Monday, September 19, 2016

AetherCon Online RPG Convention Ticket Manager App

With the core website I created last year for AetherCon completed, and now updated for this year's convention, I moved on to the next list of application requests from Senior Staff. For the past four conventions events have been managed through a service called Warhorn, but AC wanted to bring this aspect of the convention in-house with a custom developed web application.

This need was met (and is now available to the general public) with the release of the AetherCon V Event Manager interface. This complex program handles all sorts of events for the convention from panels, to game tables, to speed painting trails, and other special events.

It functions as a ticket-based system where events, managed by an administrative back-end to the application, can have any number of tickets or unlimited tickets. These tickets are unique records that can be claimed by a user account, which can be created directly the interface.

Once a ticket is claimed, it is removed from the publicly available pool of tickets for a given event, unless it is revoked by staff or the event organizer, or if it is relinquished back to the public ticket pool by the ticket-holder themselves.

The search interface consists of multi-tiered filters including event type, event date, keyword search, or game system (for game tables). There are two available view -- the full view (shown in the image above) and a compact list view which is easier to read, but provides less detail.

Example of printable Itinerary
provided by the AetherCon
Event Manager application.
When a user has a ticket for an event, the application is aware of this when they are logged in and displays a special "ticket" link on those events that directs the user to the "My Events" interface, which allows a user to see hidden information about an event that is only available to ticket-holders. This hidden information can include such information as the URLs to specific virtual tabeltops for scheduled games.

In addition to displaying hidden information, the application utilizes the information relevant to the "My Events" data set to generate a printable, organized itinerary for users.

The third layer of the Event Manager is the interface which allows event managers (which may or may not be AetherCon staff) to update their own events and communicate directly with ticket-holders for each of those events. This includes posting system-wide updates to all ticket-holders as well as direct e-mail to individual ticket-holders.

The final feature of the application is a dynamic RSS feed that is generated and updates every five minutes to output a list of upcoming events based on the current date and time which links to those events in the Event Manager. This feed widget will be utilized on the main AetherCon website during the convention to keep attendees apprised of current and upcoming events with a semi-live feed.

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