We are in the process of building an offline check-in app and are looking for feature requests. We are hoping to have this available in June – so the sooner you give feedback the better. You can send feedback to info at runsignup.com.
We are building this as an HTML5 app that will run in any Chrome browser. There is a database (IndexDB – an open database standard implemented by most HTML 5 browsers) where we can store data locally for use offline. We will download the entire participant data set into this local browser-based database and then update every minute with any changes that are available like new registrations or assigned bib numbers bi-directionally.
The advantages of this architecture are:
- It can run in an offline mode without Internet connection
- Any device supporting a Chrome browser supports this – PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and phones, Chromebooks, etc. Unfortunately there are reports of bugs in the Safari browser with IndexDB (although we have not seen issues in our testing), so we will only support Chrome browsers.
- Low cost and ease of adding peripherals like label and receipt printers.
We will have a unique URL for this app for each race – something like runsignup.com/raceid/checkin. You will set up a password in the race director dashboard so every device can just sign in with that one password and there are no user ID’s required. This will improve ease of use and security. We will allow each device to have a field for naming the device or user. This will be helpful for bib pickup occurring at multiple stores so you can know which people picked up at which store for example.
Each device should be logged in when connected to a high speed connection to download the bulk of the data. In tests we found an 18,000 participant download took 1 minute 15 seconds on a Chromebook. Once the data is downloaded, it stay on the browser cache until cleared. So you can do the download the night before the race and then race morning just sync changes.
After the initial download, the app is set up to download/upload changes every minute and is adjustable. If it is not able to connect it retries again later. Any changes made locally are stored and uploaded whenever the next connection is available.
We hope to support the following peripherals:
- Barcode readers – for fast checkin
- Dymo Label Printers – to print out labels that you could put on bibs during dynamic bib assignment
- Thermal Receipt Printers – so you can print out a receipt for runners
The app works within the Chrome browser. It will be an improved version of the existing Check-In App. You will be able to configure which data fields appear on the main screen as well as the pop-up. You will also be able to configure behavior to optimize checkin, especially in combination with the peripherals.
For races that are doing dynamic bib assignment and have sent out emails with barcodes of confirmation numbers: When a runner shows up with a copy of their confirmation with the barcode, you can scan it, scan the barcode on the bib you will give them and print out a label that you can slap on the bib in just a few seconds.
For races that have a separate giveaway and add-on handout from the check-in, the idea of printer a receipt that the participant can take over to the giveaway area eases and speeds the workflow.
Option to identify others who registered as part of the same transaction. So the check-in person has the option to check the group in all together, or at least see the list of people together.
In early testing, we are using two races – one with about 500 participants and the other with 18,000. The 500 person race takes about 10-15 seconds to do the initial download of data, and searches are sub-second. The 18,000 person takes less than a minute and a half to download the initial data and searches take about 3 seconds.
We are also thinking about a Giveaway and Add-Ons Pickup App as well. This is for races who have separate check-in and pickup areas. It would work the same way as check-in, but would keep track of who picked up information.
No Network Backup is another thing we want to investigate. This is for the scenario when there is no Internet access at all. The check-in app could be used to assign bibs, and then each device would do a dump of their local database to a USB memory stick. The memory sticks could then be imported into the scoring software like RunScore or The Race Director on those PC’s.
Let us know if you have ideas or use case scenarios that you need this for so we can try to design it in!