Announcing YouthMaster.Org: v3.0!

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mattfarley
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Announcing YouthMaster.Org: v3.0!

Postby mattfarley » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:08 am

After another six months of development (nearly a rewrite), I am pleased to announce the release of YouthMaster v3.0.

v3.0 brings many significant enhancements, most of which were driven by user feedback.

Anyone can try it out on the sandbox site at:

http://www.youthmaster.org/
Login: admin
Password: test

You can also watch a short 3 minute video of the new features:
http://demo.youthmaster.org/v3.html

Significant updates include:

  • 11 yr old Scouting
  • New [Dashboard] report to show group progress
  • Ability to edit the date of requirement checkoffs
  • Add comments to a specific youth's checkoff/requirement
  • Timeline graphs depicting a youth's progress over time
  • Ward Administrators can select whether or not youth can see other youth's progress
  • Ward Administrators can select whether or not youth can checkoff their own requirements
  • [Send Email] tool has been improved to enable the selecting of specific recipients
  • Wards can define/create 2 custom fields in the database (i.e. calling, school, cell phone, seminary class, talents, etc)
  • Improved interface for printing Duty to God certificates (1-click to print all)
  • Greatly enhanced Ward Administrator interface
  • Source code completely rewritten from the ground up! (more robust, many miscellaneous enhancements)
  • Highest priorities for next release, v4.0: Stake Reports, Faith in God (Primary), Shared Blog
Background: YouthMaster.org is a free web application which a ward can use to manage and track their Youth programs: Duty to God, Scouting, and Personal Progress. It includes many complimentary tools such as Interactive Housing Maps, Custom Reporting (with email subscriptions), Group Emailing, Attendance tracking, and more). Watch the full overview video at http://demo.youthmaster.org/

As always, YouthMaster is free to join: http://www.youthmaster.org/help/faq/#join

Some screenshots of the new features...

[Dashboard] View:
Image
New graphs, comments, and date changes:
Image

Ward Admins can now bulk import new users:
Image

Enhanced email tool:
Image

As of v3.0 the entire codebase has been rewritten to incorporate many industry standard software development best practices such as unit tests, continuous integration, selenium testing, object-oriented design patterns, etc. The end result is a much more robust foundation and deployment process.

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:26 pm

Awesome! I love youthmaster! It's an easy way to make sure that parent, scout, and leader are on the same page, so to speak, regarding meeting requirements. It's also clean and simple to use. Although much of it serves the same purpose as spreadsheets, it does not *look* like spreadsheets. Therefore, my teenage son is more interested in it and more likely to use it. I'm glad that our scoutmaster chose to do this and wish that my local YW leaders would get on board, too. :):)

mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:45 pm

scion wrote:Awesome! I love youthmaster! It's an easy way to make sure that parent, scout, and leader are on the same page, so to speak, regarding meeting requirements. It's also clean and simple to use. Although much of it serves the same purpose as spreadsheets, it does not *look* like spreadsheets. Therefore, my teenage son is more interested in it and more likely to use it. I'm glad that our scoutmaster chose to do this and wish that my local YW leaders would get on board, too. :):)


Thanks for the kind words! I've posted a lengthy description of the technology behind YouthMaster in the [Other Technologies] forum if you're interested, it can be found here.

Btw, I drive a Scion tC :)

togiles
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Postby togiles » Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:01 am

Any plans to support tracking individual merit badges?

mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:06 pm

togiles wrote:Any plans to support tracking individual merit badges?


I'm a bit leery of going into detailed Scout tracking. Having worked with TroopMaster I know just how complex tracking Scout progress can be. With YouthMaster I purposefully opted to stay on the simple side -- mimicking the checkoffs in the Scout Handbook.

At this point if people are looking for a very granular solution, I'd point them towards TroopMaster.

To quote the "About" page on YouthMaster:

You'll notice that YouthMaster tries to keep true to the KISS principle (Keep-It-Simple-Stupid). During the entire design of the site I always made attempts to lean towards less noise, more clear, more simple. For example, you can track scouting advancement through the scouting module, but it will not provide details on what particular merit badges were attained during the process. Most everything from Scouting to Duty to God to YW Personal Progress is a simple yes/no checkbox.
If you're searching for more detail / in depth tracking, you may want to look into one of the other popular online systems:


kennethjorgensen
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Postby kennethjorgensen » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:15 am

mfarley,

I think the YM DTG and YW PP is an area where technology really can be of great benefit and therefore it is great to see when people try to tackle it and it would definitely be amongst my top 5 wishes for the church to develop.

I have a couple of suggestions. Maybe you already have them in, maybe your thinking about it and if not then here they are:

Anybody who has kept an eye on the progress of a Young Men must surely have wondered “Is he up to date or not?” 8 months into his 2 year period and with 9 goals completed you wonder if he is “on track”. So having a graph that will show the line of where he should be at any stage and another line of his actual progress would show you this.
Or on your screenshot it shows each one as %-complete. That is good but 50% doesnt say much. Would it be possible to show two progress bars? One for %-complete and one for %-percentage of time lapsed into the two year period? That way you get to see immediately who is ahead, behind and on track.

Also a text on each individuals record saying “John has completed 10 goals out of 46. This is 4 goals more than expected at this stage. In order to complete on time John will need to complete one goal every 16 days.” Or you could just list each of these figures with its text.

I have seen Young Men who thought they were “ok” but in reality didn’t realise they were behind and at the end it all became too much to do too quick.

I have also sat down with Young Men who earlier on were ready to give up because they knew they were behind but it is when instead of saying “you are 8 goals behind” you can now say “you only have to complete one goal every 7 days to make it” that this makes a huge difference.

This I did with a spreadsheet but when you can then also have additional things like keeping parents updated automatically that this really kicks in.
PLUS it’s great for kids if they can see this progress for themselves as it really gives them a boost to see progress.

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cshields
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Kudos and questions

Postby cshields » Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:51 am

The site looks good and we could really use something like that in our ward (where we already rely heavily on regular mailing list postings to keep the parents and youth informed), so major kudos!

I would second the request for merit badge tracking. It doesn't have to be complex like tracking individual requirements, but once you get into Star/Life/Eagle requirements, the bulk of the work lies in who has what merit badges. That is where a majority of our "tracking" time is spent. Additionally, trying to communicate to the boys and their parents who has what badges (so any discrepancies can be disputed) has been an issue. Letting the parents and scouts log in and see that their boy has X, Y, and Z for their Life rank would do us a world of good!

Second question.. Has the Church's stance toward sites like these changed at all lately? The last time I saw there was a letter sent December 2004 that such sites are not to be used, yet I see a lot of support for them on here. I'm hopeful that I have missed the follow-up memo dictating that some of these are okay to use. ;)

Cheers,
-Corey

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:00 am

cshields wrote:----snip----

I would second the request for merit badge tracking. It doesn't have to be complex like tracking individual requirements, but once you get into Star/Life/Eagle requirements, the bulk of the work lies in who has what merit badges. That is where a majority of our "tracking" time is spent. Additionally, trying to communicate to the boys and their parents who has what badges (so any discrepancies can be disputed) has been an issue. Letting the parents and scouts log in and see that their boy has X, Y, and Z for their Life rank would do us a world of good!

----snip---- ;)

Cheers,
-Corey


So, a list of all possible merit badges with places to input start date, completed date, and awarded date would be mighty handy. Once a completed date is entered, then it could automatically populate a line on the higher ranks requirements. It would need to know eagle required v. regular, and catch that there are options where one or the other (i.e. hiking or cycling) is required, so the second earned in that pair would be optional. This really is an awesome tool! Love it!

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PNMarkW2
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Postby PNMarkW2 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:32 am

I've not looked close, so forgive me for asking a question that may seem completely obvious...

Has YouthMaster taken into account how many of the Duty to God requirements are tied to Scout requirements? For example, the there are approximately 60 Deacon Duty to God requirements in the current program, fully 2/3 of those go hand-in hand with a Scouting activity or merit badge. Take Family Activities #4, keep a family history, which is also part of the Genealogy Merit Badge.

If your Ward is doing Scouting, you're already doing much of the Duty to God program, and it would be nice to see the overlap. To many think of them as separate programs when they aren't.

And on Scouting, I once started a project to write a Scout Tracking system, with a Duty to God plug in, but stopped in part because if you're doing more then basic tracking you *need* to interface with ScoutNet to really be useful for a functioning unit, and the BSA isn't giving those requirements out for any new projects. Just something to keeo in mind if you go to far down the Scouting path, some people will end up doing double entry if you can't interface with ScoutNet.
~Mark
Ward Clerk
Colonial Heights Ward
Portland Oregon Stake

-----
"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three."
---Alice Kahn

jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:13 am

cshields wrote:Has the Church's stance toward sites like these changed at all lately? The last time I saw there was a letter sent December 2004 that such sites are not to be used, yet I see a lot of support for them on here. I'm hopeful that I have missed the follow-up memo dictating that some of these are okay to use.
The December 13, 2004, Authorized Church Web Sitesletter has not been superceded, clarified or modified by any more recent guidance as far as we know. The thread "Request a clarification on usage of non-church owned websites" discusses this issue. Any information or interpretation of the Authorized Church Web Sites letter in these forums is not to be construed as official guidance. That being said, you will find from the discussions in the thread I mentioned that we believe that as long as the data from MLS is not being uploaded to the site and hosted on non-Church own servers it may be meeting the intent of the guidance. In addition the site should not put themselves out to officially represent the Church or some Church organization in any way.

Since the site discussed in this thread deals with youth, and data related to youth, greater care should be taken when releasing data to this site. The concern within the community is the security of the site, or the lack thereof, and therefore any of the data users provide. Without adequate security the privacy of the data on the site is in jeopardy of being compromised.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?


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