[iRail] Using Miet 1: iRail.be 3.0

Pieter Colpaert pieter.colpaert at gmail.com
Sat Nov 19 12:06:17 UTC 2011

Dear iRail people,

We need to use Miet.

For those who haven't read: Miet is a student graphic design who has to 
work with a non-profit for her last-year studies. In February I assume 
she has to present something on her work, so let's make it worthwhile.

Which projects can use her help? Until Thursday I will try to launch 
some ideas on the mailinglist open for discussion. The first idea:

iRail.be 3.0

This website is our business card. It's not our most successful project, 
but as this is "iRail.be" we'll need to do something special with it.

Low-level, on client side, I think these things might be done better:

  * Full blown html5/jquery single page website
  * RDFa ("gui 3.0") for query and result pages. By doing this we can 
say: This page gives The Web information about this place which happens 
to be a station.

At mid-level we still lack:

  * Support for vehicle information
  * Integration with foursquare and other location based social networks
  * "Tweet about your journey"
  * Push messages for delays

High-level, where Miet can help, we might need a lot of help into 
building something new and innovative from scratch. Don't think about 
technology, think about what you would like in an application for 
trains, and for bus/trams/planes/... later on. iRail.be doesn't get used 
a lot (200requests/day, in comparison to 4000 BeTrains requests/day on 
android). This gives us the opportunity to do something special here.

What was I thinking about? A user centric mobile app. You can log in 
using your facebook, twitter or google account (openid/oauth). According 
to your current location and your previous use of iRail.be, you will be 
able to start typing your desired journey while we autocomplete 
according to a calculated probability of what you might mean. For 
instance if I'm somewhere in the vicinity of Ghent, and I'm typing G, 
Ghent sint pieters should be autocompleted in the "from" field. When I'm 
typing A in the "to" field, Antwerp Central station will be 
autocompleted, as I did that journey a lot before. The part where you 
select date & time needs to be minimalised. When people are using iRail 
they want to plan their journey just in time, eg. when you want to leave 
in 10 minutes. When a result is shown, it should be very easy to request 
later journeys or the last journey possible that day.

The result page needs to be optimised. I don't only want to see the 
journeys, I also want to be able to view the train details (where will 
my train stop?) and the details & news feed about a station (what other 
trains are currently in delay? Did something awkward happen? What are 
people tweeting? Can I have a coffee during my 15 minute waiting time?), 
but these "details" should only become visible when I ask for them.

The result page needs to contain a check-in button. I want iRail to know 
I took this train, and perhaps I want to automatically share this 
through facebook/twitter/google. But, when you do this, there will be a 
"present". We will inform you when you are eligible for an NMBS refund, 
we will fill out the form ourself and send you a PDF by mail.

If Miet would like to help on this project, we need the graphic 
interface which will guide the user, a new graphic design for this new 
mobile website and so on. But we will also need people who like 
javascript/html5, people who like to integrate social networks, people 
who would like to create a refunding back-end and so on.

What do you guys think?

Kind regards,


iRail vzw/asbl

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