With Flex up the middle, GameTripping.com scores 100+

 

Implementing a unique Flex widget in the middle of GameTripping.com has helped the ultimate ballpark review site to surpass the century mark with 100+ ballpark reviews and counting. I had authored a more compact, step-thru widget back in February, but the user experience wasn’t rich enough to capture reviews from the healthy traffic that was coming in. Flex has some incredible advantages (over other technologies) in this style of implementation, usually reserved for Flash and JavaScript-like badge design.

After some simple evaluation of the site’s layout, I decided to spend some short time and expand the widget to display the entire 4-part form. At a height of just 550px, the form displays easily above-the-fold and let’s the user quickly review a ballpark in a welcoming, linear fashion. Using Flex Builder 2, the layout was done in minutes. No fiddling with dhtml/css to arrange elements, just drag & drop AND done!

Since the majority of the site is driven by PHP dynamic data, I had a lot of information to work with in creating the widget. Upon loading, the Flex widget calls a php page which returns XML and populates the dynamic combobox (dropdown). This control lets users select which ballpark they are going to write about. Upon selection, a label above each textarea (larger text form field) re-populates with ballpark-relative information.

About GameTripping.com

The Ultimate Ballpark Guide, GameTripping.com originally launched in 2004 after I first visited San Francisco’s then PacBell Park. Upon returning to Boston, I was asked by friends and family to post photos of the park and tell them of my experience traveling to the ballpark and the city. Once I posted about PacBell (now AT&T) Park, I also wrote about Yankee Stadium, She Stadium, Ameriquest Field (Texas), and, of course, Fenway Park. I added a way for any visitor to post their own review of the ballparks they’ve been too, and GameTripping was born!

Visit GameTripping.com: Write your own reviews and Explore ballparks you want to visit! 

In early 2005, I gave a radio interview on a Boston sports station and I’ve now been to 9 ballparks. The site has undergone a huge transformation, with the aforementioned Flex widget as the centerpiece. While I’ve been very busy, especially the past 6 months, I’ve been able to add some new features. The Yahoo! Maps and Flickr mashups brought me a Mashup of the Day award from ProgammableWeb.com.

My favorite unique addition has been individual ballpark tracking, which generates stats on how much each ballpark has been clicked within the site. Fenway Park leads with nearly 350 visits. Wrigley Field in Chicago is second at 217. They happen to be the 2 oldest parks in baseball.

I love having GameTripping as a hobby site. I had a logo made and recently got some Moo cards printed up. I encourage you to visit and add to the growing number of great ballpark reviews. I plan to add football stadiums over the winter, with some help, of course.