Feature Updates - March 2016

Date

March 16, 2016 by Brian Ghidinelli

I promised last year to update you more regularly on the changes we're making to MotorsportReg. We typically deploy updates 3-6 times per week and as we've grown the team over the past year, the rate of those changes has increased so let's catch up!

While we focus on the frequently requested and bigger changes, there are a slew of updates in the Quick Hits section. Make sure to skim for gold nuggets!

Form Builder & Registration Improvements

There are lots of ways to capture information online - the reason why 1,000 clubs, racetracks and sanctioning bodies turn to MotorsportReg is because we enforce their motorsport-specific entry requirements in an easy-to-register experience for participants. We've made that better for organizers and participants.

The Form Builder received a healthy dose of attention in tracking down and eliminating rare errors, better save support when adding inventory items and we resolved the annoying permissions error which was caused by an unintentional session timeout.

On the user-facing side, Dan (who wrote his first blog last week) performed surgery on the style sheets streamlining spacing and borders to give your forms a fresh but familiar look. One of our most powerful tools for reducing complexity - the ability to conditionally hide options that aren't relevant to the participant - has been refined in the design update leading to more successful registrations.

As organizations find new ways to use MotorsportReg, we've encountered longer and more complex entry forms. We spent significant engineering time on improving the performance of processing large forms. Taking into account that some processing times are outside of our control (like for membership verification or payment process, which rely on third parties to answer our requests), Dan introduced full-screen loading animations that keeps the user entertained to reduce abandoned registration attempts.

Finally, logging revealed that many users arrive at a registration form and fill it out halfway only to be interrupted by work or family or... that... shiny thing out the window… wait, where was I??  Right, so some people get distracted while filling out the form or when looking for their credit card and the session times out causing them to start over. For security reasons, we don't leave users permanently logged in but we've made a change for the registration flow to keep sessions alive longer helping participants get signed up. While a small tweak, it results in more people entering your events and we've already seen the positive impact of this update. 

New Help Docs

In the same way we make design or feature improvements, we also look at other aspects of how we deliver MotorsportReg such as support. Last year we evaluated our written documentation and, while it was detailed and complete, it was also long and hard to skim. Many questions we receive from attendees and organizers were addressed but it wasn't easy to find the answers. We're happy to announce that it's been completely refreshed!

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Now, when clicking "Help" on any page on MotorsportReg, you'll be greeted by a search-optimized window to help you find answers fast and show you the result without leaving the page. We worked with knowledge management expert (and SCCA club racer) David Kay to refine our approach and style. We are still learning but the number of answered queries is way up and we are adding new answers all the time.

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Our new docs are integrated with our customer service tool (Help Scout) so it's easier for us to keep the docs up to date. In addition to usage metrics we track, we've also added a comment form to collect your feedback on each topic to help us refine the content.

You can access the new docs by clicking the "Help" link on any page of MotorsportReg or by going directly to the search page:

If you haven't peeked in awhile, take a second look and let us know what you think!  

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Since launching our REST API years ago, we have collaborated with many clubs, racetracks and sanctioning bodies in building custom integrations. It's the best of both worlds - they get all of our capabilities and customer support out of the box and they can handle their highly customized needs with only minor extensions saving months of time and thousands of dollars. 

Our first example generates random discount codes for bulk disbursement. Creating discounts via the API offers a quick and easy way to generate hundreds of thousands of unique codes.

Using the popular command-line utility curl, we can create one discount code:

curl -u <username>:<password> -H "X-Organization-Id: <your-id-here>" -d '{"code": "UNIQUECODE", "amount": 10, "percentage": true, "each": 1, "quantity": 1, "end": "2017-01-01 00:00:00"}' -X POST https://api.motorsportreg.com/rest/discounts.json

This would result in a coupon "UNIQUECODE" redeemable one time by one person for 10% off through the end of 2016. You can specify an arbitrary amount by setting percentage to false to make this worth €/£/$10.00 instead.

Need a thousand codes for a daily deal site? Want to issue new member discounts on a print mail piece? Have a loyalty program where each participant gets a discount towards their next event? Randomize the code inside a simple loop and this command can generate any number of discounts!

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The second example is a custom tech sticker. TrackDaz is a Southern California motorcycle track day group who prints unique tech stickers for each event and run group.

The entry list is retrieved via the API and processed with a custom script and printed on Avery 5160 labels. Each high-resolution label is generated using HTML5 Canvas elements and CSS. Each time the stickers are printed, run groups are assigned random colors and 40 blank stickers are printed for walk-up entries or run group changes. 

The unique colors and design guarantee that pit lane staff can quickly identify riders who should (or shouldn't...) be in a particular session.

Charge Arbitrary Payment Amounts

One of our missions in life is to "automate tasks", so when you charge a credit card, the amount was calculated for you based on the order total. But one of our other missions in life is to "let you fudge the system when you know better than the computer". There are times when you want to charge something other than the list price. Maybe someone showed up late and is only participating for half the day? Or maybe you want to charge a deposit up front or split a season entry into a few installments?

Whatever the reason, you can now edit the amount to charge when your event is set to process at the time of registration. This will be super handy for all you wheelers-and-dealers.

Quick Hits

Here are additional changes that resolve feature requests or bug reports. Most of these requests come directly from you! 

  • When one participant registers another, we share the garage, except we weren't always sharing it. That bug has been squashed and the garage is now properly washed, waxed and parked (in our mind, we picture a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO... you??)
  • The transponder field has been lengthened to accept two (MyLaps) transponders separated by a comma for endurance or professional races when a backup transponder is used. Thanks to Ralph @ Canadian Timing Association for the suggestion.
  • Our Joomla 2.5 and 3.5 calendar plugins - which dynamically update your website - would freak out when only one event was listed. They were hungry. Hungry for more events! We provided the plugins with a lifetime supply of kibble and they now display even a single, lonely, sad event. Thanks to Jeff @ PCA Riesentoter for helping us track this down.
  • The administrative attendee list displays the actual balance due instead of a "$$$" indicator.
  • In the Student-Instructor pairing tool, instructor class or group is displayed to help better assign instructors based on their schedule. Thanks to Jeff @ COMSCC for the suggestion.
  • Custom vehicle questions, introduced last year, are available via the REST API along with created and updated timestamps. One group is using those questions to generate custom tech inspection forms.
  • Assigned numbers for a number pool can now be exported to Excel. Number pools can also be deleted (they were quite stubborn before). Don't forget you can also copy numbers between pools when starting a new season or for merging pools together.
  • We added a new participant history report which includes logbook entries from other organizations. This paints a more complete picture of feedback on an individual when they are new or returning to your program and when you share students and instructors with nearby clubs. Thanks to Michael @ PCA Potomac for help with this.
  • Canadian and European style dates weren't always filtering properly in reports. We've taught them how to Parlez-vous Français.

 

UPDATE - Photo & File Uploads

Since introducing profile and vehicle photos and file uploads in October, nearly 13,000 pictures have been uploaded! Images for profile photos, race licenses, medical forms, tech inspection sheets and supplemental regulations are collected by event organizers. Remember, you can now upload, insert images and attach files to your emails as well.

Profile images uploaded by participants are available via our REST API and are used to print licenses and membership cards.

Motorsport event organizer tools

Topics: Features, API

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