It's been a busy few weeks at Lanyrd mobile HQ — we've flown the width of Africa and travelled all the way down the Nile from Cairo and back up again to Luxor. We've also been working hard on Lanyrd — mostly behind the scenes improving our core functionality, but we have a few new features to share as well.
Conferences, topics, places and topics-in-places all now sport shiny new iCalendar feeds. These should work with iCal on the Mac, Outlook on Windows, Mozilla Sunbird and other calendaring applications. Click the "Subscribe in iCal / Outlook" link to subscribe to the feed — any changes on Lanyrd should be instantly reflected in your calendar. If you just want to grab a copy of the current set of events you can use the "Save to iCal / Outlook" link instead.
We're also providing a feed of conferences you are attending or tracking yourself — look for the link at the bottom of the right hand column on the calendar page when you first sign in.
We've done some work optimising Lanyrd's loading times. While this involved plenty of changes under the hood (for the interested, we're now serving our static assets from Amazon's CloudFront CDN, minified and gzip compressed with a far-future expires header) it shouldn't make any visible difference to the site at all — although our pages should feel a bit snappier now. See Yahoo!'s best practices for speeding up your web site for more.
Twitter avatars are pretty, but they're not the most efficient way of scanning through a list of conference attendees to work out who's who.
Our new speaker, attendee and tracker pages provide a more detailed list, with real names (at least according to Twitter) and Twitter bios displayed alongside the avatars.
If you're organising a conference, these pages are handy for getting to know your attendees better. Remember, you can use the @Lanyrd Twitter bot to populate your conference page without anyone needing to sign in to the site — just ask your attendees to tweet "@lanyrd attending #yourhashtag" to add themselves to the page, and automatically create a Lanyrd account if they don't yet have one.
We now have a system for adding custom advertisements to topic pages, the conferences page and the homepage. You may have spotted one or two of these a few weeks ago promoting the Future of Web Apps conference in London. If you are interested in advertising on the site, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We love URLs. Joining our short URLs for sessions we now have short URLs for conference pages as well — perfect for sharing on Twitter. For example, Web Directions South can be accessed through lanyrd.com/cxg.
Our places database is powered by Yahoo! GeoPlanet, which assigns a numeric identifier (known as a WOEID) to every town, city, state and country on earth. We originally used those identifiers for our place page URLs, which meant we could reliably tell the difference between London, England and London, Ontario.
These weren't particularly memorable, so we've now assigned human friendly URLs to the top 500 places on Lanyrd. Among other things, this makes our topic-in-place page URLs much nicer to look at:
Naturally, the old URLs redirect to the new ones, so any existing links will work just fine.