Wisconsin Weather

WIWX 9.4/9.5 - Achievements, Search Bar, and News!

Hey Everyone!

In this update I finally introduce the achievements system that I promised months ago. I'm putting an to end to this massive developmental phase for Wisconsinwx.com. I'm moving into execution/operational phase with which comes a whole new set of dreams and goals. We never stop developing and growing...but now it must be managed better. Basically at the point I envisioned six months ago. Almost ready to take flight. Are you ready?


On Monday I inverted my prioritizes to focus first on forecasting and content creation. I wasn't quite sure how that would go because I've been in such a zone lately. I've noticed that since I changed my perspective and didn't have a huge to-do list - new ideas rushed in to fill the void. I have no shortage of things to do and I LOVE IT. I've also learned that the runway isn't totally clear yet. Regardless I need forecasting & content creation to be a top priority going forward. Bug-fixing and projects came up as a result of the last storm event and I've spent plenty of time this week working through that. It took several updates to get to this point but progress overall has been very good.

WISCONSINWX.COM - Building A House

Here's a fun analogy for the current state of wisconsinwx.com. It's like building a house. You start with the foundation and build from the ground up. Right now we have the foundation. We have all the rooms built. Within each room - sometimes things aren't always organized the way they should be. In some rooms things are missing or in the wrong place. For example; the living room might have a nice fireplace, comfy furniture, end tables...but why are there no windows?? The kitchen has all the cupboards. The dishwasher is ready to go. But why is the sink upside down and refrigerator missing? Why did I paint the dining room florescent orange?

My point: now is the time where we fill all the gaps, holes, and optimize. We shift the layout around for max efficiency. Maybe later we add on a room if need be but I'm mostly content with structure we've got at the moment. Hmm. Maybe it's time to start building more houses on different lots? ;)

Enough of that stuff. Here are all the new things you'll find around the website: In case you missed the last update -> WIWX 9.3 Weekly Forecast and Realignment:


The oldest dream I hadn't yet realized. Originally conceived in 2017 it never happened because there wasn't much need and it would take a lot of work. Low priority, high effort thing. Almost five months after leaving my job to do this full time...I finally had the opportunity to do it. I'm so happy we've made it here!

Level 1 achievements with WIWX 9.5
Level 1 achievements with WIWX 9.5

It works behind the scenes as you interact with the website. After the website loads, it ping's the database and run's through logic to see if you've achieved something new. A window pops up at the bottom of your screen with every new achievement. There are currently only 8 achievements and you can see all of them here, only 7 of which can actually be achieved. The 8th - "#1 - be the first paid member on wisconsinwx.com" can only go to one of us. I hope you know how much that means to me. My favorite is "Visionary - member before Mar 1, 2020". I wanted to recognize everyone who has made wisconsinwx.com what is it today and what it will be tomorrow. You guys bought in before you saw the finished product. You saw something worth being around for. That means so much to me even if we part ways in the future. Thank you.

Achievements are complimentary to your membership experience. It's a way for me to give back to you some type of real-life sense of accomplishment. Thank you for your time invested. Thank you for being involved. What makes it exciting is that these are real-life achievements. Things that have tangible impact. In many ways the achievement system draws inspiration from video game achievements. Unlike a video game or virtual reality simulation, these are things you can go after in the physical world. I don't know if there is anything else like it. It's a little scary that someone might put themselves in danger to do this which is why I have disclaimers on both the achievements page and in the terms.

The way I see it: it's 2020. We're all busy...stretched thin... in constant a battle for attention with cell phones, work, life, responsibilities, kids, w/e. It's nice to do something and get more back than just a "thank you" in return. I reflect on my time with SKYWARN, storm spotting, Mping, the NWS. None of these systems give credit to the person taking their time to share. It's a one way interaction. These are old ideologies. Not everyone is after the recognition, I get it. I just think we have an opportunity to do something different and that's what we're doing here. And I'm not sure what it's going to become. I have several more achievements to add but wanted to start small and see how it goes. It took a long time to figure out the best experience for the new achievements system. The artwork took awhile to get right. The level 1-5 corresponds to difficulty.

Achievement badges display at the bottom of your profile page bio
Achievement badges display at the bottom of your profile page bio

One way to see all your achievements displayed is through your profile in the form of badges. These are publicly visible for everyone to see. To see your achievements in detail you'll have to go to the achievements page. There are more ways in which this system could be shown and used (in forum and comment posts for example). But to avoid being to aggressive right off the bat...I just kind of left it. I will let you tell me how far to push it. The profile page is next in line to get remodeled.

Search Bar

I woke up one morning out of the blue and said "let's fix this". An unscheduled project to fix the behavior of the search bar. Previously the search bar would sometimes awkwardly overhang navigation elements as the window size changed..(i.e mobile, tablet). Now when you click the search icon it expands out another area where you can type the city, county, or location you're looking for. Someday perhaps I can do more with this. Really happy with the improvement here.

Mobile search bar
Mobile search bar

News Section

For a long time I wasn't sure how to organize news stories or where it would fit on the site navigation. With the new strategic direction of the blog and recent realignment of forecast pages I had an ah'ha moment. The News page now located off the forecast navigation tree is similar to the Updates page...same logic but limited to newsy type stuff. It's all meshing together quite nicely now.

The News page found via the forecast navigation tree
The News page found via the forecast navigation tree

My Reports

I added a "Reports" section on the account page. This will display all your reports sent to us for your records. Also on the reports viewer page where all the details of the report is listed I added a google map so that we can get location context. I'm going to add tools so you can make changes or edit your reports. When I first built the display model for reports years ago I didn't want reports to be editable. Today I'm not sure why I thought that...but perhaps I just didn't follow through on the build. So will get that added in the future.

Google map added below the report details for location context
Google map added below the report details for location context

Additional Changes

  • The home page will now feature currently active or forecasted storm events in the next 48 hours unless I've posted a news story more recently. Most of my time now goes into storm events so this makes me feel a lot better. Fixed the feeling of absence.

  • News/Blog posts should no longer be sent over SMS. I've changed the strategic approach of the blog. I hope to reserve SMS/text messaging for more serious things.

  • Anonymous reports are accepted but can no longer be sent out to the Wisconsin Significant Report Distribution list. The report must come from a member or the NWS feed. No issues with it yet but I felt like this was a weakness.

  • Pulling some upgrades through the admin side of things. Nice to have updated content creation tools on the storm events and blog tools.

  • Fixed problem with current obs at the top of the page not displaying between 1 and 5 minutes after the hour. The issue was caused by 70 minute ob time delay limiter which I increase to 80 minutes.

  • Fixed issue with posting from the profile page. Two lines of code were out of chronological order of execution related caused by changes I made a couple months ago.

  • Fixed issue with forum post links on the home page not working right.

  • Spent a lot of time on sitemap organization and search engine optimization in 9.3/9.4. Seeing some improvement which is nice :)

  • I've figured out versioning for admin tools. Not implemented yet but will be eventually. Will save myself from overwriting forecasts accidentally when I have multiples of it open.

  • IMPORTANT - please do not use your email as your username. Your username is publicly visible. You can change your username at any time here.


Things are changing in a big way. New projects taking flight. This time I won't tell you what they are that way it'll be a good surprise when they show up. If you would like to see something added or changed, you can chime in on our 2020-2021 Wisconsinwx.com Wish-list Discussion. Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon!



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