Current edition: Vol.6, No.6, June 2003

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Bot of the Month
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Intersculpt 2003
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Bot of the Month - AlphaWorld Property Search

Courtesy of ImaGenius

One thing that always fascinated me about AlphaWorld was it's enormous size. I had always enjoyed walking around random places, just to see what was there and when it had been built. I somehow wanted to use this interest in a project, and after reading several stories about how people had lost their old property, I came upon the idea of the AlphaWorld Property Search.

There were a large number of both technical and social considerations to take into account during the planning of the project. Many people had "secret" structures in AlphaWorld that they did not want the general public to know about, so we needed to find a way to preserve this privacy. The gigantic size of AlphaWorld also presented a challenge, as we needed to design the system in such a way that searches could be performed in seconds or less. This was quite a feat, since using traditional methods, the search would easily take hours or even days.

After carefully planning everything, we began development. The massive undertaking included everything from designing webpages to database management. Several software applications had to be written, including a privilege password authorization mechanism, an application to parse the AlphaWorld propdump file (a text listing of every objects in AlphaWorld) and load it into the database, and CGI applications to handle the website <-> database interface. The large size of the AlphaWorld propdump complicated matters due to file size limits, database size limits, large file support in compression utilities, 64 bit integer support, and the amount of time needed for simple things such as copying the propdump over the network.

Finally, on July 27, 2001, the AlphaWorld Property Search was opened to the public. I was quite excited just to see how the community reacted to it, and I have enjoyed hearing how people have successfully located property that they had previously thought was lost forever.

To use the Property Search yourself, head to Please post any suggestions in the forum.

Statistics (as of June 1, 2003):
Object Count: 141,199,362
Database Size: 10.6 Gigabytes
Snapshot Date: May 28, 2003
Oldest Object: July 14, 1995

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