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September 27 2012

Are Your Mobile Apps Slowing You Down – Goomzee Mobile MLS

Hello industry friends:

I’m pleased to share with you that our 18-month-long engineering cycle is almost complete, and we’re introducing the most performant mobile app API in the industry.  As you may have read recently with reviews by Clareity and others, the quality and performance from mobile solutions varies greatly, and some poor solutions leave you and your members relying on the portal apps to stay in touch with consumers.  We set out over a year ago to help solve this issue and I will be sharing some key performance metrics you need to be aware of when evaluating any mobile solution, and how we solved these issues.

Please read all about it below and see our “cheeky” flyer for this event.  ;-)

CMLS FLYER:  CMLS 2012 Flyer (pdf) CMLS 2012 Flyer (Zip)

Mobile MLS Apps From Goomzee - CMLS 2012 Boston

We started at the data, then indexing the data, then the search engine, then the API server.  Every piece was carefully evaluated and tested before any technology was approved for our mobile “stack”.  I’m pleased to note that our API servers alone with just a static response message, serve requests at 20,900 requests/second per server.  Zillow’s returns approximate 147 requests/second for a static error message, for comparison.  Our user preference database performs write operations at over 152,000 writes/second.  Just to give you a comparison of what this means, we performed some benchmarks on many leading portal apps.

Using a brand new linux server in a large Texas datacenter with quad core processing, gigabit ethernet (1Gbs), and Sandy Bridge Intel processors we gave every mobile API a fair shake.  By monitoring network traffic on our wi-fi network, we documented the API urls that portal iPhone apps were sending listing search requests to, and then set up our tests to these servers with a small amount of traffic, off-peak.  Our tests revealed that the fastest portal API was Redfin, serving requests at 54 requests/second.  Zillow came in at 39 requests/second, then Trulia and between 13-15 requests/second.  Solutions like Smarter Agent and others either timed out or were below 5 requests/second.

We performed the same tests on our API returning both 1 result and 20 results for a geo search (map search) and our API returned 1,200 request/second for 20 results, and over 4,000 requests/second for 1 result, primarily just limited by network bandwidth and speed depending on size of the response data.  These tests were against a single server and indexed database with over 10 million listings and 70 million photos.  To ensure fairness, we also tested from slow, low-bandwidth,  out-of-network server and still returned over 200 requests/second to an 8-year-old 2GB RAM server with a 10Mbs connection (100x slower connection).  What this means to you, is that when tens of thousands of simultaneous users connect to a Mobile MLS, a tool they need/use daily, less of them will be waiting for the server to respond.

Long gone are the days of an OR clause and a % wildcard symbol in a SQL query for real estate search.  To remain competitive with portals, you need to implement the kind of technology they have access to.  We can all attest to the importance of accurate results and we took that very seriously, adding a real search engine with Near-Real-Time (NRT) indexing which means fresher data and search results.  Similar technology offered by Zillow and others, using Lucene search engine, had limitations with the powerful front end called SOLR because it required nightly batch re-indexing, thus listings would not be up-to-date as frequently.  Those technologies are catching up, but our chosen solution is already setting the new standard.

On the accuracy front, I’m grateful for MLS partners like Intermountain MLS in Boise Idaho and their staff who literally took a  prototype app out in the field and tested our search, tested common agent searches and mistakes, and helped us tune our search engine to deliver the most accurate results.  I personally have tested a few industry apps and the search accuracy has been all over the board.  The complaints we heard from MLS staff around the U.S. we focused on solving first, and we’ll let them tell you how we did – find Greg Manship, their CEO, in Boston.

I do hope to see most of you this week in Boston and please don’t hesitate to grab me for a QUICK demo.  Battery-life-permitting, I’m very excited to show off what we’ve toiled over for nearly 2 years behind the scenes and what we’ll be formally unveiling very soon.  My hope is you too agree, and choose to team with Goomzee and offer the best tools available to your customers.

Thanks for your time and continued support!

Warmest regards,

Mike Sparr, CEO and Founder

May 11 2011

Useful Listing Syndication Terms Learned at Mid Year

Today I was present in various meetings (before the fire in my hotel of course) and one takeaway I thought would be useful to others was information from the CMLS Workshop on listing data syndication. There are often terms out there that people don’t know exactly what they mean so I thought it might help to get these written down in the blogosphere for others. Consider it my listing syndication dictionary thanks to CMLS and volunteers to helped pull the first “Brings It To The Table” meeting together.  A special thanks goes out to the organizers for a provocative discussion.

Aggregator – a term used to describe an entity that compiles and stores listing data.

API (Application Programming Interface) – a set of rules and specs that allow communication from one software program to another.

Channel – a public (non-agent/broker) website to which syndicators distribute data; a.k.a. “portal”. Not regulated by MLS rules.

Derivative Works – use of information from a data set, other than the original intent; a.k.a. “re-purpose”.

EULA (End User License Agreement) – governs use by the individual user on a particular site, product or service.

Enhanced/Featured Listing – added content or premium placement provided as an up-sell to agent/broker by Publisher.

Extended Network – a shared search experience on a public website other than an original channel; Data doesn’t leave control of the original channel, but remains resident in the original database. A.k.a. “framing” or “powered by”.

Framing – surrounding the property search of Site A with the branding of Site B; data does not leave the control of Site A. See “framing” and “powered by”.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange) – website owned by an agent/broker wherein other brokers have given approval to each other to advertise listings. IDX sites are regulated by MLS.

Opt-in vs. Opt-out – in either instance, the broker is given the means to indicate their own choice as to the display of their listing data on a given national website/channel. Opt-in – the broker chooses to participate; Opt-out – all brokers’ listings are included unless the broker actively prevents it.

Portal – a public (non-agent/broker) website to which syndicators distribute data; a.k.a. “channel” or “publisher”. Not regulated by MLS.

Powered By – provider of information for a website; host or developer of website; property search of one national website framed to the branding of another.

Publisher – national website operator; a.k.a. “channel” or “portal”.

Re-Direct Link – link to the property detail page of the listing agent/broker’s IDX site.

Re-Purpose – other use than the explicit purpose for which it was provided, often unauthorized; a.k.a. “derivative works”.

Re-Syndication – when a publisher to whom listings have been syndicated forwards that content to another, typically for display on another website.

Syndication – method by which the broker can instruct the MLS to distribute their listing data to outside websites other than IDX and VOW.

Transient Download – method of displaying data on a website by pulling data from another server so that the data never leaves the original source (server).

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