Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kansas City's Drafster


You may have noticed the Drafster link that made it's way onto the navigation here at KC Beer Blog a few weeks ago - it's something we're very excited to integrate into the blog. I think it's awesome that Kansas City has it's own home grown answer to social media tap listing, one that many bars have adopted and has a great end-user experience.

We're happy to officially partner with Scott Harris, the creator of Drafster, to bring his services to the blog. We're currently working on a widget that'll offer everyone a quick look at the most recent tap changes here in Kansas City, look for it in the sidebar sometime soon!

It was little more than a year ago when we first talked about Drafster, since then Scott has been hard at work developing the online application and it's now more fully featured and robust. While the easiest change to notice is the increased amount of taps now online, there is even more going on behind the scenes. We took some time to ask Scott some questions about this project, and he was kind enough to answer.

How did Drafster get started?

When Bier Station opened and I noticed they were super diligent in tweeting their tap changes, I wondered if I could create an up-to-date tap listing by utilizing Twitter's API.  It was a fun challenge and the end result was a real time tap list for them. Word got out, and next thing I knew they were sending their customers to my website to see what they currently had on tap.

After seeing how much people were using the site I decided to expand it a bit, so I wrote a crawler to index various establishments around town that kept their tap listings some what up to date. Initially this was just for Flying Saucer, McCoy's, Beer Kitchen, The Foundry and Waldo Pizza.  The crawling effort started to become a bit of a burden to maintain, so it's somewhat abandoned yet continues to function for a few places.
To simplify things for Bier Station as well as provide an inlet for other locations inquiring about the site, I built some back end tools to allow people to administrate the taps themselves - this meant more up-to-date tap lists.

How does it work?

I provide a mobile friendly administration tool for locations to use. I tried to make this tool as quick and easy to use as possible because I know the folks using it are short on time. I wrote a service to keep track of tap changes.  Whenever it detects one, it tweets and posts it on Facebook. Locations that already post their listings online are integrated via a Web API, so it stays current automatically.

What kind of fun stats are there about the site?

The site currently lists over 650 administrated taps and over 800 total in total. 16 area bars are currently administrating their tap lists on the site, and I am currently crawling 5 locations around town.  

What's the best way to use Drafster?

It really depends on what you're going after. If you're at an establishment already that hosts taps on my site you'll probably find yourself loading up drafster.com and going directly to their tap lists.  Alternatively if you're seeking something specific or limited, you probably want to keep an eye on the Twitter or Facebook page so you can know right away when something new has been listed.  Right now only hosted tap lists are announced.  Crawled tap changes are not.

How does a bar get on Drafster?
Someone involved with the establishment just needs to send me an e-mail.  Set-up is free and only takes me a couple of minutes.

Tell us a little about yourself, Scott!

I am a full time developer for an industry consulting firm - if any establishments around town are looking to contract out some help getting their hosted tap lists integrated with their websites or want to create their own LCD boards, they can contact me!

What's the future look like for Drafster?

I am tossing around the idea of an iPhone / Android app, so there might be something coming soon in that department - then everyone can check tap lists on the go.

Thanks for your time Scott! Kansas City do you use Drafster on a regular basis? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments.

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