YouthMaster

Discussions around miscellaneous technologies and projects for the general membership.
mattfarley
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YouthMaster

Postby mattfarley » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:52 am

Last year I was called to be Young Men's Secretary and inherited a mess of spreadsheets (mostly outdated). As a software developer by trade, I knew there was a much better way to do this.

I began work on YouthMaster.org during Christmas of last year, and initially it was just for our ward (who loved it). I have now re-released it as Version 2.0 which supports almost-unlimited-wards which can be spawned at the drop of a hat.

YouthMaster Features:
+ YM Duty to God Tracking
+ YW Personal Progress Tracking
+ Scout Advancement
+ Attendance

All four of those are modules that can be turned on / off by the ward admin(s). In addition to the core functionality, YouthMaster provides a number of extremely useful tools, such as:
+ Interactive Housing Maps
+ Mass Emails by Quorum / Class
+ Duty to God Certificates
+ Custom Reporting Engine (with email subscriptions)
+ Private Ward File Libraries (share documents, PowerPoints, etc)

Please have a look at the short video demonstration -- there's a lot of nice UI (AJAX) functionality that makes it dead simple to use. If your ward is interested in using YouthMaster just follow the directions on the FAQ (it's free)!

http://demo.youthmaster.org/

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:54 am

Very impressive! I hope the church developers of LUWS 2.0 watch your demo. I'm sure they'll come away with ideas.

Since you're new to the forum, have you had a chance to look over some of the discussions we've had about web sites? Given the amount of information stored on your website, I think it will raise a red flag as far as placing information on a 3rd party web site. (Maybe not so much an issue for you since it's your site, but an issue of any other ward wanting to join.)

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:36 am

RussellHltn wrote:Given the amount of information stored on your website, I think it will raise a red flag as far as placing information on a 3rd party web site. (Maybe not so much an issue for you since it's your site, but an issue of any other ward wanting to join.)

However, it didn't appear that there is any automatic upload of MLS data in the site. It appeared you tell each individual to register their own account to the existing ward regisitration. I think all of your own data is entered voluntarily by yourself.

Am I mistaken?

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:38 am

First Matt, my compliments on the technical accomplishment as well as the look and feel of the product.

I assume you have followed the threads here about ymyw.org, and the issue of whether such sites are wtihin the bounds of Church policy and guidelines interpreting that policy. Have you received any guidance yourself on that?

On a particular side note, I see you have integrated a view of Google Maps. Are you using the Google Maps API? I have looked into that tool, but was put off by Google's terms of use.

mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:47 am

Thanks for the feedback!

Privacy is most definitely a concern with any web application. I have a question on the YouthMaster FAQ about privacy which advises users as to potential concerns and mitigation. All the system needs in order to function (in terms of tracking DTG, PP, etc) is a name and date of birth, nothing more. The extra info (address, email, etc) is nice to facilitate some of the other tools, but is not mandatory.

And mkmurray is correct -- there are two ways to get into the system -- importing an excel spreadsheet provided by the leaders, or a user self-registering themselves.

If a new ward wants to join all at once, it's easiest if they put all the user info in the spreadsheet and email it to me and I spawn a new ward with all the users. After that, users can join ad-hoc by self-registering. Nothing comes from MLS.

And I have read some on the privacy issues around Google Maps integration. Not sure how other sites do it, but YouthMaster plots all of the addresses in client-side javascript (it does not store anything on Google's servers). The Google Maps Terms of Service are very strict about using their API (which I do use) in private/for-money applications, but I believe YouthMaster falls under the "free" category which should hopefully be less stringent.

To answer Boomerbubba, I haven't read any of the debates concerning sites such as ymyw.org, but I can tell you that recently Charles W. Dahlquist - Young Men General President visited a Bishop (friend of mine) and when the topic of DTG tracking came up, President Dahlquist told the Bishop that there are several online sites (such as ymyw) that can facilitate such tracking. So while I'm sure the church does not officially support any of our homegrown software, I think they can appreciate the need and will hopefully address it in future versions of their applications.

Again, all you need for YouthMaster.org is a name and a dob -- the end goal is to allow everyone to have the latest and most up to date information on youth progress (DTG/PP). I stress this to my users and I'll do it here -- these systems should not replace the one on one dialogue that should be happening between youth and their leaders/parents -- this is just a fancy replacement for a spreadsheet that never gets lost or outdated :)

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:03 pm

mfarley wrote:The Google Maps Terms of Service are very strict about using their API (which I do use) in private/for-money applications, but I believe YouthMaster falls under the "free" category which should hopefully be less stringent.


I'm afraid my reading of the Google Maps API Terms of Serviceis much more restrictive. It says:


The API may be used only for services that are generally accessible to consumers without charge. Accordingly, You may not use the API for any service that requires a subscription or other restricted access, or for which a fee is charged.

[My emphasis]


IANAL, but I think the plain English of that agreement clearly precludes the way you use the API because your site does restrict access to authenticated users. Google allows its API to be used for free public URLs.

Please don't take my word for it. But I urge you not to dismiss my comments out of hand. Since you are already running this site, I suggest you run this past a lawyer as soon as possible. You would not want to get an unpleasant surprise someday from Google's own attorneys or those from Google's map providers.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:18 pm

boomerbubba wrote:IANAL

Boy, you use so many acronyms I've never seen nor heard of, most of which I have been able to figure out pretty quickly. This one, though, I had to look up...

"I am not a lawyer"

mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:23 pm

boomerbubba wrote:I'm afraid my reading of the Google Maps API Terms of Serviceis much more restrictive. It says:



IANAL, but I think the plain English of that agreement clearly precludes the way you use the API because your site does restrict access to authenticated users. Google allows its API to be used for free public URLs.

Please don't take my word for it. But I urge you not to dismiss my comments out of hand. Since you are already running this site, I suggest you run this past a lawyer as soon as possible. You would not want to get an unpleasant surprise someday from Google's own attorneys or those from Google's map providers.


At work we ran into the same issue (using the Google Maps API) so we got in contact with them and the end result was that we allowed public access to the map via URL, but our database data was not plotted via client-side javascript unless the user is logged in. I've implemented this same approach for YouthMaster to maintain compliance.

For example, browse to: http://tomball.youthmaster.org/map/ -- you get a map -- it's publicly accessible and Google is happy.

If you're a registered user, you'll get the same map, but with the extra javascript that plots addresses.

At the end of the day Google's concern was people using their maps behind *paid* subscriptions, but we still went with the publicly accessible map (as I've done on YouthMaster) to be on the safe side.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:43 pm

mfarley wrote:At work we ran into the same issue (using the Google Maps API) so we got in contact with them and the end result was that we allowed public access to the map via URL, but our database data was not plotted via client-side javascript unless the user is logged in. I've implemented this same approach for YouthMaster to maintain compliance.

For example, browse to: http://tomball.youthmaster.org/map/ -- you get a map -- it's publicly accessible and Google is happy.

If you're a registered user, you'll get the same map, but with the extra javascript that plots addresses.


That public URL would be enough to register with Google and obtain an application ID. (BTW, when I try that URL the map does not render, but that technical detail is beside the point here.) I could register with Google and put up a public web site that did something trivial to render a map. Google would be satisfied initially, and issue me an application ID. But if I also use that application ID for another forbidden purpose I am coloring outside the lines.

It seems to me that if "the extra javascript that plots addresses" is still making calls to the API, then you are using the API for a restricted web site, which is explicitly forbidden by the Terms of Service.

mfarley wrote:At the end of the day Google's concern was people using their maps behind *paid* subscriptions, but we still went with the publicly accessible map (as I've done on YouthMaster) to be on the safe side.


Unfortunately that is not what the language of the Terms of Service says. It does not say "... restricted access, and for which a fee is charged." It says "... restricted access, or for which a fee is charged."

Please, talk to a lawyer. I would very much like to believe that someone has found a loophole here, but I doubt it.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:47 pm

boomerbubba wrote:...(BTW, when I try that URL the map does not render, but that technical detail is beside the point here.)

Zoom out. It looks like it's at the intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian, out in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. But as you said, it's "beside the point."


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