether it’s something we suggest and propose or even just highlight the ways to leverage the Base Group. Maybe we show exactly what’s in the Default operations to help them understand, we’ve also talked about getting a little more sophisticated how that string is presented. There are a lot of great examples like in Discord where you can show syntax or IDEs that can do auto-completion or allows you to search and parse variables.
Gumdrops: Excellent! As Sapu mentioned, there are a lot of things on the list for TSM as an addon, as a website and as an app. So with that segue, I’d like to put forward magurokun to talk a little bit about what he’s been working on with the sneak peek we shared in the 4.10 release date. If you want to maybe introduce yourself and talk about what you’ve been working on so far?
(00:54:05) TSM Unannounced Project Sneak Peak
magurokun: Yeah! Hi everyone! So you’ve been able to export transaction data, and group data, from the TSM desktop app for a while. It’s quite a common thing to bring this into spreadsheets or doing some kind of analysis on the CSV file that you can export that you can get. Of course, having to manage spreadsheets can get quite complicated, you can get a lot of duplicate sheets and you have to build your charts manually and it’s all a lot of manual work you have to do. So when I started making gold and getting into TSM back in January, I built a small site that I would use to upload these CSVs and it would build a nice graph for me.
Back in April in I joined the TSM Team, and we’re basically going to be making this tool part of the native TSM website – so it’s going to pull transactions that you’ve done in-game and your groups on to the TSM site, so you can view it through graphs and break it down by groups and items you’ve sold or purchased! You can do some data analysis on your transactions, and build some dashboards to personalise your data.
If you have TSM Premium it will automatically synchronise your data, so you don’t have to upload anything manually. If you’re not on TSM Premium you can upload things as-and-when you log out of the game or when you need to. That’s basically it in a nutself! We’re currently still cross the t’s and dotting the i’s on it, so there’s nothing to share from it right this second – but we hope to get a release out ASAP for you.
Gumdrops: Sounds very exciting! Do we have any particular time-frame in mind?
magurokun: We have nothing concrete really, but definitely before Shadowlands and hopefully before pre-patch we’ll be releasing.
magurokun: We’ve got big plans for it in the future with a large roadmap, so lots of exciting things to come on it.
Gumdrops: It almost seems like TSM is no longer just an addon but it fits into the suite so-to-speak of application, addon, website. It’s multi-faceted, and a combination of tools that will help anybody make gold in the game. Hopefully these are the kind of things that we continue to improve upon and update in the future based on the feedback you guys give. Hopefully it’s useful, I suppose it was for magurokun when he started otherwise it wouldn’t have been done! But as Sapu mentioned earlier, to be able to put resources behind things like this is to get it out to more people very valuable.
Sapu: To add on that, and maybe I’m jumping ahead to some of the later questions, but this one of the things I’m most excited about regarding the future of TSM. We have this whole addon and application infrastructure in place, and it’s like how can we leverage the build awesome features on the website that wouldn’t necessarily fit well in the game itself. The analogy I would use is like Ask Mr Robot, which I know isn’t really a thing any more, but that kind of optimisation and analysis of your gold-making as a separate function in TSM. Definitely exciting stuff!
Gumdrops: I think we’ll wrap up with a couple of fun questions about the game itself, we’re just about over our time here. A quick question from Bilis to the team, how many of you still play World of Warcraft?
Muffin: I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I’m the only one that still plays almost daily!
H3GGERS: You’re wrong! I’m getting back in to it, even though I took a break for baby H3GGERS. I took a break but I’ve been doing a lot, and like a lot of people I got in on the Brutosaur craze. I’ve always had an active subscription, so I jump in now and then to check out the state of the game or the addon.
Muffin: I started playing the day it came out, I was in the Air Force at the time – I’ve been playing non-stop ever since! I met my wife while raiding during Burning Crusade, she knew what she was getting in to! I have a giant Horde tattoo on my forearm, it’s life at this point. I also have a huge Horde logo on the back of my card, with a tank icon beside it – and beside it says ‘Your gold is always welcome here!” so that’s a little TSM homage. That’s not gonna change any time soon, I’ll play til the servers die.
Gumdrops: Yeah nobody ever quits World of Warcraft, it’s just a break of indeterminate length!
Muffin: I should have H3GGERS design me a TSM logo tattoo! My goal is to have a double sleeve of WoW, DnD and gaming icons.
H3GGERS: We need to do that!
Gumdrops: I think Sapu will be the most disappointed with the upcoming level squish with his main character.
Sapu: I have a level 82 Rogue that basically signifies when I stopped playing the game, that has 289 days played at this level which will soon turn in to a level 41 Rogue which will be very sad.
Gumdrops: That definitely has to be an anomaly in the World Warcraft system to have that amount of time player at that level.
H3GGERS: You can buy a boost with your gold!
Sapu: I’m sure I have some boosts left over from previous expansions.
Gumdrops: Fantastic. So just to wrap things up since we are a gold-making addon if anybody wants to jump in – if you do still, or did make gold when you played – what was your go-to strategy for making gold?
Muffin: 100% flipping almost exclusively.
Gumdrops: Mine was mostly profession, a lot of old-world stuff. I took a leaf out of Sheyrah’s book, she was the one that was teaching me the ropes of TSM to being with and that was her strategy so it became mine!
H3GGERS: When I first got into gold-making I was one of those guys pushing profession kits before Legion, I was in trade chat offering different kits for levelling.
magorukun: I only started back in January but certainly getting to know a profession, in my case Inscription, was the key to getting a Brutosaur!
Gumdrops: Were any of you guys playing the game when Inscription was introduced and remember glyphmas?
Sapu: Yeah! I actually really got into gold-making right when Inscription was released. Before that and how I got into gold-making originally, I was doing some shuffles prospecting Ore and turning that into gear and then disenchanting it for enchanting mats in Burning Crusade. That was my start in gold-making!
Muffin: I got heavily into the prospecting shuffle in Mists of Pandaria. Ore to gems, to useful gems, and the crappy gems to gear to enchanting mat shuffle. So many spreadsheets! That was about the time my wife started getting back into gold-making and she started using TradeSkillMaster and we’d make a competition out of it.
Gumdrops: Did you have some incentives on the line, the loser had to do the chores?
Muffin: Yeah right!
(01:04:40) Time Check
ButchMonkey: One of the fun things for gold-making I remember doing was server hopping. Finding servers where the economy is totally different than the one you’re on, buying out a ton of mounts and mats – a good old spreadsheet to figure out how much money could be made. Around that time you could start using gold to convert into Blizzard balance, and if you could play cards right you could get you flip for free and make more on top that. It was a unique approach instead of flipping on the same server constantly.
Gumdrops: That’s some next level stuff!
ButchMonkey: It was hard work for sure, but it pays off.
Gumdrops: It’s a shame you didn’t have the web-based analysis tool that we’ve got upcoming..
Muffin: I know a lot of people do that with pets without needing to do character transfers. Learn the pet and pick it up on another server.
Gumdrops: Yeah Vahdis knows a thing or two about that, everyone can direct their pet questions to Vahdis.
There are a couple more questions that might lead to bigger discussions, but I think we’re over time unfortunately for what we had allotted. If there’s anything that we missed on the reddit post I’ll put together a transcript and a blog post with a recording. Thank you to the TSM Team for joining in and having a chat this evening, I think it was really fun. Thanks for everyone listening in, I really enjoyed it and I hope you did too.
Definitely let us know if you run in to any issues or have feedback on TSM 4.10, hopefully you enjoy the new version of the addon. We appreciate you hanging out and maybe we’ll do something in the future!
— END —