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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

OpenCaching.com Beta - First Impressions

OpenCaching.com Beta Now Open
One of the most important factors that promote growth of a service, product, company, etc. is a good ole fashioned dose of competition. Geocaching has been around for years in a multitude of forms. I think it is safe to say that Groundspeak and Geocaching.com have taken it to a high level of awareness with the populous of the world and that is  a good thing. Yet when there is only one major contributor it can become stagnant without something pushing it forward.

Now OpenCaching.com has added it's geocaching opportunities to the mix. Granted it is currently in Beta which by definition means it is available for use but still not all of the kinks are worked out. It does give the geocacher a chance to expand geocaching in a new direction. This is also a good thing.

Currently you can become a user which is a free membership. You can import all of your hides and finds via .gpx file directly into the site. Note it does not work if you try to load the .zip format. You have to actually extract it first. Finally after you load your hides there is an approval process to confirm your hide information before it actually becomes active. If you are like me and have a bunch it is going to take a while before they are all available to the public.

I worked with the OpenCaching site today and found quite a few issues. Again it is in beta.  Some of the main ones is a real lack of error checking and messages for each of the fields you interact with. For example you could be on a page with multiple fields and if one of the fields has invalid data all you get is a message that says Error - Try again. It doesn't tell you what the error is or which field has the issue. One of the errors was when you have too many characters describing you as a geocacher but it won't let you update the information and you just get the same error message. Gets a bit frustrating until they work it out.

The other thing I found interesting is that there are only three types of geocache types. Traditional, Puzzle or Multi. I am really hoping other known or unknown caches added to the list in the future.

Finally let's talk about Garmin. Garmin apparently owns OpenCaching.com, you can see it at the base of the website. That being said you do not see Garmin pushing it's products anywhere including when it talks about geocaching and GPS units. It does allow you to acknowledge that you are using a Chirp unit with a particular geocache but that is about it. Will that change down the road who knows but not for right now.

I am very excited for how this may effect geocaching and where it can actually go in the future. This in my book is a very good thing. Time will tell.

-HHH


GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?
http://headhardhat-geocache.blogspot.com/
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1 comment:

dnielson said...

Though it just came out they don't refer to it as Beta anywhere..unless I missed it... though it does have that feel.