FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Regional Registration Issues

Oct 06, 2016 Written by Frank Merrick.



I know that apologies are not enough, but I am sincerely sorry for the registration issues we experienced today. As I have said before, we know we ask much of our teams and our teams have the right to expect a high quality experience from us in return. This is not something we delivered today.


We intentionally scheduled District event registration before Regional event registration, knowing that District registration would be the lighter load and could help point out any weaknesses before Regional registration opened. Yesterday, the system performed just as expected, with no appreciable delay, and no indication of problems to come. Today, the number of simultaneous connection attempts to the database apparently reached a tipping point, at which the system essentially stopped responding and some elements crashed. This is a different issue than the one we saw during our initial registration attempt on September 22.


Noting that several hundred teams had already registered at the point the system first stopped responding, we re-started elements of the system to see if that would clear the issue. It did not. Eventually, we significantly reduced the number of simultaneous connections allowed to the database. This allowed the system to continue processing registrations without internal errors, but at a relatively slow rate. Many teams attempting to register for events during this period were seeing error messages. Eventually the errors cleared and teams could register, but in many cases this took numerous attempts.


During the period when the system was struggling, we were having an on-going conversation among FIRST management – do we shut down the system completely and try again another day, or continue to process registrations in a slow start-and-stop manner? The answer was not obvious. The ‘try again’ system would likely have been very different from the system we used yesterday and today, and would have been untested in a real-world environment. Also, there was the question of how to handle the teams that managed to get registered before we shut down. Would it be fair to allow them to keep their registration, or would we have had to bring everyone back to the starting line again? While the answers to these questions were not obvious, eventually we came to the conclusion that we could not be sufficiently confident the ‘try again’ system we put in place for next week would have been any better than the existing system we had chugging along slowly. The only thing we could be sure of with the new system is that we would have lost another week or so of time in getting teams registered. Primarily for this reason, we decided to continue.


Our decision to continue processing registrations slowly clearly affected some teams more than others. Teams that got in quickly went about their day. Teams that did not get in quickly had to wait around, and we recognize some folks had limited time and likely needed to get back to their lives before they were able to register. Once again, I am very sorry for the pain this caused.


There are a few good things that came out of this, though, in the end. First, as of about 3:30 PM today, we had over 2,000 teams registered for events, between our totals yesterday and today. This exceeds the count we had in the first 24 hours last season. Also, we are even more committed to transitioning to a preference system for the 2018 season that will eliminate the need for everyone to feel like they need to be part of this crazy horserace. Under current plans for 2018, as long as preferences are entered by the deadline, there will be no advantage to being first.


We still feel, despite these challenges, that we have a great season ahead of us!


More information, to include specific dates for second registrations, to follow before the weekend.



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Split up Regional Registration by areas. Anyone wanting to go to a regional in the northeast sign up 12:00-1:00, south east 1:00-2:00 ect. this should greatly reduce system load.


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