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Our last release was a big one for Active.com.  We pushed out some long-awaited improvements to the site – some designed to make people happy, others search engines.

 

Course Routes

The inclusion of course routes on our event details pages has been a fixture on our roadmap for some time.  Developingroute.gif the functionality was never the issue.  (The ActiveTrainer team has a fine route plotting mash-up in their arsenal.)  Our challenge was attaining a critical mass of route data.

 

That’s where MapMyFitness came in.  One of the earliest organizations to build a viable business out of a mash-up, MapMyFitness (makers of MapMyRun.com, MapMyRide.com and others) had a huge head start in both data and mind share.  So we figured, why fight it.  We’re great at event aggregation.  They’re great at social route sharing.

 

After a call or two with Kevin Callahan and the MapMyFitness team, we were off and running.  (Pun only partially intended.)  And here we are, just few development cycles later; and we have MapMyFitness routes fully integrated with Active.com events.

 

Here’s how it went down:

1)     We exposed our endurance events via our API (NOW OPEN @ http://developers.active.com)

2)     MapMyFitness read our events and matched their routes by an algorithm they developed.  (A route needs a confidence score over 70 to earn a relation.)

3)     We added functionality that allows event directors and organizers with appropriate credentials to log in and select, edit or create their official course route and apply their seal of approval.

4)     MapMyFitness developed a nice, light application that makes Event Director authorization of routes a breeze.

5)     We finished up by integrating the related routes into our event pages.

 

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What we’re all really excited about is the fact that endurance athletes now have a resource for official course routes.  Event Directors and Organizers use our software every day.  And we’ve made it ridiculously simple for them to publish their official routes to the largest audience of endurance enthusiasts anywhere.

 

Check out a sample route

http://www.active.com/running/la-jolla-ca/la-jolla-half-marathon-2010#Map

At the time of this posting, this route was still “unofficial.”  It’ll keep that flag until it’s replaced by an Official Route seal after the event director verifies it.

 

 

 

 

 

Search Engine Optimization

Excuse me while I fawn over that URL up there.  Up until this release, it had looked like this.

http://www.active.com/page/Event_Details.htm?event_id=1733302&assetId=3A1B52E7-9D67-42F2-9BB8-F4C624A0D280#Map

 

Not exactly what you’d call “optimized.”

 

With search engine-friendly URLs a commodity feature in even the most basic open source CMS, it’s easy to take them as given.  But when you’re working with a variety of legacy in-house systems that are vital to business operations, introducing SE-friendly URLs isn’t as easy as it might sound.

 

Along with clean URLs, we release a comprehensive Directory of all our current events.  The Directory is primarily designed for search engine consumption.  But we’re finding people are also taking to it; which is a welcomed side effect of the ultra-lean interface.

 

I want to thank our developers, designers, QA and IT teams for all the great work that went into this release.

 

We’re looking forward to watching how our audience takes to the improvements – people and robots, alike.

 

Enough from me.  Now get out there and DO something!

 

Jason

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