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The History of LDS.org Shows God's hands - Part 2 of 2 Print E-mail
Written by G.C. Duerden and Ben Groen)   
Friday, 30 May 2014

The Church has updated its flagship site, LDS.org, many times since it was first created in 1996. From a basic domain-claiming site in the early days of the Web to today’s robust, information-rich experience, the Church has offered more and more content to members and to the world.

Part 1 of this article reviewed the development of the Church’s public face via technology, from the early days of radio to the earliest developments of an Internet presence.)

The year 2000 also saw major redesigns and content added to the website. The Church’s message called “The Living Christ” was posted on January 1, 2000, followed by the first Internet version of the scriptures in May of the same year.

The conversion of the scriptures from a print version to an online version proved to be very beneficial. Errors were revealed such as wrong references and typos. The Church was able to clean up the scriptures by posting them online.

At the turn of the millennium, the website shifted focus a bit. Designers allowed it to be more dynamic, allowing users to customize content. Ideas for features such as a youth site, a portal, feedback, calendar, news were planned. Some of these ideas are only now being launched.

The goal was to release the new site on June 30, 2000. Using a content management system put out by Vignette, and a language called Tcl, the site was created. It presented huge challenges to the Church and developers. The site required major hardware upgrades. With less than a week to go before launch, the website was still not functional.

One problem was so difficult that Vignette experts were called in for support, but the result was many of hours of work with no success. Ultimately, the consultants gave up and went back to their hotel, at which point the remaining team members made it a matter of prayer. Within a half an hour, ideas came in and the problem was solved.

 On June 30, Elder L. Tom Perry pushed a button that launched the website publically.

By July 2000, the website had over 20,000 users per day. Later that year, the Church launched additional language capability for Newsroom and the LDS Catalog.

The Meetinghouse Locator not only provided support to the members but also made the Church realize that many of the addresses were out of date and wrong.

In July, the stake and ward websites were first piloted and released to the general membership.

In October 2001, in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Church launched www.mormon.org, designed specifically for those who are not members of the Church. It was previously called “Sharing the Gospel.”

The Young Women’s general presidency helped design email pass-along cards to invite people to learn about the gospel. Elder Dallin H. Oaks announced these cards and the new website in general conference.

Within one minute of his announcement, the servers became overloaded. The IT team realized that the outage had been caused by the number of cards being sent out by individuals who were supposed to be listening to the rest of Elder Oaks’ talk.

In December 2001, the “Places to Visit” section on LDS.org was added. (Interestingly, today the “Places to Visit” section is used mostly by mobile devices.)

Country Websites were added in 2002, which allowed countries to use templates to create language-specific websites.

The Perpetual Education Fund content was also added, along with temple open house reservation systems in 2002, starting first with the Nauvoo temple.

Also in 2002, LDS.org went down for three days due to some tables that were deleted in a database. During the outage, backups failed and a new program was created to ensure that major outages would never happen again.

Another redesign was in the making in 2003. The current website was getting too crowded, and the Church developed fly-out menus and trained all developers to use Java.

In 2007, LDS.org 2.0 website was launched.

The redesign changes from the original site to version 2.0 resulted in a lot of usability questions. With this in mind, the LDS.org 2.0 website was left up when the LDS.org 3.0 was released in November 2010. As a result, the transition to 3.0 went relatively smoothly.

The newest version of LDS.org uses an XML database with XQuery for accessing data. LDS.org 3.0 has much more advanced technology and now includes Calendar, Directory, Maps, and other tools, all of which use the internal Java stack.

 

The history of LDS.org has been full of prayerful and inspiration-driven experiences. The site has evolved along with the Web, often solving problems in innovative and award-winning ways. LDS.org has become a key method of spreading the gospel using modern tools, blessing the lives of members and non-members throughout the world. 

 
The History of LDS.org Shows God's Hand - Part 1 of 2 Print E-mail
Written by G.C. Duerden and Ben Groen)   
Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Many advances in technology have been embraced by the Church to help the gospel fill the earth. This two-part series of articles tells the story of LDS.org, the Church’s flagship website.

The Church had always made extensive use of the telegraph to send and receive messages, but the first foray into a public arena was on May 6, 1922 when President Heber J. Grant delivered the first Church broadcast message over the first radio station in Utah, KZN (now KSL). This message was given for the formal dedication of the station.

In October 1924, general conferences began to be broadcast, by radio. Early the next year, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began performing, via radio, with rehearsals on Thursday evenings. Their weekly broadcasts started July 15, 1929. The program, known as Music and the Spoken Word, is now the oldest continuous broadcast in American radio.

In April, 1941 the 111th General Conference was broadcast for the first time by radio and TV stations outside of Utah. Prior to that, KSL TV and Radio had undertaken to broadcast conference within Utah.

It wasn’t until April 1952 that the priesthood session of general conference was carried by telephone to stake centers and other buildings outside of Temple Square. (In 2013 the Priesthood Session was broadcast on KBYU-TV and streamed over the internet as well as through the Church Satellite System.) In 1963, languages other than English and Spanish were broadcast (German and Portuguese) as WRUL broadcast the 133rd Annual General Conference.

In 1979 the broadcasts of general conference was taken into space as the first satellite broadcasts were used. But it wasn’t until 1997 when the Church really established its first official website, LDS.org, with real content.

A Church employee bought the domain name “LDS.org” before the Church considered an online presence. The first official site rolled out in December 1996, consisting of just two pages (one was a media guide from the Public Affairs Department of the Church, and the other was a page where users were directed to call a toll free number to get a free copy of the Book of Mormon). 

The Church’s first official LDS.org website.

By April of 1997 content was added to celebrate the pioneer sesquicentennial, including an interactive map. Until it was taken down in 2012, this was the oldest content on the website.

Interactive map celebrating the pioneer story. Up until sometime after 2012, this was the oldest content on LDS.org.

December 1996 version of LDS.org. The first real LDS.org website with content.

Later in 1997, the Church added content about Joseph Smith and published general conference talks (from the 167th General Conference). General conference addresses were first made available (in English) on LDS.org in late 1997. Other languages followed in 1998.

General conference addresses first published on LDS.org in 1997

In 1999, the Church started making plans to deliver a live broadcast of general conference over the Internet. The Church developed a spinoff company, MSTAR.net, to develop the site and worked with Real Networks to broadcast general conference. It was the biggest event ever for Real Networks, and the second largest Internet broadcast at the time.

The first session of that 1999 October General Conference surpassed all of Real Networks’ expected traffic and overloaded the whole network. Thankfully, the IT staff added more servers and fixed the issues by the second session. Feedback was tremendous and came from all over the world. Many people wrote about the great joy and privilege of being able to listen to the prophet live for the very first time.

Also in 1999, LDS.org was redesigned. A splash screen was added, and the content reflected the missions of the Church. 

At this point, all website content had to be approved by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, a process that limited the Church’s ability to publish material. An Internet task group was organized to provide leadership and direction to the future of the Church’s websites.

This is the end of part one covering the development of the Church’s public face via technology, from the radio to the LDS.org website (1996 to 1999). Part two picks up at the turn of the 21st century and brings us up to date.


 

 
May Broadcast Second Chance Print E-mail
Written by Greg Duerden   
Monday, 12 May 2014

A Second Chance to See the Colemere Broadcast

Are you interested in the latest techniques used by the Church to spread the gospel message? The Church uses sophisticated and media-savvy marketing methods to contact as many people as possible, no matter the type of media they prefer.

Michael Colemere, managing director of Communication Services for the Church, spoke about the four elements of a successful communications strategy the Church is using at the latest LDSTech broadcast, which was live streamed and recorded on May 2, 2014. This insightful presentation revealed many aspects of the Church’s digital messaging plan.

At the broadcast, Brother Colemere gave details of direction he received from General Authorities of the Church as well as the four elements his department has developed for the Church’s communication strategy:  1) Who we are trying to reach (the audience); 2) What we want to communicate (the message); 3) Where our audiences consume information (the channel); and 4) How we can best format the messages (the packaging).

Each broadcast is recorded, so if you missed this one, or any other, you can re-watch the recording at any time. In fact, if you tuned in late to the broadcast, you could rewind and play it from the beginning. See this broadcast, or any other, in LDSTech’s Broadcast Archive.  Here are a few recent ones:

Date Stream Presenter & Topic
2014-MAY-02 

Michael Colemere - Four Elements of Successful Communications Strategies 

2014-MAR-14  Mel Broberg - Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders (CDOL
2014-FEB-07  Jim Byer - Windows 8 Gospel Library 
2014-JAN-10  Hal Rushton - Gospel Content on the Feature Phone 

 


 
Clayton Christensen Speaks to LDSTech Print E-mail
Written by Greg Duerden   
Friday, 14 March 2014

Clayton Christensen, considered the world’s leading management thinker, discussed ‘Disruptive Technology’ at an LDSTech broadcast that included the Church’s IT department on April 5, 2013. He pointed out how LDSTech has taken this concept to heart.

Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth. His ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world.

He is also the best-selling author of nine books, including one of his most recent books, The Power of Everyday Missionaries. One, The Innovator’s Dilemma, received the Global Business Book Award as the best business book of the year in 1997 and was named by The Economist, in 2011, as one of the six most important books about business ever written.

Two levels

“Companies make two levels of technology,” Christensen said. The first level “makes sustaining technologies that make good products better.” He illustrated by telling the history of PC processors, which back in the 1980s “couldn’t keep up with most typists’ fingers,” but now processor speeds have increased tremendously and can handle so much more than the Intel 286 chip, once considered so powerful.

The next level of company technology is one that uses what he called disruptive innovations or disruptive technologies. These are innovations that that make something so much more affordable and simple that larger and broader populations of customers can have access to it.

An example he used was Digital Equipment, a very successful company in the 1970s and into 1980s that had a brilliant management team. They were successful until 1988, when they “dropped off the cliff” in the business sense and dramatically failed, because of the decisions of that same management team.

But Digital wasn’t the only one in that time period that failed. The companies that made mini-computers “all failed at the same time.” These were well known and respected companies, like Prime, Data General, Hewlett-Packard, Wang, Honeywell, and more.

Hard Choice

“Here’s what happened,” said Christensen: “When management looked out the window they saw everyone was buying personal computers. Remember,” he said, “this was a time when personal computers were crummy.”

This gave Digital’s management a hard choice:

  • Make better products, to sell for better profits to their best customers.
  • Make what they see as ‘worse’ products.

“It is just a very difficult thing for smart people to do what doesn’t really make sense at the time,” Christensen said.

Restoration of Questions

Christensen brought up the Restoration of the Gospel as an example of the Lord’s disruptive technology. The idea that we could do remarkable things was the basis of the Restoration, he stated.

Until a 14 year-old boy asked which church he should join, religion had stopped asking questions of heaven. Joseph Smith asked a simple question and he got a simple answer. When Joseph prayed again, he asked a question and Moroni was sent several times (repetition is a basic gospel principle). “Step by step, question by question he got answers. The Restoration was Restoration of Questions!”

Brother Christensen gave the large audience a historical quiz, asking who invented Sunday School or Primary in the LDS Church, who gave us Family Home Evenings, Institutes, Missionary Lessons, etc. HE explained that Sunday School came from Brother Valentine in 1859 doing it in his home on 2nd West and 2nd South in Salt Lake City until Brigham Young heard about it and standardized it for the whole Church.

Sister Rogers in Farmington started Primary when she wanted to create boys worthy to marry her daughters and, again, Brigham Young adopted it for the Church.

Family Home Evening was the idea of a Stake President in Richfield in 1912.

Institutes came from a professor at the University of Idaho (Br. Sessions) until President Heber J. Grant developed it into the LDS Institutes of Religion.

Missionary Lessons came from a BYU professor. When he was a zone leader in the Northwestern States Mission, he wrote six lessons that became known as the ‘Anderson Plan.’

“Do you see a pattern here? Almost all programs and institutions of the Church come from the members like you and me,” he said. “That’s the way it works in the Church. People in the peripheries develop the solutions to the problems. When it is solved the Church gives it a place to stick. Doctrine and Covenants 58 tells us we need to be actively engaged in solving problems. I’m worried about those who don’t solve problems.” And then he complimented the people in his audience by saying, “You are solving problems every day, right here. And you get the most important insights as you solve problems at the core.” Christensen closed his discussion with his testimony.

To see all he said, check out the LDSTech Broadcast Archive to watch the April 2013 Broadcast.

LDSTech, as Christensen said above, is already performing disruptive technology. There are opportunities to serve in the LDSTech community right from your home. Those interested in part-time or full-time Church Service Mission (CSM) opportunities can contact the CSM Coordinators at (801) 842-4771, or e-mail them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You could also fill out the LDSTech Missionary Form.

If you have language skills and are interested in becoming Area Technology Specialists in countries outside of the U.S. (Korea, Dominican Republic, Central and South America, etc.) contact the ATS Coordinators at 801-240-6226 or email them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  

 

You can check out the current CSM Opportunities on lds.org/callings/missionary/churchservice or servicemission.ldschurch.org/csm-public/home.jsf. 

 
Knowledge Tech - for beginners - 1 & 2 Print E-mail
Written by Greg Duerden & Cheryl Bottorff   
Monday, 24 February 2014

Knowledge Tech tip #1

How do I read the scriptures

… on my smart phone/tablet?

Download the Gospel Library app onto your phone or tablet. When you open it you will see the Library, and Scriptures could be at the top right of your screen. Touch the picture and choose the book you want. The table of contents will appear and you can choose your book, chapter, or subject.

… on my computer?

Go to lds.org, click on the scriptures link at the top middle of the page. Choose book you want to download. The table of contents will appear and you can choose your book, chapter, or subject.

Knowledge Tech tip #2

How do I study my Priesthood or Young Women or Relief Society. or Sunday School lesson in advance?

… on my smart phone or tablet?

In the Gospel Library app Library, scroll to Youth, select Aaronic Priesthood or Young Women : Come Follow Me and touch the picture. In the table of contents, choose the month. Lessons for each week are chosen from the list of questions.

Or you can go to lds.org/tools, in the drop down menu click on the lesson schedule. Make sure it is for your ward, and the correct lesson for Melchezedek Priesthood, Aaronic Priesthood, Young Women's, Relief Society, Sunday School; and the correct Sunday of the month. Then go to the Gospel Libarary, locate the correct manual, or General Conference talk, and click on it to bring it up.

… on computers?

At lds.org, find the Come Follow Me Youth lessons link (under Live the Gospel) and click on it. Click on the Young Women or Aaronic Priesthood link, and then the month (in the left column).  Lessons for each week are chosen from the list of questions.

For the Melchezedek Priesthood and Relief Society or Sunday School use the lds.org/tools drop down menu and click on the lesson schedule.  Make sure it is the right one you want for the right Sunday. Then go back to the Resources section, locate the manual and that lesson.

 
Church News Article link: Gospel Library app Update Print E-mail
Written by   
Monday, 24 February 2014

Church News recently had an interesting article on the android and apple Gospel Library app., which was a presentation during RootsTech 2014.

The article, written by Ryan Morgnegg, starts out by saying:

"In response to user feedback and in an effort to constantly improve a member's digital experience with gospel content, the Church has released a major upgrade to the Apple and Android versions of the Gospel Library mobile app improving search, navigation and other key functionality.  ..."

To view the entire article, click on this link:

http://www.lds.org/church/news/latest-updates-make-gospel-library-app-easier-to-use?lang=eng

 
March Broadcast: CDOL update Print E-mail
Written by Greg Duerden   
Tuesday, 18 February 2014

 

 

Mel Broberg will give a presentation on CDOL (Church Directory of Organizations and Leadership) which is used to locate information of church leaders and organizations. It is accessed with an LDS account either through cdol.lds.org

Details on this tool will be exposed on March 14, 2014, at noon (MDT) during the LDSTech monthly broadcast.

How to Attend the Broadcast

To watch the LDSTech broadcast over the Internet, go to the Broadcast Page and click Watch Now at the time of the broadcast.

If you would like to attend the broadcast in person, you may join us in the Riverton Office Building (3740 West Market Center Drive, Riverton, UT, Ground Floor, Zion Room A).

Each broadcast is recorded, so if you miss one, you can re-watch the recording at any time. In fact, if you tune in late to the broadcast, you can rewind the broadcast and play it from the beginning. See the Broadcast Archive to view previous broadcasts.

Asking Questions

Viewers can ask questions through Twitter during the broadcast. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can sign up for one at Twitter.com. When you ask a question, include the hashtag #ldstech in your tweet. For more information, see Twitter and LDSTech.

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Br. Black spotlight Print E-mail
Written by Barbara Ann Gardener   
Tuesday, 26 November 2013

  Have you ever wondered just exactly what happens after you submit feedback from any of the thousands of pages on LDS.org? Elder Jed Black, Church Service Missionary (CSM) with LDSTech explains the process.

 “The feedback goes to a central location and they look for keywords,” explained Black. “If the Feedback has the words calendar, directory, or lesson scheduler in it  they send me a notification of the feedback.” Why? Because he is the Knowledge Specialist for those three applications.

Elder Black reviews the information and responds in one of three ways:

  1. User Education – many questions can be resolved by training the user to better interface with the application. This may be as simple as a return email or as involved as a training session at a ward or stake level.
  2. Update Frequently Asked Questions – The centralized Feedback Group answers as many questions as possible prior to forwarding requests to Knowledge Specialists. To do this they utilize a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ database. The more complete the database the fewer questions actually funnel down to the Knowledge Specialists.
  3. Identify Bugs – Because Knowledge Specialists are experts in their applications they can tell the difference between a user issue and a program defect and are capable of communicating with the development staff in a clear and concise manner. Knowledge Specialists are in a great position to beta test and recommend product improvements as well.

Elder Black works in Salt Lake but of the five Knowledge Specialist CSMs assigned to Gospel Library; two work in England,  one works in Colorado and two work in Salt Lake.

Although Elder Black had 38 years of programming with the UNISYS Corporation prior to his retirement, this level of expertise is not necessary to become a CSM Knowledge Specialist. One must be familiar with an identified application and comfortable communicating with both novice users and program developers. If this is you or if you are interested in possible part-time or full-time CSM opportunities contact: Elder Allen Bottorff or Sister Cheryl Bottorff at  (801) 842- 4771, or e-mail them at their email address   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or fill out the LDSTech Missionary Form.    

     For those with language skills, interested in becoming Area Technology Specialists in countries outside of the U.S. (Korea, Dominican Republic, Central & South America, etc.) contact: Elder Gary and Sister Marilyn Peterson, call them at 801-240-7373 or email them at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Or you can check out the current CSM Opportunities on lds.org/callings/missionary/churchservice    or  servicemission.ldschurch.org/csm-public/home.jsf

 
Area Technology Specialists Needed Print E-mail
Written by Barbara Anne Gardner   
Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Have you spent years of your life immersed in technology? Have you ever considered using those skills to build the kingdom? Do you want to make a real difference in the lives of people throughout the world? Are you ready to join 83,000 missionaries who are called to ‘hasten the work’?

The blessings of technology need to be shared throughout the Church and around the world, and a technology mission is a great way to do it. We need people who are capable of implementing technology solutions and who can support and train the people who live in those areas. Some areas with current openings include Brazil, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Japan, and Korea.  They need you if:

  • You are ready to serve as a full time senior missionary
  • You are experienced with computers, printers, copiers, scanners, wired and wireless networks, the Internet, and audiovisual equipment
  • You love working with and teaching others
  • You can speak one of the languages needed
  • Solving problems is one of your favorite things

These senior missionary assignments are called area technology specialists (ATS) and they provide training and support to stake technology specialists (STS) throughout each mission. Follow the link http://tech.lds.org/mission to learn more.

And even if you aren’t ready to serve a mission, maybe you know someone with the right skills who is looking for an exciting missionary experience. We encourage you to let them know about this great opportunity to serve!

 
February LDSTech Broadcast Print E-mail
Written by Greg Duerden   
Monday, 20 January 2014

Jim Byer will be giving the presentation “Windows 8 Gospel Library” at noon MST on Friday, February 7, 2014.

The Gospel Library for Windows 8 was originally developed last year. An LDSTech community of .NET Developers was formed to convert it to Windows 8.1, update the content, fix some bugs, and release it to the Microsoft Windows Store. That release was posted December 26, 2013.

Additional features and a redesign of the user interface is scheduled for the next release, which may come as early as April general conference. New features include synchronizing annotations (bookmarks, highlights, notes, tags, and cross-references) with other devices, presenting content in multiple languages, resizing text, and other features as time and resources allow.

The changes to Gospel Library for Windows will also have a positive effect on the Gospel Library for Windows Phone application. The two products were completely separate, but the new architecture will merge the code into one base.

How to Attend the Broadcast

Watch-it-now.png

To watch the LDSTech broadcast, click the "Watch it now" button at the time of the broadcast. If you would like to attend the broadcast in person, you may join us in the Riverton Office Building (3740 West Market Center Drive, Riverton, UT, Ground Floor, Zion Room A).

Each broadcast is recorded, so if you miss one, you can re-watch the recording at any time. In fact, if you tune in late to the broadcast, you can rewind the broadcast and play it from the beginning. See the Broadcast Archive to view previous broadcasts.

Asking Questions

Viewers can ask questions through Twitter during the broadcast. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can sign up for one at Twitter.com. When you ask a question, include the hashtag #ldstech in your tweet. For more information, see Twitter and LDSTech.

 Add new comment

 
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