FIRST Choice: Take Three!

Dec 26, 2013 Written by FIRST Staff

From Kate and Collin, the Kit of Parts Team

A team of dedicated, smart people from AndyMark, FIRST IT, and the FRC community have been working to revise the FIRST Choice site so that it’s robust for when we launch. We’re excited to tell you that our ongoing testing is confirming that the site is greatly improved, and we’ve decided to schedule the FIRST Choice launch for this Sunday, 12/29/13, at 3pm Eastern.  You will be able to visit the FIRST Choice site before this, but team credits will be loaded at the scheduled time.

There are some things we want you to know...

- Load Time: While we’d love to provide an experience with imperceptible page load time, it’s impractical given the resources that would be required. Testing has indicated that the average page load time is approximately 13 seconds, but very few testers reached a maximum load time of almost 60 seconds (but, the site doesn’t crash). Given that, we ask for even more of your patience, and discourage you from trying to refresh while the page loads.

- Caching: One way to minimize page load time is to cache the pages you’ll be visiting ahead of time. You can cache the pages by clicking on them and allowing them to load in advance of the launch time. 

- Post-Launch Adjustment: One of the steps AndyMark took was to increase the amount of processing capability for launch day. Because this is only important during rush periods, they will be scaling back a few days after the second round of credits is loaded after Kickoff. This will result in the page being down for approximately two hours on Wednesday morning 1/8/14, 1AM Eastern, while this adjustment is made and will be scheduled for a time when few users are expected.

- Keep it Simple: Please do not use a bot, script, army of people, or other method to cause multiple order attempts for your team. While we appreciate and respect the ingenuity in doing so, it will likely reduce the quality of the experience for others using the site by bogging down the system.

- Prepare Your Account Information: Because you’re able to log in now, you can go in and set up your shipping address and other account information before your credits are issued. This will reduce the number of things you have to do to complete your order. If you’ve already done this, please log in to your account and verify the current information.

The printer lottery process will be executed as planned, with the lottery expiring on Tuesday morning, 12/31/13, 8am Eastern. If you’re planning to enter the printer lottery, you don’t have to log on right when FIRST Choice opens on Sunday as there’s no advantage to placing your order on Sunday afternoon vs. waiting until Sunday evening or even Monday.   

AndyMark is planning to publish a whitepaper to provide more detail what happened and the steps that have been taken to improve the site. Once that’s published, we’ll let you know.

We thank you again, and sincerely, for your tolerance, patience, support, offers to help, and empathy.