WhenHub Studio makes it easy for users to create schedules and publish them to the web as interactive visualizations. These visualizations, called Whencasts, deliver a great user experience on desktop and mobile, while providing deep integration with standard calendar clients such as Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook and Apple Calendar. The glue that makes this seamless flow of information from schedule-to-Whencast-to-calendar possible is the WhenHub Developer Platform which consists of an API and a visualization framework.
We created the WhenHub Developer Platform because we believe the world needs a modern, feature-rich date/time API and a framework for visualizing chronological information that isn’t limited to calendar grids or simple lists. The WhenHub Developer Platform provides:
A REST API for managing schedules with collections of events, with full support for media, locations, custom fields, time zones, recurring events and web hooks.
A framework for designing visualizations that transform schedules into interactive, embeddable content for web and mobile (“Whencast”).
If you are a developer with a date/time-centric app, you are most likely using or have used the Google Calendar API. Here are a few ways in which the Google API falls short:
No support for photos and videos
No ability to get a calendar and events in a single request
Locations do not contain any detail or geo-coordinates
Only Google file attachments are supported
You need to know time zones and offsets
Detail fields are text only without any markup support
Webhooks are difficult to setup and use
iCal feeds have an indeterminant refresh interval
Switching to the WhenHub Developer Platform will give you significantly more benefits, while maintaining access to events from Google and other calendars. In addition to storing and processing events, our platform also gives you the ability to use existing visualizations or create your own visualization for chronological information putting an end to boring grid-only ways to present date/time information.
Our Developer Platform has a ton of information which might be over-whelming as you get started. Here’s a handy if…then list based on your objective which should make things easier:
If you have never used WhenHub Studio, then you might find Developer Platform concepts to be abstract and hard to follow. I highly recommend you login to WhenHub Studio and use the UI to create a schedule and publish a Whencast to the web. Once you have done this, API constructs will be much easier for you to understand.
If you want to see the type of built-in visualizations so you can get inspiration for designing your own, then the Whencast Explorer will be enlightening.
If you don’t like to read and just want examples to play with, then our GitHub Samples repository is the best place to get started.
If you want an overview of the WhenHub API with step-by-step instructions, then the API Getting Started section is right for you.
If you want to review the API end-points available, then the API Reference is the place to get started.
If you want an overview of visualizations with step-by-step instructions for creating your own, then the Visualization Getting Started section is an ideal starting point.
Our engineering team is excited to share our work with other developers and to see what cool things you will do with the API and visualization framework. Both are free to use and have reasonable internal limits that you are unlikely to exceed (but if you do, let us know and we can adjust them for you).
Timeline Marketing is a form of content marketing that uses time to organize and present interactive content to audiences. As a marketing activity at the top of your sales funnel, Timeline Marketing helps you instantly attract your target audience while creating future engagement and conversion opportunities through calendar integration.
In general terms, Timeline Marketing has three goals:
Attract broad but relevant audience of leads
Educate your audience about your brand and business
Steer leads to MOFU (Middle of the Funnel)
Chances are that if you are a content marketer, you are already using Timeline Marketing, albeit in a rudimentary way. For instance, your corporate website may have a Company History page with a list of key milestones from your company’s past. If your company hosts events or attends trade conferences, you may have a list of these somewhere on your website (best case), or scattered as individual blog or social media posts. You might even have an embedded Google Calendar which is OK if your website is going for the circa 2005 look and feel.
Today, when you post such time-based content on your website, it is mostly one-way and static – there is no opportunity for user engagement, and the content does not provide any option for user interaction. Not to worry…this is easily solved by web developers and designers who can write code to make this static time-based information interactive, and also add buttons, links and widgets for user engagement. Of course, I am being tongue-in-cheek; interactive web content development does not come cheap, and calling upon a developer any time the content has to be updated is expensive and is also a slow process. If you happen to have invested in a Content Management System, you might find a plugin or widget that can reduce the cost, but the new trade-off will be flexibility as you are constrained by the capabilities of the plugin or widget.
A Better Solution
WhenHub solves these problems and makes it super simple for marketers to curate, organize, and publish any time-based information for high-impact Timeline Marketing. It’s just four easy steps:
Step 1: Create a new Schedule
Step 2: Add Events to the Schedule with text, photos, videos, links, buttons, location etc.
Step 3: Select an interactive timeline visualization
Step 4: Publish your “Whencast” (an embeddable, interactive schedule, much like a YouTube video)
Once you have published your Whencast, you can either link to it, or use the embed code and put it right on your website just like a YouTube video. Below is an example of a Whencast for a Paris vacation plan. It has photos, videos, links and locations, and uses a timeline visualization called “Multiview.”
With your content and a built-in WhenHub visualization, a Whencast is a far superior user experience for time-based content than boring and static lists. Here’s why:
Create once, publish anywhere
Update once, see changes everywhere
Rich media — photos, videos, location, links, documents, tweets
Interactive and engaging
Various visualization styles to fit different use-cases
Add to Google, Apple, Microsoft and other calendars
Time-shiftable (more on this below)
Future Engagement and Personalization
Publishing a Whencast gets you nice interactive content, which already gives you a marketing advantage over static content. But there’s much more. Built into every Whencast is the ability for your audience to personalize the content, and unique to Timeline Marketing, the ability to create future engagement. In the above Whencast, there are two options on the bottom right: “Share & Embed” and “Time-shift”. These options unlock a wealth of marketing engagement.
Share & Embed
This option provides a user with the ability to promote your Whencast on social media or to embed it on a Facebook Page. It also contains the embed code so anyone can post your Whencast on their website, thus increasing the reach of your content. Users also have the ability to select the “Add to WhenHub” option which enables them to follow your Whencast and stay updated as it changes.
Finally, and this is the best part, if your Whencast is about future events, users can click on the Google, Apple or Microsoft Outlook icons and add the underlying Schedule to their calendar. If you make a change in the Whencast Schedule, users who have subscribed to it with their calendar will see the change – automatically, with no other action required. Using a Whencast, you have the ability to engage your users in their personal calendars, today AND in the future. Let that sink in for a bit. It is an incredible marketing opportunity, and gives you future engagement capabilities that just aren’t possible through other channels.
A quick side note – when we built the WhenHub platform, we always looked to balance form and function. Visualizations provide the form – beautiful, interactive ways to look at time-based data. But it’s the underlying WhenHub engine that delivers on the functional aspects of the platform. It enables time-based content to be seamlessly imported from many sources, synched to Google calendar, and subscribed to via iCal with any modern calendar client. No other platform gives you this level of power and flexibility in such an easy-to-use and seamless manner.
Now that we have looked at how easy it is for your time-based content to be made interactive and subscribed from calendar clients, lets take a look at another aspect – personalization. There are many business scenarios where a company’s domain expertise can be encapsulated into time-based content. The above Whencast is a great example – a travel agency, airline or hotel could curate multi-day plans for various cities just like we have done. Indeed, many businesses already do this. With rare exception, the tour plan consists of a static web page or PDF. There is no opportunity for the user to customize the plan or add it to their smartphone calendar.
The Whencast “Time-shift” feature is the solution to this problem. If you have curated a plan schedule of any kind – travel, training regimen, self-learning course, wedding, pregnancy etc. – time-shift makes it easy for your audience to personalize the plan and add it to their calendar. They just pick one of the events, usually the first or last one, and change the date with one that’s relevant for them. The Whencast automatically adjusts the date and time for every event in the schedule while maintaining the relative time interval. For example, for the wedding planner Whencast, a user would change the date of the “Wedding Day” event to correspond with their planned wedding day. This would instantly give them a complete, personalized plan for their wedding which they can add to their desktop or smartphone calendar.
Time-shift is a marketer’s dream feature – it gives you an unprecedented degree of personalization and reach into your audience’s life. Not only that, you can add links to schedule Events so that at a future date, a user sees an Event in their calendar and visits the link for the Event which is for a known activity. Imagine the marketing possibilities afforded to you on the landing page associated with the link. Let your imagination run wild!
Exploring Visualizations and Whencasts
Now that you have a better grasp of the WhenHub platform, there are probably two things that are helpful for you to explore:
Visualizations that are available for time-based content? The Whencast Explorer – an interactive visualization viewer – will answer this question.
Example Whencasts: Our Featured Hub has plenty of great examples.
If you are ready to dive into WhenHub, a great way to get started is to use one of our industry-specific landing pages. Using the landing page, you will get access to the WhenHub Timeline Marketing Guide which contains 50 awesome Timeline Marketing ideas, and also walks you through creating your first Whencast. Click the link below and get started.
The MakerSpace I am helping create for my kid’s soon-to-be middle school — Crittenden — just got a nice $5,000 boost from Lowe’s. Thanks Lowe’s Home Improvement … this grant is going to inspire young minds to do amazing things with robotics, electronics, wood-working, metal-working, sewing, paper crafts and art.
Last night, Walkstarter, the school walkathon fundraising platform I created, achieved a meaningful milestone — $250,000 in aggregate funding for schools. This is so awesome. It’s also very exciting that more and more schools across the U.S. are requesting to use this platform. I have never really written much about the platform and this seems as good a time as any to give some background.
Three years ago, I managed to get elected to my kids’ school PTA and my assigned focus area was fundraising. Being completely clueless about how Walkathon fundraising works, I requested a meeting with the Walkathon Committee chair at the time. My goal was to understand how things work and what support she needed. I played it safe and told her I knew nothing, didn’t know what questions to ask, but wanted to support her in any way possible. She patiently explained how Walkathon fundraisers work and highlighted her two biggest challenges: (i) It took a long time to collect pledged funds, sometimes stretching into December, and (ii) It was hard for the Foundation to make plans without knowing how much money was going to be raised.
Very predictably, my brain gravitated towards an online solution. I drew inspiration from KickStarter, ran some ideas by the PTA, and thus, Walkstarter was born. Stevenson, my children’s school, used it for our Walkathons in 2013 and 2014, and despite my mediocre code, we saw stellar results. In the last few months, I have significantly enhanced the platform adding better funding page management, tons of analytics, processing for offline donations and a greater selection of avatars for kids to create including aliens and superheroes. (Screen shots at the end of this post).
Being a firm believer in “a rising tide lifts all boats,” as we got close to the end of last school year, with some help from others, I reached out to other Mountain View PTA leaders, and on May 18, 2015, I presented Walkstarter to them, and offered it as a 100% free solution for all Mountain View schools. They accepted and over the summer, I rewrote the platform to support any number of schools.
One month ago, just about the time Stevenson started its Walkathon fundraising, so did Bubb, Landels and Mistral, all Mountain View schools. After only a few days, other schools outside Mountain View learned about Walkstarter and wanted to use it as well. I obliged. Today, there are schools in Mountain View, San Francisco, San Jose and Orlando using Walkstarter, with other schools in the country in the pipeline. I think Walkstarter is gaining traction because it does one thing really well and is a simple solution to a very common problem. We are in an era of shrinking public investment in schools, and PTAs are being forced to pick up the slack.
“Parent fundraising has become more important as state and local funds have dwindled,” says Robert Reich, a former U.S. secretary of labor and now a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “If we take the ideal of equal opportunity seriously,” Reich said, “we’ve got to commit ourselves to creating a system of public education in which kids from poor and working-class families have a genuinely equal opportunity to succeed. And we’re falling far short.”
Walkstarter is helping address the shortcoming. Given its primary capability of enabling fundraising outside of school localities, it affords schools, especially in poorer neighborhoods, an avenue to close the funding gap by leveraging non-local donors. On average, schools using Walkstarter are seeing 40% of funds coming from outside the local school area (example: https://stevenson.walkstarter.org/analytics). I call this “trickle across funding” and think it is a very effective and efficient way for PTAs to achieve their funding goals.
My goal is to continue to offer and support Walkstarter at as many schools as possible. Wouldn’t it be great to reach the $2.5 million mark next year? I think it’ll happen. In addition to fundraising, I also see Walkstarter as a first step toward a vision of making free, high quality software tools available to all public schools, and look forward to having other like-minded folks join me on this journey.
If you have a daughter and want to help her see that she can be anything that she dreams of being, check out this site with her. You can see videos of women in many different jobs ( astronaut – check, physicist – check, executive – check … and many more). Yes, it’s sad that we even have to do this, but unfortunately there is too much marketing that our daughters experience daily that makes them think many things are only for men, and we have to relentlessly counter this when they are young.
After a whirlwind five weeks, last night was the last session of the CoderDojo “Interactive Web” series of classes. The sustained effort of developing the content for each class was exhausting, but it was all worth it; seeing the ~60 boys and girls see their browsers come alive with their own code was a joy to behold. I am not quite sure how (miracle, maybe?) that I managed to complete teaching all the material I had planned in these five weeks. We went from rudimentary knowledge of HTML to a fully functional, single page web app featuring Bootstrap, jQuery, Parse, OpenStreetMap, Leaflet and FontAwesome. The gist of the app is to present the user with a web form to which they can add some data including geolocation. This data is saved to Parse and then displayed on a map as interactive, animated markers.
You can see the finished app here Click the “Remix” button at top right to fork the code and create your own version of the app.
For the third time, my daughter and I teamed-up for a Hackathon. This time it was at Google for the “Code For India” Hackathon. The goal of the Hackathon was to create solutions to solve challenges related to problems in India. We picked the challenge related to advancing financial literacy for kids through gamification. Our solution called “Kaisa Paisa” (means “how money”) is a game plus simulator. You can check it out here: http://kaisapaisa.com
Since the Hackathon ran late, we didn’t stay till the end. Today, I was at the TieCon and happened to see a story about the Hackathon on the front page of the IndiaWest newspaper. Imagine my surprise when I saw this paragraph in the story:
Teams competed for several prizes donated by Google and Intel. The “most popular” project – Kaisa Paisa, an app for AIF that allows kids to develop financial street-smarts through games – was developed by Nik Kalyani and nine-year-old Gia Kalyani. The father-daughter team received a Moto G smartphone for developing the winning application.
Yesterday was the first session of a new series I am teaching. Organized by CoderDojo, the session was geared towards kids who have prior HTML experience. Through the series, I am going to introduce kids to interactive web development and Cloud services. We had the session at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus and had a full-house. My daughter Gia was a co-presenter.
In this session, I introduced the kids to CSS and added a fun design element. They had to create their own Mondrian art, using CSS.
Here are some stats on attendance:
Ages – how many attending
9 years old – 12
10 years old – 8
11 years old – 14
12 years old -12
13 years old – 8
14 years old – 4
29 boys 27 girls
Experience with HTML
Hours – how many attending
1-10 hours – 23 ( but should have had previous web class)
My daughter and I teamed-up at the Mojio/Hertz Hackathon at NestGSV Silicon Valley yesterday. Our app — GoodGaadi — was the winner of the Social category. It uses real-time telematics to aggregate driving data to the Cloud. It then scores the data and enables individuals to have a safer driving competition with friends, family and colleagues. It’s the gamification of safer driving!
Winning was very exciting, especially for my daughter. This was her second hackathon and so far she has won a prize in both. This time, the prize included an XBox One, $500, Mojio devices and of course, bragging rights.
Mojio’s technology and API inspired us to build this app. It has never before been possible to aggregate real-time data from multiple vehicles on the Cloud. The Mojio device is a small cellular device that plugs into the port of any car manufactured since 1996 and streams real-time data about your car to the cloud over the cellular network. (Learn more here — http://moj.io/ )
But our motivation came from elsewhere. Each year, over 30,000 people die in automobile accidents in the U.S. Countless others get injured. The cost to our economy is over $150 billion annually. We can change this. If each person makes small changes and eliminates bad driving habits such as hard braking, sudden acceleration, hard turns, excessive speed etc., over time, our roads will get safer and fewer people will get injured or die. Driverless cars will help, but for the foreseeable future, there will continue to be human drivers and making roads safer will continue to be a challenge.
We are looking forward to working with Mojio to bring GoodGaadi to life. Tell us your thoughts on safer roads and safer driving and our approach to this problem.
My daughter made her hackathon debut at Microsoft’s “Big Data Hackathon” yesterday+today. We used San Francisco parking meter data, map-reduced it with Hadoop and created Meterzilla — a site that helps you identify parking meters that are within walking distance of your destination (based on how many minutes you are willing to walk).
It was fun having my daughter as my team-mate. The best part — we won first place!