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3.19.2014

TradeSkillMaster Application (Beta) Preview



After tweeting that I was looking at the new TradeSkillMaster Application beta I was asked by a reader to post up some screenshots. Today I'll be giving you a brief overview of the current beta release of the new TradeSkillMaster Application.

The new application has some really neat tricks up its sleeve as well as a whole new backend that is quite exciting. This is a large departure from the previous application and puts it much more on par with services like The Undermine Journal and WoWuction. Read on for more.

Join The Fun


At the beginning here I wanted to point out how you can become part of the TSM Application closed beta test. For beta instructions see TradeSkillMaster Application Closed Beta over on the official TradeSkillMaster forums.

Simplified


From the image above you can see that currently (and I should mention that as this is beta all of this could change) the TradeSkillMaster has three main sections:

  • App Setup/Status
  • Accounting CSV Export
  • Backup TSM Settings

A few things that aren't currently in beta are deal finding as well as having no Mac client.

The Biggest Change


By far the biggest change with the new TSM Application is that TradeSkillMaster is determining its own prices for items and is now running its own server.

One thing having their own server allows is doing their own "special sauce" version of determining prices.

Here is a quote from Sapu from the forum post linked above:

"New Global Prices for AuctionDB
In addition to updating AuctionDB's market value and min buyout prices for the realms you have selected, the application will update AuctionDB with a handful of new global market prices. These are based on horde and alliance across US and EU combined. 
New "Global Sale Price" 
This tells you exactly what people are paying for a given item. The way we are determining this is unique to TSM, and extremely accurate compared to TUJ and similar websites. More details about this will come in the near future (once we're convinced it'll work at scale), but suffice it to say: we don't make this claim lightly."

 As for the server structure Sapu explains:

"The new application obviously can't get all of this data directly from Blizzard, so the app now goes data through a new TSM server we have setup to process the data from Blizzard and provide it to our users."

Forum poster Muffin goes into a bit more detail on what the above means later in the thread:

"So just a little top level background about the new app... 
Instead of downloading from Blizzard directly, we have some intermediary magic going on. Instead of your desktop app checking every X minutes (or forcing a recheck) our intermediary stuff is CONSTANTLY checking Blizzard for new data. The app then pings our intermediary stuff for your realm to see if the data has been updated vs. what you have on your computer. I don't remember how often the app checks but I think it is extremely often, like <1 a minute.
This has a number of benefits. Your data is, within a minute or so, always up-to date as much as is can be. 
Also... say (with the old app) you opened in in the morning, got new data, and then closed it. Then you reopened it in the evening and go new data then. Well doing that you most definitely missed several scans during the day. With the new app this doesn't happen. When the new app downloads data, it downloads everything up to that point, even if it had been closed for quite awhile... it doesn't matter. 
TLDR;
There no longer a need to be able to "Force Update" data. Displaying age might be nice but you can be assured that the data is as up-to-date as it can be!"

So in essence instead of having to have our TSM application open to get data every hour or so the TSM servers ping Blizzard for that info and when our TSM applications ping the TSM application it passes all the data its stored on to our TSM application.

In addition having the application get data from the TradeSkillMaster servers rather than the Blizzard servers should help eliminate the issues some users were having with the TSM Application now getting data from Blizzard's servers properly.

This should allows for much more accurate pricing information.

Global Sale Average


The feature that really sets the TSM Application apart from The Undermine Journal and WoWuction is the new Global Sale Average. This is where the creators of TradeSkillMaster have applied their own "secret sauce" to build a more accurate price that "tells you exactly what people are paying for a given item" according to the quote from Sapu above.

From what I can gather (and the TSM devs can correct me if I'm wrong) this is the price people are really paying for an item not just the price people are posting the item for.


TradeSkillMaster Application Global Sale Average

In the example above we can see that TSM's new "Global Sale Average" for Moonfang's Paw is only 7 gold where all the other indicators on the tooltip are showing prices around 200-300.

Again I could be wrong but it would seem that while people are posting Moonfang's Paw for 200-300 gold the ones the average price for those that are actually selling is only 7g.

That is quite a large gap and with the new TSM Application comes a few new TSM pricing sources including "DBGlobalSaleAvg".

If this is really an accurate indication of what items are selling for as Sapu claims this may augment my old standby "120% TUJGEMedian" for certain items.

Again this is the feature that I believe the developers are most excited about because it is a pricing source you can't find from any other auction house data source.

Now, on to the individual sections of the TradeSkillMaster Application.

App Setup/Status


TradeSkillMaster Application > App Setup/Status

This tab gives you all the basic setting for the application including:


  • WoW Directory
  • Region
  • Disable Alerts
  • Run at Startup
  • Start Minimized
  • Minimize to System Tray
  • WoWuction Key


In addition is has a link to set up the TSM Application (now done via a web page) as well as showing the last time the application syched.

One big difference I wanted to point out is that you now set up the application via a webpage.


TradeSkillMaster Application Settings Webpage

The settings page includes:

  • Update Global AuctionDB 
  • Update Global WoWuction
  • Realm selection for up to 10 realm/factions including the option to uptade their AuctionDB and WoWuction data.


I'm not sure why settings were moved to a webpage but my guess would be to simplify the application UI as well as allow changes on the backend without needing to push an application update.

The only feedback I would have for the TSM team is to add some sort of "Your settings have been saved to the server. You may now return to the TSM application." dialog because I was a bit uncertain how a webpage could change settings in the application.

I know that it's saving settings on the server that the application will use but still people might get confused wondering if the settings were somehow saved tot he application or not.

Global and Realm/Faction AuctionDB


I thought I'd take a minute here to point out something that may be missed. The new TSM Application has a new feature called "Global AuctionDB" as well as AuctionDBs for specific realm/factions.

This Global AuctionDB is essentially TradeSkillMaster's foray into territory previously held by The Undermine Journal GE as well as WoWuction's Global data.

Let me restate that: TradeSkillMaster is now running servers calculating price for a Global AuctionDB. This price, as mentioned by Sapu in the quote above, "tells you exactly what people are paying for a given item. The way we are determining this is unique to TSM, and extremely accurate compared to TUJ and similar websites".

So TradeSkillMaster now competing directly with The Undermine Journal and WoWuction as a source for automated pricing information culled from Blizzards auction house data feeds.

This is also true for server/faction specific AuctionDB.

I just wanted to point that out since it might be easy to miss and I'm guessing this is one of the aspects of the upcoming TradeSkillMaster Application that Sapu is most eager for players to realize as I'm sure it took a lot of effort to get it running.

I think competition in the (admittedly small) arena of World of Warcraft auction house data can only be a good thing.

Now on to some other neat toys.

Accounting CSV Export


TradeSkillMaster Application > Accounting CSV Export

As a spreadsheet nerd this is a tab that gets me excited. This option has been in the application for a while but I wanted to cover it for those (like me) who haven't used or noticed it before.

This tab allows you to choose an account and server/faction and export your TSM_Accounting data into .csv files which can then be opened and manipulated in a spreadsheet program like Excel, Open Office or even Google Drive.

In the example below I exported the TSM_Accounting data for my new glyph seller. I then opened that .csv file in Open Office and did a bit of clean up (removing items sold to vendors as well as non-glyphs) as well as adding a column for sale price as gold amount.

Bonus Spreadsheet Geekery: For those working with your own data and want to convert the copper value given by TSM_Accounting to gold and get a human readable date:


  • To convert copper to a gold value:
    • Divide the cell containing the copper value by 10,000 (Example: "=F2/10000")
    • Format the cells to not show decimals if you don't want to see silver and copper values. (Example: 156.7498 becomes 157.)
  • To convert time (known as "epoch time") to human readable date/time:
    • Divide the time cell by 86400 then add 25569, (Example: "=I2/86400+25569"
    • Format that new cell to read as a date and time. (Example: 03/15/2014 02:11:17)

For more info on converting epoch time in open office see here. For an onlinw epoch time converter see here.

(Thanks to Brevisvox and GoblinRaset on twitter for helping me learn what "epoch time" was.)

While I won't go into much detail on what you can do with the .csv files (perhaps another post) below is a shot of how I might use the data to find glyphs that are selling well.



TSM Application Exported CSV Data Example


In this example I can see what glyphs are selling by going down the data and looking for glyphs that appear more. (In this case it seems that Glyph of Water Elemental is a particularly good seller for me. Knowing this I might want to increase the amount of that glyph that I have up for sale.)

You can get similar data as above in the in-game TSM_Accounting module but for certain people (myself included) having the data outside the game in a format that is easily manipulated and analyized is going to be great.

I'm sure there are a few of you out there that are salivating at the chance to chop up your own sales data 5 ways from Tuesday and the new TSM Application is going to give you that chance.

In addition the ability to export .csv files will allow people so store and backup their past sales without worrying about having a glitch or bug erase all there sales data. The possibilities are endless.

Speaking of backing things up.

Backup TSM Settings


TradeSkillMaster Application > Backup TSM Settings

The final tab allows you to see and change the settings for allowing the TSM Application to backup your TSM settings.

As mentioned above no one likes to lose settings and the TSM Application can automatically back up you settings so that, in case you do lose the data for any reason, you can restore it from a backup.

The backup settings include:

  • Backup Directory
  • Last Backed Up
  • Backup interval
  • Backup Automatically
  • Next Backup
  • Backup Now
  • Purge settings
  • Restore

We all hope that we never have to use a backup but as important as things like our TSM groups and operations as well as our TSM_Accounting data is I'm glad that the TSM Application can help protect that.

Conclusion


All in all I am very excited by this update to the TSM Application. 

As someone who wasn't always good about starting the application I am happy that the application is now connecting to a server that is continuously collecting the auction house data from Blizzard. This will mean that I will have much more accurate and up-to-date pricing information.

I'm also excited about Sapu and Co.'s new "special sauce" that they are using to determine the new "Global Sale Average" pricing information for items.

This one feature alone should set TradeSkillMaster Application apart and may be reason enough alone for people to use it.

As a long-time The Undermine Journal GE as well as WoWuction data user I welcome another point of reference in pricing my items more accurately.

The .csv export makes analyzing my sales data outside the game much easier and I expect that as I use it more I'll be able to come to much more accurate conclusions on what's selling, what's not and what I should be selling more of.

And of course the TSM Settings backup is almost reason enough to run the application.

All in all I give a big thumbs up to the TradeSkillMaster crew in bringing even more powerful tools to those of us who like to geek out on this stuff.

If you would like to be a closed beta tester for the new TradeSkillMaster Application be sure to visit Sapu's forum post TradeSkillMaster Application Closed Beta for instructions.

Now I've got to go. I have spreadsheets to make and markets to dominate with my superior pricing information.


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