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whereyougonnabe?
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whereyougonnabe release October 2008

October 11, 2008 – 7:55 pm by Peter Batty

This week we added quite a number of new capabilities to whereyougonnabe. First I should probably mention our improved help documentation, which explains how to get the most out of whereyougonnabe. Please check it out!

We have added an RSS feed capability, which lets you easily view data from whereyougonnabe from outside the application, for example in web home pages like My Yahoo or iGoogle. The following is an example:

whereyougonnabe RSS feed

You can click through on any element to see more details in whereyougonnabe:

whereyougonnabe RSS feed clickthrough to map

We now use similar external links which take you directly to a given activity in various places where you see data outside whereyougonnabe, including Facebook status and newsfeeds, Twitter messages, and iCal feeds. People will only be able to see the details if they are authorized to do so (i.e. typically if they are your friend on Facebook).

For the geo-techies amongst you, the RSS feed is actually a GeoRSS feed, so you can display elements on a map in software which supports GeoRSS, such as Google Maps (just copy the feed URL into the search box):

whereyougonnabe GeoRSS feed

You can now automatically update Fire Eagle with your location from whereyougonnabe - this is a service from Yahoo which lets you share your location between different applications. This is easy to set up.

One of the most useful aspects of whereyougonnabe is the ability to automatically import data about activities from other systems, including calendar software such as Outlook or Google Calendar, or travel itineraries from Tripit. Check out our synchronization overview if you’re not already using these capabilities. In the latest release we have added a “Sync” button at the top right, which runs sync on demand and displays information about what the system is doing, which is helpful to verify that everything is working as expected, or to diagnose problems if it is not. Sync also runs behind the scenes every night and whenever you log in to whereyougonnabe.

We now support the ability to send an SMS message to friends from within whereyougonnabe, if they have authorized this on their settings page. And we have enhanced our support for the Facebook newsfeed, so you friends can see more information when you create activities in whereyougonnabe.

We have improved the way that we search for businesses when you create activities, and made several improvements to WYTV.

whereyougonnabe release September 4

September 4, 2008 – 7:32 am by Peter Batty

We are pleased to announce another new release of whereyougonnabe.

Some key features include:

  1. WYTV, a new animated map display inspired by the cool Twittervision, but using data from whereyougonnabe. This displays an interesting mix of activities from your friends and public activities from other users. You can click through on friends’ activities to see more details.
  2. Calendar synchronization now uses Google Local Search, based on the context of which city you’ve told us you’re in. So if you’re in Denver, CO and you put a location of “1100 Broadway” or “Apple Store” on an activity in your calendar that week, it will find a suitable location in Denver.
  3. We now support display of distances in kilometers as well as miles, a request we have had from several users. If your home is in the US or UK the default setting is miles, elsewhere it is km. You can change your preference on the settings page.
  4. The experience for new users is improved – when you add the application you can immediately view data from your friends, or public activities from other users, without having to enter any data. Users just need to tell us their home location before creating their own activities.
  5. Various small usability improvements and bug fixes.

As always, we welcome your feedback on the new features, and ideas for further improvements. We will have another new release coming very shortly with a number of things that didn’t quite make it in time for this one.

wytv Screenshot

Presentation on whereyougonnabe at GeoWeb

July 24, 2008 – 4:10 pm by Peter Batty

Peter talked about what we’re doing and where we’re going at the GeoWeb conference in Vancouver in July 2008, and we were pleased at the amount of interest we received.

GeoWeb presentation: The Power of Future Location for Social Networking from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

 

whereyougonnabe July 2008 release

July 14, 2008 – 6:17 am by Peter Batty

We are pleased to announce a major upgrade to whereyougonnabe. A quick way to get an overview of our new features is to watch this short video:


whereyougonnabe July 2008 release overview from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

A major focus for this release has been on integration with other systems, especially on the ability to import activities. We can import activities from the following systems:

  • Tripit, a great site for managing travel itineraries. The best feature of this is that you can just forward your email travel itinerary to plans@tripit.com, and then all your travel details, including all the airports you will be at, will automatically appear in whereyougonnabe.
  • Google calendar – just make sure you have a valid address in the “Location” field for an activity, and add the text “wygb” somewhere in the title or description, and we will bring that event into whereyougonnabe. You can sync with Google Calendar from other major calendar systems including Outlook (see here).
  • Dopplr, a site focused on future plans for frequent travelers. All your dopplr trips will automatically appear in whereyougonnabe also.

These capabilities are a big step in making it easier to get data into whereyougonnabe, though they are just a beginning. We have lots of ideas for expanding them, but would love to hear from you about your ideas, and about any issues you have using these new features. You set up all these connections on the Settings page – we have brief instructions there, and you can check out our step by step videos

We also have new ways to share information from whereyougonnabe. First, you can view all your whereyougonnabe activities, including information on the friends you will be close to, in your regular calendar program, via an iCal feed. You can find this in the settings page also. Secondly, you have the option of updating your status in Facebook automatically when an activity begins and ends – we will reset the status to what it was before the activity started. And thirdly, you can send a message to Twitter when an activity begins.

We have also made extensive changes to the way we determine interactions with your friends, and how we decide what to notify you about. In general, you will see some more information about interactions close to home than you did before, and we now handle overlapping interactions very robustly. We have recalculated interactions using the new approach, so you will probably receive a second email from us tonight only saying that you have new interactions, some of which you may have seen before.

There are a variety of other fixes and enhancements in various areas of the application.

As always, let us know if you have feedback on any aspects of the system in our forums. In our next release, a major theme will be improvements to the usability of the system – we have a lot of ideas and plans that we are excited about in this area.

New release of whereyougonnabe

May 5, 2008 – 8:39 pm by Peter Batty

Well, we’ve been busy in the three weeks since we released our first beta of whereyougonnabe, and today we put out some significant improvements, including support for the Safari web browser, email notification when we find close interactions with your friends, a cool Facebook profile widget, the ability to easily re-use previous locations, and a number of other usability improvements and bug fixes.

This is what the new profile widget looks like:
whereyougonnabe profile screenshot

A major focus for us is making it very easy to create activities, and we have added the ability to dynamically select previously created locations. This is a screen shot showing how this looks on the create activity screen:
whereyougonnabe saved locations
We also took some of Stefan’s comments to heart, and have made the activity title optional, so you can just say “Peter will be in Boulder” rather than “Peter will be working in Boulder”. As well as giving you more flexibility this makes it faster to create activities, as the minimal things you need to specify now are a location, plus start date and end date (which both default to today) - but you have options to enter various other details if you want to. We also fixed an issue with handling accented characters.

We will now email you when we find that you are going to be close to some of your friends, which is just the first step in providing a range of notification capabilities.

We have a lot more things in the pipeline, including further Facebook integration (support for the newsfeed and minifeed coming very soon, plus the ability to set your Facebook status when an activity starts), our first steps in calendar integration, and a simplified interface suitable for mobile browsers.

If you haven’t signed up yet or you want to check out the new features, you can do so here. And we welcome your feedback on our new forums (or feel free to email me).

Announcing beta availability of whereyougonnabe

April 15, 2008 – 3:16 pm by Peter Batty

Well, after a lot of effort over the past six months or so, and having been in alpha testing for the past couple of months, we have now declared our “where you gonna be” application to be in beta and opened it up to the world. Thanks to my co-developers Glen and Nate for all their efforts in getting us to this point! There are still a huge number of things on our to do list of course, and you will see a lot more very cool functionality appearing over the next couple of months, but we wanted to get the basic application out there to start building up some users and get feedback from more people. See the following video for a general introduction to the application (I strongly recommend clicking on the link underneath the video and selecting full screen HD if you have a fast connection, the quality is much better):


Introduction to whereyougonnabe from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

The key idea of the system is that you and your friends tell us where and when you will be doing things in the future, and we look at this information to tell you when you will be close by to your friends. Even if you end up not being close to your friends, we give you various ways to see what they are doing, which is a good way of keeping up with them in a similar way to Facebook status messages or Twitter, but in a richer fashion which adds both a spatial and temporal element - the ability to display what they are doing on a map, and see what they are doing over time, rather than just right now. This focus on the future is our biggest differentiator - there are lots of systems focused on where you are right now (and we see lots of opportunities for integrating with them, but that’s a topic for a future post).

Future location has two significant advantages over current location. The first is that if you only find out right now that a friend is close by, the chances are that one or other of you already has commitments and so you can’t meet up. But if you knew yesterday or last week that you would be close by, you could have worked out your schedule so that you could meet up. Secondly, “where are you now” applications typically require a location-aware phone, and these still don’t have big enough market penetration to really give this type of application the critical mass that it needs to take off. All you need to use our application is a web browser. Of course, the challenge of future location is that you can’t infer it automatically, so one of the critical success factors for us is making it very easy to create activities. Currently this is a manual process, which we have tried to make as easy as possible, but this is an area where you will see a lot of new functionality over the next month or two, with much more in the way of calendar integration and functionality to make it much easier to create a trip with multiple activities.

We have a precise spatial and temporal resolution, unlike other applications we have seen in this space, which tend to have spatial resolution of a city and temporal resolution of a day. This means we have many local applications as well as more global ones - like identifying which friends will be in an airport at the same time as you, or identifying opportunities to coordinate rides when transporting kids to after school activities, or working out which friends will be in bars close to you this Friday night.

We have developed what we think is a very cool interface to Google Earth, which leverages its time capabilities nicely. Check out the following video to get a flavor of this (again, I strongly recommend clicking on the link beneath the video and then displaying the full screen HD version):


whereyougonnabe integration with Google Earth from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

Our application currently runs on the Facebook Platform. The big advantage of this is that you don’t need to re-enter your network of friends, you can just leverage the existing social graph that you have in Facebook. In future we will support other social and business networking systems - LinkedIn is an obvious target for the business traveler, and of course OpenSocial is on our list too.

So anyway, please give the application a try and let us know what you think. Now that we have the beta release out “in the wild” I’ll be blogging a lot more about some of the technology behind it and some of the things we plan to do in the future.

We have moved to beta!

April 11, 2008 – 3:03 pm by Peter Batty

Today we released the beta version of whereyougonnabe! Thanks to all our alpha testers for their help up to this point. The system is now open for you to invite more friends, who can join without the special approval process we had during the alpha. We plan to just let the number of users grow quietly for a few more days, before publicizing our availability more widely. So any of you who have blogs etc, please hold off for a few more days before mentioning that the system is now available. Thanks!

There are of course many, many more things on our to do list, but we feel we have built a great core system and infrastructure, and you will see a lot more functionality coming along pretty quickly. We’ll discuss our plans more both in this blog and in our forums. Please use the forums to give us your feedback and suggestions.