While it may seem like things have been a little quiet on the blog, we’ve been quite busy taking care of a few housekeeping items. Boring as they may seem, they actually have great benefit to you the customer. First of all, last week we migrated the site to a new architecture that is designed to run much faster and scale much better. The growth we have experienced over the past year has been fantastic and this architecture change is necessary to keep things running smoothly.
For those curious, the new architecture is called a “Hybrid” environment that allows the WorshipPlanning.com database to run on dedicated hardware, while the website itself is served from virtual servers called Cloud servers. If you are a real geek like we are, you can read more about the exact environment on Rackspace’s website. And by the way, in this new environment we are able to better track server and site performance. The great news is that it takes our servers (on average) less than half a second to serve up most pages.
Another environment enhancement that will be of indirect (although very positive) benefit to you is new error tracking. It used to be that errors encountered by users on the site required you to manually submit them. We’ve enhanced the system such that any site errors are automatically reported directly to us with a plethora of information (and often, you won’t even notice the error). We are putting a priority on fixing the cause of the errors, which is much easier with the new automatic information we get. Our goal is a 100% error free site, and we really aren’t that far from it.
A few weeks ago we updated the site with a new way to handle password storage, password resets, and user authentication. Your passwords have always been secure sitting in our database behind our hardened firewall. But we’ve taken the added measure of one-way encrypting your passwords so that they cannot be decrypted and viewed by us (or anyone else, for that matter). As a result, we’ve updated the way we handle requests from people that have forgotten or never received their password. Instead of sending you the password we have on file for you (which we can’t do anymore due to the encryption), we send you a special “reset password” link to the email address you have associated with your account. The link is unique and expires after a certain amount of time. On the reset page you are prompted to enter a new password (twice, for confirmation). And of course, that new password is encrypted before it is stored in our database. As a side note, passwords are now case-sensitive.
We are working on some really cool stuff that should be ready for you before fall. Keep an eye on our blog, twitter, and facebook accounts for updates! Also, you might see an opportunity to take a survey or two for a chance to win an iTunes gift card. Watch for any messages about this on the home page of your account.
While we don’t often promote other web sites here on our blog, we recently came across a neat product you need to check out. If anyone is looking for a resource to help schedule your worship and church spaces, look at ministrEspace from Cool Solutions Group. ministrEspace is an easy-to-use, cloud-based service for church scheduling needs. You can coordinate and schedule events, rooms, resources and associated human interactivity for your facility all within ministrEspace. It allows for a quick, easy setup and multiple user access with public and private calendar viewing. They even offer a 30-day FREE trial to get you started! Check it out!
With just a few days left to finalize your Easter service plans, hopefully you already have the details of your worship flow and song arrangements. But perhaps during the planning stage you were trying to remember what the worship service looked like last year. No need to scrounge around your archived emails or send your search dog after year-old Word documents. If you were using WorshipPlanning.com back then, you could access that info with just a couple of clicks.
Since we are all tight on time this week, I’ll cut to the chase:
- Once logged in to your WP account, go to Services >> Manage All Services
- Click the “Show Past Services” button on the far left
That’s it! You might have to make sure you are sorting by the date and adjust the number of services that show per page, but it shouldn’t take you long to find the right service (Easter was on April 24 last year, by the way). And, if the service has “Easter” in the message topic, you can find it even faster by typing Easter in the search text box.
The folks here at WorshipPlanning.com hope you have a highly blessed and low stress Easter. As we tweeted earlier today, we pray that you aren’t so busy doing the work of God that you forget to seek the presence of God.
We are excited to introduce some great improvements to the printing and exporting tools for your people scheduling. You may notice the new Printer and MS Excel icons on the people scheduling pages. Each of these will open a window that will give you a variety of options for outputting your assignments, via printer or spreadsheet.
To start with, the new printout panel allows you to print any number of teams, services, and status responses, with following print formatting options.
- Services with roles grouped by team
- Table of assignments with either the roles or the people names on the far left column
- Sign-in sheet
- Status icons
- One service per page
- One team per page
And the spreadsheet export dialog is just as slick. We’ll put a few more screenshots below so you can see the kind of options you have, as well as some samples screenshots of what these prints/exports look like.
We are happy to bring you some great feature updates with version 4.1.0 of WorshipPlanning.com. Read on to learn more!
Faster File Uploading
We’ve revamped the interface for getting files uploaded to WorshipPlanning.com. You can now upload your files in far fewer steps. If you are using FireFox, Chrome, or Safari, you can get your files into WP by simply dragging them from your computer into a special drop area. We have also optimized the way files are uploaded so they should transfer faster. And larger files can now be uploaded with less difficult now as well.
Improved File Management
The updated Files Library page now makes it super easy to find what you want. You can quickly search for files by typing into the filter box. You can also sort files by file name, upload date, file type, and a few other categories.
Finally, FINALLY, we have added the ability to rename files after they have been uploaded. In fact, we improved the Edit File window all together, allowing you to easily see where the file is used in WP, and even detaching it from right here!
Management All Services Page
Like the File Library page, we’ve made things a little friendlier, complete with search filtering, custom display fields, and easier pagination. We also tweaked a few items in the database to help make your list of past services load up much faster.
Better Auto-reminder Notification Timing
As we recently posted, auto-reminder notifications are now being sent about the same hour of the day of the event for which the person is being reminded. Thanks to everyone that suggested we make this improvement!
Better Auto-reminder Notification Timing
For as long as we’ve had the auto-reminder feature in WP, those reminders have been sent out at 2am. This was no problem when email was the only way notifications were being sent. But ever since we added text notifications as a configurable option, many folks have let us know they don’t appreciate getting those messages in the middle of the night.
This afternoon we updated WP to with a reminder system that sends the notifications about the same hour of the day as the event itself. So if your Sunday service starts at 9am and your team is configured to be auto-reminded 2 days before, the notification will be sent about 9am on Friday.
We have some really great file-upload features coming up next week, so keep an eye out for it!
We are excited to welcome a new face to WorshipPlanning.com! Rebecca Nissen is joining our highly-rated customer support team as an expert in the field. If you happen to catch her on the phone or via support ticket, be sure to give her a friendly welcome!
We hope that during this busy time of year, you and your family are able to find quiet moments to hear God speak His blessing upon you.
As promised, we are continuing to improve the WorshipPlanning.com Mobile (WPM) website, which you can access with your mobile browser at http://wplan.me.
The big feature we’ve (finally) added is the ability to add, edit, and delete worship flow elements on your mobile device. Pretty much all the details you can add on the main WP site (save for the extra notes) you can specify on the mobile site…provided you have the right security level.
The other minor but still important enhancement we’ve made on the mobile site is that all connections between your device and our servers are now encrypted and secure. This will make your on-the-go access to WP yet a little safer.
What’s next for the mobile site? Well, we have a few more tweaks we want make on the worship flow (including showing more element details). We also want to give more access to more information about the service, like rehearsals. Our next big updated will likely be the ability to manage teams and schedule people to serve.
Version 4.0.4 is now LIVE, and it includes these exciting features:
If you have a SongSelect™ account, you can now easily search and retrieve song details (including lyrics and chord sheets) form the SongSelect database…without leaving WorshipPlanning.com! It will seem like your song library in WP just instantly grew 1000 fold!
Our SongSelect integration is easy to use. But we’ve gone ahead and create four very short videos on how to use it. Feel free to check them out here (they are also available on our support site):
Updated Worship Flow Element Editor
The window used to select which library item should be included in the worship flow element has been improved in the following ways:
- More streamline selection of which library or songbook from which you’d like to select an item
- Ability upload/attach files to a song without having to leave this page and edit the song itself
- Seamless SongSelect integration
Improved Roles Management
Editing role details has been inconsistent between Account Admins and Ministry Schedulers. We have now made the interface the same for both. You can even add roles to teams and assign them as skills to people, right on the Edit Roles window.