Freegle Tech Report 16-03-31

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Freegle Tech Report March 2016
Posts 16953-17088
Members 106


A quiet month which was mostly used to try out some of Edward’s new ideas, and even Chris found time to present us with a new toy, which I am sure will be developed further.

Freegle Direct 1 & 2

Syncing Messages ModTools syncs messages from Yahoo in two ways:

  • By getting them by email - which isn't working well at the moment.
  • By getting them via the plugin from Yahoo's website - which is working, and should happen every hour at the moment assuming you're on a machine with the plugin installed (there's no way to do it without the plugin).

Freegle Direct gets messages from Yahoo just by email - which isn't working well at the moment.
Some further synchronisation of messages from ModTools on to Freegle Direct has been added, so that when FD also doesn't receive the messages by email, they will reach there via the ModTools route. Once in FD, they will be sent out by email if the user is configured to get mails from FD.
This is a short term fix, since Freegle Direct will be folded into the same platform as ModTools in time, but isn't yet. But hopefully this will alleviate some of the unreliability of Yahoo for Freegle groups.

Modtools. (Iznik)

Locations. We had a discussion about the location format a while back.There are a large number of different location formats in use many of which are mutually
incompatible. i.e. what one group tells you to do would be invalid and perhaps rejected on another group.
(While these different conventions might make sense for individual groups viewed in isolation, it's horrible for members to have to deal with different conventions on neighbouring groups. It can't make sense for me to validly be a member of two different neighbouring groups and be supposed to remember to use a street name on one group and the first part and first digit of the second part of my postcode on another, otherwise I'll get posts rejected.)
In the new platform, there will be some consistency for members, while also trying to accommodate as many of group choices as possible.
A compromise we found acceptable was that a public location on a group would be an "area" (district/suburb/village/town) and the first part of a postcode (e.g. PR3). The word "compromise" is important here - it may not match what people currently use but it needs to be something that people can live with, and would be fairly clear to members.
For example,

"Longridge PR3"."Littleport CB6”

What does it look like for members?

For members, It's proposed that they identify where they actually are using their full postcode. The reasoning here is: Everyone knows or can pretty easily find out their postcode, without having to know about group rules or think too hard.Postcodes are always straightforward to map, whereas other locations that people might type ("nr the High Streeet") are not.
Where members permit us to find their location automatically (e.g. phone GPS) then we can map this to a postcode.
People would be more prepared to give us that (initially) than their full house address (and we have tried and failed to get free access to the "PAF" list of UK addresses, so we couldn't do the "select your address" thing).
You can try a mockup of this at

What is an area?
Obviously it's easy to go to the first half of a full postcode, but how do we find an area?
Exactly what counts as an area is hard, and will vary from group to group. The freely available sources of data (OpenStreetmap, basically) are limited and identify towns and villages by points rather than a polygon on a map.
There is Ordnance Survey data which has polygons for postcodes, but that is not free, and would require a license each year (we've failed to blag one). Google doesn't give polygons, only rectangles.

With these limitations, some monster data-crunching has come up with a best attempt to automatically identify areas of a reasonable size, and to produce a polygon for them. This looks ok to me on Edinburgh and Ribble Valley - there are some that I would want to change, but if it used this with no changes at all, it would be not at all bad.

We would want the ability for mods to add/remove/edit areas. For example, in my area, my public location would change from "Longridge PR3" to "Beacon Fell PR3", because as a mod I feel there ought to be a location there so I would add one. But I could live with "Longridge PR3" being used for my posts.

We were invited to have a look at our groups by going to , going into Group Settings, and clicking on the button to View Map Settings. The default area is in red. We had a play and commented and it is looking good.

Image recognition Software.

Members were asked to try out the new image recognition software and report back any faults. This just made suggestions when uploading photos, to help with categorisation on the new platform. On the whole it worked well, and should be easy to manage.

Message Maker.

The footer saying a post was made via the Message Maker has been removed to help stop members who can’t use the message makers from trying. All footers except those put on by individual groups should now have been removed.

Mobile App.

Other reuse options. You might be aware that FD has a menu option for "Other reuse options" which lists places near you that we know about such as charity shops, community projects, etc. Users can add or edit options. We keep track of edits so we can regress any naughty edits. This has now been added to the mobile app.
The mobile app received some funding from Cumbria County Council. One of the conditions was that "Recycle for Cumbria" is listed as a fallback for Cumbrian users. I specifically added this option in, within the app for users who are a member of a Cumbrian group.
Currently there are 71 alternatives in our database; it would be great if we could each add more for our areas.
Edward will add the option for mods to delete any they don’t like in the new FD. Monthly Stats. Various stats on the mobile app are here:
Total downloads are 21,598. The average rating is 4.10 over 63 ratings.
There have been 3 in-app purchases this month.
The development toolkit I use has recently been updated. I need to produce a new Android version before May 9th to use the new version.
There will be some minor actual updates included in this release.

Post mapping for Groups.

Chris has done a rough map of where posts are on your group optionally over a certain time period - that are known by FD and have a location. You can zoom in to see more detail.
You either give your "groupid" or "group" name (ie the Yahoo shortname).
You can optionally give a start and/or end date in the format "YYYY-MM-DD".
Here are some example links:

This is just for fun at the moment, so just ignore stray posts.

Questions & Answers.

Q. When editing a message I'm no longer able to 'right click' and delete, cut (or copy) the text, is that a problem with my set-up or a modtools thing?
A. If you click on the Edit menu (in the Edit/Insert/Format/Tools bar) then you should see Cut/Copy/Paste options.
Q. My son signed in on my computer and has picked up my groups.
A. At present it picks up from the Yahoo sign in and the ID and adds their groups. I will change it so that it won’t do the auto-add function unless the Yahoo ID you're logged in with is the same on ModTools and Yahoo.
Q. A mod received no replies from her post in her email. She was surprised when visiting her MY posts to find she had had some. Can you check they were sent out.
A.They were sent to her gmail account (details given) ask her to check all her folders. We can’t do anything about the non delivery of emails.
Q. I've a GO who is happy for me to add FD to her group but she says that she uses 'Safari'. Would it still be practical to add FD or would there be serious limitations imposed on her by using Safari?
A.She can have and use Freegle Direct on Safari but she can’t use modtools on it. It is only available on Google and Firefox.
Q. Is there any way to change mapping on a post?
A.Not easily, I will be adding the function in the new platform.
Q. Can you find out the real email for a Snaply member?
A. You can contact them direct by removing the +x from their email address.

Freegle Tech Report
March 2016

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