Friday, September 21, 2012

Synchronizing swimmer roster in TSTM and Hy-Tek

To better utilize the features of TSTM, teams using Hy-Tek software should do the following once a season. This can save a lot of typing work in Hy-Tek.  It should be done after all swimmers are registered online.  Without synchronizing data in the two systems, it will be hard for later operations such as importing meet results from Hy-Tek to TSTM.  Manually entering results in both systems is NOT fun!

Here are the steps:

1. Wait until all swimmers are registered online in TSTM.

2. In TSTM, choose a swimmer numbering method and assign swimmer numbers.
Team Administration->Swimmers (menu)->Assign numbers->Choose a numbering method.

3. Export swimmer roster from TSTM to Hy-Tek format files.
Team Administration->Swimmers (menu)->View roster.
Click on the link "Export roster" at the upper right corner of the roster page.

4. Download the exported file (full_roster.hy3) to your local hard drive.

5. Start Hy-Tek Team Manager
Backup your Hy-Tek database (just in case you need to rollback any changes).
File (menu) ->Backup -> Choose a location to backup your Hy-Tek database

6. Import swimmer roster
File (menu) ->Import-> Athlete rosters.
Use the file selector dialog window, navigate to the full_roster.hy3 file downloaded from TSTM.
On the import dialog window, make sure the checkbox "Overlay existing administrative information" is checked.
Click the OK button to complete the import.

Now you should have the swimmer data synchronized in both systems.  Later in the season, if there are any roster changes, such as adding a new swimmer, you can do the above process again or manually make changes in both systems.

Please email me with any questions.

Friday, August 31, 2012

TSTM premium features

Premium features in general require more system resources during service time and/or extensive development work that may only benefit some of the teams.  The total cost will be automatically calculated for each team on the Team Setup page.

Current premium features:

- Send text messages to team members.  This feature allows administrators to broadcast text messages directly to members' registered cell phones so they can be notified with the most up to date information such as inclement weather.

- Display sponsor ads on  the front page with images, texts and URLs.  Please reduce image size to be no larger than 150 pixel per dimension.

- Export meet entries created by TSTM auto lineup program and and import into Hy-Tek Team Manager.  This is useful when the meet organizing party (Championship meet or dual meets)  requires meet entry in Hy-Tek format.

- Social event management and sign up.

- Volunteer positions can now be associated with two new meet types "Trial and Other" (in addition to Home and Away).  This should make admin's life easier when some positions are only created for a non-dual meet.  Each position is associated with a meet type.  The following is a chart that shows which type of position is available for which type of meet.

Meet type                Position for meet type
                    Home     Away     Trial     Other
Home              X            X
Away                             X
Trial                               X          X
Other                                                      X

- For non-dual meets (meet type: Other), teams can now ask swimmers to select the strokes they prefer to swim.  When a meet is set to type "Other", swimmers can do stroke selection online.  A report can be generated based on such data from the Meet report page (linked from Meet Setup page).

- Swim up: this is an option available on the Line up page.  When enabled, swimmers from lower age groups who are not lined up to swim relay in their own age group (due to not enough swimmers or too many relay teams) can be moved to a higher age group to be considered in a relay team.  The program uses personal best data and adjusts times based on distances so that various age group swimmers' time can be comparable during line up.  Due to various reasons, it may not create every relay team perfectly so validation from coaches and admins are recommended.

- Live data entry at the pool.  Enter swimmers' meet results through a mobile device so families can see their swimmers' result at the pool via browser on their mobile devices.  Only users with Coach, Admin or Super admin roles can enter results.  The URL to access the web interface is:

*Note*: You should NOT use this method as the only way to record meet times.  Please make sure that you have another method to record times (such as on paper) at the pool in case of technical difficulties (such as set up or network problems) or the web site goes down during a meet.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Get ready for the meets!

Teams did really well during the registration process and all data are pretty much online now.  I hope the web site can boost your team management efficiency.  Keep adding the extra number of hours you would have spent working the traditional way :-).  I may do a survey at the end of the season.

At this time of the season, you may want to review the following,

1. check your family list to see if any family is still unverified (grayed out).  These families might have lost (or didn't know where to look for) the email to verify the account so they could not log in.  As a Super Admin, you can verify these accounts manually and email them to log in and complete the registration.  There are not many such accounts, so don't be surprised if you don't find any.

2. The meets will start in a few weeks.  When the time comes that you don't want families to freely change volunteer positions, you should lock the season (on Season Setup page).  Once locked, families can only request switching of a job.  The original family is still responsible for that position until another family takes it over.  You can review if all families signed up required number of jobs on the "View family" page.

3. Browse the admin area and get familiar with various export files to see which ones you can use through out the season.  It may save your team volunteers a lot of time to use such export files.  If you plan to use the automatic line up program, please also check out the auto generated meet sheets (blue and pink TSA forms).  These forms are new features so please let me know if you find anything unexpected.

4. Experiment the swimmer numbering methods and pick one that works for your team.  If your team needs a method that doesn't exist, please let me know.  Once you decide on a method, you may want to clean up all swimmer numbers for now because if a new swimmer registers now, many swimmer numbers can be shifted causing confusions to the families.

A few new features added.

1. The system now supports Meter to Yard results conversion.  It determines the type of the pool by team and the meet type.  For example, a Home meet for a team that has a Meter pool, it will automatically assume the meet results will be in Meter.  Meter results are converted and saved as Yard results.  This way, all results are comparable and can be used for lineup purpose regardless of what type of pool a meet was held.  I need input from teams with a Meter pool how you publish the results to the team.  Are they in Meter or converted Yard results?  It seems to me posting converted Yard results makes more sense because  swimmers can easily compare with other Yard pool results to see their progress.

2. There is a new basic Forum feature from the admin menu (Other->Forum).  This is intended for all team admins to share ideas and experiences about using the system and/or managing a TSA team in general.  At this time the forum threads are created by me.  If you think of an interesting topic that is not listed, please let me know and I will add it.  I'd appreciate it very much if you can spend a few moments to wrote a paragraph in the customer feedback thread.  I may use that as user testimonials and publish somewhere on the web site.  Thank you very much in advance!

3. Teams now can have an optional slide show (up to 7 images of identical size) on their home page.  The images will fade out and in during transition.  This is part of the premium options (free in 2012).  Manual set up is needed.

Some of you asked about how many teams are using the system.

There are 6 new teams joining this year in addition to the 3 teams that used the system in the past, total 9 teams so far.  I am really excited about the growth rate.  I hope more teams will adopt it in the future and reduce more team volunteers' workload.  If you like the system, please share the web site info with other TSA teams.  Your words weigh much more than mine.  Thank you!

Friday, April 27, 2012

April update

Here is an update of recent changes.  Please take a look to see if you can take advantage of the new features.

New account requires super admin approval:
This optional setting is on the Team Setup page.  When it is turned on, if a user registers a new account, instead of receiving an email to verify the account, an email will be sent to the team email address (configured on the Team Setup page).  After receiving this email, the team administrator (must be a Super Admin) can go to the View family page and verify the new account (will be shown as grayed out).  To activate the new account, select the checkbox for the account, then scroll to the bottom of the page.  In the dropdown box, select "Lock / Unlock (Verify)" and click the Submit button.  Upon approval, the new account owner will be notified through email that the account has been activated.

Super admins can use the same method to help users to verify their accounts when they don't know how to or have lost the verification email.

Batch set meet attendance selection:
Some teams want to default meet attendance selection to "Yes", then manually de-select for those who will not attend a meet.  On the Meet Setup page, there are two new links "Attend all meets" and "Remove all meet selections".  The first link allows an admin to set every swimmer on the team to attend all meets for which they have not made selections.  The second link clears all existing meet selections.  DON'T use the two links if your team requires swimmers to make their own attendance selection.

The swim suit order feature during registration can now be customized to fit your team's needs for ordering items such as T-shirt per swimmer.  You can define the item's label on the Team Setup page.  Item sizes and prices can be defined on the Season Setup page.  The selected sizes for swimmers can be viewed in the Swimmer list pages.

Super admins now have a 2 hour session time out limit instead of the 30 minutes for regular users.

Supporting SMS text message to team members:
Admins can now send short text messages to cell phones through SMS (Admin menu: Other->Send messages).  Select the checkbox "Send text message" at the bottom of the page.  This allows instant broadcast of messages to team members (e.g. when weather is unpredictable before a meet or practice).  To be able to receive text messages, families must select their cell phone providers on the family info page.  Text messages can not be sent to users who have not selected their cell providers.  This optional feature is part of the premium options and will be charged separately (from 2013).  For 2012 season, it is free for all teams.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A few update: emergency contact, school calendar and hide team store

A few updates:

Teams can now collect family emergency contact and school track info during the registration process.  The emergency info is optional and can be turned on/off on the Team Setup page.  School track info is on the swimmer page.

The emergency info, together with other family contact info, will be displayed in a new report.  It is under the Family menu -> View detail list.  This list is only available to super admins.

The swimmer school calendar info will be displayed in some of View swimmer lists, roster, as well as the roster export file.

If your team doesn't use the team store, you can now optionally hide the store menu by turning off the option on the Team Setup page.

For automatic lineup function, a new option is added to allow the seeding process to be based on the previous meet result instead of personal best times of the season.  On the lineup page, check the "Use previous meet result" checkbox to enable this feature.  When unchecked, seeding will be based on personal best times.

For teams that ask families to choose volunteer preferences (not actual jobs), please use the automatic volunteer assignment based on user preferences.  There should be a "+" icon at the top of the assignment page to start the auto assignment.  The icon is only available if your team asks families to choose preferences, not actual positions. 

For teams that used this web site last year, please don't forget to Close and Open the season on the Season Setup page.  This will clean up the seasonal data and prepare the site for the new season.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Automatic volunteer assignment based on user preferences

Volunteer management has always been a challenging task to run a TSA
swim team.  Although first come first served model has been used by
some teams, some other teams prefer to assign volunteer jobs manually
by an administrator.  This is commonly done by asking families to
select the types of jobs they want to do and which meets they are
available to volunteer (on paper or online).  I don't have the
complete list of reasons to do this.  Partly it could be that a family
may pick a task and didn't realize that the job needs prior training,
or the "easier" jobs are quickly taken, leaving the rest of families
with jobs they don't know how to do.  Whatever the reasons are,
manually allocating jobs based on user's preference on meets and job
types is a very tedious task (takes hours or even days) and the admin
can easily make mistakes such as assigning a family to a work in a
meet they didn't select (on vacation) so they can't do it.

I recently implemented a feature (built into the TSA Swim Team
Manager) that allows such assignment to be done automatically based on
user preference selections.

Some highlights of the feature:

1. set the priority of a job.
For example, a family selected Timer, Starter and Runner as preferred
job types.  Not many people have the training to work as a starter so
we can raise the priority of the Starter job.  The system will assign
the family to do starter and leave the lower priority tasks to other
families.  Task with a priority of 0 means no auto assignment will
happen, e.g. a job named as "Substitute" or "Any position".  Admin can
also set priority to 0 for jobs they'd do manually later (i.e. they
know who should do such jobs).

2. find troubled spots and assign such spots first.
For example, only 4 families selected to volunteer as Timer for 6/24's
meet and we need 6 Timers, we will put these 4 families as Timers
instead of any other preferred tasks they selected that have more
available families.

3. honor family job preference (priority).
If both family A and B selected to work as Runner, but only 1 runner
is needed and family A selected the task as their first choice and
family B as second, family A will be assigned this task.

4. balanced work load.
Each family will be assigned at most the number of tasks defined in
team's Season setup.

5. rerun.
Assigned positions will NOT be overwritten.  When situation changes,
this routine can be rerun to pick up the (preference or job) changes.

6. manual overwrite.
All automatically assigned positions can be manually overwritten and
stay that way.  Auto assignment only happens to spots that are
available (unassigned).

No family will be assigned a job or work in a meet that they didn't
select.  To make this function work better, please ask families to be
more flexible (select more job types and meets) to give the system
more options.

I tested this routine against one of the teams' 2011 user preference
data and 90+% of the assignments can be made in a matter of seconds.
The remaining unassigned positions/families are mostly due to their
limited preferences (e.g. they only chose to work in 3 meets as 9-10
boy pusher but these positions are already filled).

This feature should save the volunteer admin a lot of time and reduce
the number of wrong assignments due to human errors.


Printing features for TSA Swim Team Manager

Teams have been using software to print personal best labels.  One of the teams asked me about such features so I implemented the following three printing options, hopefully further reducing volunteer workload.

1. Personal best labels on Avery 5160 (or its compatible 3 X 10) label sheets.  You can either import Hy-Tek meet result file or manually enter the results for a meet to the web site.  The system will calculate personal best for all swimmers and generate a file containing formatted pre-filled labels for you to download and print locally (MS Word required).

2. Main event labels on Avery 5160.  If you use the online automatic line up program, similar labels for the main event swimmers (individual and relays) can be generated.  You can put such labels on the back of the main event ribbons.

3. TSA event sheets: If you use the online automatic line up program, TSA event sheets (blue and pink forms from TSA can be generated as Microsoft Excel files. You can download such files (one file for boy events and one for girl events) and print them locally on colored paper.

Do automatic line up for the meet.
Go to the Meet Setup page.
Click on the blue ribbon icon corresponding to the meet you want to print these forms.
On the popup window, click on the "Create Event Sheets" button.
Download (right mouse click on the file name and select "Save link as ...") the TSABoyEventSheet.xls and TSAGirlEventSheet.xls files to the local hard drive.
Use windows explorer to locate  the downloaded files.
Double click on the file to open it.
You should see the main events line up results pre-filled in the TSA forms.
Print the boy's file on blue paper and girl's file on pink paper.
Cut the paper so each event is on its own piece of paper.

BTW, for teams using WinSwim, the automatic line up results can be imported into WinSwim so line up efforts can be greatly reduced.

Thank you!

Friday, February 3, 2012

New feature to allow manual tweak of the automated lineup process

Although automated lineup process is fast and accurate by personal best times, there are times that coaches want to drop certain swimmers from the main events of some strokes because these young swimmers cannot legally swim these strokes, even though they may have faster personal best times.  There can be other reasons to remove a swimmer from a stroke. A new feature has just been implemented to allow coaches to specify such exclusions before the automated lineup so their choices will be considered in the process.

To use this new feature, you can go to Meet Setup page, and click on the Kid pusher list icon for a meet.

When the pusher list shows up, select an age group.  You should see all swimmers in that age group in all strokes.  If a swimmer is absent from this meet, clicking on the swimmer's number (under any stroke) will remove the swimmer from all 4 strokes (including relays).  You can see the swimmer's name struck out in all 4 strokes.  Clicking on the swimmer's number again will bring the swimmer back and enable him/her in all strokes.

To remove a swimmer from participating the main events of specific strokes (including Team A relays), click on the swimmer's name under that stroke.  You should see the name becomes struck out in orange.  Line up process will not use such swimmers in main events of such strokes (including such strokes in relays).  They will still be considered for non-main event swimming for these strokes. Clicking on the name a second time, the name will be struck out in red. This means the swimmer will not swim this stroke in any heat. They could still swim relays (including team A relays). Clicking on the name a third time will clear all such restrictions.

To remove a swimmer from a main event, but still allow him/her to swim team A relay in that stroke, you can click on the time of that stroke when the name struck out in orange. The time should become green.

To better use the Kid pusher list and the auto line up program, you can put both windows side by side.  Tweak the pusher list and rerun the line up program to see the results.  Hope this new feature helps coaches or admins do lineup more accurately and efficiently. There is only one pusher list across all meets so please check it for every meet before running the auto lineup.

Important: auto lineup honors the pusher list but will overwrite any manual lineup or manual edit changes. The manual processes are the last resort to adjust an auto lineup. Unlike using the pusher list, manual changes will NOT update the exported forms on the Lineup page (upper right corner). The only export that will include manual changes are on the page that is launched from the blue ribbon icon, which includes TSA pink/blue forms, heat/time/pusher sheets and hy-tek meet entries. Use the pusher list when possible and minimize the use of the manual edits.