The Official RunTrackr Blog

Main menu:


Archive

Previous location now saved

Just a quick note, we’ve added a nice little feature that saves your previous location when you create a route, so creating multiple routes in the same location should be a fair bit easier now as the location will default to the last used.

Hope you enjoy the feature, and do let us know if you encounter any problems!

Training Log now showing pace times

We’ve made a minor update to the Training Log feature of RunTrackr.  It now shows the pace times for each of your runs, in minutes:seconds per mile or kilometer, depending on what you’ve set in your profile.  Furthermore, we’ve enhanced the training log so that you can input your distance in either miles or kilometers, again, depending on your preferences.  This is something we obviously should have had since the start and the reason that it only supported kilometers up until this point was more an artifact of our metric upbringing than anything else.

First, select your preferred distance units from below:

profile-distance-units

The Training log will now happily respect your choice!

training-log-distance-units

You now no longer need to rely on tools to do the conversion and can instead work in your native units of choice.

The value of feedback

Getting feedback from your users is one of the most important aspects of software development, especially if you’re offering a service that people will directly use. The earlier you involve users to get feedback, the less your chances of delivering a product that fails the user in some way. Of course, there are some ground rules you need as well, to make sure that your developers don’t get inundated with too many tangential requests that distract them from the overall goal.

Here at RunTrackr, we’ve always valued your feedback and have provided a contact form from day one for this reason. However, the contact form was somewhat spartan and did not attract a lot of attention.

Today, that’s changing. Thanks to the excellent UserVoice service, we’ve launched a centralized place for getting user feedback. If you have a problem with the service, or think you have found a bug, this is the place to report it. We also encourage you to enter your ideas/suggestions for new features so that we can get a better idea of how to improve the service for you!

Don’t worry about having to bookmark that feedback URL, though. We’ve installed UserVoice’s widget so that a feedback tab will appear on the site, so you’ll never be more than a click away from submitting your idea when one pops into your head.

It’s fairly unobtrusive, but let us know if you have any troubles. We’ve also added a link to the bottom of the page for reporting bugs, next to the contact link.

For the time being, we’ve entered some ideas for features that we have planned. See if any are to your liking and don’t be afraid to recommend more!

Training Log Totals

Training isn’t easy. With all the obligations of modern life, it can be hard to find time to exercise. But we find time, whether it’s waking up before the sun rises, sacrificing lunch time or running late at night after work. One thing that can help you keep up the habit is a proper training log, where you can record your progress. By keeping track of your goals and progress, you provide yourself with a powerful incentive to maintain your regimen.

We’ve always provided a training log since day one, which easily allowed you to link your running records directly with your created routes or your favorite routes. However, it’s been a little primitive. In order for it to be more valuable, your training log needs to show cumulative totals, so that’s what we’ve added.

Currently, we show your totals for current week (starting from Sunday), current month and the current year. Eventually, we plan to allow for more detailed statistics, showing total for every previous week/month/year, along with charts and graphs. (Here at RunTrackr, we’re geeks for things like stats)

Persistent Login now working

It happens all too often: You’ll be so preoccupied with so many details that you’ll often overlook something so simple yet so essential. For us, that was persistent login, known to many as the “Remember Me” feature. Well, today we’re happy to report that this has finally been fixed!

Your login will now persist for four weeks instead of an indeterminate amount of time. We’ve debated on exactly how long we should allow login to persist and whether or not to reveal the length on the login page since most people won’t care. Some tweaks are likely.

For now, enjoy not having to enter your password each time – and do let us know if you run into any issues.

Improving search with suggestions

Search is the most important feature. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it might as well not exist. So today, we’re rolling out a small, but useful feature that allows you to search for routes better: Suggestions.

The Google Maps API we use is very robust and good in finding the location you’ve searched for. However, sometimes it returns multiple matches or suggestions for commonly-used names for locations, like “Whitfield” or “Belleville”. Before, when this happened, you got a somewhat nasty-looking message like this:

This was basically using a JavaScript window.alert and it isn’t very user-friendly. Besides being bad since it interrupts your work flow, the look & feel of the dialog will not be consistent with the UI of your site, since the browser generally determines the appearance of the alert windows. (In particular, Opera presents an alert window that looks very exotic, but all of the browsers have this to some degree) This is why many web applications opt to use their own UI for notification, even when it involves a more complex solution.

To fix that we now display the suggestions directly under the search field if the need arises. Let’s say you search for “Belleville”. Instead of getting that nasty pop-up alert box, you now get something a little more soothing:

Clicking any of the suggestions sets the location to that one. Neat and simple – the way all software should be.

Browse over search

Over here at RunTrackr, we’re firm believers in the power of search. You shouldn’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time manually looking for what you want.

To this end, we made sure that a robust search function was available from day one – though we’re working on improving that as well. (Nothing is perfect or ever will be!)

However, we do realize that some people like to browse, perhaps because they don’t yet know exactly what they’re looking for and just would like some general ideas of running routes, not necessary in a certain area or location.

Thus, we’ve launched a browse section where you can peruse routes at your leisure. This feature is still somewhat in beta, so that’s why it’s not yet “official”. It’s fairly basic, but it allows you to easily run through the available public routes on the site.

Upcoming improvements

The mantra on Google Code’s hosting page is “Release Early, release often”. No where else does this apply more than to web applications; with traditional desktop software, releasing often means you have to have a robust upgrade solution in order to push out releases to your users. With web applications, the virtually the entire package runs on a server that you control, mitigating any such worries. (Though things like Gears help bridge the gap between web and desktop applications)

When we first launched RunTrackr our aim was a basic, yet functional application that would appeal to 90% of our users, who just wanted to create a running route and get basic stats like distance. However, it has never been our intention to stop at this.

Time permitting, we’re planning on the following improvements:

  • Training Log: Weekly/monthly/cumulative totals along with graphs and charts
  • Annotation of routes/maps to point out interesting features
  • A `Browse` section for those who would rather do this than search
  • Performance: Making the map-enabled portions of the site faster

These are just a few things we have on our minds at the moment. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any comments! (Or post them below!)

Route Privacy options now available

RunTrackr was designed with one underlying principle in mind: To help others accomplish their fitness goals. To this end, we encourage sharing; up until this point, all routes created by all users have been public and viewable by anyone, whether they’ve registered or not.

However we also recognize that many would like to maintain their privacy online. Since one’s own running routes will naturally correlate with one’s geographic location, it is understandable that many will not want to post their routes online for all to see. To fix this, we have implemented Route Privacy options. You will now be able to mark any routes you’ve created as private, meaning only you will be able to view or do anything with them. Here’s a quick overview of the new options.

Marking a route as private

Marking a route as private can be done when creating a new route or editing an existing one. The option is a checkbox clearly marked with a Lock icon.

By default routes are not marked as private (as we encourage sharing) so you will have to check it yourself. After the route has been saved, when viewing it you will be reminded that you are the only one who can see it.

Additionally, when you view the route under “My Routes”, it will be marked as private:

It’s important to know that the best measures for ensuring online privacy is to choose a username that doesn’t match with your real one. (We never reveal your e-mail address) By default, you don’t have to supply any other personal information to RunTrackr, and we intend to keep it that way for the time being. Any other concerns can be addressed by our Privacy Policy.

Thanks, and keep RunTracking!

Announcing RunTrackr: Create and track running route distances easily!

I’ve just launched RunTrackr. (Something I hinted at a little while ago) It’s a site where you can create a running route in order to track, among other things, distances. It’s designed to be a tool to aid anyone who runs/jogs a lot, either recreationally or for training. A training log is also provided so that you can easily keep track of your running records and record your progress during training or just to watch your personal improvement.

Here’s a quick overview of what’s possible with RunTrackr as well as what we have in store for the future in terms of improvements to the site.

Adding/Creating a route

Creating a route probably the main reason you’d want to use RunTrackr. By creating a running route, you can measure its distance and keep track of it in your training log every time you run it.

RunTrackr Preview

Plotting a route is very easy; all you need to do is enter your location (Eg. “Belleville, ON”) and then click to add points. Existing points can be dragged around to alter the route. When you’re done, just click “Save Route” to finalize! You can also choose to enter a short description, tag your route with descriptive labels or rate your route’s difficulty.

Later on, I plan to add support for uploading automatically-generated routes/plots from GPS devices like those from Garmin, et al. This will make adding routes even easier for those who have access to such devices.

Searching for routes

Searching for routes is a great way to find running routes in your area submitted by other people. Simply enter a location and click “Search”.

RunTrackr Preview

If any routes are found, their location will show up on the map as markers and in the sidebar listing. Clicking on one brings up a preview of what the route looks like; clicking the preview image takes you to a full-sized view where you can see other statistics about the route.

Viewing routes

Going to the full view of a route brings up all of its details, such as the distance, description and any tags. You can also choose to add a route to your “Favourites” so that you can easily keep track of it in your Training Log.

RunTrackr Preview

Training Log

The Training Log allows you to keep track of the routes you’ve run and provides an easy way to record your progress. Here, each time you’ve run a route you can enter how long it took along with any other comments about the run. Calories burnt are automatically calculated based on an approximation that takes into account your weight and the distance.

RunTrackr Preview

The training log is very basic at this point and several improvements will be forthcoming, such as weekly/monthly/cumulative totals as with as some other statistics and graphics like charts and graphs. (Because everyone, myself included, loves colourful pictures)

Summing it up

Registration is optional but takes less than a minute and allows you to use fully use the service. We’ll be rolling out more features as times goes on. I regret not being able to launch this site earlier in the year (when the weather was starting to get nicer and people starting to get out more) but sometimes that’s just how things turn out.

As always, I welcome all feedback about RunTrackr, including any suggestions you might have about how to improve the service! In the meantime, please check out the site if you’re interested and enjoy your time there.