Club Profile Mock-up

Yesterday I finished up removing links to features that won’t go in Release #1 and I also re-factored the Contact screen because it was too ambitious. Now the contact page is just a simple form, fill out your name, e-mail address and a message, that’s it.

contact_page
This is the contact page.

To the left is the Contact screen. See? Super simple, all it needs to be.

After working on this contact page, I started mocking up the Club Profile screen.

The club profile is going to change almost immediately after the 1st release because I need to make sure that when a club goes from game to game to game that their club doesn’t get segmented and it should be easy to just say let me see everything that this club has ever done, no matter what game. So in the near future the Club Profile will need to include things like a list of racing games that this club is involved in with links to their stats pages. There will be charts/graphs that layer the game data on it so you can compare. For instance, this version of the Club Profile that will be released in Release #1, is going to have a graph for “Attendance Trends.” It is a line graph that plots how many racers showed up for the last 5-10 races, so you can easily see how your attendance is. With the new Club Profile, we will want to see how the club’s attendance is across all active racing games. That means changing the graph to have 2 or more different colored lines plotted so it will be easy to compare.

club_profile_mockup
This is the mock-up for the Club Profile

To the right is the mock-up for the Release #1 version of the Club Profile. Featured prominently at the top left is the club’s name.(possibly logo in the future) Directly under that is a check box where you can say that this is your default club, which lets you skip right to this page when you go to the Racing Club Manager. Hooray for less clicks! Under the check box is an Ask to Join link, where interested racers can ask you to join the club.

On the right side of the screen is the date and time of the next race and a link to it’s details. The races screen shows more of the upcoming races so you can plan accordingly, this is just for quick checking.

Below all of that is a line where we want to show some quick information that non-members might want to see before asking to join. The Club Personality says a lot about how you operate your club. The personalities that you can choose from right now are Hardcore, Casual, Fun, Serious, Private, Open, New, Creative, Drifting, Weird. Scroll to the bottom for explanations of these personalities…

Next to personality is the date you last held a race. This is important to potential joiners because maybe this club hasn’t raced for 6 months but is still listed as Open or New. I am going to try and deactivate clubs like that, but just in-case it hasn’t been deactivated, you will want to know.

To the right is the number of members, or should I say active members. At a glance it would be nice to know if there are 5 or 100 members. If there are 100 active members maybe you’ll get lost in the shuffle or maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Some people might think I don’t want to be in a club with only 5 members because I want to race in full lobbies so the club I am looking for needs to have around 20-30 members. Active members doesn’t mean active every race. It’s best used for a situation like RacerX only shows up in the winter because he/she is away every summer. You would want to deactivate RacerX until they are ready to race again.

Beneath that row are 2 collapse-able rows. The top row is the Club Description or welcome message. You want to tell potential joiners what you club is all about and what your restrictions or schedule is typically like. You can include images as well.

The second collapse-able row is the Attendance Trends for this club, which I explain above. It’s a line graph that shows how many racers were recorded as showing up to the past few racers. I haven’t actually tried making this graph yet, but I am intrigued by Chart.js and I want to attempt to implement it here and maybe a few other places in the future. It seems pretty straight forward so I’m going for it.

Is 1100+ words a long read? Thanks for reading!


Personality Descriptions

Hardcore would be for clubs that keep meticulous stats and have very specific restrictions and use bonus points.

Casual just means that you organize and schedule races on the fly and maybe you don’t have a very strict schedule, or the races aren’t tense.

Fun is just that, fun. Maybe you schedule races with SUVs or vans and the point is to not tip over or something. Maybe you play a lot of games like soccer or tag.

Serious is for not messing around, maybe it’s redundant and Hardcore is what you’re looking for but it’s an option.

Private means that you are not looking for new members and your Club Profile will not include an Ask to Join link.

Open means that you are actively looking for new members. You can be Hardcore, but then maybe your attendance is dropping and you need new members, you would want to switch to Open.

New is for first time club racers or for a club that is just starting out and hasn’t found their footing. When racers want to find a club they would typically either search for Open or New.

Creative could mean that your club is for trying to take cool pictures, or you are all trying to collaborate on a design. Also, it could mean that the races you run are creative.

Drifting is for designating a drifting club. You don’t have to ONLY drift, but if you do a lot of those this is the club for you. We don’t currently have a way of tracking drift points specifically, but you could just use bonus points with a custom points template. Say you have 3 drifters in the lobby and maybe 1st,2nd,3rd get 0 points for finish position, but you enter their final drift scores into the bonus area when filling out results.

Weird is for clubs that have races like “set all suspension to maximum softness” or “turn down the grip setting” I’m not sure how often this will get used but it’s an option for day 1.

Query Strings and Dialogs

I was without internet access last night, so I had to wait until this morning to work on some things.

I fixed my issues with query strings, but while looking at those few pages I realized I moved all of my dialogs into include files and did not reference those includes across the site. These dialogs are for the club search, the loading and error messages that we show, etc.

club_search_dlg
This is the Club Search Dialog

To the left is the Club Search dialog. All it is, is a box with the search control on it. After the first release, I will need to upgrade the search functionality. Right now it’s hard to use because you would need to know what club you are looking for to find anything or you can click View All Clubs, but then it could show you 1000 results that aren’t useful to you. What we really need is a way for users to say, “I want to see clubs that race at this time or on these days that have this personality or run these kinds of races.” A name doesn’t tell you much, if anything, about a club or when they race or what their intentions are.

Yeah, I’m kind of side-tracking here but these things bother me. So for the remainder of today I’m going to focus on hiding links to features that will not be going in the first release. After that, CLUB PROFILE! I really want this club profile to be awesome, so like I said, I’m going to take my time on it and get it right. I’ll make a post about the layout once I figure out what it should be.

Thanks for reading!

Bonus Points Done

For some reason in my last post I said it could take a few DAYS to finish up calculating the bonus points into all the places that we display points. Well, I finished already. I also worked on moving some code into multiple files. I had 1 huge file that contained all the server side functions I was using and it got called from many different pages. I split it up so that each page gets it’s own file for server functions. This will make it easier to locate relevant code when I need to make changes.

As I said in the last post, I am going to work on fixing some query string variables that I renamed but didn’t fix every where. Then I’ll be able to remove the features that I thought I would enable but realized they could wait for later releases. I’ll have an update on that tomorrow.

Oh! and I had thought that I would not be supporting iRacing because they do have their own site to manage leagues, but I went to scope it out and saw that it costs money to use their league site. Since I am a free option it only seems right that I support the iRacing community as well. I really need to figure out what all of the tracks and their variations are(there is a ton!)

Thanks for reading!

Bonus Points

Yesterday I finished up the save routine including the bonus points. I then entered some results that I had pending with my club and recorded the results using the new interface 🙂 this is awesome. Then I realized that we aren’t actually using these bonus points in the calculations all over the site. I identified the following places I need to make changes.

  • The main races screen and the view all races screen has a table of recent results that shows winner, second, and third. Also, when you click on the name of the race we show the full results with a column for points earned.
  • The main leader board page has a column for points.
  • The main series page has a column for points leader and points ahead. Also when you click the name of a series we show a breakdown of the races in the series which includes the results and points earned.
  • The main racers page shows points earned.

So I still have some work to do for bonus points to be working correctly and I need to finish it before I can do my first release. I figure this will take a few days to implement and test.

After bonus points I will be moving on to query strings! Query strings are variables that get passed in the URL. At one point in development I switched from cid=1(cid stands for club id) to just club=1 and I didn’t make the change to ALL of the occurrences, so I need to get on that. After that I need to disable some unfinished features that aren’t going in the first release. At that point I’ll have all of the small stuff out of the way and will be able to focus on the Club Profile.

The Club Profile is like the landing page for each club. It will show When the next race is and the details of that race. It shows how many active racers are with the club. The club description, personality, and contact info will all be on display. The ability for non-members to request to join will be there as well. I’m going to spend a lot of time on this part of the site, to make sure it is aesthetically pleasing as well as intuitive to navigate.

Thanks for reading!

Progress

So in my last post, I talked about working on needed to finish up some save routines in order to get the admin screen for managing series and races to work. This post is just an update…

I have hooked up the save to the new manage series/races page and it is working. YAAY! The problem with that is I added being able to give racers bonus points when inputting the results of a race and that code isn’t included in the old save routine. Adding that code shouldn’t take long but where I thought I was done, I am not.

On a different note, I took a break from coding the save routines to add a WordPress link to the home page. I plan on using this blog all throughout the life of the site so that users know what I’m up to. I feel that being as transparent as possible really goes a long way with users. I know that’s what I like to see from developers. Right now I have this blog and a Twitter account. I plan on setting up a Facebook page and I have icons for YouTube and Instagram, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to put content on those sites. We’ll see…

Thanks for reading!

What am I working on RIGHT NOW?

I’m not ready to release anything right now, and I figured I should tell people what I am currently working on so that there is a known reason for why the site hasn’t been released yet.

Right now I am working on a new Manage Races screen. When I first developed the site, I just wanted to get things working and made some poor design choices. Over time I poured over my screens and tried to think of ways to improve the design. The admin screens are the worse, by far. See below for some images.

old_mange_races
This is the old version of the Manage Races Screen

The image above is  of the old Manage Races screen. As you can see, you select the Series and Races by using the drop down controls. The edit description text editors are out-dated and they don’t work on all browsers. Also, the layout of this page is terrible for mobile users.

new_manage_races
This is the new version of the Manage Races Screen

The above image is of the new Manage Races screen. On this new screen there are rows in dark blue that are for each racing series. Click the name of the series to expand and gain the ability to edit the name and points, add new races, edit the description and see rows of existing races in light blue. Clicking the name of a race expands to allow editing of the race name, laps, track, date and time of race, results, and the race description.

I despise the use of drop down controls where they are not needed, so this design eliminates the ones that were ridiculous.

Edit Description Dialog

This new design also breaks out the text editor into it’s own area. The look is updated and the layout is mobile friendly. The text editor we are using is the CKEditor, which is an open source HTML text editor. It’s fast, extendable, and works in a lot of different browsers where the old one did not.

So, if you were wondering what exactly I have been working on, it’s this. I am at the point where I need to work on the save routines and do a lot of extra testing. After this page, I need to simplify the contact page and remove links to content that we are not releasing yet. Once I get to that point, the first release will become available.

The first release will be a soft launch and I will only be adding new clubs manually upon request. I don’t want to open the flood gates just yet, and I’d like to get some initial feedback before I let just anyone create a club.

Thanks for reading!

Multiple Releases

I’m getting to the point where I’m close to deploying the first release for the Racing Club Manager. I thought I should inform anyone that is actually paying attention what my release plans are. Instead of releasing the ENTIRE site at once in a completed state, I am going to deploy multiple releases over time. This approach allows me to get features of the site out faster with less bugs. The first release contains the following features:

Race Management
Race management includes things like setting up series, scheduling races, inputting results, managing racers, and points templates.
Club Profile
Your club profile includes the name of your club, your club personality, whether or not you are currently accepting requests to join, and the ability to write a description or any information people should know about your club.

This release is like the bare bones of the site. It includes everything you would need to start your club, schedule races and record the results.

Right now we don’t support a club having more than 1 game associated, so future releases will get us to the point where just because say Forza 6 comes out, you won’t have to start a whole new club to track those results. It will be a seamless transition with no extra set-up required.

Another future release will be the ability to track results where your racing series requires racers to be on a team. I know team racing and team scoring should be a point of emphasis and we will be working toward implementing the best solution possible. We just don’t know what that is yet and will be working on it in the near future.

I’m sure lots of feedback will be coming in and we will be able to create a FAQ that is easily searchable.

Another release is going to have to be filtering for a lot of features. Searching for a club will become impossible after a while unless we implement some filtering options. Also, the all races completed view can become unruly after just a few months of racing.

If you are reading this and think of anything else that I might be missing, be sure to contact me or leave a comment and I’ll prioritize it and get it done.

Thanks for reading!