Friday, March 6, 2015 - First Impressions

The simplest way to keep track of your boat activities is using a traditional paper log book. But, I'm a geek and using paper to track anything isn't appealing. Whether or not I actually look at it again, I like to have the ability to track, calculate, re-post or reference my data without flipping through a paper log.

So, I have been looking for a good electronic replacement for tracking boat information for a while. There are several phone apps, websites and thick client applications that have this goal but none have struck my fancy until BoatLogger.

Now, BoatLogger is definitely a beta product at this point. There is still a lot of glitchiness in the site but I see promise in the service and I'm betting that, if they can survive long enough and get enough users early on, this site is going to become the default platform for this type of tracking.

What are the killer features of BoatLogger?

  1. Easy of customization - Every aspect of a yacht site can be customized. For those who will be using the service as a primary boat site this is a great feature. For those of us (me included) that will be using it more as a utility service to back my own site, the customized look doesn't get in the way.  Adding data fields is easy and most data panes are customizable.
  2. Reasonable default functionality and look - Out of the box the system is fairly nice looking and functional. This will be important to the non-geek users that aren't interested in a customized experience. 
  3. Good map-enabled log book - I haven't spent much time yet with the logging feature (ice doesn't make for good sailing!) but I look forward to trying this extensively this summer and reporting back. The logging functionality appears to be flexible and functional. Time will tell. It does also give the ability to import GPS data from other sources. Nice feature.
  4. Mobile app (Android) - While I haven't spent a lot of time with it yet, it does seem to have all of the basic features needed for a log. More on this in a future post. 
  5. Support for GPS tracking devices - The ability to tie into a SPOT or inReach tracker is a great feature. These devices tend to be more reliable than a phone. 
  6. Ability to embed data in external sites - For me this feature is important. Since is my primary online location, it is important that any service I use integrates into the site. I like the idea that I can use BoatLogger as the data repository for my data and then integrate it directly into my Blogger site. There seem to be a few integration issues but I am confident that this will be a great feature once the bugs are ironed out. 
  7. A strong roadmap - If the developers at BoatLogger deliver on half of the features that they have planned it is going to be a killer site. Things like instrument integration really are the holy grail of boat management. 
The BoatLogger site also has features for race and flotilla tracking. I haven't explored those yet but they seem like interesting concepts. 

I look forward to seeing where BoatLogger goes. I'm sold on the concept and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. The more people start using the service the more likely it is that it will succeed. Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised at what they have going on. 

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