It is with both mild surprise and huge delight that I can announce that Live Brum has reached the ripe old age of two. Two years! The usual ‘has it really been that long’ comments mingle with ‘feels like ten years’ to show that time is different for each of us.
To celebrate our first birthday we launched an entire new design. This year I have something slightly different but first a bit of background.
There are two key aspects to running Live Brum. The first is the maintenance of the listings. This is a big deal and, two years ago, was the biggest hurdle to overcome. There was, naturally, some doubt that we would be able to sustain the site in the longer term. I’m delighted to say that due to a small number of dedicated volunteers, the listings remain impressively up-to-date. We can’t guarantee to show everything that’s on in Birmingham but I think we are amongst the most comprehensive and reliable of your options. Most of this isn’t down to me.
In particular, Live Brum has one amazing volunteer who enters more data than everyone else put together. This person wishes to remain anonymous – and we must respect that – but we all owe them our gratitude for an incredible ongoing effort.
Right now we have approaching 26000 events in the database of which about 3500 are upcoming events. Events are being added at a rate of just over 1000 per month.
Before patting ourselves on the back too much though, this is not true of all related projects. Digital Brum limps along with just enough data to be useful. That’s pretty impressive actually as I haven’t personally entered an event on there for months. One or two more volunteers who could enter a couple of events a week would get that ship shape. Anybody?
Art Brum meanwhile is in the doldrums. Volunteers haven’t stepped forward to help with that one and while I thought I could maintain it, turns out I was wrong. As ever I just don’t have enough time. Again, if anyone wanted to volunteer to do some data entry then that would be delightful.
And then there’s All Brum. This shows the entire contents of the database. Live, Digital, Art and a few stray categories with little in them – results of half-developed ideas that petered out. People do use All Brum but it only gets about 10% of the traffic of Live Brum and, more to the point, it depresses me.
So, good and bad on the data entry front. But more good than bad overall.
The second aspect of running Live Brum is the maintenance and development of the code powering it. This has had precious little attention in recent months and is becoming a concern.
This code is also in use now on The Isle of Wight, in Worcester and the global Kiting Community amongst others. Similarly, the data is being used by an increasing variety of other sites and I am painfully aware how awkward some of the feeds are to re-use on your own sites.
I have a list a mile long of improvements I would like to make, features I would like to add, but simply haven’t found the time this year so far. This frustrates me. So it’s time to fix that.
After a bit of determined life-rearranging I am delighted to announce that from 17th May and for the forseeable future I will be spending every Monday working on Live Brum and family. That’s probably all I’m going to manage so progress isn’t going to be super fast but it will be steady and it will be ongoing.
The meat of what I have planned will have to wait for Monday 17th May, my first Live Brum day, but in short, you can expect news on the following soon.
- A place for feedback where you can tell me what you most want to see (and others can agree/disagree)
- A new space for those wanting to use the data, http://developer.livebrum.co.uk
- Live Brum will soon cover all genres including Digital and Art (not just live performances)
- All Brum will metamorphose into something slightly more general (to be defined)
- The Live Brum archives – easy access to our entire history of events in Birmingham
Ultimately I plan to start work on a new improved codebase which will lead to Live Brum version 3. However this will be some time in the making as I am not abandoning the current site where I have a raft of small improvements lined up.
Live Brum V3 will start with an API with a website to follow. The tentative plan right now is to start exposing that API to you lovely people a chunk at a time. With each release there will be example code showing you how to make use of it to put the data on your own site.
Additionally, there are some new flavours of the site brewing. A single venue version is bubbling away as is a ‘custom’ version where you can choose which venues/genres to show.
My plan is to write up my day’s work and post it to the Live Brum blog every Monday evening so you can keep track of what’s happening where.
Does this seem good to you? Sound off in the comments below and I’ll post an update on Monday 17th May (and every Monday except Bank Holidays after that).