Smartform Beta FAQ
The beta database is a significant upgrade to the existing Smartform database that will eventually replace it.
The beta phase provides a chance to use both databases alongside each other and to test and provide feedback prior to going live.
This will also give users ample time to become familiar with the database prior to cutover.
The Smartform database has been going since 2008, and provided a reliable service since that time.
The new database builds on that service, adding many features to existing tables in the database as well entirely new tables for additional insights, without taking anything away.
Some of the features added to existing tables in the new release are:
- Wind operations in historic runners and daily_runners from 2018
- Sire and dam IDs in daily runners
- Distance travelled in daily runners
- New race types such as "fillies only" in historic and daily races
- Patches to fix historic data issues with certain handicap ratings and race times
We are also adding a series of "insight" tables, beginning with historic_runners_insights, which includes over 100 new variables that we have found useful over the years or you have requested, engineered on top of the Smartform database to provide insight on top of the raw data.
From standard win and place strike rates to more granular variables like average number of horses beaten by distance, going, class and race_code, each is painstakingly tested to ensure that the correct previous information is on a "to date" basis for each runner at the time of entry in the historic database, without taking into account the result of the upcoming run - meaning systems backtesting and modelling use cases are all valid.
These variables can be a pain to create, since they require trawling through the history of each runner using subqueries and references in your favourite SQL or scripting language, but are very useful for research purposes, analysis and modelling once created.
We're getting started in a small way, with just one table added for your review, but there will be more to follow during the beta period to provide insight data for jockeys, trainers and sires.
Most likely yes. The tables in the beta database may well change. The aim of the beta phase is to allow us to continually modfify and improve on the basis of our own testing and your feedback, before transitioning it to the main release product.
It is important to be aware of this while using the beta, as we may advise redownload of tables at any stage, though we will always endeavour to provide at least one week's notice.
Yes. With the Beta database you are able to operate new the new and existing tables in the same schema (MySQL database).
The Beta database consists of 5 new tables:
As you can see the table names are different to avoid a conflict with those used in Smartform.
Indeed, the new updater (read more about this below) has been designed to update the existing Smartform database and the beta tables at the same time.
Yes. The database will automatically update with either updater so there is no conflict in how you fetch data even if you use one script after another.
The existing fetch_updates scripts will not fetch the new beta tables.
The new updater can detect and refresh all our tables including the existing tables.
The new updater has a simple interactive configuration interface that you can use to connect to your Smartform database, and a tool to allow you to interactively update any individual feed.
It can also be configured to operate as a drop-in replacement for your existing scripts, once you are happy with the way it works.
The tool is a binary, built for the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms at present, and for Windows users we have a simple installer application that can set up your scheduled tasks for you.
In short, the new updater should make automatic and manual updates a breeze - we highly recommend you try it!
We anticpate that the beta period will last 3 months, so there will be ample time for you to try out the new tables.
At least one month's notification will be provided to users before switching to the new database.
We are still ironing out our guidance for the switchover, but we plan to make this as easy for you as possible.
The database switchover will be straightforward, and we will provide clear guidance and any support scripts that are necessary.
Yes. As mentioned above in the discussion of historic_runners_insights, we will be adding insights tables for trainers and jockeys during the period of the beta.
We have other insights tables in the works, for pace, sire and betting statistics.
No. Provided that you maintain an unbroken subscription there will be no charge to existing customers for the new tables added during the beta phase.
New customers who subscribe after the beta period will have to pay incremental fees for access to the new tables.
You can drop us a line as always via our contact form.
We are also planning to introduce a Slack channel once all users have had the chance to download the beta.
If you would like to be invited to the slack channel please drop us a line!
Please note that access to the Slack channel will be limited to current subscribers only.