Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Bleeding Edge: Help Test New Features

I've been hard at work on some new features that will hopefully make life easier for users of the OneBusAway phone and SMS interfaces, along with laying the foundation for some exciting new features to come.

But before I tell you exactly what's new, I'll warn you that the new features are beta enough that they can't be found on the main OneBusAway website, phone-number, or SMS interface. I'm looking for people to try out the new features and find the bugs before we go live for everyone. If you are feeling brave, read on for more info.

So what's new?
  • User accounts: you can now login to OneBusAway
  • Bookmarks: manage your phone and SMS bookmarks from the web
Let's break it down. You've probably noticed the "Settings" link up on the nav bar, where you can currently set your privacy and search settings. We've added Registration and Login buttons where you can login to your account and transfer your settings between computers.

Once you've logged in, you'll notice some additional links on your settings page, including the ability to register a phone number with your account and manage your bookmarks. The best part is that once you've registered your phone number, managing your bookmarks online will also update your bookmarks on your phone and SMS.

The bookmarks feature is neat because it let's you setup bookmarks with:
  • multiple stops
  • custom bookmark names
  • route filters
This can be especially useful for the phone and SMS interfaces, where space and bandwidth are tight and you really want to limit the information you see from OneBusAway.

Sound cool? Want to try it out? Great! The trick is to use the following:
  • Instead of onebusaway.org, use http://soak.onebusaway.org/
  • Instead of calling 206-456-0609, call 253-802-0126
  • Instead of texting with keyword "onebus", use keyword "twobus"
Give a shot and let me know what you think by emailing contact@onebusaway.org. Thanks!


Evan Siroky said...

1st feedback comment:

I made a bookmark with multiple stops for only the 594 in Seattle. The reasoning behind this is that I want to bike to the stop where the 594 is coming to soonest. If it doesn't come in a while, I'll bike to the first stop, otherwise I'll take my chances that the bus isn't full of bikes and bike to the last stop before Tacoma.

When I view my bookmark, it is incomprehensible as to what stop each time is for. However, this is understandable as I can see this probably wasn't the intended use for this feature.

Brian Ferris said...

@Evan are you using the SMS, phone, or web interface to view the 594? I agree it's not something I had thought of, but maybe there is a potential fix.

Limes said...

Just an FYI - after registering an account, I tried to enter my phone number. It asked me to verify my phone number by calling or texting.

1. The phone number listed is the 206 onebus number, not the 253. There is no way to register my phone using the 206 number. I used the 253 (which wasn't listed in the instructions) and it worked just fine.

2. I would have texted, but I can't text the # key. It's not listed in my symbols.

Am excited to use the new features and have my teenage daughter try them too!

Limes said...

p.s. Would love to be able to have a quick link from the main "soak" page to my bookmarks. Right now there are several clicks to get to my bookmark page.

Brian Ferris said...

@Limes the 253 number is just temporary for testing (as mentioned in the blog)

I'll see what I can to make the bookmarks more accessible.

Ethan said...

going to the soak URL currently gives:
504 Gateway Time-out
The server didn't respond in time.

same results from inside a corp firewall, and from my tmobile phone.

Patrick said...

What's up with OneBusAway today? Are all the gps on ST 545 broken or is it an issue on your end? I missed both my buses today by 30 seconds. OBA was off by 3 minutes at arrival time. 545 w/b departed 40th & 520 at 7:34pm but OBA was saying 7:38. Every minute after that it started incrementing departure time by 1 minute even tho it had already figured out it left 7:34. Ex, at 7:37 it said bus departed 3 min ago and at 7:44 it said bus departed 3 min ago at 7:41.