Before we go any further, this is a personal opinion piece and not a commercial endorsement of the Morrisbook from the Morris Ring. It's something so good I felt should be shared

I became aware of the system when The Yateley Morris Men adopted it on trial having in turn had Morrisbook recommended to them by Stafford Morris. Kennet are now trialling it and, other than the odd technophobe (some are very odd), it has almost universally been welcomed. As Kennet's implementor and administrator, I was bowled over by the content and ease of use. It was obviously designed by someone who knew how bagmen can suffer!

I made contact with the developer, the ever helpful Chris Hall of the (non-Ring) Shropshire Bedlams to find out more and to ask whether he would appreciate my appreciation of the app being spread amongst the Ring's community, which he welcomed. Over 10 sides have signed up with the minimum of publicity and I did want to know whether he could cope with any of you lot.

This is his tell of its history:

"Like the Morris itself, the early days of Morrisbook are now almost completely lost in the mists of time. 

I spent my career working in the IT section of a large government department, starting out as a humble Cobol programmer (those in the know will realise how long ago that must have been!) and finishing as an architect, designing some of the online systems available on GOV.UK. 

Dancing for many years with the Ironbridge-based Ironmen and Severn Gilders, back in the early noughties I realised that there must be a better way of organising the team than using the old school attendance register that one of our more organised squires used to use to keep track of who was available for dance-outs. 

As the side's webmaster, I set about learning how to turn our static website into something much more interactive, with a members-only page that allowed the squire to record details of dance-outs. It was only a matter of time before I added the functionality to allow team members  to indicate their availability to dance or play with a simple click of the mouse. Back then, few of us were accessing websites on our phones, and that original version was a very simple, fixed-layout page suitable only for desktop monitors.  

Roll on to 2021, and following a break of a few years from dancing, I joined The Shropshire Bedlams, and upon offering them my old online attendance system, immediately realised that things had moved on considerably in the intervening years. For many, the default device for accessing websites was now the smartphone, so the old website format just wouldn't do. 

I spent a number of weeks redesigning the site according to 'responsive design' principles, meaning that the format adapts to the size of screen being used, and works well on any device from the largest desktop monitor to the smallest phone. 

I also added a number of new features: Automated email notifications whenever event details are updated; A library of dance notes, videos, sheet music and audio files to quickly get new recruits up to speed; a further library of documents to be shared with team members; and a team contact list, which members themselves can keep up to date.

The reception from other team members was great - though it inevitably took a while for some to realise that using the system was going to be much more helpful than just raising a hand on practice night! 

Very soon I had a request from another new recruit to make the system available to his old dance side, which set me thinking, and as a result I spent several months enhancing the site to make it adaptable for any other morris side. 

Suddenly everything had to be configurable - the team name, the colours, which pages were visible, permissions to update certain pages, and all of this had to be done in such a way that members of another side could easily set up and manage their own site. Security was also a primary concern with the need to keep a team's data secure and private from other teams.

As so often in the IT world this all took much longer than I expected, but finally on 30th April 2023 - the eve of the traditional dancing season - I tentatively posted the first advert on Facebook for what was now called Morrisbook.

Reaction from the Morrisbook pioneers has been universally positive, and I've already received a number of enhancement requests, most of which I'll be working on in the coming weeks and months."

I'll say no more. ... but Ii you want to explore go to

Peter de Courcy

Web Editor and Fool