The Church History Department recently released "Mormon Historic Sites in Alberta," an iPad app available on the Apple App Store. The app directs users to key historical sites and markers in Southern Alberta and enriches their visit with audio, video, image galleries, and articles that tell the story of the early Latter-day Saint experience in that area.
The first Mormon settlement in Alberta was Cardston, named for Charles O. Card, who led a party of pioneers to the area in 1887. It is home to the first temple built outside of the United States and remains a predominantly LDS community today. The app focuses on the early pioneers of Alberta, culminating with the dedication of the temple in 1923.
Created for and announced at the Mormon History Association Conference in Calgary on June 29, the app was created in three months with help from LDSTech community of volunteers that contribute their time and talents to help create software applications for the Church. Many of those who participated have ties to Alberta or Canada, including Lana and Bill Proctor, two Albertan photographers who volunteered to take modern photography of key sites for the app's "Then and Now" galleries.
"Mormon Historic Sites in Southern Alberta" is part of a larger effort to tell the history of the Church from a more global perspective. The app could also serve as a starting point for learning how to present self-guided experiences at historic sites and markers. Future development may include the addition of more location-aware and richly interactive features.
Sites featured include the Cardston Temple, the Charles and Zina Card home, the Raymond Second Ward Chapel (now the town hall), and recently placed historic markers in Stirling and the Magrath Irrigation Park. The markers feature QR codes that link to videos about the sites and information about the app. Most of the content available in the app is also available at history.lds.org.
The app zooms in on each city, showing a map and sites of interest. Each city shows information about how the city was settled and other background information. It also contains biographies and videos.
People are encouraged to add photos they take to their own collection inside the app, whether it is in front of the temple or elsewhere in the four cities, to record their own experiences.
The following screenshots show various pages from the Mormon Historic Sites Alberta iPad app:
The app's opening page
Taking information from the Church History Department, users can browse points of interest related to the Cardston Temple and other sites of significance in the area.
A map highlights the four original Mormon settlements with hotspots showing each historical site and important events within them.
Historical photographs from the time period are integrated into the app, including these photographs from the building of the Cardston temple.
Users have access to the biographies of people with a specific historical significance to Alberta, Canada.
Visitors to the area are encouraged to upload pictures to their iPad for a more interactive experience.
Videos are also integrated into the app. This video shows Edward J. Wood, a former temple and stake president in southern Alberta, Canada.
LDSTech community integration
To keep costs low, this project was heavily assisted by talented and diligent volunteers from the LDSTech community. In this instance, all of the volunteers had one valuable thing in common.
“Our volunteers all had connections to Alberta,” said Emmy Southworth, design manager for the Church History department. “Many of them also had a development background; we had an iOS developer, a graphic designer, and others who helped us work out the quirks that come with launching such a specific app.”
The project kicked off during the LDSTech Conference on March 28, 2012. The volunteers dedicated a three-hour session to work on concepts. After the team had something to work with, it was divided up into must-haves, nice-to-haves, and bonus features. With a list of nice-to-haves and bonus features, it gave the team more wiggle room when it came to time constraints and allowed them to scale back when necessary.
”This has been one of the most agile projects I’ve worked on,” said Emmy. “The volunteers, from the end of March to the middle of June, have been amazing on this project.”
“Southern Alberta is a unique opportunity to test an app for historic sites and markers that do not have visitor centers. This also allows us to refine an experience that could also be used for other Church historic sites,” said Emmy.
For those interested in accessing the historical information but don’t have access to an iPad, the stories and videos found in the app are also available on history.lds.org.
The iPad app was released in the App Store on July 1. You can find it in the App Store by searching for "Mormon Alberta," or by following this link.