How to Create a Bike Touring Plan

The Bike Tour Planning pages were designed with two purposes in mind. The main idea is to provide a place on the internet for bike tourists to put their touring information. A hoped for result is the creation of a library of public tour plans that will help others planning similar trips.

The Bike Tour Planning system consists of three web pages: the main page, the user page, and the planning page.

The Bike Tour Planning Main Page lists all the public plans and, if the user is logged in, that user's private plans and buttons to "Create a New Plan" and "Go To Your Tour Planning Page." In reality, both of these options go to the same page. The user's planning page lists the current touring plans, both public and private, the default packing list, and the "Plan A New Tour" button. The tour planning page provides several sections where the users can add links and comments, as well as, modify their default packing list. In addition, a tour description can be entered and indexed locations specified.

The User's Planning Page

The Default Packing List

The key feature of the user's planning page is the default packing list, which is entered on this page. The idea of a "default" packing list is that over time experienced bike tourists develop a set of trusted touring equipment and clothes. Once this list has been created, it is the basis for all future bike tours. The Bike Tour Planning system implements this idea by allowing users to enter their packing list once and then adding this automatically to every new touring plan. Any equipment changes needed for a particular tour can be made on the Tour Planning Page.

Planning a New Tour

The first step in creating a new tour plan is clicking on the "Plan A New Tour" button on either the Bike Tour Planning Main Page or the User's Planning Page. A tour title, which is how this tour will be listed, and a description must be entered. At least one tour location has to be listed, as well. While the tour locations don't really add any information valuable to the user, it does link this plan into the Bike Touring Tips search system for others to find, should this plan be made public. Any number of locations can be listed.

The Tour Planning Page

A bike tour plan is divided into six sections: Tour Description, Route Maps, Web Links, Names and Places, Travel Details, and Packing List. There are two reasons for these sections. First, it provides a general organization to the plan. Second, it allows a user to make a plan public without exposing all the entered details as each section can be marked as private even thorugh the plan is made public. Note that Tour Description is always public and Travel Details are always private. A user doesn't have to abide by these segments and can put anything anywhere.

Links and Comments

There are two types of entries in most of the planning sections: links and comments. These can be added in pairs or by themselves. That is, links can be entered without comments and comments can be listed without links. When a comment is added without being associated with a link, it will be shown in the link column. A link consists of a URL (web address) and a label. When displayed, a link will be enabled so that clicking on it will open a new window/tab containing the link's page. A label must be specified for each URL.

Command Buttons

Each sections consists of two parts: entered information and command buttons. The information is displayed in two columns with links on the left and comments on the right (unless only one has been specified, in which case, it will appear in the left hand column only). At the end of of the Route Maps, Web Links, Names and Places, and Travel Details segments, there are two buttons: "Add Information" and "Edit Entry."

To modify entries already entered, click the "Edit Entry" button. This will put a radio button next to each existing entry. Clicking on one of these buttons will open 3 text boxes containing that entry's data. You can "Delete This Entry," modify and "Save Changes," or "Cancel" the operation entirely.

To add new entries, click the "Add Information" button. This will open 3 empty text boxes: one for a URL (web address), one for the URL's label, and one for a comment related to the link. Links (and labels) can be added by themselves as can comments. There is no need for an entry to have both. After filling these boxes, click on "Submit Information" to store it and add it to this page. Clicking "Cancel" cancels the addition.

Public Versus Private

When a plan is created, it is marked as private. This means that only the user who created the plan can see it and it will only appear on that user's Planning Page. When a plan is marked as public, then everyone can see it and it will appear under Public Plans on the Tour Planning Main Page.

To mark a plan as public, click the radio button at the very top of the page, just below the plan's title. Once a plan is marked public, an additional set of radio buttons will appear at the bottom of each section (with the exception of Travel Details, which are always kept private). By default, the first time a plan is marked public, every section starts as private. To make a plan section public, click on the "public" radio button at the bottom of that section. One reason to make touring plans public is that this allows others to add comments to them.

Modifying the Packing List

When a tour plan is created, it is populated with the user's default packing list, which is displayed in a text box. To make changes to this list, simply add, remove or change what is shown in the text box and click "Submit Packing List Updates."

Tour Descriptions, Comments and Deleting Plans

The plan's title, description and locations can all be edited by clicking on the buttons identified for that purpose. If a plan is public, it may get comments from other users. To add a comment to your own plan, click on the "Add a Comment" link. Plan comments are always public. Should a user want to delete a tour plan, they can click the "Delete This Plan" button. This will only take effect if the box next to the button has been checked to confirm the deletion. Once a plan has been deleted, it can't be recovered, so be careful doing this.

How A Plan Is Saved

The Tour Planning Page is designed to store information when it is entered or modified. As a result, there is no need for a "Save Plan" button and none exists.

If you find an error, have any ideas for new features or thoughts about the current ones, please send me an email.

Copyright © 2011 by Ray Swartz