Rapid Development

RunSignUp has a number of advantages over older registration systems.  We’ve talked a lot about our Cloud architecture providing a scalable infrastructure.

Our rapid pace of software development is also allowing us to meet the needs of our race directors and timers.  There are several important parts to this:

  • Cultural.  We listen to our users and try to implement their suggestions.
  • Great Developers.  The fact is great developers work faster and better.  We are lucky to have some of the best.
  • PHP and MVC architecture.  We can make a change to a single page and not have to redeploy the entire site.
  • Automated Processes and Monitoring.  We are highly automated in our processes.  And with our recent addition of New Relic we can get instant feedback if something is going wrong.

As an example, we did about 20 “deployments” last week.  All of them were small changes, but they each made the site just a bit better in some way.

One of the changes we made today was to make sure there were 0 people affected when we did a small deployment.  Before today there was a remote chance (less than 1%) that if a user went from one page to the next they might not get the right set of styles and graphics on their browser.

Of course we will still need to do occasional larger changes and upgrades.  These are designed to be only a few per year and only for 10 minutes windows (hopefully, unless something goes wrong!).  We will give our users warnings when these come up and we will do a semi-annual wrap-up on availability of our service to provide as much transparency as possible.

Simple Results Available Now!

We have just released the first part of a major set of functionality to enable results display for Races on RunSignUp.

Upload an HTML, Plain Text, CSV, TSV or PDF of your race results, or point to a webpage containing them.  We will do a conversion to simple HTML (for security purposes) or a PDF and display it as a Tab alongside the rest of your Tabs like Race Info, Sign Up, Donations, etc.

You can upload multiple results over a period of any number of years.

And with our widget technology, we make it simple for a race director or timer to put results on the web in a simple, fast way.

Sweat the Small Stuff

We have a couple of big things coming in the next week or two, but we are also paying attention to the little stuff.  We love to get feedback from users and while we may not always get to them right away, be assured we file them away and will get them done!

Here is a list of new features that have gone live this week:

  • Store Caps.  Now you can set the maximum number of items that can ordered in the store.  So if you can only fit 250 people at the pasta dinner, you can set that limit.
  • Event Ordering.  We used to auto-order your events.  Now you can place the Fun Run before or after the 10K.
  • Add Another Registrant.  This has been one of the most popular features on our site for a long time.  Saves typing and money so that a family can sign up together.  But some people miss the big button on the first page, so we added another on the confirmation page.

Keep those suggestions coming!

Monitoring RunSignUp

We recently did a major upgrade of our management and monitoring tools to use New Relic.  It provides us a number of things:

Monitoring & Alerting.  We had been depending on our own simple scripts for this.  This now monitors the site every 1 minute and alerts us if there is a problem.

SLA.  We get a Service Level Agreement Report – basically uptime.  We’ve only been running this since July 3, but so far we are at 100% uptime (which I am sure will go down since everyone has downtime and issues occasionally).  Our manual way of keeping track of this since January 1 was 99.65%, but now this will be tracked in a much more automated way.  We intend to publish this type of information on a continuing basis for transparency.

Site Performance.  We can also track performance of our servers.  Here is an example showing our server responds in an average of 0.255 seconds.

End User Performance.  We can also track how fast our site is from the end user browser or smart phone.  We get about 20% of our traffic from mobile devices now, so looking for ways to improve performance for everyone is needed.  This graphic shows the fastest browser is Chrome on Mac computers. The slowest is Safari on Android mobile devices.

Transaction Tracking.  This allows us to identify slow transactions and look into each database call and function call.  It will help us identify bottlenecks and speed performance.

Error Checking.  This will nto only send us alerts when errors in the system are encountered, but also gives us the ability to look inside the errors.  It even identifies potential errors like slow SQL.

System Load Monitoring.  We have “over designed” our standard running system with lots of extra capacity and failover points.  However, we now have a way to see if bottlenecks develop and identify them early.  This is especially important for large races that might have 10-50,000 runners signing up for a race all in one morning.

Confirmation Email Update

When runners signing up for your race receive a confirmation email today, it comes from info@runsignup.com.

We are updating this to come from the primary race director’s email address.  This will make it simpler for runners to communicate directly with the race.  We are also providing an easy mechanism for you to set the email address in case your race has a generic info@ type of email address where questions are sent to.  This will be under the Social Tab on your race and the Email Addr sub-tab.

To do this in a secure and approved way, you will be getting an email to authorize this capability from Amazon.com (our Cloud Host).  Runners will continue to receive emails from info@runsignup.com until you do the approval.

If you have questions, simply email us at info@runsignup.com

Financial Reports and Payments Update

Financials Update

RunSignUp has always been known as the fastest payment processor for races.  We have been making some very important changes to the financials system to provide better information to race directors, timers and partners.  The new financial reports allow you to drill down into each payment to the individual runner or donor to their exact transaction.  We also moved to a new processor for writing checks each Monday, Bill.com.

This coming week we will be completing the financials updates.  This may cause a brief downtime (a few minutes) for registrations on Monday mid-day.  There will be a number of important upgrades for scalability and testing, but the biggest improvement that you will see is in the payment report you receive with your check.  The image on the right shows a sample of what the report will look like.  It includes the highlights of the week’s payment, as well an overall revenue number and a specific webpage where you can see more details.

We are also adding the ability to specify a direct deposit bank account that will speed payment processing and eliminate the chore of depositing checks manually.  This can be specified in Step 1 of the Wizard.

Custom Web Address

We have introduced a simple way for you to set your own web address! Just go to the Customize Tab and Click on “Race URL”.  You will be able to set a web address like “runsignup.com/My5K”.

Our standard automated web address we create for you will still work. It is optimized for search optimization that includes your Town and State as well as your race name.  This helps the search engines find your race for runners searching near your town.  However, it can mean a long URL name for your brochures.

Note that if you have your own URL, you can use our Sites platform to create a whole website for that domain.