Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer 2016: Welcome to the inLeague Development Blog!

Welcome to the inLeague Development Blog!

In the past, inLeague staff have sent seasonal emails to league administrators that summarize our development progress and our plans for the future. We will keep doing that, but the details will be posted and archived here, as well as linked from inleague.org and the inLeague application.

Summer 2016: eSignature, Concurrent Registration, and Lucee

We have three major initiatives underway for our Summer 2016 update: Player eSignature updates, concurrent multi-season registration, and a change in the back-end server software that runs the inLeague application suite.

eSignature 2.0 (Coming Soon) and Volunteer Registration Integration (Coming Next)

More eSignatures, please!

In 2014, inLeague worked with AYSO National Staff to integrate player registration with eAYSO. Since that time, the mechanism AYSO uses for eSignature has been revised, along with plans to include adult/volunteer registration and adult league player registration.

Previously, inLeague would record the name, internet address, and timestamp for all of the waivers preceding each registration, and then send that data to eAYSO. This system was largely invisible to the end user: it did not interrupt the registration process but occurred behind-the-scenes after registration was completed.

To improve the integrity and accessibility of the eSignature process, registrations will soon be directed just prior to the payment page to an eSignature page hosted by AYSO's eSignature vendor. This process is similar to Docusign: parents will be presented with a printable form and click through to 'sign' the form. The electronically signed form is archived and can be printed by the parent, a league administrator, or AYSO National Staff at any point in the future.

As of early July 2016, this system is in final testing with AYSO and we anticipate that it will be rolled out soon.

If all goes well, inLeague's next step this Fall will be to implement the same eAYSO and eSignature integration for volunteer registration -- no more separate, standalone eAYSO volunteer signup!

What Does eSignature Cost?

There are two elements to the cost of this system:
  • Annual and/or per-volume license and archive fees paid to the eSignature vendor
  • Development costs to integrate inLeague with eAYSO & and the eSignature vendor
AYSO National pays the former.

Development costs for this system are largely up-front; in theory, once the system is in operation, it should not require significant maintenance. 

inLeague will recover this cost through a per-player eAYSO Integration fee of sixty five cents. This fee was introduced in 2014; the original system was paid for by early 2016. The revision is significantly larger than the original system, but the fee will remain the same, and it will be phased out once the devleopment costs have been recovered and presuming there are only marginal new costs incurred.

Concurrent Player Registration for Multiple Seasons

Many leagues run travel, tournament, or development programs alongside their recreational programs. Registration timelines for these programs do not always line up with one another. Beginning with the forthcoming eSignature 2.0 rollout, inLeague will support concurrent registration for multiple seasons.

Coldfusion: Adobe to Lucee's Open Source Server Platform

Credit: Dilbert (http://dilbert.com/strip/2006-12-08)

inLeague's application software was developed in and deployed on Adobe's Coldfusion Markup Language. Every 2-4 years, we evaluate our server hardware and software so that we can best align our resources with our application development roadmap. There are four main pieces to our pipeline:
  • Our web and database servers, hosted for many years now by Codero (based here in Austin) with data centers in Phoenix, Dallas, and elsewhere;
  • Our database software (Microsoft SQL Server)
  • Our web application server software (Adobe Coldfusion)
  • Our software development framework that runs on the server software (currently a home-grown mix of solutions developed over the years by inLeague staff)
 As we prepare new servers for inLeague this fall, we also evaluated an open-source alternative to Adobe's Coldfusion platform called Lucee (formerly Railo).

Adobe's Coldfusion engine has served inLeague well for a long time, but Lucee's optimization, feature set, and community approach  are more in line with inLeague's mission and requirements. At the same time, we are evaluating a change in application development framework for our codebase from the home-grown solution we have been using to Framework One, one of a handful of widely-used Coldfusion development frameworks. Framework One (or fw/1)  updates and standardizes how we write our code and implement new features while eliminating repetitive tasks in collecting and processing data or displaying layouts.

All of these potential changes serve the same end, which is to make the most efficient use of resources that will enable us to continue rapid development and deployment of changes and new features to the inLeague application. They are some of the most significant back-end changes we have ever considered. To facilitate our evaluation and eventual transition to these new technologies, we anticipate establishing beta sites for many of our largest leagues so that league administrators and schedulers will be able to put inLeague to the test for the Fall 2016 season. These beta sites will be connected to our production database so that common tasks can be performed on our new systems while the current generation continues to run as a fallback solution until we 'flip the switch.'

We will be in touch with individual leagues in the coming weeks regarding all of these changes. Until then,  we're looking forward to a great Fall season!

All the best,
Samuel Knowlton
Founder & Chief Leagueologist

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