We’re excited to announce a few big developments for TheTVDB. For years the site has struggled because we’ve had to work on it in our limited free time, and with limited resources available to us. Certain things like versioning have been put aside simply because we couldn't handle the larger database in our infrastructure. We’ve been working on Version 3 of the site for years, with extremely slow progress being made due to our other commitments. That is all finally changing.
Earlier this year we joined forces with TV Time, which has long used our API for their app. We’ve discussed this solution in the past and have always appreciated that everyone at TV Time were not only fans of the site, but believed in the approach we were taking with it (keeping it affordable and open for startups and small developers). Yours truly (Scott) flew out to visit with them in December and was really impressed with their whole team. They were friendly, smart, and they appreciated everything we’ve done with the site and really just wanted to help make it even better, which obviously directly benefits their users as well.
One of the best parts of this, from a personal perspective, is that I’m now working full time on TheTVDB for TV Time. I’ve never really envisioned working full time on the site before, but have recently realized it’s the best way to get the site where we all want it to be. With TV Time’s backing, we’re now finally launching Version 3, getting the site on AWS for improved reliability, and tackling some of the long-term annoyances on the site.
Version 3 Is Live!
Some of the changes:
- Modern Stack
Based on Laravel, allowing a gradual transition to React and Go.
- Modern Infrastructure
AWS and Cloudflare, for improved performance and reliability.
More on this below.
- Flexible Seasons
More on this below.
- People Restructure
More on this below.
- Improved Search
Using Algolia and working for all languages and aliases.
- More Languages
We’re supporting them all, including allowing language-specific aliases for series. We’re also supporting Brazilian Portuguese as its own variant.
- Origin Language and Country
Allowing a better experience for non-English users, and paving the way for true global access.
- Named Seasons
Allowing both official season titles and season titles that allow clarity within flexible seasons (see the explanation below).
- Remote Links and IDs
We’ll allow linking to all official sources for each show, and some unofficial ones. Find the social media pages for shows and actors more easily.
- Episode-Series Data Restructure
Network and parental guideline ratings have been moved from the series level to the episode level where they belong.
- Moderation Queue and Field-Level Versioning (coming soon!)
Our mods have struggled long enough. Versioning will allow field-level rollbacks and the moderation queue should streamline requests, diminishing the need for our forums.
- Series-Specific and Limited-Duration Mods
If a user is an expert on one series we can grant them mod access for just that show. We can also grant mod access that expires, allowing non-mods the ability to clean up shows.
- Upcoming Shows
We’re now allowing shows to be added before they actually air. These records may be locked upon creation and then automatically unlocked when the premiere approaches.
- New Artwork Format: Panels
Small 16x9 images that should include the series logo and, at the season level, the season number.
- New Artwork Format: Icons
Transparent PNGs in a square format.
- 4K Image Support (coming soon!)
By request we’ve bumped up the size of our images for use on 4k screens. Lower quality images will be upscaled, but we encourage the community to provide true 4k images whenever possible.
More on this below.
- API Improvements (coming soon!)
A new API making use of all Version 3 features is in the works, but the site is fully backwards compatible with the existing APIs.
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to stay informed as we move forward.
As a gift to the community and to improve the experience, we’ve made the decision to remove advertisements from the site.
You will continue to see a link to TV Time’s website, indicating the popularity of the show on the mobile app, and possibly some fun integrations like displaying the most popular show characters from TV Time’s voting system.
Over the years, we've heard your complaints about how our episodes don't match up to what you'd expect. We know that some series, like “Firefly,” make far more sense sorted by Joss Whedon's preferred order rather than the order the episodes were aired. We know that our old air date, DVD, and absolute ordering system was restrictive and at times annoying.
To get around these issues, we've implemented what we’re calling flexible seasons. Our moderators are now able to enable any number of alternate orders for specific series (at their discretion). The episodes exist outside the season structure, which means each episode can be attached to various types of seasons without needing to recreate the episode (and cause management issues).
Not only does this allow us to handle things like Director's Preferred and Popular season types, but also gives us flexibility over series that use joined or split episodes depending on the format. For example, “Looney Tunes” episodes that were originally aired individually, but later joined into two-part episodes, can now be structured both ways. It allows “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” to be split in both the official structure (by seasons) and the common sense structure (by parts).
As with everything else in Version 3, adjustments will be necessary to streamline this approach for both users and moderators, but we think it’s the best long-term solution to the biggest issue that has plagued the site.
We've normalized people and split them off into a table of their own, where we can associate the same actor across many series and episodes. They will have an ID and be discoverable through search. Actors can now be given an official headshot, biography, birth and death dates (great for those death hoaxes), and social media links. These are displayed throughout the site when viewing an actor, which means it's easier to track down more info about your favorite actors. Even better, their official page will show their head shot, but each series will show them within that specific role. This means voice actors for animated series will have an image of their character, and child actors that inevitably grow up will have their role-specific images reflect that.
Directors, writers, and guest stars are handled the same way, and all can be attached at the episode level, which will allow us to show you all of the episodes a specific person has worked on. We can also easily add additional types of people, like producers or show creators.
One of the biggest requests of our API partners is the inclusion of movies, and we’re following through with that. We’ll be including both theatrical releases like “Avengers Endgame” and SVOD releases like “Triple Frontier.” More on this to come in the next few weeks as we prepare for summer blockbuster season.
Larger Moderator Team
Our moderators work hard. They also field a lot of negativity since they’re required to follow rules that some people might not agree with. While Version 3 of the site includes improved moderator tools, we’re also helping them out by expanding the moderator team both with the TV Time community team and additional volunteer moderators. If you’re interested and understand the rules we follow, we welcome you to help out on the forums and maybe you’ll be considered as well. One of the tools we’re rolling out in Version 3 is series-specific moderators, so if you’re just passionate about one series, make a post and let us know and we’ll take a look at your efforts on the site.
Thanks for your continued support and patience over the years. Here’s to bigger and better days for TheTVDB to come.
Scott and the team