On July 1st of each year, I have a ritual I call the Massacre of the Novii. Today I go through the database on Tabroom.com and change every student listed as a novice to not be a novice anymore. I also this year went through and automatically marked any student with a grad year 2012 or before as “retired”. So your team rosters will be considerably smaller; and *sniff* our little babies are all grown up now into the vicious argumentative hellions we’ve trained them to be. Papa’s so proud.
I’ve been working feverishly on Tabroom.com this summer, mostly doing boring behind the scenes work to prepare to it function much more smoothly with debate events, particularly international debate events. This work is supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundation, which is George Soros’s main philanthropic effort, and IDEA, the International Debate Education Association. The plan is for Tabroom to become the integrated web fronted for debate tournaments worldwide, working together seamlessly with the CAT/debateresults.com system developed by Jon Bruschke of CSU Fullerton, who’s been a great hippy Californian partner in arms in this effort. Mostly, I’m doing the web stuff, he’s doing the desktop client.
This is not a black UN helicopter taking over Tabroom; I’m still going to be in the thick of it, and the software itself, by OSF mandate, must be open sourced. This effort on OSF/IDEA’s part is about expanding their services and therefore their own profile in debate, and also attempting to cross-pollinate good ideas from abroad and the US. It’s not about seizing control of anything. There are also plans afoot to integrate this tabulation and results system into a global honor society, in which debaters can be recognized for their entire careers, high school, college and coaching, worldwide. All of which I think is very exciting, and I’m glad IDEA is stepping in to fill these needs.
The programming itself is unspeakably boring, because it mostly consists of me correcting some fundamental flawed assumptions and mistakes that I made back in the beginning of Tabroom 2.0, which was released more or less in 2004. (Tabroom 1.0 was 2000-2003, but nobody ever used it except for me). Tabroom 3.0 features a professional graphical design based on the new IDEA website, which is spiffier than anything I could come up with; I can design for clean, but not quite for “shiny”.
But I’m also working on some cool new features; I don’t want to over promise, but I expect that Tabroom will support texting/email of pairings, team management features where your students can sign up for tournaments directly on tabroom and only requires coaches’ approval, the ability for judges to enter their ballots and results directly online by computers and phone, more varied ways of displaying results (a carryover from debateresults.com), and a few new surprises that I’m cooking up. It’ll support US formats, together with various global formats, such as 4 team British Parliamentary debate and more.
So that’s the future of Tabroom.com. Launch is August 1st for registration, Sept 1st for tabbing/pairing features. And brave new worlds shall be upon us.