Updates to Social Hiking – push notifications, more Adventure Bot commands, notifications centre and other bits and pieces

Over the last few weeks we (the royal we – I mean me) rolled out another update (to 1.6.1.1 if you are counting) – here are the main changes, improvements and tweaks. You can view the full list of changes at http://www.shareyouradventure.com/page/load/versions

More Adventure Bot commands

Adventure bot (advbot for short) is a tool to help you make the most of the site whilst out on your adventures – previously it (or he?) was able to send you a status of your last map and tweet on your behalf with a link back to your map.

In the latest update, the following new commands have been added:

Change map title: send a message starting with title followed by a new title, and Adventure Bot will change the title of your latest map accordingly.

Change privacy: send a message starting with privacy followed by private or public, and Adventure Bot will change the privacy of your latest map accordingly.

Example of using Adventure Bot to change icons

Change the icon of your last beacon: send a message starting with icon followed by a supported icon, and Adventure Bot will change the icon of your last beacon (if your map is live) accordingly. Supported icons are: #camp, #pub, #info, #food, #castle (or #clear to remove the icon).

To find out more about Adventure Bot, including how to set it up to use with Twitter direct messages or SPOT messages at http://support.wheredidthetigergo.co.uk/entries/21598792-Adventure-Bot

Adventure Bot has also been sped up – so your commands will be handled quicker!

Map edit button

This was personally one of the most frustratingly issue on the site – when you were looking at your map you had no easy way of editing it (instead having to find it in your list of maps). No more! If you are logged in, there is now an edit button on every one of your maps – once you have finished editing your map, you will be taken back to you map. Simple yet surprisingly beneficial!

Map edit button

The edit map button (top right under the menu) – the other icon (the heart with a plus) is how I can favourite maps!

Push notifications and the notifications centre

Pushover is a simple service which lets websites like Social Hiking send push notifications to your phone and device. To use the service you need to buy (a few £) the Pushover app, available for Android or Apple. Once you have installed the app and created an account, you can use your Pushover key to allow websites to send notifications – for Social Hiking you can enter your key under ‘Your Settings’ – ‘Notification Settings’ (if successful you will receive a welcome message on your device).

In the same section (under ‘Your Settings’ – ‘Notification Settings’) is the notifications centre – this lets you decide how you want to receive information from Social Hiking (initially only Adventure Bot responses are supported but more will be added soon). I should point out that, unlike other services (looking at you Twitter), you will never receive notifications you have not opted to receive! You can choose to receive notifications by twitter direct message, Pushover or by email – as each method supports different amounts of information, the notifications you receive are tailored for that method (for example, a ‘status’ Adventure Bot command gives more information in a Pushover notification, and slightly more again by email).

(NB you will need to save your Pushover key before Pushover becomes an option in the notifications centre).

Screenshot of Pushover notifications

Fixes / updates to third party APIs

Social Hiking uses a phenomenal number of third party APIs – sometimes they need to be upgraded and sometimes support needs to be changed to take into account their changes.

  • The OS map API has been upgraded – unfortunately their upgrade did not include the tile limit check Social Hiking uses so maps can roll back to Google Maps if required. Thankfully OS has given us a temporary upgrade on tile limit (not that I think we cross it) until the problem is fixed their end.
  • Upgrade to use the new Google Maps API , including their latest design refresh – they should work much better on mobile devices!
  • SPOT support was upgraded to their new API (that they switched to without any warning) – the upgrade includes support for SPOT3 devices.
  • Instagram commenting support has been removed, as they now restrict access to that in their API.
  • A ‘behind the scenes’ change to how Bambuser is supported (they broke the feed that we used to use)

RSS feeds and Blogtrottr links

RSS feeds are the pipework of the internet, and it is long overdue that the Social Hiking feeds were made public! There are RSS feeds for all public tracks and routes shared on the site, as well as a feed for public tracks and routes of each user – use them to store a record of your maps in services like Evernote, to perform clever processes using IFFTT, or just to get an update when your map goes live.

Blogtrottr is a handy service which sends emails (immediately or as a regular bulletin) using RSS feeds – everywhere there is a feed, there is a quick sign up to subscribe to the feed via email using Blogtrottr.

RSS and Blogtrottr icons on user profile pages

Minor changes to peak bagging

To avoid false positives (when a peak is bagged that you did not climb) and to better position bagged peaks on maps, I have reduced the tolerance needed before a peak is bagged – this means you need to share a location nearer the peak before it counts! A lot of support queries come from people who, quite rightly, want the credit for bagging a peak, so I have added some better admin functionality to make it easier for me to adjust peak bagging manually.

URL polling location sources

After a suggestion from the customer support community, I have added the functionality to support apps (for example OsmAnd and Locus) which allow url polling (where the app pings your location to a web address – essentially meaning you can use them as a location source). The implementation is not public yet, but I am looking for people who would like to test it, so if you use any app that supports URL polling, please get in touch!

This functionality also means that Social Hiking is now able to offer app developers a simple method of allowing their users to share location data with the site, so if you are an app developer (or you fancy having a go at writing an app that uses Social Hiking) then please get in touch.

Other stuff you might find interesting

There was a new security issue on Android devices using Chrome – downloaded gpx and kml files had their extension changed! Thanks to Chris Pilgrim for letting me know about the problem. I have rolled out an update which should solve the problem.

Bug fixes – like with any software, there are usually a few bugs to squash. As well as minor ‘takes up space in the logs but does not harm’ errors, there were also a few bugs from the recent updates including the full size graph links and the favourite buttons (how I can favourite maps) that have been fixed.

One of the updates includes improved map urls – rather than having separate urls for each map type, each map now has a single url (well two – a permanent url, and a visually nicer one). All the old urls (even the original ones) should still work fine. You probably will not notice any difference, but Google will and social media share counters will be more accurate (and it makes it easier for me for a future update!).

Behind the scenes, there has been a lot of code upgrades and improvements that will pay dividends for future updates planned (there is a list – an ever growing list – but a list nonetheless).

Thank you to our supporters!

Thank you to every one who has contributed on the customer support portal (http://getsatisfaction.com/shareyouradventure) – either adding your own ideas and suggestions, or ‘voting’ and commenting on other ideas. It really is a useful way for me to see what features people want, so if you have an idea please post it!

A massive thank you to the Social Hiking supporters (a full list of them are at http://www.shareyouradventure.com/supporters) – without your financial contributes I would not be able to keep the site running or be able to spend time adding new features.

If you enjoy using the site, and want to help support the site, please consider signing up as a supporter – for as little as a pint a month (in Northamptonshire at least) you can really help – find out more and sign up at http://www.shareyouradventure.com/blog/2012/07/06/help-the-development-of-social-hiking-by-becoming-a-supporte/

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4 Comments on "Updates to Social Hiking – push notifications, more Adventure Bot commands, notifications centre and other bits and pieces"

  1. Andy Bryant says:

    My, you have been busy.

    I used the title command this morning, and immediately renamed a track from 2 weeks ago, as my current track hadn’t started yet.

    I’m wondering if
    a) the title command should only apply to tracks for today (or is there a case to want to rename yesterday’s track? Not sure…)
    or
    b) could you add a pushover message for track-started? i.e. whenever the system spots a new track being started for the day, it pushovers me a message. Sort of like an automated status. I guess there would need to be a setting to turn this on/off.

    • daylightgambler says:

      Hi Andy – the title function works on the latest map (i.e it looks at all maps where the start date is less than the current time, then takes the latest one), so it would affect one from a while back if there were no other maps. I think I am comfortable with this though (subject to below).

      The idea of having a message when your map starts (i.e. when data is received) is a good one and can easily be plugged into the new notifications centre in the next update (so people can turn it on if they wish).

      The only potential discrepancy is there is a difference between a map starting and ‘going live’ – for various reasons (but mainly to suppress beacon test maps), a map goes live when it has at least two beacons (the last one within the last hour). Would you want a notification when the map starts or goes live?

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