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Wild Apricot Software News - August 2011

Version 4.3

The plan for August was to start wrapping up development of Version 4.3 -- proceeding to testing phases and processes for its release (which was planned for October). Unfortunately, we hit a snag in one of the development streams -- the one we refer to internally as "payment processor".
As you might know, Wild Apricot integrates with a number of common online payment processors. These were added at different times, and bits and pieces of online payment processing code were spread all over the system. This made it more and more difficult to test and maintain, fragile and susceptible to changes in other parts of the system. And it also made it hard to add additional payment systems. In Version 4.3 we finally decided to re-architect all of our online payment processing code to address what I have mentioned. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to double-check and ensure full compliance with PCI security checklists enforced by credit card industry, and increase the robustness of payment processing (in case of equipment or connection failures). Long story short, we faced some unexpected problems in development of this part,  which meant that our development schedule had to be extended by several weeks. Thus, the release timeline for Version 4.3 is now November.

This was obviously quite frustrating for all of us! Also, even though the timeline was extended, we could not add any new features into 4.3 since this would require adding additional testing time and risk further delays. The only silver lining is that other functionality we have been developing in 4.3 will get some extra time to be polished and triple-tested.

One of the other functions we are adding is the ability to automatically process and track failed emails (aka bounces).  Here's a preview of the delivery tracking feature in Version 4.3:

Email Delivery Tracking (click to enlarge)

Version 5.0

In the meantime, a few more sneak peeks into our CMS redesign we are working on for Version 5.0:

1) Gadget toolbar

Gadget Toolbar (click to enlarge)

In the current Version 4.2 of Wild Apricot, a webpage can be of one of two types:  a content page or a functional page. Content pages are just regular web pages with text, pictures, documents, etc. Functional pages are special webpages which integrate with Wild Apricot's other modules -- and really are the main advantage of running your website on the Wild Apricot platform. Examples of functional pages include: event calendar, membership directory, membership application, or online donation form.  Currently, the webpage type has to be selected when the page is created, and can't be changed afterwards. In addition, we also have a handful of gadgets -- little things you can insert into webpages -- such as an upcoming event summary, or recent blog posts.

In Version 5.0, we are getting rid of the separate concept of "functional pages". All pages will be equal -- and you will be able to embed one or several interactive "gadgets" into your webpages to add integration with your Wild Apricot database/modules. For starters, there will be gadgets to replace all current functional pages -- and in subsequent versions, we plan to add many more gadgets with additional functionality.

It might sound like a subtle change, but in fact it's a huge change in the underlying system, and it does provide web designers with much broader customization capabilities, while at the same time making all of this easier to digest for new users, and have a more user-friendly way to do what they want to do.

2) Page properties

Page Properties (click to enlarge)

These illustrate current work in progress of page properties. Let me highlight some changes vis-a-vis the current version:

  • Ability to change any page access at any time (right now you have to create special restricted access sections, and then all child pages inherit the settings). In the new version each page will be controlled separately.

  • Ability to mark the page as in/not in menu (currently hiding pages from menu has to be done via a quirky workaround: create an admin only page, add a child page with public access).

  • Ability to edit web page HTML code directly, which comes in handy if some complicated HTML code was pasted into the page, and ended up corrupting it, rendering it impossible for our visual editor to process (currently this requires contacting our tech support, who then have to escalate it to the development team to directly edit the page code via database access).

  • Ability to use one of several different page templates for your page. This replaces current Layouts functionality and provide much more powerful and customizable control over how the page is laid out and formatted.

Crowdsourcing the best Officer Directory setup in Wild Apricot

We have a number of active discussion forums which we use for technical support, source feedback for product development -- and also Wild Apricot users frequently end up helping each other and crowdsourcing some cool solutions and workarounds. Here's an example:

Many Wild Apricot users are clubs and associations who typically have a number of rotating officer and board positions. One of the users asked about the best way to track position assignments in Wild Apricot and display them on the website. We do not have any special functionality designed specifically for this -- so I said so in my reply. However, within hours, one of our clients replied and posted a detailed description of very nice workaround how they setup an automated Officer Directory on their Wild Apricot website. Shortly thereafter, another user posted a reply building further on the suggested workaround (see their finished directory).

Check out full details on our forum thread.

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Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

Published Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 9:30 AM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.
Wild Apricot Inc. 144 Front Street West Suite 725, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5J 2L7