Real-Time Basketball Scoring Application Used in US Universities

Longtime Xojo developer Jim Meyer, created a real-time basketball scoring application as a hobby, but it turned out to be valuable to many US universities who now use it for scoring their basketball games. As if basketball wasn’t enough, Jim also developed an ice hockey app that’s used by a dozen universities. But those are just his hobby apps- he also used Xojo to build Smart Mover which handles the collection, management and distribution of content files for media giants like Time, Conde Nast and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

How did you get into developing software?

My first programming experience was a required 2 credit-hour Fortan class my freshman year of Mechanical Engineering school. It was the late 60’s and we had to program an IBM 360 using punch cards.

I enjoyed the class, but did not have an opportunity to program until I worked for a small manufacturing company in the late 70’s. We had purchased a TI mini-computer to process inventory, sales orders and accounting. That system was written in Cobol which I learned and modified to meet our needs.

Later I started writing custom systems for local businesses and I wrote a real-time football statistics tracking program in Cobol for the University of Michigan. We first used the software on September 8, 1984 (Michigan vs Miami, FL) on an IBM XT under DOS 2.0. It is probably the first time a computer was used to “score" a football game. We replaced my system with a league-provided system in the late 90’s which I continued operate for each home game.

In the late 80’s I cofounded a software company that specialized in systems for newspapers. The Macintosh, postscript and the laser printer were clearly going to change that industry and we became part of it. The company grew dramatically and my responsibility was writing advertising and accounting systems. We sold the company in 1994 and I continued to work there until I retired in 2000.

When, how and why did you first discover Xojo?

A friend told me about Xojo after I retired in 2000. I had a project in mind and it seemed to be a good fit. I have been using it for a variety of projects ever since.

What can you tell me about your first Xojo app?

My first app was a real-time basketball scoring program. It is designed to track all the official individual and team statistics during college games. We use it at the University of Michigan and I have sold it to a few other schools, including North Carolina and Minnesota. I do not actively market this app but will sell it if asked - it’s more of a hobby than a commercial endeavor.

Tell us about your Xojo apps in detail.

The basketball scoring application is a feature-rich mature system that uses a very intuitive touch screen interface. Due to the speed of the game it is designed for fast and accurate input, automatic error checking and produces an extensive suite of reports - well beyond the required "box score" and "play by play". It interfaces with the arena’s scoreboard and provides real-time updates for radio, TV and print media at the game, as well as ESPN, CBS and other live outlets. The app is the result of my 30+ years experience working court-side and having used everything from pencil and paper to other much less usable systems.

Along similar lines, I also have an app that tracks individual player ice time during a hockey game, which is a very challenging task.

There are 5 players on the ice for each team that can be “subbed" at any time - worst case is 20 substitutions within a few seconds. So, like basketball, input needs to be quick and accurate. To this end the user is able to use the numeric keypad or touchscreen along with shortcuts that substitute entire lines or defensive pairs with one touch/click. The end result is a series of reports used mainly by coaches to indicate how much each player has played during the game and in what situations (power play, even strength and shorthanded). It can also interface with one of the more popular video systems used by coaches and players to review the game. By “marking" the video at the moment the player is subbed the system can jump directly to that spot in the game. I have sold this app to about a dozen universities.

My income producing Xojo project is an app called "Smart Mover". It is branded and sold worldwide by WoodWing Software, a Dutch company, (http://www.woodwing.com) as part of their suite of systems. Their products include “Enterprise," a Content Management System, and “Elvis," a Digital Asset Manager, which are both used by magazines, newspapers, corporate and other publishers to produce print and digital publications. If you read Time or one of many other publications, it was produced on a WoodWing system.

Smart Mover is a service application which automates the collection, management and distribution of content files between Enterprise, Elvis and other systems. For example, a photographer can submit an image file via email and Smart Mover picks it up and uploads to the Enterprise CMS. To do this, Smart Mover provides an Admin User with over 60 Tasks that are used like building blocks to create a specific Process. Each of these Tasks executes a particular operation and has its own specific dialog for setting its various parameters. The above example would start with the "Get Mail" Task followed by an "Enterprise Upload" Task.

Some Processes are very simple and may only include one Task, while others are much more complex with over a dozen. Each Process is scheduled to run based on the particular need. These Processes are created, edited and scheduled using a sister GUI Xojo app call Smart Mover Manager. It communicates with Smart Mover Service (SMS) via an EasyTCPSocket. This allows SMS to run on a true server with no logged-in user, which is something many of the WoodWing customers require.

Smart Mover uses a wide variety of Xojo classes and features. Sockets are extensively used along with SOAP, SMTP, RegEx, XML, XSLT and Shell. MonkeyBread and Einhugur plugins also add to the app’s functionality. But just as important is being able to deliver a Mac OS X, Windows or Linux version.

What makes your application unique?

The Basketball and Ice Hockey apps are mature, robust products designed with a full understanding of the needs of the application. In comparison, there is a fairly widely used Hockey app that is actually an Excel spreadsheet with macros…and the most commonly used college Basketball system runs under DOS.

There are other automation systems that do the same kind of things that Smart Mover does. But Smart Mover integrates tightly with other WoodWing products and is easy to use by both technical and nontechnical staff. It also runs under Mac OS X, Windows or Unix, which is important for WoodWing customers.

Who uses your app?

The real-time basketball scoring app is used at the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina and the University of Minnesota.

Ice Hockey is employed in around a dozen universities including: Michigan, Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Cornell, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Smart Mover has several hundred users, including some of the world’s largest publishers: Time, Hearst, Ringier, News Corp, Axel Springer, Conde Nast, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Meredith, and more.

How many developers work on your project?

Just me.