Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone use Gatekeeper?
You're welcome to use Gatekeeper for any Lochac event. After playing with the trial version, contact the support team to get advice or hands-on help to customise it for your event. (Your event first needs to be published on the Kingdom Calendar, which also means it's been approved by your group Seneschal).

How does Gatekeeper save time?
At gate itself, it greatly reduces paperwork, eliminates the need for membership cards (though some proof of ID may still be required) and it reduces errors caused by distraction, haste or carelessness. After the event, it makes financial reporting a few simple spreadsheet operations, instead of dealing with stacks of paper. How much time does it save? Lots!

Do I still need paper sign-ins if I use Gatekeeper?
For current adult members, NO - sign-in for them is entirely electronic. Minors will still require some paperwork and, at Australian events only, so will event members (i.e. people without current memberships), people with expired indemnities or SCA members from overseas - Gatekeeper recognises each case at sign-in and will prompt gate staff to take the right action. Electronic sign-in rules are set by the SCA Ltd Board or SCA NZ Inc Committee and may be subject to change - when in doubt, ask.

Does Gatekeeper need the internet to work?
NO, not at your event. Once configured, Gatekeeper will do all its magic provided you've used the internet shortly beforehand - e.g. a day or two before the event - to get its Registry information fully up-to-date.

Can I use casual gate staff who've never used Gatekeeper before?
No and yes. Especially on the first and busiest shifts, you will need at least one person - your gate deputy - who has spent time getting comfortable with Gatekeeper. They'll have time to train up casual helpers to staff other shifts if they want. If you assign other volunteers in advance, you can ask them to download and play with the trial version beforehand. Finally, there's a growing pool of people across Lochac who already know it.

What if an inexperienced gate person gets confused by an unusual situation, or makes a mistake?
Gatekeeper is flexible enough to allow for later correction of partial sign-ins, booking typos and other obvious errors. It helps a lot if any gate helper is forewarned to take plenty of notes in such situations - either inside Gatekeeper itself or on paper. That'll be enough for the gate deputy to figure out later what they really intended.

Do I need anything special for Gatekeeper to work for my event?
There's one very important thing - but it's not special. You need a booking spreadsheet. It doesn't matter whether that spreadsheet is generated from an online booking system, output from something like Google forms, or is one that you create and maintain manually. What matters is that it contains a few rather-obvious-and-standard columns - along with any others you added for your own purposes. To see an example of the kind of spreadsheet Gatekeeper can work with, download the trial version and look at Gate War II.csv. The columns with CAPITALISED titles in that spreadsheet (BOOKING ID, MUNDANE NAME, SCA NAME, EMAIL...) are the ones which Gatekeeper relies on. The precise column order, titles and even specific data values don't matter - Gatekeeper's customisation process can cope with quite a bit of variation. But something fairly similar to each of those eight columns needs to be available in your booking spreadsheet.

How long does it take to customise Gatekeeper?
Depending on the complexity of your event, configuring Gatekeeper might take an experienced person an hour. Installation and learning for the primary user - your principal gate deputy - might take an hour or two of their time. Spending longer getting the hang of Gatekeeper means less chance of being delayed by unusual cases at the event (typos in bookings, refunds you want paid at gate, unusual requests). The initial setup and training should happen several weeks or even months before the event - preferably very soon after your bookings open. Finally, although Gatekeeper is very flexible, customisation tends to be easier if your booking spreadsheet is loosely modeled on the sample one used by the trial version. So if at all possible, you or your booking deputy should take a look at the trial version before you even open bookings.

Any special hardware requirements?
No. Any Windows computer (or even virtual machine) from the past decade will run Gatekeeper just fine. At your event, you'll probably want a laptop with decent-sized screen, a mouse in addition to its touchpad, and a known-good battery - even if you think you'll have AC power available. You will not need an internet connection at the event, but you will need to use one a day or two beforehand to fetch the latest Registry information.

Can I use two or more Gatekeeper machines at the same time?
Sure - with a tiny amount of extra post-event work (see the Gatekeeper.rtf documentation). But in truth, Festival is the only event so far where two computers were needed. Gatekeeper can save everyone so much time that you won't see long sign-in queues that sometimes happen with a purely paper-based approach.

Where do I look for documentation?
Download and unzip the trial version - you'll find that Gatekeeper.rtf thoroughly documents how to use the app. For the very keen, it also explains how to configure it yourself for new events - though you're welcome to ask the support team to do that for you. Gatekeeper.rtf also appears when you click the Help button or press F1 in Gatekeeper.

Does Gatekeeper include an electronic payment system for casual (walkup) attendees or others who need to pay at gate?
NO. However, it calculates what they need to pay, and records the fact and amount of that payment when you sign them in. You can use any external payment mechanism you like, including EFTPOS terminals, Square, cash, etc.. To help with reconciliation, you can use the Gate record number (it's displayed on the Save button just before you click it) as a transaction ID in the external system. And/or you can store the external system's transaction ID in the Gate Notes field.

Does it have any other useful features?
With relatively little effort, Gatekeeper can be configured to, for example, remind people to sign up for chores (or tell gate staff who is exempt and why), tell them their pre-assigned bunkroom, have gate staff hand over souvenirs or equipment they've ordered, and much more. It's all easily controlled by what's in the booking spreadsheet - so it's just a matter of deciding how much up-to-date information you want (or have time) to include in that.

What private data does Gatekeeper access?
To support efficient electronic sign-ins, Gatekeeper needs at a minimum half a dozen booking fields including name, SCA name, email address and the booking type. If you are an SCA member it uses a similar small set of fields from your membership record. Finally, it stores similar fields in a Gate record for each person who signs in. Encryption is used during data transfer and local storage of Registry information and the stored Gate records are also encrypted. After the event, SCA officers such as the event steward and Reeve will have an unencrypted copy of the Gate records so they can do event reporting.

Where do I go for support?
Contact the support team - you should get a response within a day or two. We're really happy to hear if you encounter problems, or have clever ideas for making Gatekeeper work better for you. There may be chocolate fish!

Who's behind Gatekeeper?
The original idea came from Mistress Tatianitska Iaroslavna and Master Nicodemus Novello, who each discussed it with Master Bartholomew Baskin in 2016. Bartholomew worked with the then-Kingdom Constable Mistress Aveline Goupil and others such as Lady Adrienne Furet, Mistress Leta von Goslar and THL Declan of Drogheda to refine and develop the idea. With support from Nicodemus, the first version was used at Canterbury Faire 2017 and soon afterwards Festival 2017. Most of those people, among others, are directly involved with supporting Gatekeeper today.

Are we allowed to use it?
If you are stewarding an SCA event in Australia or New Zealand, yes. Gatekeeper was approved for use by SCA NZ Inc. in late 2016 and a few months later by SCA Ltd. Your access to Registry information will be time-limited - enough to allow you to train and prepare for the event, and of course for the event itself. As steward, you will be responsible for controlling access to the application itself, the booking data it requires and the Gate records it generates.

You've read this far? Great! You're definitely ready to download and check out the trial version today. Go on, be brave :)