WP Outage

At around 4:40pm EDT today, the WorshipPlanning.com site became inaccessible due to an issue at the Rackspace data center. The outage lasted approximately 30 minutes and affected many Rackspace customers. Once we find out the exact cause of this outage, we will post those findings in a blog post.

We have been very happy with the service Rackspace has provided us over the years. Occasional outages are to be expected from any service provider. If we find the service Rackspace provides doesn’t not meet the standards of quality that we demand, we will find a provider that does. But we anticipate Rackspace will learn from this outage and provide better service as a result.

More outage details to follow….

Finding a substitute just got easier…

We just rolled out a couple of cool Team Scheduling enhancements that should make late minute schedule changes a breeze. First, we are excited to introduce a tool that will help you find a qualified substitute for an assignment. If a person has declined an assignment, a link will appear below his name that says “sub…”. When clicked, this link will bring up a window with a list of the best qualified (and available) substitutes, starting with the most qualified. Their Qualification Index is calculated using a special algorithm we created. The desired sub can then be easily selected for assignment right from the list.

Even if an assignment hasn’t been declined, you can still find a sub by clicking on the name of the person in the assignment and selecting the “Find a substitute…” link. Or, if you haven’t even assigned a person to the role yet, you can click the “No Person” link, and WP will make suggestions.

The other significant upgrade we made this evening was the first step in replacing the old way of assigning roles and people to services. The old way, of course, is that you go to the desired service, click on the “Roles” tab, then click on the “Edit Roles” or “Edit Assignments” links. We have added a new link on that page called “Role Scheduling”. Clicking it will take you to a page that looks like the Team Scheduling, except that it keeps you on the “Roles” tab and only shows you assignments for that service (and any linked services).

One last note: We have officially launched the WorshipPlanning.com Facebook page. Check out http://fb.worshipplanning.com and become a fan!

Two New Features; Team Role Templates and Sending Single Assignment Email

We just rolled out a great feature for Team Scheduling that really adds a whole new dimension to this page. It is called Team Role Templates, and here is how it works.

Within a team, “templates” of roles can be created. This would be a set roles that you often scheduled together. Here are two examples:

1) You have a Technology team that consists of all of your camera, lighting, soundboard, and computer operators. But for a normal service, you have 1 soundboard, 1 lighting, 2 camera, and 1 computer. A Team Role Template can be created with just these 5 roles.

2) You have two worship teams that alternate weekends: 1st and 3rd Sundays and 2nd and 4th Sundays. All of these people are on the same “team” in WP, but are always scheduled with their band for 1st and 3rd or 2nd and 4th weekends. Two Team Role Templates could be created called “1st and 3rd” and “2nd and 4th”. Each template could have the roles and the people specified as well.

You could even think of team role templates as “sub-teams”. The beauty of setting these up comes when you schedule them. Team Role Templates will appear as green-shaded items in the team panel on the far left side. By dragging a template to a service, all of the entries for that template will be slotted and/or assigned for that service.

To create team role templates, you can go to the Team Scheduling page, then click the down arrow next to the team name (on the far left side, not within a service), and select “Team Role Templates”. The interface to create team role templates is just like the Team Scheduling page – drag and drop.

The other feature we applied this evening is the ability to send an assignment email to just one person from the Team Scheduling page. To do so, simply click on the person’s name in the assignment and you will see the familiar menu showing you information about the person. The option at the bottom of the menu is “Send notification email for this assignment”. This will bring up a window allowing you to choose which assignments you want to include the details for in your email, as well as the subject and body of the email.

In the next few weeks, we plan on making the Team Details and Home pages a little more user friendly. This will also make accessing the Team Scheduling page a good bit easier.

Song Lyric Formating, New Help Desk System, Team Role Templates Update

We just applied a small update that I imagine will make you say, “Great update, but what took you so long?” The short description of the update is that you can now save (as part of the song details) a font type and font size for the lyrics section of the song. For those that didn’t just shout out loud “Finally!!”, let me explain how this is helpful. Many churches space the lyrics out so the chords will fit nicely above each line of lyrics. Well, if you are pasting the lyrics/chords in from a Word document, chances are the chords won’t line up correctly due to differences in font size and type. For a while, WP has allowed you to adjust the font type and size on the Song Details page….but those adjustment couldn’t be saved anywhere. So, every time you or a team members opened the lyrics of the song, they had to manually make that adjustment. Well, now you can save those setting right on the page where the song is added/edited.

On a different note (pun not intended), we have recently started using a new Help Desk system that does a better job of tracking your feedback and support requests. So, where you may have seen responses directly from WP individuals the past, you will now see them from arrive with a “from address” of support@worshipplanning.com. It will still be a message from me or another support team member, but it will have a Ticket Number associated with it. And you can respond to these emails by simply clicking “Reply” in your email software. Just be sure to keep the subject line intact to assure proper routing of your ticket.

Finally, we are shooting for an update later this week (or maybe early next) that will allow teams to create templates of roles. If you aren’t sure what this is, stay tuned. We’ll post a blog update on how it works once we update the site in the next several days.

Team Scheduling Nearing End of Test Phase

This evening we rolled out a few more TS enhancements.

  1. Assignment Response Notes are now visible on the TS page. If there is a note, there will be a little “note bubble” icon next to the role name for the assignment. Click this icon to see the response note(s).
  2. Assignments (within each team) can be sorted by Role Name or Person Name. Just use the little down-arrow icon to the right of the team name

We have a few more smaller enhancements, and then a larger “Team Role Templates” feature slated for the next couple of weeks. If those go well and minimal bugs are found, I think we’ll be ready to officially launch Team Scheduling for WP!

One other enhancement (fix) we made this evening is that the new File Browser search/selection window will now scroll properly with your browser. This was only an issue with netbooks, but one that we needed to fix anyway.

Team Scheduling Performance Improvements

We conquered a pretty big hurdle with the Team Scheduling (TS) page this evening. For those of you with many future services scheduled and/or many teams created, you probably noticed the TS page was a bit slow to load. I can confidently say “The wait is over!” Our lead developer for this TS project just released several enhancements for this page, one of which GREATLY improves the speed of the page. Kudos for Joel, the TS lead developer!

A few other really neat features that we just rolled out are:

– Assignment responses can be changed with the use of a new little down arrow under each status box – Empty teams can be hidden from view with the use of the appropriate Display Options checkbox in the upper left corner.

What’s next with TS, you might ask? Here are a couple things we are moving into the “active development” stage:

– Ability to delete an entire team assigned to a service (trickier than it sounds) – Sorting of people vs. roles within a team in a service – Showing assignment response notes – Use of Roles Templates on a per-team level

At some point, as we near the end of the beta (or “test”) phase, we plan to take some of this cool drag-n-drop technology and apply it to the team management page, role template page, and even the main edit role assignments page (the “old way” of scheduling people).

One last note regarding this whole “Team Scheduling” thing. I have spoken with a few people who like the new team-friendly features, but feel their church (or ministry) is too small to use it. As we add these team features, we are trying to maintain a level of “backward-compatibility” so that churches not wanting to organize people onto teams can still use the site as well as they always have. However, in keeping with the spirit of trying to stay organized, we are encouraging even the small churches/ministries to group their people on teams, even if it is just one team that is called “The Team”. Doing so makes it easier for you to use new WP features and for other ministries at your church to potentially use WP.

Update made to Team Scheduling

We just finished applying a couple of updates to the Team Scheduling feature. Here they are:

  1. You can now tell WP to send assignment notifications only to penciled in assignments. To do this, click the “Send Notification Email…” button as you normally do, and ensure the “Send notification emails for Penciled In assignments only” checkbox is checked.
  2. Performance should be a little better for churches that have many future services scheduled. We still have more work plan for even better performance.

In addition, we have made a few enhancements to the traditional page where roles are assigned to a service. This page should now be much easier to use, and here’s how:

  1. There is only one “Teams” field to mess with. Before, there were two: one to change which team of roles assigned to the service (on the left) and one to change which roles you could choose from. Now, one team field handles both of these
  2. Templates of roles can be added to teams. Just select the team, then double click on the template of roles from the list on the left (templates are near the bottom of the list).
  3. Templates of roles can be added at any time. Before, you could only add a template of roles if no other roles had been assigned. Now you can them any time, even add multiple templates, if you want.

Files Selection, Team Scheduling Updates

We applied a few updates to WP this evening. And with these updates, there is some good news, and some bad news. And, in case you don’t make it to the end of this blog, we tell you now that we’ve started using Twitter to provide mini-updates on WP happenings. So, be sure to follow us at http://twitter.com/wpUpdates.

Ok, so first the good news. We applied two smaller updates that I’m sure you’ll love.

1) The screen by which you can select files to attach to a song/service/team is vastly improved. It has a quick filter tool which allows you to easily find files by type, key word, or person that uploaded. And, search results can be sorted a variety of ways. Plus, you’ll see on the left side a list of your 10 most recent file uploads for easy pickins.

2) We’ve replaced the Time Selection tool on the pages where services are added and edited. The old tool was a little tough to see and navigate, and didn’t always work right for Chrome or Safari. We think this new tool looks and works significantly better.

The bad news is that we had planned on two more updates this evening, both of which would be applied to the new Team Scheduling beta. The first was an improvement in performance (page load times for churches with teams and/or people). The second was the ability to send email notifications to just people that are “penciled in”. A last minute bug forced us to remove these two updates, but we hope to have things fixed and ready to go later this week. I’ll be sure to let you know on this blog (and via our Twitter page!) when that update is applied. And, at that time, we’ll update you on how things are going, in general, with the Team Scheduling beta. To give you a hint, we are still very excited!!!

Update 1 to Team Scheduling Beta

We have received some great feedback during this first week of the new Team Scheduling page. And, in turn, we applied an update this evening that fixes a few small bugs, and adds a few minor enhancements.

Here are a things we are working on for one of our next beta updates:

  • Ability for Planner to change the assignment response by clicking on the status color code of an assignment
  • Ability to send an email notification to just one person
  • Ability to send send notifications to just “Penciled In” assignments
  • Ability to hide teams with no assignments

Of course, there are more features we have planned, but these seems to be next on the list (for now).

One other update we applied this evening is something Helpers should really love. We have made the assignment response page more intuitive to use. Helpers can respond to an assignment for master and linked services with ONE CLICK! To check it out, login to your MyWP account. We haven’t updated out tutorial video yet, but that will be happening soon.

One last note: I am going to leave this blog post open for comments. If you have any thoughts or feedback on features mentioned in this post, you are welcome to post them here.

Team Scheduling Beta Now Live

Our new Team Scheduling feature is now ready for those of you wishing to help us test it out. Since it is a beta release, there could be few bugs and formatting issues. But we’ve done enough testing on it that these issues should be minimal. One thing is for sure, you should find this page much easier (and more fun) than the “old” way of scheduling your team members.

To start using it, login to WP and click on “People”, then the Teams tab. In the upper right corner there is a “Team Scheduling” link. This link is also on a few other pages (like the Roles tab when looking at a service’s worship flow).

We strongly encourage you to view the brief and/or detailed video tutorials before you get started. Links them can be found when you first access the page.

We value your feedback as we go through this beta phase. Feel free to use the “Feedback” link in the upper right corner of the Team Scheduling page to let us know any thoughts or issues you have.

Skip ahead with these bookmarks: