21 April 2012

Upgrade to Version 2.2 Complete

We have completed the upgrade of the PL/SQL Challenge to version 2.2. The main features of this release are:

Activity Points

Up through 2.1, the only reflection of your activity on the PL/SQL Challenge was your ranking in the daily PL/SQL quiz, or some other quiz. Of course, the vast majority of players will never find themselves in the top rankings for these quizzes, but they nevertheless spend lots of time and effort at the PL/SQL Challenge improving their skills. In 2.2, we now award points to players for all of their activities on the site (taking quizzes, submitting quizzes, reviewing results, engaging in discussions about quizzes, etc.). Your points total now appears next to your name. Click on the Players menu button to see the points of all players.

Practice Quizzes

Prior to 2.2, you could take a quiz when it is initially offered, and then review results and answers through the Library afterwards. You could not, however, take past quizzes if you'd missed them, no could you re-take a quiz. Now, you can set up practices based on past quizzes, specific features about which you want to learn more, or your favorite authors. You can also use the unique Autotune feature: the PL/SQL Challenge will automatically create practices for you, based on predefined criteria.

Quizbook: Quiz as PDF

One of the most long-sought enhancement requests on the PL/SQL Challenge, the Quizbook feature makes it easy for you to generate a PDF document of one or more quizzes. These can be formatted as an offline test (no answer information included), a player scorecard (showcasing your performance) or a knowledge document, containing all answers and resources. You can save and reuse your Quizbooks; you can also share them with other players.

We are working out a few kinks with the formatting and content of the Quizbook (we have yet, for example, to get Jasper to recognize the pre tags and display code properly), so please do provide feedback on any suggestions you have for improving them.

On-Site Discussions

Rather than discuss interesting aspects of quizzes on the PL/SQL Challenge blog, you can now start or answer a thread directly on the Quiz Details page. You can also ask for help (it must be related to the topic of the quiz) or even post an objection to the quiz. In other words, if you think there is something wrong with the quiz, you can register your concern on both the post-quiz feedback page or on the Quiz Details page. You can also easily see if another player has already submitted a request for a correction.  

Submit Quiz Wizard

 It is now much easier and quicker to submit a quiz. Rather than fill out a long "all or nothing" form - and possibly lose data if there is an interruption, you can now enter a minimum amount of information, save your quiz, and then return later to finish and fine-tune the quiz.  

And Lots More...

We have re-designed and re-organized the Quiz Details page (accessible through Library and other pages) to make it easier to navigate through and access the ever-growing amount of information presented. We've moved the Feedback, FAQ and Blog links from the main menu to hyperlinks in top right corner of the page - to make room for our new features. The Winners page is now under the Players tab on the main menu. Thanks to the many players who beta-tested version 2.2 and identified a number of bugs and ways to improve the application. I am sure that, now that 2.2 is production, you will be telling us about many other ways to make the PL/SQL Challenge more useful and more fun.

Warm regards, Steven Feuerstein