Video Tutorials

Video Tutorials have arrived…at least the first batch. We still have many more we are working on, but these first 10 or so should be pretty informative, especially for those new to WP. We also created a MyWP Overview that we plan on linking directly from the landing page for your Helpers new to MyWP.

You might also have noticed that we have made good progress fleshing out the Support Topics. As we track searches done on the support pages, we will tune and fill-in the topics that people need help on.

Thanks for being patient.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Garrett, Tom, Joel, Mike and Lori. While Mike and Lori could not make “picture day”, we all wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your continued support of WorshipPlanning.com. It is still such an honor and privilege to serve you and your team.

In the past we have sent Christmas cards via postal mail to subscribing churches. This year, we are going a little greener. This e-card saves trees…and the computer bits are fully recyclable!

Our yule logs might be fake, and our Christmas tree small, but our wishes that you have a blessed holiday season are real and big!!!

Serving With You,
– The WP Team

(Garrett, Tom, and Joel)

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.

File Upload Enhancement

After much anticipation, the new file upload features have been applied to the Beta version of WorshipPlanning.com 3.5. With this enhancement, churches are able to:

– Upload multiple files per song
– Specify that MP3 type files are “stream only” (and thus cannot be downloaded).
– Link files to Teams.
– Link files to Content Library items.
– Manage ALL their files (services, songs, teams) from a single page appearing as a new “Files” library tab.
– Upload many, many more files (see the next paragraph).

In addition, the way disk space usage is measured is changing. Currently, churches are given 3-30MB of disk space for service file attachments, and up to 10MB per song (in a single file – if subscribing to the Song Files feature). With this new enhancement, disk space usage will be based on files in your files library, regardless of whether they are service, song, or team files. For this beta phase, all churches will have 5GB of disk space. The exact amount of disk space available to you after the beta may vary.

There are a few important details you need to be aware of about this feature. If you have any questions about these, please let us know.

1. This feature will use a new technology required us to migrate the files currently uploaded to a new system. We successfully migrated 99.9% of the files. Most of the ones we were not able to migrate appeared to be uploaded with errors (strange characters in the file name, size of 0 bytes, etc.)
2. Files you upload in the Beta version of WP WILL NOT be available in the older version of WP, including the older version MyWP. Helpers can now access a Beta version of MyWP by logging in to the MyWP site and click on the “Beta” link on the right side.
3. Uploaded files WILL NOT be stored on the WP servers. To allow for larger disk quotas, we are using a third party service that is fast, reliable, and well established.
4. Files uploaded to the older version of WP will not be available immediately on the beta version. We have to run a manual migration process to get files from the old system to the new, which we plan to run every few days.
5. Files deleted from the older version of WP will not be remove from the beta version until we manual do a clean up process.
6. In some cases, the file names have been changed to accommodate requirements of our new system. For example, the # symbol has been replaced with “num”.
7. The largest file size that can be uploaded is 100MB (currently).

Other questions you’ll probably have…

Q: If I didn’t have “Song Files” before, will I have it now?
A: Yes. Now that we have increased disk space, we don’t care if you use that space for song files, services files, team files, or anything else.

Q: Our church paid for Song Files in the past. We will not need to any longer?
A: Yes and No. We will actually be changing our pricing plans in a way that should be simpler and cost effective for you. Rather than getting the extra features like Song Files and 360WP a la carte, there will be various “packages”, which will include a specific number of Planner accounts and disk space (ranging from 100MB to 20GB).

Q: Our church paid for extra disk space for service files that we obviously don’t need now. Can I get a refund?
A: We are still working out the details on how we plan to handle this. The short answer is: we have no desire to keep your money if you feel it can be spent better in other places. As we get closer to the full release of WP3.5, we will work with churches in this situation.

Q: Am I allowed to upload copyrighted files?
A: WorshipPlanning.com provides you a places to store files in the same way a network file-server or flash drive would. Since we do not have the resources to enforce copyright laws, we put the responsibility of “staying legal” on the church. There are several websites that specialize in helping churches with this copy right issue, because it goes well beyond sharing files in preparation for a service. One site worth checking out http://www.churchca.com/.

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