Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Discussions about the Newsletter Tool at LDS.org.
ag_boy
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Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby ag_boy » Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:51 am

There is a need to directly support Sunday sacrament meeting programs. Since we are opening ourselves to the technology, the newsletter is the logical place to upload PDF versions of our announcements and schedule. These allow for direct links to the songbook and contacts that are listed in the program — as well as a running archive of events.

The LDS tools also need to link to the newsletter directly. Going through a web interface on a phone based browser is inefficient - whereas an App is imminently preferred.

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby johnshaw » Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:40 am

This item has been suggested many, many times. Since the debv group keeps a pretty tight lip on dev cycles we just need to wait and see if priesthood leadership thinks it's important or not.
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ag_boy
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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby ag_boy » Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:06 pm

Nonetheless I am forging ahead. In absence of a direction we make our own.

There is significant need for a program layout tool, that is linked to LDS resources. Not everyone is a graphic designer, and creating simple tools to empower that calling has benefit

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby mevans » Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:34 pm

agrapha wrote:There is significant need for a program layout tool, that is linked to LDS resources. Not everyone is a graphic designer, and creating simple tools to empower that calling has benefit


I've seen many different Sunday bulletin formats over the years as I've visited and bee in various wards. Some wards may not have them at all. You don't really need to be a graphic designer to do a Sunday sacrament meeting program. People with a basic knowledge of Word (or other "office" programs) can create one without a lot of trouble. Yes, if you know more features, you can do more, but just getting the job done doesn't seem to be tremendously difficult. However, it's possible your unit is in an area where such skills aren't as common. Maybe you can elaborate more on the difficulties you face with a sacrament meeting program?

In the past, our ward uploaded PDFs of the sacrament meeting program, but the person who was doing that stopped doing it. Maybe because there's only about 3 of us in the ward who ever look at the Newsletter.

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby ag_boy » Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:06 pm

Thank you for the support! You may have misread my last post. One of my careers is Graphic Design. What we need is a tool to make this more available to every member (for some it is a stressful position). But if it is going to be a calling, we should look into ways to facilitate it. My only difficulty is that no one seems to have thought it through, and built a toolset.

If there were a simple, centralized design and layout page (multiple templates), with access to church images at a click of a button (optimized for print and xerox), it would be helpful. I have had to coordinate Bishopric activities in the past while on business in the farthest reaches of the world, using Google tools, and currently do so with the Sunday Sacrament program as well — and I have seen the advantage. The Church can manage this directly, and use it as a team collaboration experiment.

A Sacrament Program creation tool, as mundane as it sounds, is empowering to those who have a church calling to produce it, and allows collaboration with the Bishopric on a low level — which can set precedent for data exchange among local church offices. As said, some parts of this collaboration and publishing have been suggested "many, many, times." That indicates a need that is being unfulfilled. We at least should to build a pipeline for it.

Here is the simplest pipeline I have built so far:
1. Google doc the program — using hyperlinks to songs and pictures from LDS.org
2. Share the program with appropriate members of the ward leadership.
3. Update the announcements and schedule in various leadership meetings (with mobile devices this is much easier these days).
4. Print and copy (various improvements to upgrade copy quality can be done here).
5. Upload a PDF, or share a hotline to a PDF from Google Docs to the newsletter.

This can be done by any member with access to a web browser, at local libraries, the Family History centers, or a smart phone. It opens up the calling to many members with limited computer access.

Ward members can directly access this program, and click links directly to songbook entries (which any IOS device will re-direct to an enclosed app). They can also directly click on email contacts, or phone numbers. Members will actually look at it online if it is convenient (if its difficult they won't do it), and advertised as being there — which is another reason it should be part of LDStools. As far as making newsletter updates in the future, making it a feature of lds.org ensures that it will go forward, as opposed to being tied to an individual.


In the end it is not necessary to salvation, but making the operation of church callings more efficient is just wisdom. This is a small step toward that, and is a testbed for improved operations. Waiting for someone to see if it is important is less likely to result in anything. I think amongst us we can make something that operates smoothly, and build a roadmap to propose to the web builders here.

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby sbradshaw » Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:46 am

The design part would be a big challenge to do automatically or with templates, but where I could see real progress being made would be the gathering together of information for the program. That is, a place to gather together who the speakers are, who the prayers are, what the songs are (with URLs, perhaps), calendar information for the next couple of weeks pulled in, etc. From that dashboard it could go to the program designer who formats it all according to the needs of their ward.

Essentially, a ward council sacrament meeting planning dashboard.
Samuel Bradshaw • Interested in church apps and sites, creative recordkeeping, clerk support, YSA wards and stakes, LDS music, Vineyard at BYU, and online service.

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby ag_boy » Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:16 am

The design part is should not be more difficult than basic HTML layout, or layered tables in a doc. It does not need to be a full design program at first. Just a series of tables that auto fill at the push of a button. There will need to be some font abilities as well.

I do believe there are LDS professionals who helped write WordPerfect out there ;)

I like the idea of a data collection center, or planning dashboard. If everyone had a place to merely enter information, it would beat 15 emails with different formatting and fonts. The data would just update, and collect at the time of publish.

What exists now that can query the calendar?

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby russellhltn » Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:29 am

Personally I think designing a program to do Sacrament Programs would be a big challenge. You'd effectively be setting the format and what information should be in the program. This is likely to conflict with how individual wards have been doing their programs for years. This could quickly become "One size fits all, fits like a rag sack on most" solution. For every ward that welcomes the lightened burden, another would complain that it leaves something important out and doesn't meet their needs.

But don't fret. I have no input on development priority. That's set by The Brethren. But I'd imagine from where they sit, they see the church generally coping satisfactorily with the task. The few that don't, don't have a program. And that's okay too. Their focus is on other things.
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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby ag_boy » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:01 am

Absolutely true. This is a delegated task set to many of us. Nothing to fret about, just a system to work out. At least a simple method for future members to access.

This is in no way a one size fits all solution. This is an option that has side benefit of information gathering. Almost like a wordpress theme for the web. Never quite what you'd like, but so much easier than building it from scratch for many individuals.

I think the data collating and exchange is the greater advantage. It brings members to the church site to work together and plan. Currently there are only a few tools asking for this kind of collaboration on the website.

Yes, it's a sacrament program, that is both loved and superfluous at the same time. But what can the supporting abilities to furnish it lead to? Build something and let it grow more organically.

I have been directly tasked to expand the use of newsletter in this manner, as there are many restrictions of space and types of announcements in the paper program. It is barely a bulletin board. Hence the level of the discussion.

So let's focus on what we can do now. Build the roadmap, a working method, and let the results drive development more than neat ideas about it. I have already proposed a working pipeline now. How would you build on it?

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Re: Newsletter, LDS tools, and Sacrament Programs

Postby russellhltn » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:18 am

agrapha wrote:I have already proposed a working pipeline now. How would you build on it?

I have rarely seen the church build on community efforts. The specifications are handed down from the brethren to the developers. The developers have limited leeway. Mostly in the GUI design.
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