The Next Generation of LDS Maps Print E-mail
Written by Jonathan Fowlke   
Tuesday, 01 December 2009

In the summer of 2008, the Church released a new version of the Meetinghouse Locator known as LDS Maps. Whereas the previous version of Meetinghouse Locator required users to drill-down through multiple static pages, LDS Maps has a single dynamic, interactive world map. Now, after more than two million visitors to LDS Maps and thousands of suggestions, we are preparing for the nearby release of LDS Maps 2.0.  The pre-release beta can be accessed by going to https://beta-maps.lds.org. Note: this is a pre-release version, the final version will be released sometime next year. Any comments or feedback should be submitted electronically through the “Feedback” link in the upper right corner of the application.

The new version takes the best of the original release and adds an abundance of feature enhancements. One of the new features is the ability for Church members to login with their LDS Account and see their own ward membership and ward boundaries. This makes it easier to find directions to any member in the ward. Members can download a file containing the coordinates of all their ward members and import them into most GPS devices.

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Newsletter: November 2009

LDSTech Talk 2009 Now Available

The recording of the LDSTech Talk is now availabe. Go to the LDSTech Talk page to watch it.

Submit any feedback to the LDSTech Forum.


From the Archives

An Introduction to the Clerk Wiki
by Robert Lindsay

The job of a quality assurance engineer is to constantly be looking for ways to improve quality, including setting targets for metrics or setting criteria that must be met before we consider it a quality product.

At a recent gathering of Church quality assurance employees we discussed the idea of how truth affects the quality of our work processes and lives.

We may be really good at setting goals and envisioning the future. However, our ability to achieve those goals depends on having a true understanding of our current state of being— how we’re doing right now. This is the point: often we are not truthful with ourselves about the reality of what our current state actually is. We think (or believe) we know where we are, but in reality we may be far off.

Read full article.


LDSTech Developers Conference

We are planning an LDSTech Developer Conference in Utah this spring and are considering options for the date of the conference, what topics will be covered, and more.

We need your input. Please visit the LDSTech Developer Conference poll and answer a few questions. This will help us gather information that will help us put on the best inagaural LDSTech Developers Conference.

More information is forthcoming.

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LDSTech Talk 2009 Now Available Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The 2009 LDSTech Talk, held on September 17, is now available for streaming in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Click on the link to begin a stream.

We welcome your comments and feedback in the forum and by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

LDSTech Talk 2009

English

Portuguese

Spanish

LDSTech Talk 2008

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LDS Labs Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Monday, 23 November 2009

LDS Labs Overview

LDS Labs is a testing environment for the Church’s most recent Internet offerings. The site helps developers and project stakeholders gather feedback on proposed products as well as new feature possibilities for existing products.

Features in development may be put in the Labs environment allowing approved users to preview and give feedback. Some features may move to a broader beta phase after successful testing in Labs.

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Employee Spotlight: Brian Lewis Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Question

What do you do at the Church?

Answer

I work on the .NET Stack Team with Bryan Hinton and Jim Byer.

Question

What does the .NET Stack Team do?

Answer

There are two main goals of the .NET Stack Team. The first is to provide general support to all teams at the Church working on projects with components that use the Microsoft .NET Framework. This support can range from answering technology questions to identifying and resolving specific problems that project teams encounter.

The second goal, which facilitates the first, is to maintain and continue to develop the .NET Stack Library and Services, which are a set of tools to help Church developers quickly accomplish common tasks so that teams can focus on the unique and project-specific design issues they face instead of re-writing the code blocks that occur across most ICS projects. The .NET Stack includes tools for ASP.NET web pages, WPF projects, WCF services, authentication through LDS Account, application logging, and much more. We have even developed Visual Studio New Project templates to enable developers to create Stack-enabled projects with just a few clicks.

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Mormons in Technology pt. 3 Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
University of Utah (Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library)

The electronic television: Philo T. Farnsworth

Philo T. Farnsworth is known as the “Father of Television.” Born in Utah in 1906, Farnsworth was always fascinated by technology and inventions that used electricity. At a young age, he was amazed by a telephone conversation with his far-away aunt. When he asked his father who made such amazing devices, his father said, “Inventors make these things.” Farnsworth wanted to join the ranks of great inventors.

When his family moved to his uncle’s farm in Idaho, he was thrilled to find it equipped with a Delco generator. Philo observed the technician who serviced the generator, and one day when it stopped he volunteered to repair it. Although the adults around him doubted his abilities, he repaired the generator and was declared “engineer in charge of the generator.” Farnsworth found a collection of technology magazines in the attic of the home which furthered his aspirations to be an inventor. His imagination was captured by an article about sending images through the air along with audio. In 1921, while running a plow line by line across his father’s field near Rigby, Idaho, Farnsworth realized that transmitting an image was like a field and must be transmitted one line at a time. In high school, he sketched ideas to transmit these images for his teacher and mentor, Justin Tolman. This sketch later played a key role in patent dispute of a key television component.

When the Farnsworth family moved to Provo, UT in 1923, Philo attended Brigham Young University until the death of his father later that year. Philo continued to dream of television but knew he would have to learn all that he could to perfect and prove his idea. Farnsworth became acquainted with and began working for Leslie Gorrell and George Everson in Salt Lake City, who saw the great potential in Philo’s ideas. They agreed to fund his work and Philo moved with his new wife, Elma Gardner, first to Hollywood and then to San Francisco to set up a laboratory and begin working on the television.

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Updating the Worldwide Application Print E-mail
Written by Devon Gibson   
Wednesday, 04 November 2009

It has been my experience that homegrown applications can present a number of challenges as they expand and evolve. One of these challenges is the absence of a defined build and release schedule. A homegrown application that I currently manage has evolved over the years into a massive system that is accessed around the clock by users worldwide. Because it has evolved so much over the years, there has been a great deal of interpretation left to different teams as to how builds and releases should be handled.

To add a little more flavor to the situation, this application is not written in Java, the long-standing development platform of choice at the Church. It is written in a mixture of classic ASP and ASP.NET, something that has only recently been adopted as an acceptable platform here. Due to the efforts of strong development and QA teams, we’ve seen an increase in application stability and improvements in overall functionality as we’ve worked to get this homegrown behemoth under control. We have now come to another fork in the improvement road: an acceptable release process.

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An Introduction to the Clerk Wiki Print E-mail
Written by Robert Lindsay   
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

How does the Church train 50,000 clerks in 40 or more languages? That’s a challenge that is getting easier to solve, thanks to the recently launched LDSTech Clerk wiki.

The Clerk wiki offers new training and support resources for ward and stake clerks, including membership clerks, finance clerks, stake technology specialists, stake auditors, and other record keepers, helping them to better understand how to magnify their callings. The Clerk wiki offers more than 250 searchable pages of content. There’s even information to help bishops and stake presidents understand their record-keeping responsibilities.

The wiki is built in MediaWiki, the same application that powers Wikipedia. For now, the LDS Tech Projects wiki is sharing space with the Clerk wiki, but at some point the Clerk wiki will get its own home.

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Community-Driven Maintenance Print E-mail
Written by Neal Midgley   
Thursday, 15 October 2009

In June 2009, Nathan Dickamore wrote an article on this site entitled “Participate in Community Development”. He wrote about open-source advocate Michael Tiemann's theories concerning "exonovation" and how community-driven (and supported) projects yield better products. Similarly, by using the community's time and talents, the Church can better tackle the monumental task of maintaining its legacy data systems, free up developer resources, and utilize the broad range of technical skills available in the larger community.

As an open-source advocate, Tiemann posits that more project contributors lead to fewer outstanding issues. As a software engineer for the LDS Church, I lead the maintenance efforts for a large number of applications within the Supply Chain portfolio. These applications use a diverse set of technologies and require a relatively broad skill set in order to maintain them. Resources are sometimes limited, and we find ourselves supporting and maintaining more products than a few developers can handle. Indeed, often a project’s needs are put on hold as other issues take priority. In addition, it seems that for every issue we resolve, the customer uncovers one or two bugs or makes enhancement requests. As maintenance developers, we sometimes find ourselves sinking as we do our best to keep maintenance applications happy while at the same time developing new software to meet additional needs.

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Real-time Collaboration: Building a Collaborative Community Within an Organization Print E-mail
Written by Jeromy Hall   
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

I work on a fairly large portfolio team within the Information and Communications Systems department—approximately ninety people who are organized into five or six project teams, each focused on delivering products for the Missionary and Public Affairs departments of the Church.

But we have a problem: the project teams have become siloed. This is because we do not have an effective means of cross-portfolio collaboration in real-time.

This problem manifests itself in a number of ways, including the following:

  1. When a technical problem is discovered by a team, a cultural boundary causes the team to feel that they’re on their own to solve it.
  2. We have no discoverable history of successes and failures, and consequently project teams either re-invent the wheel or repeat the mistakes of other teams.
  3. The perception of bureaucracy causes us to be inefficient while we wait for meetings and use the organizational hierarchy to disseminate lessons learned and best practices discovered by project teams.
  4. We think and behave in ways that prevent synergy and cause miscommunication, both of which lead us to false thinking. For example, we tend to promote false assumptions such as the following:
    • “My problems are unique.”
    • “Everyone sees my problems.”
    • “Everyone would see the same solutions as I do.”
    • “If I can’t solve it, nobody can.”

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