Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Making of Ruggerblogger’s iPad Digital Magazine

Nearly 3 years ago exactly I started to provide infographic style sheets to summarise game stats from All Black matches. It was becoming more common for media (both print & TV) to talk about the stats, and they seemed to be freely available, but not that digestable.

Displaying statistics and data in this way had become very trendy in recent times, and a big part of what I was doing at work in the real world, so it was only fair I try this with something that really interested me. In some ways I loathe the word ‘infographic’ because it is so bloody overused, and most ‘graphics’ that claim to ‘inform’ can actually be ghastly and fail to communicate anything at all. It is a very fine line.
What I wanted was something fans could look at on screen and understand instantly because it was colourful, almost pictorial. It was also important it could be ‘kept’ by fans and redistributed by them (on blogs & Twitter), and maybe saved to their desktop computers (and latterly their smartphones or tablets). It all started with the All Blacks v Fiji game in July 2011, using a pretty basic format done with scrounged iconography - this format survived through that years’ Tri-Nations before I started tweaking madly again. As RWC2011 hit, I had settled on a pretty clear horizontal & symmetrical layout. The resulting game sheets for all 48 RWC matches went down a treat judging by our blog’s traffic over that month.

After the World Cup I compiled them all in one PDF and made that available via Google Drive… but as many of you will know, PDF is a limited format and is a pig on hand-held devices.

While I kept doing the sheets through 2012 and 2013, the look slowly evolved through a vertical format, and I enjoyed doing Six Nations and last year’s Lions Tour of Australia to get more practice, but I was always keen for more bells and whistles… which is hard for a code-ignorant Mac monkey like me.

However, last year I started playing about with Adobe Digital Publishing System (DPS) at work. And kept playing. So although I was creating All Black game sheets last season, I was not publishing them because I was building in the interactivity and researching how I could put everything together for users to download and keep.

There are more in-depth sources for game stats than Ruggerblogger; there always will be because I do not script and code my own raw data. However, what I wanted was something ‘spunky’ you could keep and quickly refer to on your smartphone or tablet, and I think I finally achieved it.

I have to point out that I it would not have been possible to do any of this without and who I use as my sources. They are both more in-depth and definitive, especially Rucking Good Stats who is quite literally ‘The Man’. 
Hopefully my sheets still act as a concise summary; or an entrée. I guess I deal in Stats Lite, the gateway drug of the sports statistics world.

Yes, limitations exists with the format in that the app is a retrospective: the free license I can use via Adobe won’t really allow me to update the Ruggerblogger app constantly, after each game or series. Also, I can only produce it for iPad, not the iPhone or Android devices. That requires the next level of publishing licence on DPS and that costs over $6,000. Oh, how I am scheming to somehow get that into swing for RWC2015. Investors get in touch ;-)
My intention is to add all the English Tour, Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup and Northern Hemisphere Tour matches from 2014, so please stay in touch and look for a new version with all those games added into it before Xmas this year. If you download this first version (Ruggerblogger 1.0) when this is done iTunes should notify you of an update you can download.

Above all, enjoy it. Its free and it is for you, the fans of international rugby. I hope it adds something to all the banter we have enjoy with our followers on here, but mainly on Twitter in the last few years. Seriously, if this wasn’t fun I would not be doing it, no matter how mad it seems late at night.

Above all, remember that sports statistics can be addictive. Use them responsibly.

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