Archive for the ‘Live Brum’ Category
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
Birmingham is a big place and there’s a lot going on. We do our best to make it easy to find things you want to go to but sometimes the sheer volume of events is overwhelming. Take this Saturday where we currently have 96 events listed. That’s a lot to wade through.
New Live Brum has improved matters. You can now filter those events by genre by clicking on the tabs at the top of the listings.
But we wanted to do better than that. So, behold, Live Brum Custom Listings. There’s a few examples on that page so you can see the sort of thing that is possible but the fun really starts when you make your own.
Make your own
Just sign up for an account and hit the big green ‘new custom listings’ button.
You’ll see a form with a few options. There are some guidance notes down the side to help you but in essence you can do one or both of the following:
Set a start point and distance
With these set, Live Brum will generate listings for events within x miles of your start point. Want to see everything within half a mile of home? Just enter your postcode and 0.5 as the distance and, bingo, your own especially local listings.
Set a search term
Got a favourite band you want to keep track of? Maybe you care about a music genre that doesn’t quite fit our standard categorisations. No problem. Just set up a custom listing with an event query and we’ll give you back results that match. Our example Reggae listings are a demonstration of this.
Combine the two
If you just want Reggae (or anything) within a certain distance then feel free to set both of the options above. Just don’t expect to get vast numbers of events back.
Every custom listing includes a genre filter, just like other pages on the site.
Every custom listing includes an RSS feed if you care about such things.
All custom listings are public. If you make a new custom listing it can be viewed by anyone. However, unless you tick the ‘share’ option then telling people about your new listings is up to you. If you do tick the ‘share’ option then your listings will show up on our custom listings page for everyone to see. We’ll also put links to the most popular shared custom listings on the home page.
While they seem to work ok, we do regard custom listings as ‘experimental’ at the moment. We’re still working on improving them. If you encounter problems then do, please, let us know.
Monday, May 14th, 2012
We’re delighted to announce that Live Brum has just relaunched. It doesn’t look dramatically different but it’s been completely rebuilt from the ground up. There are many new features but the thing you should notice immediately is the improved speed.
Live Brum is much faster now. Really fast.
When you want to know what’s on then you want to know now (trying saying that three times fast). Waiting around, even for a few seconds, becomes deeply annoying. You want to be able to casually click around, to genuinely browse the site and now you can. As long as you are on a reasonably good internet connection, pages should load almost as fast as you can click.
So what’s new?
We’ve added a few new features too. Here’s a small sample.
- You can now filter any day’s events by genre.
- The search is much improved – you can search by distance now. You can also search past events.
- We have a fancy new short link for the site. So, social media users and those who just don’t like typing, behold lb1.co. Use as you please
- Events have new short links making it easier than ever to share a link on social media
- Venues have maps now
And, after 4 years of people asking, one more tiny improvement.
- If you hover over the features on the home page you get up/down buttons so you can quickly scroll through events. Sorry it took so long.
More more more
There’s much more to come in the next few weeks. We wanted to launch now to coincide with our 4th birthday (Live Brum originally launched on May 12th 2008). To hit that deadline lots of things that are 98% finished had to be cut. We will introduce them gradually over the next few weeks.
- One week from now we’ll be opening the site up to anyone to post events. This was possible before but not much fun for any of us. It is now easy, straightforward and obvious. To add events to Live Brum just sign up and get started. (from Monday 21st May).
- One week from now you will be able to create your own custom searches. These can be created from a combination of genres, venues, search terms and distance. There are some examples on the home page now or just go straight to some example Digbeth listings.
Allbrum.co.uk is retired for now. All requests to album.co.uk are redirecting to Live Brum.
The regional variations have bitten the dust too. The maintenance was just too much. However we have a replacement…. custom searches!
So while moseley.livebrum.co.uk is no more, livebrum.co.uk/custom/moseley is new and shiny and delivering better data than it’s forebear ever did.
From next Monday you can create your own custom listings.
Developers, feed consumers
Your old RSS feeds should still work just as they always did but they are going away.
In the next couple of weeks the site will move over to a new format for feeds. We’ll be using .atom in future. For a little while both formats will exist side by side but the old RSS versions will disappear eventually. More on this in due course. You will get several weeks to make the change so no need to panic right now.
Live Brum also now has .json feeds. Again, more on this in a future post but feel free to go play.
If you find something wrong or broken then do, please, let us know and we’ll try and fix it as soon as we can. This is all new code and there’s bound to be a few things we’ve missed.
We’ll introduce you to other aspects of Live Brum in future posts but this hopefully gives you a flavour of where we’re at. Enjoy.
Monday, May 24th, 2010
It’s Monday so it’s Live Brum day. Following on from last week’s work I had intended to finish up some new WordPress widgets available for you to play with. Unfortunately I got distracted and they’re not ready yet. Soon, I promise. I did, however, get a bunch of other stuff done. Details below.
The header is now full-width in your browser. Unless you have quite a big screen this should make little difference to your life. With my big screen I find it slightly more pleasing and that’s a good enough reason. Let me know if you disagree.
Venue information is now open by default. Previously it was hidden behind a ‘more info link’. i.e. http://livebrum.co.uk/venues/hare-and-hounds. For further explanation see the two before and after screenshots below.
More images everywhere
I have been thinking about images. We have tons of great images on Live Brum and, to date, I’ve been using them with real moderation and care. Not any more. As an experiment I’m throwing up a load more preview images all over the site.
The downside of this is that the pages are a bit ‘heavier’ to load and the detailed listings start a bit lower down the page. If these are things that matter to you and you don’t like all this image nonsense then please tell me. Otherwise they’ll probably stay.
In particular, I’ve added a boatload of new images to the home page (12 actually). There’s no fancy algorithm for what get’s featured – it’s just the next 12 events coming up that have images. That’s all.
I’ve added more images to today, tomorrow and by date, i.e. 31st May.
You do know that you can look up what’s on any particular day just by changing the URL don’t you? i.e. if you type http://livebrum.co.uk/2010/05/31 you will see all events on that day. The format is simply http://livebrum.co.uk/yyyy/mm/dd if that helps.
And you do know that you can subscribe to a feed of all events on that day don’t you? So if your birthday (for instance) is on 23rd September then subscribe now. As events get added for that date your feed will update automatically.
You can subscribe in two ways. Firstly click the orange icon thingy on a particular page or just add .rss to your link. i.e. 2010/09/23.rss
Add to Google Calendar
As per the feedback from @domster and added to our shiny new feedback form, I have finally added an ‘Add to Google Calendar’ button on all the event pages. Sorry it took so long.
While I was doing that I rethought the whole venue section of an event a little bit. I’ve changed the colour and underlined the venue link to make it more visible as I think people were missing it.
I’ve opened up the performances bit if there are less than 5 performances. If you click on one of them then you get an .ics file which can go into things like iCal and other calendar software. That feature has always been there but I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it.
Oh and the times on your calendar files are right now. Cough.
Below another before and after comparison
Please do submit your feedback. I only got one request last week and if you don’t tell me what you want then I have no way of knowing what is important to you. As you have seen, you only have to ask.
At some point soon I will add a bunch of things from my todo list so you can vote them up or down and help me decide the priority of developments. You may have to bear with me though. I am insanely busy and next Monday is a bank holiday. I will probably take that day off and return to Live Brum with renewed vigour on Monday 7th June.
Monday, May 17th, 2010
As per the plan I spent today working on Live Brum.
Much of the day was spent catching up on correspondence. The firstname.lastname@example.org inbox had got wildly out of hand but is now sorted and under control. But look, if you are waiting for a reply from me and haven’t had it then please email me again as I may have missed your message. From here on in you can always expect a reply by the following Monday at the very latest.
As ever, events information that you send to email@example.com will continue to be dealt with as soon as possible but almost always within 24 hours.
Dealing with the Live Brum email backlog took longer than I anticipated but I did manage a few small improvements to the site today.
Digital Brum joins Live Brum
Events from Digital Brum are now also included in the main Live Brum listings. The main advantage of this change is that upcoming Digital events will be seen by a much wider audience and that feels like a good thing to me.
Live Brum sources
Each event now has a more prominent ‘source’ link below the title. This shows where we got the information from. This is the same as the ‘more information’ link over there on the left but it seems that lots of people were missing that.
Send to a friend
Send to a friend functionality has returned. After giving up the battle with the spambots in late 2009 (who at one point were submitting rubbish to that form over 10,000 times a day) I have had another go at crafting something that puts a stop to the bulk of that while keeping it easy to use. To recap: If you click on ‘send to a friend’ when viewing an event you get a small form slide into view so you can send that information to your friend via email.
Share event information on other sites
Until today there was also a panel called ‘Bookmark’ which had some increasingly out of date links. That panel now has a title of ‘Post this event to’ and I’ve updated the options to cover Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Reddit and Stumbleupon. Along with the ‘Subscribe’ panel this is also now open by default.
There is now a Live Brum Uservoice Forum where you can add your own requests and vote others up and down. This is the place both to ask for new features and report things that may be broken. If you use it then I will let my Monday’s be guided by what you think is most important.
There is also an ugly Feedback tab on the side of every page of Live Brum now. I promise to make that fit in a bit better next week.
That’s it. Not a huge amount for my first Live Brum Monday but not nothing either.
At the top of next week’s list is the first release of some WordPress widgets. These will enable you to put Live Brum listings in the sidebar of your WordPress site. A very early version of these can currently be seen in the sidebars of this very blog. They won’t be finished next week but I will make them available over at developer.livebrum.co.uk for other people to start testing and playing with. Full details next Monday.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
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).