Online vs Offline Draft Software

The Early Days: Offline Apps

The early draft software -- what I've labeled as "Traditional Desktop GUIs" -- were offline. You weren't guaranteed to have wifi at many draft locations, so this made sense. They were designed to work offline. Maybe they can call home for projection updates, but that's it.

Obviously, the world has changed since then. Most places where you might have a live draft offer wifi. And online drafts are more common, so you obviously have an internet connection available for that.

The Rise of Online Only

I've noticed that many newer tools are built to run online. I think RotoChamp was an innovator here with their fully browser-based experience. The places that offer a draft syncing feature (Fantasy Pros, Fantasy SP) are also online only.

What really got me thinking about the choice was Draft Hero, a fantasy football draft app in development. I feel like it hits closest to the interface that I've been working on for DraftKick. It is all online.

DraftKick Can Be Both

Here's the thing with DraftKick: I intentionally picked a technology stack that allows it to work both offline (installed as a desktop app) and online (pointing your browser to a webpage).

That's beautiful.

But Which Is First?

The question I'm still reflecting on: Do I prioritize building the offline or online version first?

An online version adds some complexity. I need to have user accounts and password resets. I need a way to save and retrieve each user's draft info. Those things take time to build, and I had thought I was avoiding them when I decided to draft software. (My initial vision was for offline-only, despite using technology that allows both.)

But there were a couple of lingering questions with the offline version, too. How do I accept payment and provide the software? How do I handle licensing? There's probably some online component for that.

Or: Can I allow people to import projections? That seems random, but some people might not pay next year if they can import new projections into a previous year's version. So I either don't allow imports, or I need some way to disable the feature before next year.

Which leads me to perhaps starting with the online version first.

One big reason: The fall is slow draft season. An online version works great for slow drafting, because the draft itself is online, and you may need to make your pick from anywhere. I can get online working first and still have an offline version before the spring drafts.

So here's how it could work:

Anonymous Users

Free Accounts

Paid Users

I am still concerned about the potential for confusion if I have online and offline versions. Maybe I drop off anonymous users, and require an account to demo the offline and online versions?

Either way, the website calls-to-action would need to be super-clear.

Hi,

I'm Mays. I've been playing fantasy since I was in high school (over two decades ago).

My speciality has always been player valuation—converting player stats into rankings and salary values. VBD? Z-Scores? We go way back. In 2009, I started Last Player Picked, a site that generated fantasy values customized for your league.

These days, I'm building DraftKick and Projectile, a fantasy baseball site with in-season projection visualizations.

You can find me on Twitter at @MaysCopeland or email me at mayscopeland@gmail.com.