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Ascribe Upgrade Announcements
Topic: Ascribe 3.1 (Read 7467 times)
August 25, 2008, 09:40:28 PM »
Over the last few months, version 3 has been gradually been rolled out to existing churches running Ascribe version 2. A comprehensive manual with video tutorials is planned for the next few months. In the meantime the following is a run down of changes to Ascribe in this new version.
New look and feel
Ascribe has a new logo! You can see it on the home page. If it has not yet been installed for your church it will soon. The Ascribe intranet has a new login screen and over all look. Version 2 had a liquid layout which spanned the entire width of the browser screen. Version 3 has a standard width which is centered on the page.
Version 3 now makes use of pretty form buttons styled with icons across the application. In each module, if you would like to create a new record look for the rounded button with a green plus sign on the upper right hand side of the page.
The previous menu only worked on Internet Explorer and Firefox. Safari users needed to use the "side bar" style menu which consisted of plain link on the left hand side bar. The new version boasts a new dropdown menu which works on all major browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera. Because it is an animated dropdown menu, it makes it easy for a person to find exactly what module they wish to use in Ascribe. Each module is labeled with an icon for quick identification. The new menu also includes an integrated person search box on the right hand side.
Portal start/home page
The portal page provides a dashboard for a quick overview of what's going on in your church. It keeps the same module blocks to show you information from a variety of modules within Ascribe. Version 2 allowed for three columns, while Version 3 allows for two columns (a narrow column on the left and a wider one on the right). Version 3 allows you to rearrange the modules by dragging and dropping them. Click on the "Configure Content and Layout" to do this. Version 3 has links on each module to minimize and maximize modules and also to create new records on modules. For example, right from the home page you can create a new event, announcement or to do item by clicking on the "new" button on the relevant module block.
To do items / Tasks
Now a listing of To Do items allows you to a number of common tasks right from the listing of items. To edit a due date, just click on it. A drop down month calendar will appear which will allow you click to select a new due date. This date will automatically save without reloading the page. Previously to edit this due date you would need to click on the edit icon, wait for the edit form to load, select the new date and submit the form and wait for the view page of the to do item to load. Now this process is much faster. You can also similarly click to set an items progress status very quickly.
People module listing
The listing of people now consolidates the person and household columns into a single column. The person's name is shown in a larger font for quick identification and a link to his/her household is placed just below, along with his/her role in the household.
To generate labels in Ascribe, you click on the "Labels" icon in the upper right hand corner of a listing of people in the person, household or group member modules. The label configuration page has been upgraded. The new version allows you to easily configure the lines in the labels. You can easily select the font face, font size, mail merge fields and alignment and see a preview as you make changes.
Printer Friendly HTML Reports
From almost every module in Ascribe, you can click on the "Export" icon in the upper right hand corner of the record listing to export data in that module. The Printer Friendly HTML report option has been greatly improved. In version 2, this report option allowed the user to select what data was to be included in the report. However, no option was given as to how to organize that data. In version 3, you can select what data you wish included and use a drag-n-drop interface to organize the order in which it is presented.
The previous version published reports with preset report titles. Now you can click on the default report title and edit it by typing your custom report title right on the page. You may also add notes to the report.
You can now also add numbers to the records (numbering them from sequentially). This might be helpful if you wish to be able at a quick glance to see how many records you have on the report.
You may also add blank rows or columnn to a spreadsheet style report. Add a blank column to the right would be helpful if you are printing a list of group members which you want to use for marking attendance for people attending an event.
Mass People Update
This tool has been upgraded to allow for promoting of grade levels. You can search for all children of a certain age range or grade level and set them to be promoted one grade. This would be helpful for updating the grade levels of children in your database at the beginning of a new school year.
You can now also initiate discipleship goals from this tool. If you want to follow up on people who are active members but have not attended any events or given any money in three months, you can add them to a discipleship goal for following up on members who are "MIA".
The home page for a discipleship goal has been upgraded to allow you to quickly see what is going on in that goal. At a glance you can see how many people are actively being discipled under this goal and who the mentors are.
In a similar fashion to the to do module, the listing of people discipleship under the goal has been vastly improved. You can click to set a step as achieved today or edit a due date for a step.
The home page for groups has been greatly improved. Now it is portal or start page which allows you to quickly see what's going on in that group. It has a member table which allows you see how many members of each membership type are in the group.
The page also contains blocks for group to do items, upcoming events, recent events, announcements, news articles, email campaigns, form submissions, notes and letters.
The group website sub-module has been improved. Now it allows you to change the group's published website page URL from the sub-module. Viewing a group web page in the Intranet shows a preview of what the page will look like.
The events module has undergone quite a bit of an upgrade. Version 2 listed events in a straight listing. When a church inputted a large number of events it was difficult to see at a glance what events were coming up. Version 3 lists event in a familiar and easy-to-understand month calendar format. When you put your mouse over an event a bubble appears next to the event displaying event details. Clicking on the event takes you to the normal event record viewing page. Multi-day events are easy to visualize now in the new month calendar format as they span multiple days.
This month calendar allows you to quickly navigate forward and back to different months without any page reloads.
The event create and edit form has been recreated from scratch to be easier to use. You can now set attendance head counts for general attendance, salvations, rededications and healings.
Setting event repeats is easier in Version 3. Now you can just go to the repeat page for an event, click on "click to select dates..." and then click on multiple dates in the calendar upon which you desire the event to repeat.
A new sub-mobule to Events has been added which allows you to view a listing of people of various member status who have not attended events within a certain window of time.
The function to auto generate a plain text version of your HTML formatted emails has been improved. It is important to set a plain text version of your email because some of your email recipients may not use an email program which can read HTML formatted emails. If you do not provide an appropriate plain text version, they may see a virtually unreadable email. The new function will parse your HTML formatted email to create an acceptable plain text version. You can then further edit it to your satisfaction. You should also always test your email campaigns to see how they are displayed in a variety of email clients.
Batches and contribution entry
This module has been significantly upgraded to allow for quick data entry, using the keyboard (and not the mouse) as much as possible. Opening a batch will display the contributions for that batch. You can paginate through these contributions and Ascribe will display them for you quickly without any page reload.
In an unposted batch, to create a new contribution you can use your mouse to click on the "Add a new Contribution" button or just press the "N" key on your keyboard. This will bring up a search screen (without page reload) where you can search for a person's name. Type just a few letters of the person's name to perform a search. After a moment a listing of possible matches will appear to the right. Addresses are included in these search results to allow you to distinguish between people of the same name at different addresses. Use your mouse to click on a match.
If no matches are found, you will be allowed to create a brand new record for this person right from this page.
Once a person is selected, you can continue to a form which allows you to update the person's contact information (address and phone number) if needed. When you are done, hit the ENTER key to be taken to the contribution entry form. The person's previous giving amount will be prefilled. Use the tab key on your keyboard to go to the check number field. If this is not a check but cash, just tab off and the gift type will automatically changed to cash. If it is not a cash or check you can use the up/down keys on your keyboard to adjust the gift type. Tab again to go change the fund (if this contribution is not for the default fund in the batch). Then just hit the ENTER key to save the contribution and prime the form to search for the next giver. The contribution you just saved will be added to the running list (visible below) of contributions in the batch. This allows you to keep track of what contributions you've just entered without having to go to a batch listing (as in version 2). Also the total value of contributions in the batch will be updated as well allowing you to always see a running total.
When you need to edit a contribution that you have already entered, just click on the edit icon next to the contribution. An edit form for the contribution will be display inside the listing (again without page reload).
The form used to generate year end tax deductible giving summaries has been imiproved to much "easier on the eye". You can also now customize the giving summaries to fit six commonly used double window envelopes. These envelopes allow you to fold the statement and stuff the envelope without having to create mailing labels. The windows will allow the church mailing address and the donors address to clearly show through the windows in the envelope.
Organizing Hierarchical Data with Drag and Drop
Groups, discipleship goals, and neighborhoods are organized in a tree structure. In previous versions of Ascribe it was cumbersome to reorganize records within these hierarchical structures. Now, in version 3, all you have to do is click on the "Organize" link at the top of the module and drag-n-drop the records anywhere within the tree. Try it. It's easy.
In version 3, you can upload multiple photos at a time into an album. Previously you need to upload photos one at a time. Now you can upload multiple photos from the same page.
Also now when you view a photo, you can use forward or back buttons (or the left and right buttons on your keyboard) to view other photos in the same album. Ascribe will animate the photos and swipe them left to right (or vice versa).
You can also easily tag photos to people, families or groups. Just click on the "Tags" drop down to the right of a photo. Then type the first few letters of a person, household or group's name. A drop down will display search results. Click on the appropriate result to link the photo to that person, household or group.
The skins allow you adjust the look and feel of both Ascribe and also your website that you publish via Ascribe. In version 3, the template edit form automagically color codes the HTML tags for easy code editing. You can also position your cursor in the appropriate place in the template and click on any available button above to insert a field placeholder relevant to that template type.
In the styles sub-module, you can now enter custom CSS code for the skin. This will be incorporated into the CSS code which Ascribe normally publishes for each skin. You may also still assign URLs for external CSS files to be published with Ascribe-published websites. However by adding the custom CSS code here in the skin, you can speed up page loads for your site by reducing the number of CSS files your website viewers' browsers need to download when viewing your site.
The members area which Ascribe can publish for your church has been greatly improved. However the signup page is still being developed so this will be covered in a future update.
A CAPTCHA is a graphic of a normal word that has been digitally warped and displayed to a computer user to type in. CAPTCHAs are used to confirm that the website user is an actualy human being rather than another computer trying to send SPAM.
CAPTCHAs are now deployed on new articles pages that allow people to forward a copy of a news article to a friend by email. This protects spammers from using that email form to send SPAM email from your Ascribe-powered website.
Truman Leung, President & Developer
Ascribe Data Systems LLC
Re: Ascribe 3.1
Reply #1 on:
August 25, 2008, 10:20:33 PM »
Wow, Truman. That's quite a list. I think I've seen some of these things, but some of them sound new to me. Congratulations on a great upgrade. You just keep making this better. Thanks so much for your hard work to serve the church. I deeply appreciate you.
Re: Ascribe 3.1
Reply #2 on:
August 26, 2008, 01:01:31 AM »
Hi Marc, thanks always for your encouragement! Several of those changes were a direct result of your suggestions on this forum. Thanks, Truman
Truman Leung, President & Developer
Ascribe Data Systems LLC
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