February 21, 2007
Adobe's California Tour Tracker: Amazing
I've been trying to follow the Tour of California through the race's official website, and its very pretty Tour Tracker, but I've been unable to get into it during the race most days. I've been making do with the usual race diet of text updates from CyclingNews.com and VeloNews, and meaning to get back in to check out the Tour Tracker.
I've gotten in before and after stages, and thought I therefore had an idea what the Tracker does, but I was woefully mistaken. I thought it was just another GPS and map interactive tracker, but with nicer graphics. It is so much more than that.
In fact, the Adobe Flex and Flash-based application also includes streaming live video, which, by default, displays at the full size of your browser window, with the translucent panels overlaid over the video but still active. Mark Shimahara of BikeZen.com is adding photos during stages, and including Flickr in the distribution. In the right sidebar, there's a scroll of the VeloNews live ticker.
It's not perfect: It seems likely that the app's load time and its unavailability during stages are related. There are reports of browser incompatibilities, and some of the information could be handled better: I would rather they use the “Tour Standings” panel for intermediate sprints and KoM points, especially since they're not keeping that updated (tonight it's still showing standings from before today's stage).
But that's complaining about pigeons on the Statue of Liberty: When it's working, this app combines the best of Cycling.TV, VeloNews, excellent cycling photography, and real-time race tracking all on one page. We should be so lucky during the Tour.
RIAPedia, a site tracking Flash and Flex-based rich internet applications, calls it the “absolute coolest, sexiest Flex application. Ever.”
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I agree, the Tour Tracker (which I'm watching now!) is fantastic. The first few days were pretty choppy with no cacheing, but the whole thing is just so slick - the overlays of the stage profile, stage map, Flickr feed... Yeah, if every race had this kind of thing going on, I'd be far less enthusiastic about the Versus coverage.
Posted by: Jessica at Feb 22, 2007 6:35:35 PM
Thanks for the kudos! I wrote the Tracker and I'm glad folks enjoyed it - um, when it all was working... I'm definitely going to approach the Grand Tours once I get it a bit more polished. Totaly development time was only 4 weeks, so there is plenty to fix. If anyone has more questions or comments, go to http://www.allanpadgett.com and speak up! Allan
Posted by: Allan Padgett at Mar 1, 2007 1:20:23 PM