Indoor climbing tracker

Update: I built a new version of the app as an Android and Android Wear native app. The one described on this page is not maintained anymore.

I have been doing outdoor and indoor climbing for five years now. While I enjoy a lot rock climbing and multi-pitch outdoor routes, I also practice every week indoor climbing at my local climbing gym.

Tracking a new Climb
Tracking a new Climb on mobile

I use Foursquare everyday, RunKeeper when running or skiing, a diving computer when diving, but I have nothing to track my indoor climbs.
We were thinking about this with Pierre, a climber friend, and I started working on it as a side project. We imagine it very simple:

  • select a climbing gym
  • “check-in” on routes after each climb saying if it was lead or top-rope, leaving a comment. Of course, gyms and routes need to be user generated.

The value would be that you can track your progress and the app could give route suggestions. You could leave and get comments and tips on routes.

Climbing log on Chrome Desktop
Climbing log on Chrome Desktop

I had great feedback from the /r/climbing reddit community. Telling me if this kind of app would be useful, what people would use it for and pointing me to similar projects.

Technically, the prototype app is a client-side web application, based on Parse because I didn’t want to bother building once again a new dumb backend server that is just storage and user credentials. I like Parse’s phylosophy of being a “backend as a service”, they are right to think that a lot of web or mobile application are structured the same way and do not have a lot of server-side logic. Focusing on the front end was what interested me with this project, and Parse allowed me to prototype things fast and be sure that it is reliable for the future.
It is generated using Yeoman (so uses Bower as client-side library management tool and Grunt as build tool), it uses AngularJS and bootstrap 3.

I think I did the mistake to think that I could target mobile and desktop with the exact same responsive website, while this may not be false, I think I would better have focus only on the mobile application and build a dedicated mobile UI using a mobile web framework, such as ionic framework. This may be the next step.

It is available online at and still needs a nice name and logo.

Try it now

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Square of the Dead

or “28 check-ins later“…

This week-end, I participated to the foursquare global hackathon. I worked with Jean and Olivier on

I’ve been having an idea for a long time: imagine a virtual virus that is spreading due to our social interactions. Wouldn’t it be great to see it spread and to see how people react? Foursquare was the ideal product to build upon. So I pitched a crazy idea about virus and zombies, saying that a game mechanism was still to be defined.

Inspired by zombie movies, we worked a long time to define a simple game pluggable on foursquare. After a couple of iterations, we came up with a simple system:

Square of the Dead, rules

Players can either be survivors or zombies.

  • When you are a zombie, you contaminate every place you check into. Your goal is to spread the virus.
  • When you are a survivor, you get contaminated if you check into a contaminated place. Your goal is to survive, for this you can find guns in non-contaminated places. These guns will allow you to de-contaminate places and transform zombies from these places into survivors.

The game do not require so much actions from the players, they just have to keep using foursquare to play. We minimized the problems by adopting a cross-platform notification system that everyone is already using: emails.

Technically, we used the Play! framework deployed on App Engine using Siena. I ran into a bug that made us lost some precious hours.

We will polish the game and maybe come up with some nice other features (like a map to see the virus spreading all over the world!).
Try “Square of the Dead” now.

Olivier, designer, also blogged about his experience.

Working on the project, picture by Le Camping

I really enjoyed the hackathon. Other projects were really great. here are my favorites:

  • 4sqBox: receive files when you chek-in somewhere
  • fstalk2her: check the boy/girl ratio before going into a bar and see what you have in common with these people 😀
  • Check Me In: Check-in just by facing your smartphone in front of the venue’s iPad (use case: you have no network)
  • Gettogether: very slick mobile app to organize something with friends.