A New Map… Why?
BLUF: At the end of January 2019, how our F3 maps work and are displayed on both the national and local websites will change. All local websites will need to update their map code to show the new map (in beta here), and all existing maps – including the existing national map – will be retired.
There are two major reasons for consolidating and releasing a new map:
1/ A need for a single, nationwide map showing any and all locations and times where any PAX or FNG can find a workout.
Today, the Nation supports over 150 separate and exclusively-local maps. By “exclusively-local,” we mean these 150+ maps only have the workouts from a very specific area or region… and no place else. These maps both assume and “defer” anything national in scope to the F3nation.com map. And some regions link to the Nation, some do not.
So when possible FNGs land on a local website found through Google or heard via word of mouth, the men may not understand there are other sites which contain a larger set of workouts. They see only the one of those 150+ maps.
Additionally, many PAX who travel may not understand there are several regions close to each other. I think of an area like Metro, Lake Norman, A51, Race City, Davidson, Ft. Mill, etc. which all are within 30 minutes of each other. Again, each has their own map. So when a man lands on a local site like this one in our example, even though he is F3 PAX he may not know another set of workouts is also very close.
Our mission starts with getting men to our workouts. And we need a single version of the map to give ourselves our best shot at high impact.
2/ Administration also has become unwieldy at scale.
The short version of our mapping process is there’s a master spreadsheet with tabs for each region’s map data. These tabs help create all those local maps, which are generated by another vendor called BatchGeo. Oh. and all these tabs also get automagically rolled-up to create the national map. Confused? Yeah, it’s kind of amazing how it works… Superman has done an amazing job as our Q of Maps, and yet even he knows we’ve reached the process’ limits.
There also are access rules to this data as well as formatting rules. And because there are rules — as you might expect maps are a fickle thing, they like standards after all – sometimes it’s easy to break the rules unintentionally. Especially when there are hundreds of people accessing the spreasheet data. And when something breaks the few in a process that’s reached its limits, one change can break the whole.
We’ve also recently discovered some regions have been updating the map generation vendor directly without also updating the spreadsheet. This means the national map lacks some of the workouts the local sites show. And when we get asked about which version is right, we have to shrug.
We know none of these issues are on purpose, it’s just a factor of more hands and standards that have become harder to adhere to given scale.
We need to simplify.
Some Particulars, For Admins Especially
We expect questions around what this looks like and how it will operate.
First, each region will have access to embed the new map. Actually, anyone who has a site who wants to embed the map can.
To help, we’ve created a new page called “Embedding Maps” which explains both how to embed the new map and ALSO how to have your specific map embed start “zoomed in” so that you can focus on your area if desired.
Next, all maps can and will now be updated centrally. We are in the process of creating a standardized form which also will include a link to local websites too. Doing this means the standard map will also has a full list of region sites right there. And there will be less room for human error. (And yes, updates won’t be instantaneous anymore but they’ll still be timely.)
Lastly, for now, we know some F3 regions have done custom work and custom coding to make their maps do even more. I will make sure each of you has done this work can download whatever you’d like from the administrative site prior, and you are also free to continue updating as you wish. You will simply do so with a local BatchGeo account rather than using the F3 Nation master account.
If you go the route of having special maps locally, we simply ask you make sure to have our embed also OR have a link to our Map page so that anyone and everyone that can access your local site (assuming it’s public and open globally) can find a workout anywhere that F3 is.
Today, unfortunately, that last statement is not true. We are fixing that with these changes.
We expect that some people will have questions, which we expect and will address either here in the comments, via @ap_f3 or @F3Nation twitter accounts, or via email at [email protected].
AP’s tireless efforts on behalf of the PAX of F3 bears more fruit. Thank you Brother!