Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New site launched!

I've finally made the new version of opening-times.co.uk live. I've been slowly working on it in my spare time for nearly two years. I'm sure there are some bugs to iron out but I'm glad to have finally made it live.

The old site had been collecting spam, so as I've imported the pages to the new site I've tried to filter it out where possible. I'm waiting to enable editing on the new site until I can find a better way to stop spam from getting added in the first place. If you have suggestions, let me know!

I've also built a way to import from a Google spreadsheet, and hope this might be attractive to people looking to contribute to the site. I'm very grateful for all the contributions that have been made over the years, thank you. I'd like to hear feedback about how I can improve the site for you. I'm aware that some of the data is quite out of date and am looking forward to spending some time focusing on data quality now that the new site is live.

I'm also looking at releasing a public API as I have received quite a lot of emails about this. Thank you for the interest and I'll post again here shortly with the progress. 

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas opening times

Unfortunately, I didn't have time this year to scrape and parse all the Christmas and New Year opening times. However I've been working on a few improvements such as faster search and fixing a few bugs here and there. I've also moved to a bigger server. I'm planning to work to add special opening back in time for easter 2010, so I'll let you know when it's working.

Have a good Christmas and New Year - Julian

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Wordpress plugin

Philip John has created a Wordpress plugin for Opening Times information. Unfortunately my site seems to be having some problems serving it up at the moment, so it's a bit flaky. I haven't optimised for API calls yet, and am having problems geocoding at a fast enough rate, so I'll have a look at that in the new year.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Moved server and some updates

I've just changed the DNS to point to a new server with Memset. I'm waiting for the changes to propagate across the internet, so hopefully it will work ok.

The new server is running a newer release of the code and there are a few changes, these are the major ones which stick in my mind:
  • the login information should show the correct information on all pages, previously there was a problem when viewing some of the pages which used caching
  • I've added a link to the reports section in the footer, this should help identify information which is obviously incorrect or has been vandalised. Let me know if there are any reports you would like added or changed.
  • I've added a data export in a number of different formats
  • You no longer need to be logged in to edit or create a business. There have been quite a large number of people who register an account but then don't make any changes, so I've removed that step, hopefully this will increase participation. There is however a captcha to solve if you aren't logged, which will also reappear if you make a lot of changes in a short period. I've noticed there are a couple of people who are making excellent contributions, so please let me know me if this is annoying so I can tune it effectively. Thanks

I'll post again soon to talk about Christmas and New Year opening times, which is clearly a big issue for this site. A big thanks to all the users who have made changes.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Unlocking our geo data

Today The Guardian reported that Ordnance Survey is preparing to release UK geo data and mapping under a free license. This will hopefully be great news for Opening Times. My site relies heavily on acquiring highly accurate geo data and also the use of maps. Currently I use Google maps and I am very happy with their service. However when a user adds a new business they are encouraged to drag the pointer to be exactly over the entrance to the store. I want the point which is picked to be free of any restrictions so that I can distribute the data and use other mapping providers if I choose. Hopefully the move by OS will simplify the copyright restrictions around geo data and allow developers like myself to get on with building great applications without worrying about tedious legal issues.

I will update when it becomes clear exactly what data is being released and what plans this site will have for the data.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Hello from BarCamp London 7

I'm currently at BarCamp London 7, I'm very tired as I didn't get much sleep last night what with playing Werewolf and Urban Terror. People always say I should blog more, so here it is, hopefully I accidentally type something interesting.

I saw a load of interesting talks yesterday. Simon Willison's talk about non-relational databases was particularly good, I've seen a few people talking about circumstances where they make more sense that a standard relational database. It's something which I plan to test out for Opening Times at some point, as I'm a producing an XML version of every revision anyway, I might as well store it in a sensible manner and see what else it could produce.

There was also a good talk on how to build a (developer) community, which is of great importance to me at the moment. Currently I have 30 registered users which is great, so I need suggestions as to how to build the community, both of developers and data contributors. Open Street Map is an amazing inspiration in this case and I'd like to try and work as closely as possible with them as the site progresses.

The new version of the site seems to be running well, there have been a few minor problems, most of which have been ironed out, leaving only the more fundamental ones to deal with later. I received my first user submitted bug report last night, which I was really pleased about, as using a bug tracker will hopefully improve my coding process.

Ps. Happy British Summer Time wishes.

Monday, 12 October 2009

It's live

After many weeks thinking about making the new site live I finally bit the bullet last night and switched over the DNS. So far things seem to be ok, I'll mainly be looking for errors at the moment, but if everything is working ok then I can start to add more data. Let me know if you have any thoughts about the new site.