Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MN Canoeing 2.0

You may have noticed some big changes on MN Canoeing (I'm nicknaming it MN Canoeing 2.0). My wife and I have been working hard the past six months to almost completely redesign the website. The biggest change is that the website is now commercial instead of noncommercial. You will notice some ads on the site. There are also some paid features, which you can see on the membership level page.

Moving everything from my test website to the live website has been a little bumpy the past few hours. If you find anything that doesn't appear to be working correctly, please let me know.

Here is a summary of some of the changes:

New Features
  • Wiki - This has been in place for a few weeks, but it is still relatively new. 
  • Help menu - You can access the help menu from the interactive map. Right now it only contains instructions for the map. I will be adding more instructions and directions in the future, such as how to write a trip report and upload photos.
  • Outfitters - A list of outfitters is now included with the website. I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible. (If your business is missing and you think it should be included or you find mistakes, let me know.) Outfitter listings are also displayed in various places on the interactive map and in the entry point database.
  • Portage database - I finally got around to listing all of the portages as I had the campsites and lakes. The portage elevation graph was updated - it now looks better and has better data. Also, I made it possible to see a list of the portages you have commented on in your account. (This was a glaring omission before.)
  • Outfitter advertising at various spots on the site - see the advertising page.

    • Redesigned home page - The picture displayed is picked randomly from a list of my favorite photos from members. My wife made the nice buttons to navigate around the site. 
    • Interactive Map - Because of the changes on the site and what I plan to do, I had to move away from Google Maps. I decided to go with a mapping library called Leaflet. The maps that the site now uses are different, but I think they actually look very good. I also made some performance improvements. Hopefully the map will now work better and use less memory.
      • Go to a campsite using its number
      • Outfitters in the entry point detail pages and the Route Finder
      • Overview map in the lower right hand corner (this can be collapsed)
      • When clicking anywhere on the map, elevation is now shown with the latitude/longitude and the maps
      • Different base maps than before - explore using the menu in the upper right
      • Scale in the lower left corner
      • Unreviewed campsites are now pink. This allows you to quickly see what campsites are reviewed and which are not. In the Quetico, a campsite is considered reviewed if there is an entry in the PCD or on MN Canoeing.
      • Most of the hiking trails had to be taken off because of the move to commercial status.
    • Clickable maps in the databases - On the individual entry point, campsite, portage, and lake pages, you can now click on points on the map to go to their respective pages. 
    • Performance improvements to the album and photo pages

    Future Plans
    • Complete trip planning application, including outfitter selection, checklists, food planning, route information, etc.
    • Photo contests
    • Quizzes and other competitions
    These are the main changes. There are a lot of little changes throughout the site that hopefully will make MN Canoeing a better tool for you. If you find something that isn't working or have a suggestion for a new feature, please let me know.

    Sunday, April 6, 2014

    New Logo

    You may have noticed a couple of changes in the logo the past few weeks. My wife is a great artist, and she wanted to learn how to use Inkscape (free version of Adobe Illustrator). For her first project, she wanted to redesign the MN Canoeing logo. Our first attempt was on the site for a couple of weeks.

    After some time, though, she thought that she could make a better one. She did a great job!