Category Archives: feature updates

Team Scheduling – Beta Launch Very Soon!

Beta testing for the new Team Scheduling feature in WP should begin any day now. At this stage, we are just finishing our internal testing, which is a bit more thorough than usual given the nature of this enhancement. We’ve included a couple of sneak-peak screen shots to whet your appetite (click the “More” link on the right, below this post). Of course, these are subject to change, but I doubt they will change much, if any.

Just a couple of notes for you about these pages:

  • Team members, roles, and even entire teams can be dragged and dropped on a service.
  • Security levels will dictate which teams display on the left side.
  • The gray box status is our new Penciled-In status, which turn to yellow once you send the notification.
  • WP will alert you if you schedule someone for a service that they are already scheduled.
  • The “Send Notification Emails…” is used to send both initial notification and follow up reminders. And, it sends only one email per person, with all of their assignments in that email (rather than multiple emails per person).

Team Scheduling Feature Progress

I know it is taking longer than we had expected. If we were coding it from scratch, I think it would have been done by now. But one of the things that takes so much time is ensuring backwards compatibility. This project is our number one priority right now, and we are making great progress. Let me give you a more specific idea how it is going:

All the click-and-drag stuff is done. The page shows teams that you lead on the left side, and all future services on the right (with the option to hide linked services). Planners can drag a person, role, or team to any future service. Upon dropping a person or team on a service, WP checks for schedule conflicts and days the person has blocked off as “unavailable”.

At this moment we are finalizing two things:

  1. We are making sure adding and deleting assignments are handled properly between master and linked services.
  2. We need to finish the email notification part. When people are dragged and dropped onto a service, WP will “pencil” them in for that role. But it isn’t until the email notification is sent that the person is officially scheduled. If you have someone penciled in for 6 assignments, sending an email notification will change their status to Pending, and send a single email with all their assignments.

Once these 2 items are completed, we think it will be ready to test. We’ll be looking for beta-test volunteers. Keep an eye out for future blogs about that. Thanks for your patience, everyone.

Series and Location Enhancements

To assist you with planning a series of services and the location of services, we have made the following enhancements.

Location Field on the Create a Series page – You can now specify a location on the page where you normally build a series of services. The location field is a “free form” text field, but WP will also provide you a list of previously specified locations in a dropdown field just below it (if you have previously entered a location into a past service).

Edit a Series Title – If you need to change the title of a series, you can now make that change across all services in that series. To do so, go to the table of services (Admin –> Services), then look for the desired series title in the table of services (any one will do). You’ll notice the series title is a link. Click it, and you’ll see a list of all the services in that series. This view in-and-of itself is probably pretty helpful to you. But if you want to go further and change the series title, find the “Modify Series Title” link on the left side below the “Services” tab. Click it and you’ll be prompted to enter a new series title. Once you click the Save button, all of the services on that page are changed to have the new title.

Finally, we made a few small changes to the pages where general service info is added and edited. Specifically, we cleaned up the Quick Pick dropdown boxes for specifying a Series title and Location. Oh, and we fixed the “File Upload Disk Usage” indicator on the Church Settings page (Admin –> Church Info –> Church Settings tab…near the bottom of that page).

Songs Library Access for Helpers

A long awaited feature of WorshipPlanning.com has finally arrived. Helpers can now view the details of every entry in your church’s Songs Library. For those not familiar with the issue, it used to be that Helpers could only access song details and files of those scheduled for services that the Helpers themselves were scheduled. This was done for multiple reasons, including a way for worship leaders to limit how song details and files were shared. But we feel the solution we rolled out last night is much better. Most worship leaders should have received an email last night with details on how this new feature works. If you didn’t, you can check out our support pages (http://support.worshipplanning.com) in the next day or so for the full rundown, or just send us an email.

The next big feature we roll out is one that many, many churches have asked us about. It is a tremendously improved “assignment” page….the page where people are schedule to serve. I won’t go into all the details, but let me mention just a few:

  • Drag and Drop
  • Assigning an entire team at once
  • Schedule conflict alerts
  • Schedule across multiple services on a single screen
  • Sound exciting? We can’t wait to roll it out….except that we first need to finish developing it. Hopefully it will be ready for beta testing in 2-3 weeks.

Volunteer Schedule Grid – beta

We realize two blog posts within just a few days of each other might blow you away, but we just rolled out a feature we know some of you have been really wanting to see. The “Schedule Grid” page (in its beta version) shows you a table of people down the left column, and services across the top. In the grid cells are data about the person’s schedule (roll, response, availability). You can also filter the view to show just a specific date range of services, just master services, and a specific team.

This page can be found on the “Schedule” tab of the “People” navigation link. Give it a shot and let us know your thoughts. Be warned that churches with tons of people and services might see slower load times of the page until we are able to tune the code a bit.

And, by the way, the ability to print and/or export this to a spreadsheet is coming very soon.

Two MyWP Additions

We hope this update finds you well and into the Christmas spirit. Seems like this time of the year really zips on by, as this is a busy time for both family and worship ministry lives.

In light of how critical it is for things to operate in a timely and consistent manner during the services leading up to Christmas, we are especially selective in the updates we apply to the WP site. At this point, we have two small updates we applied to My.WorshipPlanning.com.

1) Virtual Stage Access – Your Helpers now have access to the latest virtual stage arrangements you make. No changes to the Virtual Stage can be made in the MyWP site (regardless of security level), but the stage can be printed just like in the regular WP site.

2) Advanced Print-out Pages – Helpers now also have access to the various service-flow printout options that are available to Planners in the regular WP site.

We are planning to improve the layout of the My Schedule page in the MyWP site, including the ability to view past services (for the sake of allowing 360WP surveys to be filled out), and the ability for a Helper to respond to multiple services at once.

Servers Upgraded and Site Enhancements

Early this past Monday we successfully migrated WP to new server hardware. The reason for our migration is to handle the growth we are being blessed with. For those curious about the technical details of our setup, be sure to read the section further down in this blog.

We also applied a few new helpful features while we did the migration. First, when you click on a song title in the site you’ll see a “Songs Menu” with some general info about the song (including the most recent performance date), as well as several links to access details about the song. Also, our song details pages have been given a nice face-lift.

As another enhancement, we added a Location filter to the “Services” section of the Home page. That filter setting is stored on your computer for the next time you access the page.

Hardware Migration Technical Details Our main application hosting company, Rackspace, has been fantastic. So when we planned this migration, we didn’t even consider changing to anyone else. WP currently has severs at two other data centers in different areas of the country for business contingency (disaster recovery) purposes.

Our hardware upgrade had three main goals: 1) Give the database its own, high-power server. 2) Beef-up the main application server. 3) Implement a better firewall solution. This configuration also will allow us to handle future growth by simply adding additional application servers to share the load (with the use of a content switch).

The database is (as it has been in the past) backed up on a daily basis and copied to one of our remote servers. In the event of a catastrophe at the Rackspace datacenter, traffic to worshipPlanning.com could be redirected (in a matter of minutes) to the back-up server. But let’s pray we never need to use that option.

Shortcut, New Features, Hardware Upgrades

In this blog:

  • Navigation shortcut that could save you time
  • New Team Assignment feature coming soon
  • Hardware upgrades in the next month

It has been about three weeks since we launched version 3.5. Feedback continues to be very positive. Most people feel the updates are great enhancements, and are equally excited about the new features we have planned. A couple folks reported they continue to use the old site. When asked why, some have said that things require “more clicks” to get to. An example often given is that it takes several more clicks to switch from one service flow to another. For those in agreement, let me share with you the quick way to switch between services that is as fast as the old version. When you login to WP and look at the service flow page, find the date/time field above the tabs. Notice the blue down arrow? That arrow (and the entire date/time field) is clickable and will reveal dates/times/locations of other services in a dropdown menu. So, with just 2 clicks, you can access other services.

Several churches have asked for the ability to schedule an entire team of people all at once for a service, rather than one person at a time. It is a simple concept that is a little more complicated to implement. Currently in WP, for a person to be scheduled for a service, he or she must be assigned a role for that service. So, to assign all members of a team to a service in one fell swoop, there must be defined a role that each person will have for that assignment. We are currently developing both the ability to define a “default role” for each person on a team, and the ability to assign an entire team to a service. Our goal is to have WP updated with this feature in the first couple weeks of November.

In early November, we will be upgrading our server hardware. This upgrade will not only provide us better performance in the short term, but also allow us to easily scale as we continue to grow. We will provide more details on planned downtime once we nail down a specific upgrade date.

Version 3.5 is Live

This week marks a pretty big week for WorshipPlanning.com. Early Monday morning version 3.5 graduated from beta release. This is the biggest update WP has undergone since we first went live in 2003. Feedback has been positive over the past few days, though there have been some usage questions by those familiar with the previous version. As we address these questions, we will make the them and their answers available in our new Support Center. Our goal is to make this transition to the new design as smooth and exciting (in a good way) as possible. But there are bound to be some small bumps and hiccups along the way.

To help make the update smooth, we encourage you to give us feedback. Our team is already working on the next minor update…and if you have an enhancement (or fix) you think we need, please let us know!. Just use the “Feedback” link on the page related to your feedback, or simply use support/contact page(s) to let us know. Of course, you can call us as well.

Version 3.5 includes many new features, and a pretty thorough list can be found in earlier blog entries. But we do want to hit on two that were added to version 3.5 just this week.

Key Transposing
If you have put the chords in with the lyrics in your song details, you can now transpose the chords to a new key with just a click. For the time-being, we have a place this tool on the “Lyrics Only” printout of the song details. So to get to it, click on the song (popping up the song details window), then click on the Lyrics Only link in the upper right side of the page. You do have to have the correct original key of the song for this tool to work correctly.

We plan on implement this feature in a more accessible way, but we want to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how.

Support Center
Though there is not much out there right now, the new Support Center will be a place for you to get your WP questions answered and issues resolved. We have plans for video tutorials, FAQ pages, a knowledge base, and a place for you to submit and track issues in the form of “tickets”. Ironically, this is a site we hope you never have to use. But we know that when you need help, the last thing you want is more frustrations trying to get it. Our Support Center will help get your issues resolved fast.

Printout Page Improvements

We have created a few additional print-friendly pages for you to check out. The new worship flow printout called “Clean” will display Extra Notes as their own columns, as opposed to placing the notes under the corresponding activity. Also, you can show/hide any of the columns (not just the extra notes) with the click of a link.

We also added a “Set List” printout that simply shows the songs being performed during the service.

To access these printout options, just click on the Printer icon of WP3.5, as you normally would. Instead of being taken to the original print-friendly page, you’ll be taking to a page where you can select the printout page to display.

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