Friday, 29 July 2011

Tradeskillmaster - Part III Auctioning Module

 TSM_Auctioning is the module that handles posting Auctions. This module is the TSM version of what used to be the stand alone Auction Profit Master (by the same author) which in turn was one of several Cataclysm code branches of the venerable old Quick Auctions 3 (by a different author).

This is one of the 2 modules most auction players will get the most mileage out of and probably the first module most will use. It's also one of 2 TSM modules (the same 2) I rate as being Outstanding, the other Outstanding module being TSM_Crafting.

The Auctioning module is quite complex with a lot of different settings. There is steep initial learning curve to learning how configure it properly and it takes time to configure it well especially if you sell a lot of stuff. However the time spent is very well worth it. In the long run it will save you a lot of time and the more different items you sell the more time it will save you.

New users should be very careful with their initial configuration settings. If you're not careful with settings it's very easy to accidently sell something for too little. The best way to prevent that is make sure the first thing you do is set your default prices to very high values (I recommend 40k starting and 50 or 60k buyout bids).That way if you set up a new item and forget to set the prices it'll post for too much instead of too little. So you lose a few gold in deposit fees instead of thousands of gold as happened to me once when it posted an epic shield for 200g instead of the10k+ gold I wanted to sell it for.

The strength of this module is that once it's configured properly it will do all price calculations for you enabling you to post many auctions very quickly, much quicker than you could with the default UI and most other auction posting addons. All you have to do is click the post button for each item. The only other addon that can post as many auctions as fast is Zero Auctions (another QA3 code branch).

Auction Defaults are accessed by selecting Categories / Groups and then the Auction Default tab. These are the basic default settings all items will post at if no override settings are configured for them. As mentioned earlier the very first thing a new TSM user should do is set these very high to prevent expensive mistakes!

Categories and groups

TSM_Auctioning allows you to organize items into groups and categories similar to how you use file folders to organize files in the operating system. Unlike file folders which you can arrange in tree structure with many levels there is only one level of categories, TSMs Categories and Groups a flat structure with just 2 levels of organization. Groups go inside Categories and that's it. Categories cannot contain sub categories, they can only contain groups. Groups in turn are flat cannot contain sub groups or categories.

Categories are the first level level of organization, they can hold hold item groups which in turn hold the actual items to be posted. Categories can have their own default settings that override the global default settings. Category default override settings are set by selecting a category and then using the Category Overrides tab. Each override setting can be set individually. If there is a Category Override setting for a particular setting it will be used, if not the Auction Defaults will be used.

Groups hold items to be posted, each Group can hold just a single item or multiple items. Groups have Group Overrides which override Category Overrides (or Auction Defaults if there are no Category Overrides set).

This system of  settings, Auction Defaults > Category Overrides > Group Overrides allows you to do things like set Auction Defaults very high to prevent expensive mistakes, then set more sensible Override settings for each Category (Gems, Enchants, Glyphs etc., however you want to organize things) and finally set Group Overrides for specific items. Purified Demonseye being a cut with high sales volume for example could be in a group of it's own with it's own settings and all other Demonseye cuts in a generic Demonseye group with completely different settings.

I really only have one important issue with the Auctioning module and that's how the displayed number of posted items are often double the real count (both for your own posts and other posters). However this seems to be strictly a display issue, it knows the real count internally and posts the appropriate number in spite of displaying the count incorrectly. However this can be confusing, especially for new users who wonder why it's says you have 6 posted and then proceeds to post 2 more when you have it configured to only post 5... The fact is you really only have 3 posted, it's displaying twice as much, then going ahead and posting the correct number (2) anyhow.

Auctioning is very much a camper tool. It's great for those who sit at the auction all day long, constantly cancelling and reposting their 1 or 2 of every item for 1c less than everyone else. I wish it had a few more options for us non campers. In particular I'd like to see an option to undercut by a configurable percentage of the difference between the current lowest price and my threshold price (threshold being the lowest price it's configured to post the item at). I actually modify TSM to do this myself (Dealing with obsessive campers - Part II Advanced) but that's just a quick modification to make it do what I want. I'd really like to see something similar implemented as a fully integrated option with proper configuration settings and all.

I also wish the Category / Group system used a fully recursive tree-like structure with multiple levels of sub Categories and override settings... This would make organization and configuration so much better with Category trees like for example:

Old Gems          Wrath Gems                                    Cata Gems
   |                             |                                                       |
Etc...                         |                                                       |
                                 |                                        Rare - Meta - Uncommon                
                    Epic - Rare - Etc...                            |          |               |
                      |           |                                           |        Etc...       Etc...
                    Etc...    Etc...              Inferno Ruby - Demonseye - Etc...
                                                               Etc...              |
                                                                               Purified - Etc...

Well this is turning into a long post already and I'm not done yet. I'll continue with more on the Auctioning module in another post another day.

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