Article Comment: ExplorOz Traveller App

I downloaded this a couple of days ago and while it's okay I have a few comments/suggestions.
1. I was expecting the Trek Notes to be more comprehensive (i.e. contain the same info that is on the web site). But unfortunately things like the "directions" section are not included so planning how far each leg is and how long it will take still requires referring to the web site, and hence being online.
2. Comments about places and treks are only available when online. These can be really handy for more up to date info, and for the small amount of data required for the extra text I can't see why these aren't in the offline download, even optionally.
3.Replies to comments can't be seen, even when online.
4. There is no way to link from the map to the trek notes. So, if you aren't sure what the trek is called it is hard to find the notes for it. It would be good if you could tap on the trek on the map view and then link to the notes about it like you can on the PC online (or even see it's name so you can manually find the notes would be a start). An alternative would be to have the link to the trek notes in the POI info page for each POI on the particular trek.
5. I think that a breadcrumb trail of where you have been would be a good idea. This just helps with navigation I find.
6. It would be great if users could contribute to info on POI's. Many of them lack any real detail (which is okay), but getting the masses to help populate this info could help make them a great resource.
7. As above, but for treks. Is there a way to submit a trek for inclusion on the map?
8. It would be great if the road closures list was available when online.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 14:15

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 14:15
HI Simon, Thanks for downloading our app and outlining your feedback. I've moved your feedback to the Feedback & FAQ page so others can view this.

I'll answer your questions in order:

1. We do actually have all the Trek Note information in the app - but maybe you've missed the grey panel at the bottom of the screen that provides tabs to access all this info. To view the distance between each leg you need to load the Trek - ie. click Go To to launch the navigator. Then the distance between each leg (Place) is shown in the nav controls.

2 & 3. There is actually a MASSIVE amount of data - we thought it was way too much to store in the app offline. eg. CSR 185 comments. Could we offer a compromise - perhaps the latest 10 comments when offline? Happy to hear what people think. Just talking to David just now on this and the problem then becomes how to refresh those 10. Every time you go online via comments they could auto-update the latest 10 but then there is a chance a useful comment gets overwritten by the newer comments. Need to be very careful of logic on this before we rush to implement. Can consider any suggestions.

4. Purple lines on the map represent Trek Notes and these are named. We will see what we can do about providing a Treks map however as we can see your point about that. In Places on the website we do link the related Treks - this is the "Nearby Treks" panel shown within the Description panel. We can certainly look at putting something similar in the app - however there is some position logic complications as the app always uses your current position.

5. Breadcrumb trail - this suggestion has been previously made and noted. In the interim - the Track Logging might serve useful.

6. Places is designed to collect crowd-sourced data. Both the Places online and the Places app encourage people to contribute!! Even if you only add "comments" this is worthwhile because this sends me a log report which I check carefully. It prompts me to conduct research and then I reeword the Place description/info to contain any new/change info. Also - if you submit a comment for a Place (both in app and on website) and there is no description there yet, then this comment becomes the description. Again - I get the logs and check/research/verify/update.

7. Yes this is available now. On the website these are the User Treks. In the app - you can use the Track Logger and then SAVE to create User Treks that are published on the site as User Treks. These User Treks are not available in the app as they are not verified and need more data clean-up than what people tend to do so can be useless to others unless the author has been very careful. However anyone can communicate with us if they feel they have submitted a quality User Trek and we can certainly review and verify/extend for publishing as an ExplorOz Trek. Only the verified EO treks are drawn as purple lines on the map and then available in the download (currently 182). This requires all the supporting information to be supplied by the author - description, permits, planning, Places for inclusion with photos and details etc.

*** We have just written a mod in the app (not yet sent through to stores) to allow you to create Private Trek Notes - either a new route, or a modification of an existing Trek. This is to allow you to plan ahead and store multiple treks. We have certain time restraints each day to send through the app updates - so this might go through tomorrow, not today. David has written some more about this in the Feedback and FAQ page in the Version & Update History - see In Progress.

6. Road Closures - we had considered this so will take note of the suggestion.

Keep in mind that this app was designed to be an active navigation tool less than a static trip planner so all the logic is built around providing information to your device based on your current position. Like the evolution of the ExplorOz website over the past 16 years the app can also evolve based on what you tell us you want and we definitely want people to contribute comments within the app areas to keep the details up to date and accurate.
Michelle Martin
Marketing & Customer Support
I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd / ExplorOz

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Follow Up By: Simon H8 - Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 16:28

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 16:28
Hi Michelle,
Thanks for the quick response.

1. I see what you mean, but I still think the tabulation on the web site is much better as it's easier to view and shows approx. times as well which are often not related to distances for more difficult tracks.

2. Yes I think just having the latest few would be a good compromise. Even if it was based on time (like comments from the last year for example assuming anything older than that which is useful is already incorporated in the main notes).

3.As above, but often the replies are more informative than the comments (often answers to questions). So I think they are just as relevant.

4.Thanks

5. Cool. I'm not really interested in logging so much as just seeing visually where I have been to help "get your bearings".

6. Yes I forgot you could submit places on the web site. I guess what made me think of this was that often when I'm at places I have my iPad with me and could type something up whilst there. The enthusiasm to do so evaporates for me when I get back to the PC and the daily grind. I have used an app called Pushpin for adding similar data to OSM in the past. So for example while I was waiting for my lunch at a Cafe on the Great Ocean Road I could input all the businesses I could see nearby from the table, as well as some public toilets and other facilities. This would also make adding photos very easy

7. I know what you mean. This isn't something for the app, few GPS tracks are suitable without editing. The difficulties of using the "user treks" on the web site has always made me steer clear of it.

8. Cool

I guess I was hoping the app was as much a planning tool as an on-road tool. And by that I mean planning whilst on the road more than whilst at home. So for example; whilst on a 3 week trip, sitting in camp and deciding where to go over the next few days (whilst already being in the outback without internet) the app could be a user friendly tool to do so.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 16:46

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 16:46
Thanks for all your clarity with your feedback Simon, this makes it so much easier for us to absorb and review. I just want to reiterate item 6 - exactly what you say in your second response is what we hope you see is possible? Do you have any suggestions for making that more obvious? Whilst the message says that you are offline and can't open comments, the add comments feature (and add new places) feature is still available. Basically, we have more places than Wikicamps and ours are all verified and supported but do we need to make this more obvious somehow. Can you give any suggestions about that please?
Michelle Martin
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I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd / ExplorOz

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Follow Up By: Simon H8 - Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 19:44

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 19:44
I guess the 'ideal' thing would be to have an "edit" screen that is populated by boxes depending on what type of place it is. So for a campsite you might have tick boxes for suitability of different camping types (tents, massive Winnebagos etc)., what facilities it has etc. For an airport it might have fields for what airlines service it, parking costs etc.. Just easy tick boxes, drop down lists, and pre-set fields. Still have 'description' for if the contributor feels like writing, but preset fields just require less brain power and makes it more "fun" to contribute. Star ratings might be another idea for one tap reviewing. The photos are already implemented, I forgot about that.
I guess I have never thought of the 'comments' field as a way of adding data.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 20:32

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2016 at 20:32
Hi Simon,
Just jumping in whilst the 1.8.0 updates are being uploaded to the stores.

A comment on Add New Places:

You can add a new place and complete the name, description, POI type etc from the map screen using with the 'touch n hold' or 'pin' icon. So if you are travelling offline or online you can simply press the pin (new place at location) fill in the details, select POI type and then switch the Private place switch to Public - this will setup the New Place to the uploaded when you return to service. Also whilst you are offline and at your new place you can go and add photos which will all be automatically synced when you are back in service.

Have a go with it in Public mode if you like and add something - then once it syncs if you want to remove it send us a comment and Michelle will remove it. Please do not do this too much as it adds maintenance at our end but really happy for you to try it out.

PS: Do not put in your house or something it will be made public as soon as you are online.

David
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Follow Up By: Simon H8 - Thursday, Jun 16, 2016 at 07:47

Thursday, Jun 16, 2016 at 07:47
Cool, I've added my first point!
Now I'm wondering if there is any way to suggest edits to the map itself?

There is a road listed near the point I added that shouldn't really be there in my opinion. "Dial Creek Road" is the sort of track only an extreme off-road vehicle could get up (probably a 6 on your star rating difficulties) and hence probably not needed on a 1:200k map. However just near it "Dial Road" is not sown. This is negotiable by any high clearance vehicle and probably should be on the map as its a handy access route.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Thursday, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:46

Thursday, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:46
Simon,

Yes we accept updates and information for the map. The map will become our next project very soon typically we need the GPX or data file for the road to be included unless we have very clear satellite imagery. Please send in the positional details or plot files if you have them to updates at eotopo.com

David
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Reply By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Friday, Jun 17, 2016 at 17:00

Friday, Jun 17, 2016 at 17:00
Hi Simon,

A question for you and other reading if you do not mind. I have just written some programs to build a system to create the downloads for the comments/reviews system and can report the following:

To offline the data the sizes are as follows:
Base Comment (for all places and treknotes) = 2660KB (5316 rows)
Replies to comments = 6556KB (11936 rows)
Followups to Replies = 5454KB (12298 rows)

So a total 14670KB (29550 rows) approx 14MB with zipped download size 5041KB or basically 5MB.

Now this is not massive I will grant you that when compared to the Maps database however it is space none the less (more than places and treks combined). I can add this as a separate download in the download manager and setup the system to use online when you are online which will update each offline record as you open it.

Or we could drop the followups and/or replies when offline. I am struggling to reconcile what to deliver as the app was sort of designed around a model I wanted to work towards where comments/reviews were sort of just the one hit wonder and not long winded activities. We used the original data as a source so created the requirement to include it but I am just wondering how much we should include in the offline data set.

Now the numbers I have quoted above are for all items - not culled to within the last 12 months. I may go and run this now and see the sizes but thought I would ask for your thoughts on the size and relevance of all this data?

We could also just say the base and replies are relevant and save some space etc? Or just the base and pull the rest only when online?
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Friday, Jun 17, 2016 at 17:13

Friday, Jun 17, 2016 at 17:13
Hum just ran last 12 months and it kills off a lot of data and maybe the best solution. Results down to

Base 167KB (301 rows)
Replies 492KB (820 rows)
Followups 477KB (980 rows)

Zipped Download 394KB

But we are losing significant amounts of historic data but then does it matter anyway for a base offline version, we could provide this extra detail when online and save it locally if you have opened it.

I would have to develop someway to advise you that there are different amounts of data online/offline as at the moment I show the total counts on the page maybe something like "Comments 3/21" meaning 3 offline and 21 online but do not want it to be confusing.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Follow Up By: Simon H8 - Friday, Jun 17, 2016 at 20:31

Friday, Jun 17, 2016 at 20:31
Thanks,
To me 5MB is nothing, especially if part of a 2+GB download.

Knowing how small an amount of data makes me think go the whole lot. Or maybe say the last 5 years?

Cheers,
Simon
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Follow Up By: Member - rondesron - Saturday, Jun 18, 2016 at 18:26

Saturday, Jun 18, 2016 at 18:26
Hi David my 2cents worth on the extra 5MB download, I think that is nothing for people with current hardware, just looking at the app updates that have been downloaded to my device in the last 2 days is aprox 500Mb.
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Reply By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Monday, Aug 08, 2016 at 14:36

Monday, Aug 08, 2016 at 14:36
Simon,

1.9.2 just uploaded to the stores addresses a number of your points:

2 & 3 are fully resolved in this release with a new Offline Places & Treks Comments system. You can read everything on or offline (provided you have downloaded it of course).

5 was addressed in some earlier versions.

We are still working on this app very actively as you will have seen and I still have your lists in front of me. Thanks again.

David
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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