This is the last part of a series of articles that reveals some of the processes, technology, and systems that keeps XDA running. It’s brought to you by our awesome host, LeaseWeb, which provides the brawny server infrastructure on which XDA runs. Previously we wrote about our moderator system and about the server configuration. In this final installment, our Developer Admin, pulser_g2, takes a look at how various programs have contributed to maintaining a developer-friendly environment in the forums.
A lot has changed at XDA over the years. Originally a site centered around Windows Mobile, things were very different. In the past five years however, the days of modifying closed source, binary operating systems have given way to a new era of (semi) open-source devices running the Android operating system. One of the fundamental principles upon which XDA was founded was the concept of mutual benefit and sharing. In the early days, developers shared their understanding of the “unknown” inner workings of a mysterious operating system, and ultimately learned more, and made better software for phones.
In the days of Android, however, a lot has changed. Firstly, smartphones have gone from being a toy for the geek to a tool for the masses. Almost everyone now has a smartphone of some variety, and the overwhelming majority of them currently run Android. With so many devices being worked on at once, XDA has grown to new heights, and has more and more developers posting their findings and work here. At the same time however, we’ve seen a growing trend of some manufacturers to cede to carrier pressure and lock their devices down to prevent users having control over the software they run. We at XDA believe this is a gross affront to the core principles of free software, and do what we can to ensure users can use their device to its full potential.
To that end, we launched the XDA Development Database in 2013, which acts as a gateway to find what you need for a device, showing ROMs, kernels, and tools for each device. We plan to continually expand our Development Database system and eventually offer a mobile component to make it easy to find software for your device directly from your device. We’ve also just announced XDA’s Root Directory, to help our users find their way towards getting their device rooted and unlocked, onto which they can flash custom firmware. The directory will be updated weekly to ensure new devices are added and that the latest root methods are considered.
As part of our same quest, we introduced the concept of the Recognized Developer and Senior Recognized Developer, which quickly expanded to cover Themers and other Contributors to the site. These programs were intended to offer users a little added reassurance that the user in question has demonstrated a level of competency over a period of time. In fact we continue to refine our criteria for these titles so that the “Recognized” badge on XDA is representative of the highest-caliber Developers, Themers, and Contributors. We also have a number of perks for our Recognized users. With DevDB, developers have free access to high speed upload space to host their ROMs, kernels, themes and apps. We also automatically produce a torrent of every file uploaded, to give users yet another option for downloading what they find on XDA (and providing a fallback to the original file being unavailable for any reason)
We also have been experimenting with offering more to our developers, including providing access to shared build servers (for free), to help remove the huge computer-specification barrier to building Android ROMs. With the XDA buildservers, it is possible for developers to quickly sync sources, even if their own internet connection is very slow, and compile their ROM without melting their laptop to the desk. We’re always looking towards expanding our offerings, when we are able to do so, and we look forward to bringing more and more things out in the coming months, to help more and more people free their phones from the preinstalled software, and realize the full potential of their devices. If you’re a Recognized XDA member and want access to our build servers, send a PM to pulser_g2 and he’ll set you up.
In the last year, XDA has also hosted its first annual conference, xda:devcon, and tickets are now on sale for the second, in Manchester, UK, which will take place September 26-28 of 2014. The conference is for developers, by developers, and offers an incredible event to learn about various facets development and to network with some of the best mobile developers in the world. With a whole host of speakers set up to give a varied set of talks, and some interactive workshops in planning, now’s the time to order your ticket (20% discount here).
A big thanks to LeaseWeb for sponsoring this series of articles. LeaseWeb provides the server infrastructure on which XDA runs. They have plenty of other fantastic offerings even if you’re not running a site as large as this, with as many huge files being uploaded and downloaded constantly. Their cloud servers are completely scalable and start at just $7 per month. Check them out!
July 20, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA Developer TV is looking to add more talented people like you to the team. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, do not hesitate. All it takes is basic video skills, which we can help you learn, a non-linear editing program and the skills to use it, a camera capable of at least 1080p resolution, a love and knowledge of mobile devices and development, and the ability to teach and show people how to maximize their mobile experience.
What do you get? You get the enjoyment of spreading the knowledge you’ve learned on XDA to thousands of people. You will get to join the ranks of other XDA Developer TV stars like Jordan, TK, Adam, and others. So what are you waiting for? Contact Jimmy McGee with any questions. If you are camera shy, but still want to join our team, contact Portal Administrator Will Verduzco to learn how to join our group of talented writers.
How to apply:
People visit XDA-Developers to make the most out of their mobile devices. And without a doubt, one of the most common ways in which this is done is through achieving root access and applying root-level modifications and tweaks. But if you’re not running a Nexus device, chances are that you’ll have to do a little (or lot) of digging before finding the proper root procedures for your particular model.
There are hundreds of device forums here at XDA. And thanks to our dedicated team of mods, developers, contributors, and community at large, practically every forum has several high quality stickied threads that show you how to get started on your journey towards root access. That said, we would like to make things even easier for new visitors. So without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to the XDA-Developers Root Directory
The XDA Root Directory, which is maintained by RC-RT Liaison PG101, is aimed at making rooting even easier for new users. Inside, you’ll find rooting procedure links for practically every significant device in the past few years. These links are organized by OEM, and we’ve also included root info for carrier-skinned versions, when applicable.
We hope that this new resource is able to help new users get to where they need to go even easier and more efficiently. Head over to the new XDA-Developers Root Directory and search for your device to get started. Happy rooting!
This is part two of a series that takes a look at how we keep XDA running. In case you missed it, check out part one, which covers XDA’s moderation system. This second part, written by our server administrator, explains how XDA’s server configuration handles all of our traffic and many page requests.
The core of XDA’s hosting infrastructure is located at the LeaseWeb data center in Virginia, USA. XDA has a rack of bare-metal servers including database servers, PHP servers, caching servers and other miscellaneous services that make XDA work. These servers are top of the line, dual hex-core processors, with a ton of RAM and very fast redundant network connectivity.
Let’s take a look at the path of a request that comes in. First, it is processed by our load balancer, which also acts as our full-page caching server. If you are logged out and your page has been recently requested, you will be served a page from cache which allows for a speedy page load. If the page is stale, or you have a custom request (when logged in), then your request is then sent to one of our many application server. These servers essentially run PHP all the time, and create the custom page you are requesting. We cache as many parts of the site as possible in memcache, which saves database requests. Finally, we run a cluster of database servers to handle persistent data. The PHP servers compile all of this information and send it back to the load balancer, which then sends it back to you.
Back in November, we moved to LeaseWeb. The engineers at LeaseWeb worked with our stringent requirements to put together a hosting solution that was an order of magnitude faster than our old setup. Since both the servers and network was faster, our pages are created faster than ever before.
XDA has three in-house programmers who are always customizing our existing site and adding interesting new features like DevDB. We develop the new code on our machines, test it in a staging environment, then push to our live infrastructure after all the bugs and kinks have been worked out.
The XDA infrastructure has really grown organically. It wasn’t too long ago that XDA was hosted on a single server and had frequent outages when a particular post would start getting a lot of views. We now handle a significantly larger amount of traffic, and are able to serve pages more quickly. Of course, we are never fully satisfied with site speed and are always working on making things faster for our users.
Again, we would like to thank LeaseWeb for sponsoring this series of articles. If you’re in need of robust cloud, dedicated server, or CDN services, please consider LeaseWeb.
This is part one in a series that will offer a glimpse at what keeps XDA running. In the first installment, we’ll talk about our moderation system and how it has evolved. Then in part two, our server admin will explain how we use LeaseWeb to manage the huge amount of traffic and bandwidth to the site. And lastly, part three will cover the ways in which we try to encourage development and modification of mobile devices by the developers in the community.
To date, over 50 million posts have been made on XDA. Remarkably, even with that volume of posts, the forums are (for the most part) free of spam, thanks to members that report posts and of course our incredible team of moderators.
Until about 2010, XDA had one type of moderator. During that year, we decided to offer non-HTC forums and expand to Android, and the site’s growth necessitated the formation of an additional level of moderator to efficiently maintain the site.
Today, we have two groups of moderators: Forum-Specific Mods and Senior Mods. The former group is split into about eight teams to encourage camaraderie and to allow each team to specialize in a particular category of devices, such as HTC international devices or Samsung USA devices. Senior Mods, on the other hand, are responsible for discussing site policy and resolving conflicts when they arise between forum-specific mods or developers. A subset of the Senior Mods, a group called the Moderator Committee, is responsible for adding and removing Forum-Specific Mods so that we have enough moderation coverage as the site grows. When you apply to be a moderator, it is the Moderator Committee that reviews your application.
Above we mentioned that we rely not only on our team of moderators, but also on members who report a post. When you report a post on XDA by hitting the little exclamation point that exists on every post, the report is entered into a queue for the respective mod team. Our custom system allows a mod to “claim” a reported post, investigate it, then act on it, all within our reported post system.
And that’s a look at how the moderation system works on XDA. It’s certainly not perfect and we’re always trying to improve upon our procedure, but we’re all really proud of diligent members and our assiduous moderators.
A big thanks to LeaseWeb for sponsoring this series of articles. LeaseWeb provides the server infrastructure on which XDA runs. They have other fantastic offerings even if you’re not running a site as large as ours. Their cloud servers are completely scalable and start at just $7 per month. Check them out!
As previously mentioned, we are happy to acknowledge Sony as a sponsor for our second annual xda:devcon ’14 in Manchester, UK the weekend of September 26-28. If you are in attendance, you will be able to try out Sony’s latest products in mobile and SmartWear technology. Be sure to ask them about their SmartWatch 2, for which you can innovate using custom watch faces and Sony APIs. Also, learn about their SmartBand and Lifelog service to discover their future possibilities. And finally, for developers interested in groundbreaking technology, come explore what you can do with the SmartEyeglass prototype project.
At xda:devcon ’14 you will learn Sony’s plans for the second half of 2014, which includes a new service that will help app developers verify their apps on real Sony devices. You will also learn about how Sony is accelerating its open initiative around AOSP. You can find out more about Sony and their initiatives through their developer portal, Sony Developer World.
Sony and XDA look forward to seeing you at xda:devcon ’14! As a reminder, get your tickets before July 1 and receive deep discounts on our Early Bird pricing!
We’re excited to introduce a new service to XDA members: XDA Assist. We know that XDA is so big that sometimes even the most astute searchers cannot find what they are looking for.
Manned by 10 hand-picked Recognized Contributors who are eager to help, XDA Assist is a forum where you can get some assistance with a problem you might be having with your device. We won’t give you the steps to fix the issue, but rather a nudge in the right direction, whether that means pointing you to a thread that might have your answer or to the forum where you can find more information. And even if you’re a new user with less than 10 posts, you can still use XDA Assist.
So go ahead and check it out! But of course, don’t forget to search on your own first!
May 19, 2014 By: admin
A battalion of Recognized Contributors on XDA is eager to lend developers a helping hand by maintaining their Q&A threads. This is ideal for developers who don’t want their project threads to be inundated with questions and troubleshooting requests. Instead, we prefer that development threads are split into two threads: one for Q&A + Troubleshooting (Q&A/T), and one for development. In the case where a developer has chosen to use XDA Development Database for their project, they can associate a separate Q&A/T thread to their main project, thus spawning a new tab that makes it super easy for users to find their way. Additionally, linked Q&A/T threads get a special badge alongside the thread listing to help them stand out.
If this sounds interesting and you’d like to learn more about the process of getting an RC to maintain your Q&A/T thread, if you want to maintain the thread on your own and you want to see a template, or if you simply want to see a sock-puppet explain the initiative in an entertaining video, check out this thread for more info (thanks kuzibri).
2013 was an exciting year for XDA. Not only did last year see our tenth anniversary, but we also held our first developer conference, xda:devcon. A greater time could not have been had by everyone who attended, and the resounding response from everyone was anticipation for the next year’s event. Our top-notch speakers and sponsors gave their all, and without the support of the XDA community, and a willingness to take a risk and show up to a new conference, it would have never been a success.
Well, that time is upon us again. It is with this post, if you haven’t already guessed from the title, that we announce xda:devcon ’14 in Manchester, UK the weekend of September 26-28! We already have top sponsors (Sony, Oppo, Ubuntu, and OnePlus) lined up to support us (with more on the way,) and we’d love to have you there. We’re offering a few different packages this year, one of which rolls the entire conference (hotel stay included) into one easy fee. And like last year, XDA will be covering your meals at the event. How awesome is that?
Here is a breakdown of the ticket offerings:
We have some great speakers lined up, along with some more sponsors, so make sure to get your ticket now and plan to participate. You can visit our website for more information and to sign up for the event.
May 10, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
It is absolutely no secret that XDA Senior Recognized Developer rovo89‘s Xposed Framework has vastly shaped how we approach device modification. Rather than having to decompile applications, modify bits and pieces, recompile, and push the modded files back to our devices, we can now replace any method in any class at runtime using Xposed and a purpose-built module. This singlehandedly eliminates the need for those modified “stock” ROMs that only feature basic tweaks. And since Xposed Framework is ROM-agnostic, the majority of modules will work on all devices capable of running Xposed.
Over the course of the past year, Xposed and its virtually endless list of modules have truly taken off. We’ve talked about countless different modules here on the XDA Portal, and XDA TV Producer TK even highlights one per week in our recurring Xposed Tuesday video segment.
Due of the vast impact that Xposed has had, it quickly became clear to us that we needed to do all that we could to help this already vibrant ecosystem flourish further. To that end, we created a dedicated forum for Xposed Framework in our XDA Community Apps section. This Xposed Framework forum is where you should go to view progress and read the latest news about Xposed Framework. You can also feel free to ask questions and share your ideas here. Within of the Xposed forum, you’ll find another forum dedicated for the posting of all Xposed Framework Modules. In addition, we also recently expanded DevDB to allow for Xposed development projects. Developers can access this by clicking on the “Project Type” dropdown box and selecting “Xposed.”
You can learn more about Xposed Framework and find all the latest modules by heading over to our Xposed Framework forum.
May 6, 2014 By: admin
To date we’ve had many thousands of projects added to our Development Database (or DevDB for short), which benefits developers by allowing for more control over development projects (with tabs for screenshots, downloads, bug reports, feature requests, Q&A, and more) and helps XDA users discover the best ROMs, kernels, and apps for their devices.
We’ve just added a feature to DevDB which will make it much easier to manage the same project across multiple devices with a handy variable system. Users can now set up variables to cover common installation instructions, credits, bugs, and other repeated information so that anywhere the variable is placed, the preset text will show up. The user can set his or her own variables such that “[#InstallationInstructions]” could be used for installation instructions, and so forth. Access the Variable Manager to set up variables for your development projects. And of course, if you have any suggestions or run into any problems with DevDB, there’s a thread for that.
Every year at around this time, we here at XDA-Developers like to take a step back and figure out what we can do to make our little home on the web an even better place. About four years ago, we accomplished this by introducing the world to XDA Core. And then two years later, this meant shifting our priorities to a demonstrably superior operating system.
Today, I’d like to share with you a truly revolutionary idea that was the result of many femtoseconds of reptilian planning. I am, of course, referring to XDA:Ban On One’s Terms, also known as XDA:BOOT or simply “Boot” for short.
Before we talk a little more about Boot, it’d be helpful to shed light on its history and how we came up with this great idea. After taking an in depth look into our community’s website browsing habits, it became clear that the about 36.2247912% of users were spending an inordinately high number of hours browsing the forums. While the remaining 63.7752088% of users were browsing XDA a relatively healthy 23-24 hours per day, the top 5% were browsing the site as much as 72 hours per day! This quickly became problematic for many who often forgot to eat, sleep, or even use the restroom while browsing.
Now wait just one second… How can users browse the forum for more than 24 hours per day? Well, the answer to that question took a substantial amount of heavy analysis on our part. As it turns out, those top 5% of users were browsing so many threads in so many different forums that they were actually breaking the universal speed limit! Our findings, which were quickly shared with and confirmed by the Pokémon at CERN, left us with no choice other than to implement Boot.
So what is XDA:BOOT and how can it save those top 5% of users? As implied by its name, XDA:Ban On One’s Terms is a program where users can request a temporary ban for as long as they would like. All they have to do is visit the official XDA:BOOT thread and craft a reply stating how long they’d like to be banned. Then, a site administrator or moderator will administer the temporary ban as per your specification.
We are Boot. We are the 5%. Head over to the official XDA:BOOT thread to request your temporary ban today!
*Please note that this service is being provided in Beta form, and it may be cancelled at any time—current estimates point to about 17 hours from now.
March 25, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Earlier today, HTC unveiled its next generation flagship, the HTC One (2014). While the specs weren’t really a surprise to anybody, the M8 is still the culmination of what many believe to be the ideal Android-powered device. After all, the M8 offers top-level flagship specifications, a gorgeous screen, a decent battery, class-leading build quality, and utterly fantastic industrial design.
While we’ve had forums in place for the international variant of the HTC One (2014) for quite some time, it’s now time to create forums for the US carrier variants as well. Are you looking forward to getting your hands on a version of the M8? Let us know your thoughts on the device in the comments below, and be sure to check out the forums for the US carrier variants while you’re at it: