Wild Apricot Software News - January 2011

Dmitriy Buterin 31 January 2011 0 comments

 

The New Year started on a pretty good note for us - we released version 4.1 on January 12th, which included the following key enhancements:

  • E-mail Subscription Form - This page enables people who are not yet in your database to be added as a new contact, and allows existing members and other contacts to indicate their interest in a particular topic. Once the form is submitted, you can send a customizable confirmation e-mail to the subscriber and/or a copy to the administrator. Subsequently, you can find these contact records via Advanced search under Contacts and use email blasts function to send emails to this group.

  • You can now add contact and member records without email. (Yes, this was a surprisingly frequent request - and the one we totally missed in our original design so it was a bit hard to retrofit! )

  • Event emails - Automatic event announcements and other event-related emails can now be customized separately for each event (vs. one common template for all events)

  • It is now possible to define default membership emails (used for new levels) and change any membership email for all membership levels at once (vs. current functionality where it has to be edited in each level separately)

  • You can now access your support tickets and check ticket status from within your account

  • We have added confirmation fields for password entry on all forms and have hidden entered password characters. (This change was a bit controversial because it does not add any actual security - it's really about appearances - which can be important anyway. After all, there are whole departments like TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) which exist mostly for appearances sake!)
  • A big chunk of our effort was invested in something which was not even included in release 4.1 - but was key as a foundation for the next few releases  - redesign of Wild Apricot Content Management System and Template Engine (see below)  
    • As always, you can find more information on our release history page.

    The release went very smoothly, we did publish a couple of small hotfixes since but there were no critical wide-ranging issues.

    What's Next?

    On January 17th we started development work on our next upgrade - 4.2 - scheduled for May. Here's what is planned for that release:

    • Quickbooks integration (BETA) - special export file with a multitude of customization settings which exports Wild Apricot financial data in IIF format for import into Quickbooks

      Quickbooks Integration

    • Administrators will no longer be required to fill all mandatory fields when editing records in the backend - those will only be enforced on people during self-service transactions on the website

    • Detailed log of sent emails -- which will now include a full list of recipients for each email and list all automatic emails (in additional to manually sent email blasts). Also, within each contact record it will be possible to see a list of all emails sent to this person.

      e-mail Recipients List Contact View of e-mail History

    • Ability to send automatic event announcements to other contacts (for now they can only be sent to members, donors and past event attendees)

    • Tweaks to improve working organizations stored  as Wild Apricot contact records. First and Last name will no longer be mandatory - while Organization field will be added to all key screens alongside name fields.

    • Function to merge duplicate contacts

    • Time zone settings - it will be possible to set an organization time zone - which will be used for event starting times, scheduled emails etc. Also, date and time format will become customizable.

      Time Zone Example

    • Finally, we will roll out Phase 1 of our Content Management System and Template Engine redesign. It sounds funny, but if all goes well, you should not notice anything! While we are totally redesigning the underlying technical architecture, all the CMS functionality will stay the same in version 4.1 and all your site customizations should work as before (we will have to allocate a lot of testing time to ensure this!). Designers will be particularly interested in this new architecture because it will offer much wider customization capabilities while simplifying the customization process. (For the technically minded, you will be able to edit HTML templates directly instead of being limited to CSS customization as now. Stay tuned for more information.)

    • We also plan to add one new theme - just to give you a taste of things to come in subsequent releases. (Release 4.3 will see more new themes and redesign of the CMS user interface - to give you full advantage of the new capabilities we have designed for Wild Apricot website platform!)

    In other news:

    We have discontinued our Roadmap Forum - all requests were consolidated into a single forum (Wishlist). The original thinking was that we would first move the most important things into Roadmap forum - and then take things from the Roadmap forum into our development queue for actual releases. In real life we had to be much more flexible - reacting to hundreds of questions, requests and suggestions we receive each month. Thus, in each release we would end up doing things from the Roadmap forum, from the Wishlist forum - or other things which were in high demand but were not even reflected on forums! So we decided to simplify everything and combined all requests into one forum (Wishlist). This was helped by our recent update to our forums - we have started tagging all threads by functional area so it is much easier now to find relevant requests:

     

    Wishlist Forum

    One other small note, the NRA (National Rifle Association) has selected Wild Apricot as their recommended membership website software for their affiliated clubs, associations and businesses. If your organization is affiliated with the NRA and you're looking for membership software, please check out http://www.nrahq.org/clubs/benefits.asp for more details.

    Wishing everyone of you a good start of the year - and keep the momentum going!

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

    Posted by Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Published Monday, 31 January 2011 at 9:00 AM

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