Interview: Oentries Version 3 Released

Oentries-logo_large entry system, fresh and new

Nopesport has spoken with Alastair Brunton of the orienteering entries system

Nopesport: Tell us a bit about oentries.

Alastair: Event organisers should be concentrating on things like the quality of the orienteering experience. They shouldnt be bogged down dealing with postal entries or programming in HTML. Event entries should be as simple as possible.

At the same time, orienteering event entries are complex problem. The goal of oentries is to solve this problem in an elegant manner.

Nopesport: Why should we be excited about a new version of oentries?

Alastair: The achilles heel of oentries has always been the payment gateway. Back in 2005 it used paypal to take payments from competitors. This was not a satisfactory solution, so this was switched to google checkout. Whilst this was a good system, it involved entrants opening an account with google, something which a few were unhappy to do.

The major upgrade in oentries version 3 is the introduction of the professional payment gateway sagepay which had previously been avoided due to the red tape surrounding such solutions.

There has also been some significant improvements in multiday events and entry lists. This makes oentries suited to hosting something like the entries for the JK, or a multiday event like the Scottish 6 Days.

Nopesport: Is it secure? Is my event data safe?

Alastair: I now have 8 years experience developing web applications and ‘websites’ professionally. This expertise and an interest in cutting edge techniques helps push oentries forward.

Data is all stored on a private server with passwords now encrypted in a way that I do not and cannot know them. Offsite backups are conducted daily and there is a redundancy in the system to avoid failure. Oentries takes security and uptime very seriously.

Nopesport: What makes oentries better than the other systems? I can see more events on Fabian4. What about the similarly named sientries?

Alastair: Oentries is concerned with being the best that it can be. I dont spend time looking at the other solutions out there. After the release of version 3 I am confident that oentries is a great entry system.

Nopesport: What do you think makes a good web application?

Alastair: As more ‘applications’ make their way online, a great summary of the ingredients of a successful web application is described in this blog post

Oentries follows most of the concepts listed and most importantly is as fast as possible.

Nopesport: What do you think about BOF potentially building their own entry system?

Alastair: It is up to BOF to decide whether they need their entry system or not. I think that the technological advances in BOF really need to be in the form of web services. They need to follow the british government and concentrate on opening up their data. After doing so it would allow oentries to integrate more and potentially provide the service they are looking for.

Some examples and ideas:

  • Building a decent REST webservice for parts of the BOF membership database.
  • Building a decent fixtures list and build a REST webservice for it.
  • Building a decent results database which links with event software (SI / Emit / Winsplits)
  • Buying some tracking equipment for use at big events and get orienteers using it.

Working on modifying, building and throwing away things that are used alongside an entries system would make the landscape of running an event even better.

Nopesport: What do you find most exciting about orienteering at the moment?

Alastair: I am excited about this year’s purple thistle There are a lot of wild orienteering areas in Scotland which have still to be explored by the orienteer. Events like this are pushing the envelope. In the future I hope to see an arctic purple thistle happening where competitors are ferried up to Northern Norway to experience untouched island terrain.

I am also excited about gps tracking and would like this to be used in the UK.

Nopesport: Finally, any special offers for budding event organisers?

Alastair: Yes, any event organisers who put their event live in the month of June and quote the code ‘Nopesport’ will get a 15% discount.

Alastair Brunton also writes a computer programming / outdoor adventure blog at simplyexcited

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