Zuluru is built to handle the needs of any organization, large or small. Let's break it down into blocks. Note that Zuluru is built on the CakePHP framework, which adds important features of its own.
Users and Players
Some information is available to anyone who visits your site, but most is available only to people who are logged in. These are your users. There is currently no distinction between users and players, but an upcoming version will add other roles such as "parent". Zuluru comes with out-of-the-box handling of user account creation (with admin approval for security), login/logout, and password change and reset.
There is also support for third-party user management, whereby all of these features are managed by, for example, your content management system. Currently, modules integrating with Joomla and Zikula are available. Modules for Drupal and WordPress are likely to be added, based on demand.
Teams are typically created automatically through the registration process. Once created, players can be invited to join rosters. Players who have joined the team may be promoted to positions of authority to allow them to help with team administration.
The team-building process is made easy with system-generated emails to players that are invited to join teams, or captains of teams that players ask to join. Because we know that rosters are often very similar from season to season, there is a tool to quickly invite selected players from existing rosters onto a new team.
Roster additions can be controlled through the use of "rules". For example, participation in your leagues or events might be restricted to people who have purchased a membership, signed a waiver, meet an age or gender requirement, or any combination thereof, and this is just a small sample of the available options.
Leagues and Divisions
A league is a collection of divisions, and a division is a collection of teams. Small organizations might have only a single league and division operating at a time, while larger clubs have multiple leagues on multiple nights, each with multiple divisions. Each division has one or more coodinators who are responsible for managing that division's schedule and results.
Facilities and Fields
Fields are managed on a hierarchical basis. "Facilities" are created, with information like location, driving and transit directions, parking, etc. "Fields" represent specific playing fields at this location. Facilities may also be divided into "regions", if your organization is geographically diverse. This structure eliminates duplication of information and streamlines displays.
A layout editor (built on Google Maps) lets you define the layout of each field, and the system will generate a view that integrates with the Google Maps search feature, allowing players to quickly find their best route to the game.
Specific facilities may be sponsored by local businesses (e.g. nearby pubs), allowing you to publicize special offers your organization has arranged, or add a secondary revenue stream through advertising.
Because different sports call their playing surfaces by different names, the very word "field" is configurable, so you can instead have Zuluru refer to pitches, diamonds, rinks, courts, gyms or whatever is appropriate.
Let's face it: games are what this is all about. Once teams are assembled into divisions and leagues, and game slots are created, schedules can be built. Zuluru supports round-robin and ladder scheduling, with randomized field assignments, ensuring a balanced number of home and away games for each team, as well as a variety of playoff and stand-alone tournament scheduling options.
Teams can turn on the very popular attendance tracking system, which will automatically send emails reminding players who haven't yet RSVPed, provide at-a-glance summaries for captains, and allow invitation of subs with just two clicks. Teams can also add non-game events, such as practices or parties, to their schedule, and have them managed with all the same attendance tracking features.
Once a game is completed, captains from each team submit the score for the game. If the submissions match, the score is automatically approved and posted with no coordinator intervention. If the submissions do not match, either captain has the option to edit their submission, or a coordinator may need to intervene and make a final determination.
League organizers can enable and configure optional game-related features like all-star nominations and stat tracking to increase the sense of community and provide opportunity for bragging rights. A future release will add "badges" to let players show off their accomplishments.
Schedule information is available in the standard iCal format, usable with Apple's iCal, Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and others. Data is available for individual games, for team schedules, or for all of a player's games (a perpetual personalized game calendar).
As mentioned above, Zuluru typically uses a registration system for managing membership and team creation. This is optional, but recommended. Registrations can be free or require payment (handled through various online payment providers, including PayPal, with Google Checkout coming soon).
The registration system uses the same rules system as roster management, so you can easily limit who is able to register for what, preventing duplicates and minimizing refunds.
Each registration can have a customized questionnaire associated with it (e.g. to ask for demographic information from players, or historical information from teams to assist with proper initial seeding). Questionnaires can be re-used from season to season, minimizing administrative effort.
Mailing Lists and Newsletters
Zuluru supports dynamic mailing lists (e.g. "all men over 33 that didn't register for Masters league") and sending newsletters to these mailing lists, making it easy to target communications with your entire membership or selected demographics.
Zuluru includes extensive reporting capabilities, including reports on field usage and distribution, game results, and player, team and registration statistics. Some common reports are available as CSV downloads, easily imported into Excel or other spreadsheets.
Historical information is preserved, so that players can look back at how their teams have performed from season to season, and administrators can track membership and team trends.
Zuluru version 1.5 introduced the concept of "affiliates". Affiliates are sub-organizations overseen by site administrators, but with their own managers. Affiliate managers can set up facilities, leagues, registrations, mailing lists, etc., but have only user-level access to these details in other affiliates. As with all advanced features of Zuluru, this can be disabled entirely; if enabled, it can be configured to allow users to join only a single affiliate or multiple, as appropriate for your organization.
There are no limits on how many affiliates, users, players, teams, leagues, divisions, regions, facilities, fields, games, seasons, registrations, mailing lists or newsletters you have.
Zuluru includes many features that are useful only to some organizations. These are controlled by a series of "settings" pages, which let you customize many aspects of the site's behaviour and look.
There is popup help available throughout the system for areas, as well as a set of user guides for new users, advanced users, captains, coordinators and administrators (the latter covering setup, players, leagues, fields and registration).
A partial revision history gives a good overview of how Zuluru has developed over time.