Sunday, July 27, 2008

Events and Gatherings

I know this is hard to believe for some of you folks out there, but there's a whole world of letterboxers we never meet. They lurk in the shadows, following our clues, stamping silently into logbooks, never to be heard from again. Well, at least until the next letterbox they sneak out to find.

Perhaps they read the message boards. Or perhaps they're reading this blog. But they don't post, they don't plant boxes, and we'll never know these people.

Which is a shame, really, because for me, one of the best part about letterboxing is meeting other letterboxers. What a strange and varied group we are! Across all ages, races, religions, and geography--brought together by this strange hobby that started on the moors of England.

So one of the earlier features I added to Atlas Quest was the ability to list letterboxing events. A place for us to mingle and meet each other face-to-face. If you've never been to a letterboxing event, you're missing out on a heck of a lot of laughs and fun!

I didn't actually put much effort into event listing on Atlas Quest. Events were still relatively uncommon, but the event code had fallen woefully behind the times and not kept pace with the plethora of events happening today. Tonight, that has changed. Welcome to Events 2.0.

The most obvious change might be all the new icons associated with events. There are quite a number of them! One whole category of icons is an event subtype, so help narrow down what kind of event to expect when you show up. Is it at a park or restaurant? Is it an online gathering in a chat room? Is it a camping event? Or is it primarily a non-letterboxing event that letterboxers are invited to attend such as tag sales or birthday parties? Now you can specify such subtypes to let people know at a glance what kind of event to expect.

There are a couple of new icons as part of the regular bunch of attributes as well, such as the meet-and-greet attribute to mark an event as specifically to meet (and greet!) an out-of-town letterboxer. There are also two different icons to distinguish between an event with a mystery date and time and an event with a mystery location. There has always been that distinction internally, but it wasn't always obvious to see.

I also retired a couple of attributes that didn't seem nearly as useful such as a kid-friendly event. Except for pub crawls (which now has it's own subtype icon, I might add!), is there such a thing? Seems like I retired another attribute, but off the top of my head I can't think of what it is anymore.

Other improvements include the ability to save events in a favorite search, which can also be used to notify you of new events listed that match your search. The event notifications had stopped with an update earlier this year due to some changes incompatible with events, but they're all working together nicely again.

There are two new features associated with events as well: potluck lists and carpool lists. Any event marked as a potluck will allow you to specify what items you plan to bring to help insure everyone doesn't show up with milk and cookies. The carpool lists allow you to mark yourself as being available as a driver or wanting/needing a ride (or both, if you're flexible!) to help facilitate carpooling to events. With gas prices so high, it's probably more desirable than ever to split fuel costs. For events you're already signed up for, you'll want to "Edit Signup" to mark your potluck and carpool options. Normally, you'll be asked for that when you do sign up, but obviously, already existing signups won't have that information.

Anyhow, to make a long story short, the event code has been completely rewritten and you'll find very few things associated with events unchanged.

The rest of the changes are rather minor by comparison. I fixed a number of bugs, including the map markers now being clickable again and tracker notes sorted by date rather than by the tracker they're in. I didn't keep a list of all the minor tweaks and bug fixes that are in this update, but you'll likely find them along the way as you use the website.

Hope you enjoy all the changes, and I'll be online fixing any bugs that show up overnight just as soon as I wake up in the morning. =) And with as large of an update as this is, there WILL be bugs. Though with most of the changes exclusively in the event section, it probably won't cause you any problems with the message boards, clues, or other areas on Atlas Quest.

Happy trails, and get yourself to an event! =)

-- Ryan


Anonymous said...

I've been debating with myself whether or not to say something. I kind of liked the event list with the number in which each person signed up. Knowing who was late to the party, type thing. Or early. Its a minor thing, really. Just wondering if any one else had this same thing in mind.
Like the look of it, Ryan, cool. That and the tracker page are the only thing I have looked at, so far.
Keep up the good work.
Okie Dog

David Baril Jr. said...

can't say i like the changes to the event listing. i liked being able to scroll, locate an "edit RSVP" to show me which events i signed up for. also the date and time thing is way to confusing. i think it is a bit to hard to read. before you could just scroll down for a date, now it just seems so hard to follow. and why does it say drop next to everyones name on my event sign up! seems like a useless feature. if i drop someone from my sign up, it won't stop them from coming? i wish we could opt out of some of these new upgrades. they are starting to make the site complicated. my opinion, anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Don't like most of the changes as it seems to be hard to read. But I do like the potluck item addition...something I asked for wayyyy back when because the Evite site uses it and it is so helpful. Thanks for finally adding that. So as usual, one thumb up and one thumb down! lol


Teresa said...

The potluck and carpool additions are brilliant. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I like the new features! I did like the long, vertical list of attendees better, but I suspect it is just a matter of getting use to the new format =o) I like that I can easily click on everyones name to look at their profile!

I can't wait to start organizing an event =o)


Anonymous said...

I happened to take a look at my tracker before reading your blog notes and was pleasantly surprised that I only had to click once! Nice! I'll have to take a look at the "event" stuff to see what the bru-ha-ha is about but I love the idea that I can "track" favorite places or dates and have them show up automatically!
We always tell people that AtlasQuest is the most user-friendly, mamzing websit we know! Thanks for all your work (and brains!) Ryan.
~~Doublesaj & Old Blue~~

Anonymous said...

You Rock, Ryan!!!
Happy Trails

dbltall said...


We will get a lot of use out of the "Meet and Greet" attribute if the visitors keep up.

I have been wanting the ability to have a saved search for events, so I'll be alerted in my email in case I don't have time to read all the boards.

One interesting glitch -
Silver Falls 2005 is now happening on July 1, 2008. Not that it wouldn't be fun to do it again ;)


Jen said...

Hey Ryan - was wondering if we could see the events we are signed up for somewhere - like on My Page or Profile? I think it would be a nice little reminder especially when signing up for events a good deal in the future.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, just wonderful. This is so flawless in how it compliments the site.

-just4bees on AQ

Anonymous said...

The Potluck signup gives one less thing the host has to handle. And as for the carpool...its as green as we can get Tortuga!! Thanks for all your hard work to make it more fun for us.

Granny Butterfly

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it will stay this way whether people like it or not. And yes I did it avoid flaming by the He Can do No Wrong Fan club.

Anonymous said...

I just clicked on the events calendar and I don't see any changes, and yes I went to ones I was not signed up for. I figure it is Ryan's site and he knows how to write programs, and heck I can't even work most programs so whatever he does is for the ease of a site that just continues to grow and like with everything, not all people are going to like the changes, but you can't please all the people all the time and some you can never please.