Two cool new features on Tripline today

Hi folks. We just released two cool new features today: sign in using your email address and an embeddable place list for your maps.

Sign in with your email address

We noticed in our analytics that quite a few people were using the “I forgot my username” link when signing in, so we now allow you to log in using your email address OR your username.  It’s pretty simple: just enter the email address on your Tripline account instead of your Tripline username in the first field on the sign in form.

Sign In to Tripline with username or email

 

Embeddable place lists

You can now embed the list of places from any of your public maps on your blog or website.  You can choose to embed the map player as well if you want.  Just click the [Share] button on the map page and grab the Place List embed code.

Copying code for the embeddable place list

A few things to note:

  1. We set the default width of the Place List iframe to 600px.  This is to accomodate photo display.  You can set the width narrower if you choose, but when viewers open up photos in the list, the photos will appear cropped.  If you don’t have photos, there’s nothing to worry about.
  2. The default height of the iframe is 1000px.  One of the annoying things about iframes is that there’s no reliable way to automatically determine the height, so if your list is longer than 1000px, you’ll get scroll bars.  You can always adjust the height of the iframe manually.
  3. The photoviewer is anchored to the left side of the frame (as opposed to being centered). This makes the viewing experience a bit weird when you have different sized photos, but we had to do it this way to ensure the viewer was on the screen, especially if you’ve scrolled down to a place lower in the list. Not perfect, but still pretty good.

Here’s an example from the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere:

Pretty cool huh? We hope you enjoy these updates. As usual, send an email to support@tripline.net if you have any questions.

– Byron

Tripline maps just got a lot more social

Hi folks, we just launched a new release with a bunch of new  social features that many of you have been asking for, along with some additional updates and bug fixes. Here’s the rundown:

Add Map Followers

You can now add people to your maps as followers.  This will allow them to access your map if it’s private, and they’ll also get a notification by email when you comment on the map or check in on Tripline mobile.  To add people as followers, click on the [add people] button on the map page, enter the name of the people you want to add and designate them as followers.

Adding people as followers

This new feature allows you to keep your map private while you’re on the road but still keep close friends and family updated.  Now, when your flight lands, just check in once on Tripline mobile and all your followers will get an email right away. And, if you’ve made a change to your travel plans and want to let your followers know, just comment on the map page and they’ll be notified as well.

You can also use this feature to follow other people’s maps that you’re interested in.  Just click [follow this map] on the map page and you’ll be added as a follower.

One thing to note when you invite Facebook friends either as travelers or followers.  Because Facebook doesn’t provide the ability to send messages to friends behind the scenes (to prevent spamming), when you invite a Facebook friend to join a Tripline map, we pop a Send dialog that will allow you to message your friends directly.  Facebook only allows one friend to be pre-populated in the to: field of the message dialog, so if you’ve invited more than one person from Facebook, you’ll need to enter their names again (we pre-populate the first one).  Sorry, but there’s no way around this presently given Facebook’s API limitations.  They are planning a new messaging service soon, so perhaps this workaround will go away soon.

Waypoint Comments

You can now comment on individual waypoints in a map.  Just click the speech bubble icon to the right of the waypoint title and a comment entry field will open up.

Adding a comment to an individual waypoint

 

Post Tripline Checkins To Facebook & Twitter

There’s a new option on your account page that you can use to enable posting of your Tripline checkins to Facebook and/or Twitter.  If you choose to post your checkins to Facebook, a notification will be posted into your Facebook feed when you check in on any map that has a visibility of “public” or “friends”.  If you enable posting of Tripline checkins to Twitter, a notification will be posted into your Twitter timeline when you check in on any map that has a visibility of “public”.  No notifications will be posted anywhere when you checkin on private maps.  To enable these options, click on [settings] in the Tripline header.

Import Facebook Checkins

You can now create a map by importing your Facebook checkins.  Once you’ve connected your Facebook account to Tripline, click on [create a map] in the header and you’ll see the option to create a map from your Facebook checkins on the right side of the page.  One note: For technical reasons we’ve limited this to your most recent 100 Facebook checkins.  We’ll open up full history as soon as possible.

Sharing Options On The Map Page

We’ve added some additional sharing options on the map page, including iframe embed code, and an option to embed a thumbnail image that links to your map page (which is a good option if your blogging platform doesn’t allow flash embeds – like free blogs hosted on wordpress.com).  There’s a new share button on the map page that you can use to access these new items.

Maps On Your Profile Page

There are now three different maps available for your profile page:

  1. Places I’ve Been – shows all waypoints from your public maps + waypoints from your maps visible to friends when a friend is viewing your page + all waypoints from all of your trips when you’re viewing your own page
  2. Places I’m Following – shows any place that you’re following
  3. My Maps – shows all of your public maps + maps visible to friends when a friend is viewing your page + all of your maps when you’re viewing your own page

A few things to note about your profile page maps

  • You may notice some waypoints displayed on the Places I’ve Been view that you’ve already removed from one of your maps.  To remove those old points, just edit each of your maps and save them. The old points will be removed.
  • You can choose which map you want to display by default.  Just click on [settings] in the header and scroll down to the Profile Map option under your bio.
  • If you want to see the public view of your own page, there’s a public view link underneath your stats on your profile page to see the public view.
  • For the My Maps option,  the points displayed are located at the place you’ve specified as the Main Location of the map, or the calculated centerpoint of the map if your map’s main location is blank.  You can change the Main Location of the map in the editor on the map page.

Add Places Using Lat/Lng Coordinates

You can now enter lat/long coordinates in the editor to create a new waypoint.  Just select the geocoder option in the [add places] section of the editor and enter decimal coordinates in the typical lat,lng format:  37.235, -115.811111  If the geocoder finds a real-world address for those coordinates, it will be displayed.  Otherwise, it will display the entered coordinates as the place title and you can add that as a waypoint.

A few other notes

We haven’t seen too much uptake on the Question & Answer functionality we deployed a few months ago, but we decided to leave it on the site while we make some adjustments to how it works.  Stay tuned for updates.

We know a lot of you have asked for us to implement “follow roads” in the map editor.  That’s in progress and we hope to make it available for you soon.  We know it’s a much-needed feature, and we want to make sure we do it right.

We’ve also fixed a bunch of bugs, made some performance improvements and adjusted some design elements to improve the experience.   If you have any issues, you can email support@tripline.net with questions.

Enjoy!

– Byron

Mapping Tornados On Tripline

April, May and June of 2011 saw some of the most severe tornados in recent memory. Beginning with the F4 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama on April 27, followed closely by the massively destructive tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and most recently the Springfield-Monson tornado in my home state of Massachusetts. All in all, these storms killed hundreds of people, caused catastrophic damage to thousands of homes and are likely to leave a massive impact on the affected communities for years to come.

Tripline user NewMappers created tracks for each of these storms as news reports came in, and continued to update the maps as details emerged, including matching the track with the official NOAA/NWS reports when they were made available in the weeks following the storms. It’s a great example of using Tripline to create location-based content.

In total, the maps have been viewed more than 80,000 times, with the map from the Joplin Tornado receiving more than 60,000 views. Two Tripline users also used our new Q&A feature to ask about specific areas of damage in Joplin. You can see these on the Joplin Tornado topic page. We’re very glad that this new functionality was helpful.

Lastly, while we’re happy to have more people on Tripline, given the tragic nature of these events, we decided to use the promotional space on the map page that’s usually reserved for advertising to provide highly visible links to the Red Cross donation sites. We hope we were able to generate at least some additional assistance.

If you haven’t already, please go to the American Red Cross site and make a donation. Even though the media attention has faded, the need for donations is still there, so please do what you can.

– Byron

Announcing Tripline 2.0

We are very excited to announce the launch of Tripline 2.0! This is a major update to our functionality and we think you’re going to love it. Head over to the site and check out the new stuff: http://www.tripline.net

Here’s a breakdown of what’s new (it’s a lot):

Questions & Answers

We’ve added an entirely new set of features on the site that you can use to ask and answer questions related to places and/or topics. We think this is going to be a great help for all of you in planning your trips and we also hope it’s fun. Now you have a reason for you to come back to Tripline every day to see what people are asking about your favorite places and topics.

When you ask a question, you associate it with a location and/or a topic. We’ve provided some guidelines on the Ask page to help you. We’re very aware that many of you are experienced travelers that probably have more answers than questions, but we encourage you to ask questions anyway. As early members of the Tripline community, we hope that you ask great questions that will set the tone on the site.

Now the fun part: answering questions. This is the area that we’re most excited about. Of course you can answer questions with just plain text. In many cases, that’s the right way to go. But, when you see a question where a list of places on a map is the answer, you can easily attach one of your existing maps or create a new map using the Tripline Editor. When you attach a map to your answer, it will display below your answer text with all of the detail that you’ve added. People can then easily copy the places from your attached map and add them to their own maps. This type of structured answer capability is unique to Tripline and we hope you have a lot of fun with it.

Your will also be able to upvote good answers and downvote answers that you feel miss the mark. The answers with the highest aggregate score will be displayed at the top of the answer list on the question page. Votes are anonymous, so all you’ll see is a score. We hope this is a nice, easy way for the best information to rise to the top.

If you need clarification on a question, use the comment link under the question text. The person who asked the question will be notified. And, if someone provides a good answer, definitely upvote and also add a quick comment to the answer thanking them.

Above all, have fun and participate!

Place Pages

You’ll notice significant enhancements to our place pages. We’re now aggregating popular places in regions and also providing the ability for you to follow your favorite places. When you follow a place, your activity feed will display questions about that place from the community so you can jump in and share your local knowledge. Also, the map on your profile page will display the places you’re following.

Topics

Topics are now an integral part of the site. You can follow topics (like Surfing, History etc.) and you’ll see questions on those topics in your activity feed. When you see a question that you know the answer to, jump in and participate! Also, topics you’re following will be displayed under the map on your profile page. Note: We’ve converted existing Characters to topics.

Trips = Maps

To be as flexible as possible we’ve decided to change the term “trip” to “map”, so what used to be “My Trips” is now “My Maps”. Contextually we felt that “trips” created a certain expectation of how the site should be used, and we want you to feel free to create maps for anything, not just trips 😉 Don’t worry, Tripline is still Tripline.

Your Activity Feed

You’ll notice that your activity feed is now front and center on your home page when you sign in. This gives you immediate access to activity from your friends and on all the things that you’re following. You may notice some duplicate items if your friends are asking questions about places and topics that you’re also following. We’re generating multiple records for performance reasons and we’ll continue to clean up the feed over time.

Typeahead Search

You’ll notice a new search box in the header. It’s a typeahead search that you can use to quickly find what you’re looking for. Give it a try. Right now the minimum query length is 4 characters, and we’ll be shortening that in the next couple of days. We’re also in the process of removing duplicate results from search.

Other Notes

  • All existing site and mobile functionality is still available
  • Map thumbnails will now launch a player in a popup window
  • When you create a new map, we’ll zoom you to your start location, but we won’t add an initial waypoint. We felt that was a better experience.
  • We’ve moved the Lines/No Lines selector in the editor onto the map controls.
  • Our Facebook app is temporarily unavailable while we add all of this new stuff. You can still sign in with Facebook on the main site and share into your feed. The Facebook app itself will be back online in a few days.
  • Over the next few days, we’re going to be cleaning up a lot of duplicate waypoints in the database. For the time being, you may see quite a few duplicates. Bear with us as we get this done.

Whew! That’s it for now. We really hope you enjoy this release. If you have questions, you can now use Tripline to ask questions about Tripline itself: http://www.tripline.net/topic/Tripline We’ll be sure to answer those as quickly as we can.

Have fun,

Byron & The Tripline Team