Without auto provisioning, when you (as a hauler) accept a shipping advertisement on the local market, it looks like this:
As a person placing the ad, it looks like this
That first line - the “Provisioning of 711 units of Basic Rations” that’s already on its way, but that’s what this proposal is referring to. My current inventory looks like:
Lets say that I want to ship my RAT from Midway - Sand to Moria again.
If I don’t select auto provision, that first line of the contract created will just sit there waiting for me to click Fulfill within 3 days. You’ve got a ship waiting to pick up the goods that I have to fly them - you’ve got a bunch of other shipments where you already have the SHPT in your inventory.
Auto provision was implemented to make it so that the hauler doesn’t need to wait if the goods are there. ( A Deluge of Development Info – Development Log #231)
On Thursday I added the last new feature: auto-provisioning of shipping ads. This has been a much requested feature because when it is being used haulers that accept a local market ad will able to pick up the shipment right away.
If the materials are in the selected store when the contract closes, the provisioning condition is fulfilled immediately. If the materials are added to the store at a later point, but within the deadline, the materials are provisioned automatically as well. The selection of an inventory for auto-provisioning is entirely optional.
Note that part that I bolded.
So, I’m going to make some ads on Sand. I’ve got 697 RAT in my inventory now and I make a couple hundred a day. Lets call it 200 RAT / day.
If I create three auto provisioned shipments for 250 RAT each, and you accept all three, the first two will be automatically fulfilled, and the 3rd one will wait until I’ve got another 53 RAT in my inventory. You don’t know how long that will take. It could be minutes for a production order to complete, it could be hours instead (they’re all backed up behind a mass of FIMs I’m making), it could be until I get back on and fix a recipe (I’m about to run out of GRN, but I’ve got MAI in my inventory too).
You, looking at the local market only see that I’ve got 3 ads up. Whats more, even if “is this ad auto provisioned” won’t tell you if I have the inventory now to actually fill the shipment orders.
The SBLK suggestion would make it so that the inventory is soft blocked and pre-allocated for fulfillment of the contract when its accepted. This would then be coupled with an indicator on the local market advertisement to say “yes, there is a SBLK inventory associated with this ad”.
In the previous case with my 697 RAT and the three 250 shipments, two of them would be SBLK’ed immediately allowing you, the hauler to know that if you accept these ads the goods will be there right now - you won’t have to wait for some future event to occur and the 3rd one… if you accept it, you might have to wait a bit.
The difference is “what does it take to get the inventory to ‘pop’?”
A SBLK’ed inventory is linked to an ad and would pop when the ad is canceled (something that I, as the person posting the ad can do anytime before it is accepted) or when it expires (say, 5 days from now).
A BLCK’ed inventory is a linked to a closed contract and would pop when the contract is terminated - either through a request termination or it wasn’t ever picked up within the deadline. Those are things that I, the person who posted the ad, cannot do (I can request a termination, but both conditions require the partner to do (or not do) something).
And there is a 3rd type of blocked inventory - the SHPT - which is a moveable blocked inventory that the hauler interacts with. It only pops when the contract is violated and not extended, a contract is terminated by both parties, or when its delivered. Again, these are things that I, the person who posted the ad can’t initiate.
So this is why a 3rd type of blocked inventory would need to be created to properly implement this - because the “how a player interacts with it” for the other two types of blocked inventory is different and that its linked to an advertisement rather than a closed contract.