We’re pleased to announce that we’ve added information to the directory entries for arenas in the French-speaking areas of Canada to allow RinkAtlas users to search according to the city and arena names as they are typically spelled in either French or English.
This means that arenas like “Aréna de Bernières Saint-Rédempteur” in Saint-Rédempteur, Québec can be searched for by typing any of the following:
Aréna de Bernières Saint-Rédempteur
Arena de Bernieres Saint Redempteur
Arena de Bernieres St. Redempteur
We also created alternative city names, so that arenas in Montréal, for example, can be found by searching:
Arenas in Quebec City, which is referred to simply as “Québec” in French, can be found by searching:
Quebec City, QC
We hope that this solves a number of issues with arena and city searches that relate to the bilingual nature of RinkAtlas’ arena directory. We hope to eventually fully localize the RinkAtlas application to support French as well as English.
One comment we’ve heard since the new version of RinkAtlas launched is that the restaurants that are listed by RinkAtlas are often not open at breakfast time. So, we added a “Coffee” category, which allows you to find restaurants serving coffee and/or breakfast near each arena.
We chose to illustrate how the new Coffee Listing works by showing the arena page for Air Canada Centre in Downtown Toronto.
Normally, you would use RinkAtlas to search for bars and restaurants around an NHL arena. But this screenshot illustrates that there are several good coffee and breakfast places within walking distance of the entrance to the ACC.
We think that the Coffee Listing will be even more useful at community arenas around the U.S. and Canada. Let us know if you like this new feature.
RinkAtlas now supports social bookmarking through our “Bookmark & Share” button on the toolbar. This feature allows you to bookmark rink locations in Digg, Del.icio.us, Facebook, MySpace, and about 30 other sites.
This feature is made possible through AddThis, a company that specializes in social network integration tools. AddThis is a local company in my area, and I’ve met with two of the company’s executives in recent weeks. I like what they’re doing, and I think it provides real value to RinkAtlas users.
If you think the Bookmark & Share button is helpful, drop me an email at daiello [at] rinkatlas.com and let me know how you are using it.
I’ve just added an auto-suggestion feature to the RinkAtlas search box. If you start typing the name of a rink, the name of a city, or a zip or postal code, RinkAtlas will search its database and show you a dynamically-generated list of search suggestions. You can either choose one of the suggestions or continue typing more characters.
The suggestions provided by RinkAtlas may include:
City and state pairs and city and province pairs,
State and province abbreviations,
ZIP and postal codes.
The suggestion list is ordered alphabetically, so you may see some unusual choices at the top of the list when you have only typed a couple of characters into the search box.
The auto-suggestion feature is a work in progress. There are a few things that I’d like to change and/or clarify already. However, I wanted to get this feature into production so that you could use it and let me know what you think of it.
If you have any comments or questions about the auto-suggestion feature, please email me at daiello [at] rinkatlas.com.
I developed a new logo for RinkAtlas today. You can see it below:
I added a face-off circle to the left side of the logo, and removed the “.com” from the end of RinkAtlas. I think this improves the user experience a bit by making the site look a little more professional and finished. I still think we need a navigation bar near the top of the screen, but I have to figure out the right way to implement that. Stay tuned.
A few days ago my friend Matt Leaf from USA Hockey suggested that RinkAtlas needed additional search capabilities for times when our customers didn’t know the name of the rink they were trying to locate.
I know that when I played youth hockey years ago we had this problem at least once. My team scheduled a trip to Boston and played a series of games at the rink now known as Matthews Arena, where Northeastern University plays.
In those days the arena was generally known as Boston Arena, but was also referred to by some people as “The Old Boston Garden”, since it was the original home of the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics.
I don’t think the Internet, as we know it today, existed back then. However, I can see that was a case where we would have needed a location-based search capability rather than a rink name-based search.
Here are the features I added to the RinkAtlas search tool:
Search by City and State: Now if you type “Boston, MA” or “Philadelphia PA”, you’ll get a list of all of the rinks in the RinkAtlas database with addresses in that city.
Search by Five Digit Zip Code: If you type “12180” (the main five digit Zip Code for Troy, NY), or some other Zip Code, you’ll get a list of rinks in the RinkAtlas database that are physically located within that Zip Code.
Search by State Abbreviation: If you type a two letter state abbreviation, you’ll get a list of all of the rinks located in that state. That’s potentially hundreds of rinks in states like Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota, but might make sense for some of the states where there are few indoor ice facilities.
You don’t have to enclose your search in quotation marks. The quotation marks above were for illustrative purposes.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about these new capabilities:
Use two-character state abbreviations such as “MA”, “NJ”, and “GA”. If you spell out the name of the state or use a different abbreviation such as “Mass” or “Penn”, RinkAtlas won’t understand the query.
Include the city and state together for city / state searches to work properly. The comma between city and state is optional. City names by themselves (such as “Boston”) will revert to rink name searches.
Don’t mix rink names with city and state in your search terms. The search parser isn’t that sophisticated yet.
If you still have trouble finding a rink in our database, try going back to searching by the rink name, but use a partial name search.
At some point I’m going to build a RinkAtlas help page that will provide more comprehensive search guidance, but that probably won’t happen until the U.S. rink database is completed.