On Saturday we wrapped up and released one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on: LockerPulse fantasy player news tracking.
My partners and I have all been avid fantasy players for years (I was in leagues where Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith were the consensus top 2 picks!) and like all fantasy football players, we’re looking for any informational edge that we can get to help us win. Especially Sunday mornings, and especially when injuries are involved. There’s nothing worse than starting a guy who isn’t going to play.
After launching LockerPulse it didn’t take us long to realize that we had an asset – lots and lots of news being indexed – that could help out fantasy players like ourselves.
This project took a long time and a lot of things had to come together correctly for us to be able to launch it. First and foremost, we needed to build a relatively good search engine, something we’ve been iterating on since we launched our search functionality last year. It’s not like we can “tag” a single feed for a specific player, as we do for our teams (i.e. a NY Mets blog is linked to NY Mets news). So we need to contextually search articles as they come in to see if they discuss the player, and if they do create a relationship in our database that the player is linked to that article.
With that in place, we then needed up to date player rosters, preferably with little maintenance on our end. We were able to use the FanFeedr API to build a roster management system so that we always had the most up to date players from all the major sports. I spend probably 30 minutes a week maintaining it. The system queues up roster moves and I approve or reject them…just in case there’s an issue with the API and our system tries to move/delete someone who is on a bunch of fantasy teams.
After a few more months of developing and testing, I am really pleased with how the end product came out. To add players, you start typing a name and our autosuggest pulls them up for you:
After adding your team, you can read the news just like you do for your teams. Stories update in real-time just like in the My News section, and you can filter by sport or player just as you can filter by team or source in My News:
It also highlights in the text where your player is mentioned. This is especially helpful for long articles where you have multiple players mentioned. Your eyes are drawn right to the piece of text that’s important to you:
And it’s available on our mobile site too:
Because this is something that my partners and I really really want from a user perspective, it was exceptionally fun to work on for all of us. Work can’t be fun all of the time, but it’s a huge bonus when it is!
It’s also an important feature for LockerPulse. As I alluded to above, we’re starting to take one of the biggest assets – our database of ~1.7 million stories and growing – and finding new ways to use it to provide value to our users.
It’s amazing to step back and see how advanced of a site it’s become in such a short time. It’s also exciting to think that we’re still quite a ways away from getting the product to where we want it to be. As cool and as useful as I think it is now, give us another year and I think this thing will be at a whole other level. That pumps me up 🙂