Last week, a new version, (V6,) of the camptocamp.org website was launched. It has a very different “look and feel” to the previous version and notably has the following improvements:
- a new code: which deals with the same data of the V5 +, and with an API which will allow data exchange with future partners and websites;
- a new layout: handling with the same data. All the information that was available in V5 is still there. The way you access it is slightly different and current users may, initially, need a little patience. However, we are confident you will soon learn to appreciate the changes;
- new functions: to be explored, such as the possibility to create a GPS track directly on the map, to upload photos directly from a smartphone or a tablet, to insert a picture directly into a post on the forum...;
- a new homepage: in the form of a newsfeed, presented as cards instead of a simple list. (Cards allow you to include photos in the main stream;)
- a new search tool: for routes and outings, based on maps. These can be found through markers on Swisstopo and IGN maps;
- a new search tool: for the c2c articles, previously an underused and seriously underrated resource.;
- a new forum with new possibilities: for example, the ability to upload photos from the computer, tablet or smartphone, the ability to preview the post and keep it as a draft while navigating elsewhere, the ability to follow a forum by email while not connected to c2c, and more;
- the SERAC database of accidents and incidents: which has a new look and hopes to maximise the reporting of events and to make it easier for users to learn from the experiences of others;
- some missing functions: Most of the functions available in V5 are still present, though you may have to re-learn how to use them. There are new functions to explore. A few old ones are no longer present;
- some bugs! These will be corrected as soon as possible.
Why has this new version been launched now?
A recurring question; three reasons:
- The team of volunteers responsible for coordinating the project has been working very hard for almost 2 years. As with any project of this scale, the software programmers raised a lot of questions for which the association had to find answers, often from diverging opinions. Decisions needed to be taken, everybody kept informed, the implementation of these decisions followed and report back to the association. A cycle that was repeated many times. The volunteers now justified in reducing their workload and to pass it on to others if they so wish.
- It was thought best to launch the new version at the start of the ski season, so that people could get used to it, provide feedback and sort out the teething problems based on real experiences.
- V6 is a long way from being finished. V5 was the result of years of work and modifications after the delivery from the developers and its entry into production in 2007. V6 will also improve with time. It was put online with 75% of the budget spent and is judged to be 75% “finished”, though nonetheless, operational. This is the best use of the budget and time. If we had spent 100% of the budget and had something fixed, (though not necessarily complete,) there would have been no margin for processing the feedback from the site’s users and adapting the site accordingly, (see priorities below.)
What has been the early feedback?
Feedback from the regular users indicates they are experiencing some difficulty. These are people using the Camptocamp regularly, i.e. several times a week, often from a computer, often from the office.
They are the major contributors. They were at ease with V5 and miss the conciseness of the information on the home page. They have expressed their frustration openly on the forum. We estimate there are about 2000 users who log in every day, on average.
However, there are also the less regular users, say once a week or once a month, who visit the site to prepare an outing or maybe just to look at some nice photos and read the reports from others. They maybe users of other sites with similar information as Camptocamp. For these users, the more friendly and powerful search facility and the design of the home page has met with approval, judging from the feedback received both through the forum and off-line. We estimate there are about 25,000 users who connect once a week and 250,000 users once a month.
Problems in finding one’s favourite pages, (outings, images, forum category….) has also often been raised. This is normal and was to be expected, regardless of how often one uses the site.
In more detail, the main complaints are:
- Newsfeed: Looks too much like Facebook’s newsfeed, missing information in the cards (region, grade). Updating an outing should not produce a new card.
- Topoguide: The presentation in the form of cards spreads out the results too much. A simple list is often preferred. Also, there is information missing, (region grade…)
Positive feedback has been:
- The new forum has been much appreciated, with its new functions, e.g. adding of photos…
- Using with a smartphone is much better. It is now easy to create an outing and add photos from one’s phone.
- The search function linked to the maps and especially with the ability to zoom.
- The possibility to create a GPS track of one’s route on the map.
How was the budget spent?
300,000€ were available to replace V5, of which 1/3 came from crowdfunding in December 2015.
The Associations expenses to the software developers:
- 17.000 € for a detailed project analysis.
- 205.000 € for the all the work done up until going active, of which 10.000€ was for the infrastructure.
- Camptocamp Association is contracted for some other functions in the future to the cost of about 13.000€: book management, management of the updating of the SERAC database, recent conditions, suppression of documents, finalising of advanced searches, help in creating documents, printing of documents.
The Association has a budget of 65.000 € left for:
- stabilise the functions and improve the ergonomics;
- develop the tag functions, (labels);
- develop the private mail function;
- develop an app for mobiles;
- Follow social network functions with the “my status” concept.
The contract with the developer was of the “fixed price type”, to ensure sensible management and limit costs.
The guarantee for fixing bugs is one year.
What is the future for the project?
We are in the process of analysing the feedback and establishing priorities. The obvious bugs will be fixed first. Also, some small modifications are planned for the immediate future. For the more major modifications, it is necessary to discuss this within the association as there is often a diversion of opinions. These modifications will need to go through the full development process… with all that implies.
Among the improvements for the immediate future:
• Add to the menu an entry “Outing” below the "Topoguide" on the home page.
• Remove the updates from the newsfeed, (one card per outing, even if the author uploads his/her photos one after the other,) add the region to the cards and reduce the form by 75%.
• Improve the presentation of the cards, (standard size, reading from left to right rather than in columns).
• Possibility to maximise and minimize the cards to increase the clarity and conciseness of the information, (with a list of minimized cards in a column)
• Add the region.
• Ability to hide or maximize a card when doing a search.
• Improve the access to information in the Topoguide (intermediate page to help choose between routes, outings, huts parking, crags…)
Other modifications (display of outings) are in the pipeline. We will let everybody know how the corrections are progressing.
On Tuesday 13th, just 5 days after V6 went live, there was an update incorporating some improvements resulting of your suggestions, (a link to outings on the home page, modification to the format of the cards to make them more readable, etc.) Further improvements will be implemented in the next updates.
With the changes that V6 brings, some are sensible and just need time to be understood and accepted. Others are not so obvious and may need adjusting. Constructive criticism will help with this.
We welcome anyone that wants to help with the development, please contact. email@example.com
This site is a participative site. We have been working for 2 years to ensure its longevity. We thank you enormously for your patience and for the feedback, which will help us extract the full potential of V6.
Your faith in us is much appreciated.
The future is with all of you.