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Meetinghouse Webcast Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Meetinghouse Webcast, as described on LDSTech, makes it possible to broadcast a one-way audio and video feed from one building to multiple buildings.

In a world where travel is expensive and time is precious, Meetinghouse Webcast can help reduce travel time and increase the number of people who can attend meetings. It can be used for any appropriate meeting, such as stake and regional conferences, firesides, and training sessions.

 

 
Is Your Database Application Armed? Print E-mail
Written by Lynn Conrad   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009

When debugging an application that is not performing well, finding the real issue can be very hard. Is it The LAN? The WAN? Is it the application server? Load balances? DNS? LDAP? The database server? Maybe it is the SAN or a disk storage device. We can do things to make it easier. You can arm your application and build it so that it is ready to do battle in the complete operation arena that it will be required to run in.

Arming into the DB Layer

Most databases have a procedural language and the ability to trigger audit transactions, and drive functionality. You can also build in debugging triggers that can track what is happening in the app. You can design your procedures and functions to do the same. If you track how long each type of transaction or call takes to complete, and what the parameters were when a function or package is called, then you have a great tool for debugging development, as well as identifying production issues. If you see that the “create new” function doesn’t take any longer to complete than it did before the slowdown, then the database is not the issue; it must be further upstream. If they are taking substantially longer, then it must be downstream (disk, server, DB configuration, DSS queries in an OLTP database, etc.).

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Upgrade: Help Test Beta Site Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Monday, 06 April 2009

The LDSTech site is undergoing an upgrade. The upgrade will not affect the LDSTech Wiki or the LDSTech Forums. The upgraded site will have improved navigation. Irrelevant or outdated content will be removed. Before we release this change, please view the beta site. Check for broken links, formatting, and other bugs throughout the site. Report any problems to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Employee Spotlight: Brittany Moore Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

QuestionBrittany Moore

What do you do at the Church?

Answer

I am a Recruiting Coordinator for the Information and Communications Systems Department (ICS). I support ICS recruiters in hiring exceptional candidates to work in the department.

Question

What role do you think human resources/recruiting plays in the Church organization?

Answer

Recruiting plays a pivotal role in the success of the Church as a corporation because this success depends, in large part, on the employees we find and hire. When we as recruiters are able to find the most experienced and qualified candidates to fill our positions, we are strengthening the corporation of the Church. Because we know that our teams of top performers, we can expect only the best possible output from them.

 
Customer Service à la Green Beans Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Tibbitts   
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

We've all heard the phrase "the customer is always right," a statement thought to have originated with one of the proprietors of the Marshall Fields department store in the late 19th century. These enterprising businessmen hoped to instill a sense of good customer service in their employees —placing the customer first in the list of competing priorities. The wisdom of this concept has repeatedly proven itself, as others who have adopted it have become the stuff of customer service legend. Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Lexus, and a host of others have found tremendous success by putting the customer first.

In the early years of my career, I was a typical technologist—spending the majority of my time narrowly focused on the IT tools and technologies that attracted most of us to this field in the first place. I didn’t give much thought to my customers or what was important to them— until a can of green beans changed my outlook on IT and life.

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2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference Recap Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Thursday, 19 March 2009

The second annual FamilySearch Developer’s conference was held on Wednesday, March 11 at Brigham Young University. Web and application developers from around the world came together to learn about the FamilySearch Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and to see what other developers are doing.

Conference attendees learned about new and updated FamilySearch Application Program Interface from FamilySearch engineers, and best practices from current community developers. Conference sessions were divided into three tracks: FamilySearch API, Third Party Libraries, and Emerging Models and Technology. The “Emerging” track included presentations about the new Catalog API, Timeline API, Rich Client Frameworks, Persistent Identifiers, and a new model for online citations.

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Groovy on Grails: Rapid Development in an Enterprise Environment Print E-mail
Written by Spencer Uresk   
Wednesday, 11 March 2009

For the last few years, Ruby on Rails has been one of the most talked-about Web application development frameworks. The popularity Rails has enjoyed isn’t without merit—the “coding by convention” idea it helped make popular was beneficial to Web development in many ways.

Coding (or configuration) by convention allows you to concentrate more on what your application is supposed to do rather than how to get it configured properly, which makes development easier and allows you to be more productive. In my own experience, developing an application and getting it into production with Rails was faster than anything I’d used before.

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Do More With Less Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Wednesday, 04 March 2009

In today’s tough economic times, we have been challenged by Church leaders to do more with less. Doing more with less does not mean that we need to spend longer hours at the office taking quality time away from our families to get the work done. Instead, it means we need to be smarter in how we work. We need to leverage available resources including the skills and abilities of Church members. The implementation of such a project is much more difficult than it sounds.

Before we could engage members on a project, we had to share several tools and refine processes. Our preparation included building a license agreement, creating a wiki, deploying a source version control tool, defining an issue-tracking program, setting up a “sandbox” server and ensuring data protection. Here are some of the specific tools and processes.

In today’s tough economic times, we have been challenged by Church leaders to do more with less. Doing more with less does not mean that we need to spend longer hours at the office taking quality time away from our families to get the work done. Instead, it means we need to be smarter in how we work. We need to leverage available resources including the skills and abilities of Church members. The implementation of such a project is much more difficult than it sounds.

Before we could engage members on a project, we had to share several tools and refine processes. Our preparation included building a license agreement, creating a wiki, deploying a source version control tool, defining an issue-tracking program, setting up a “sandbox” server and ensuring data protection. Here are some of the specific tools and processes.

Individual Contributors' License Agreement

A prerequisite for participation on any Church project is for individuals to review and agree to the Church’s Individual Contributor’s License Agreement. This agreement is meant to protect both the Church and the individual from legal action resulting from source code, artwork, or other contributions. To contribute, follow the steps outlined under the “Requirements for Participation” section on the Wiki home page.

Wiki – https://tech.lds.org/wiki

We use a wiki to collaborate on specifications, design ideas, and functional requirements allowing us to create requirements documents and easily update them in an open forum.

Subversion – (example) https://dev.lds.org/svn/{project}

To access and collaborate on source code, we needed to deploy a source version control tool. There are many products available, but we have chosen Subversion. With Subversion, we can easily track source code changes, create tags for different versions, and create branches of projects. In addition to Subversion, we have built a custom administration module that allows us to create new Subversion repositories and maintain the permissions for various projects.

JIRA – https://tech.lds.org/jira

Once we have the project defined via the wiki, and a place to store source code, we need a tool that allows us to keep track of all of the tasks, bugs, and features of the software. The Church uses JIRA, an issue-tracking program, internally. A new instance was deployed that will allow us to track all of the issues and bugs around the various community projects.

Community Development Server – (example) http://tech.lds.org/{sandbox}

To test our software with the community, we needed to set up a server where we can deploy applications. This server, which we are calling the “sandbox” server, will host development builds and will automatically kick off builds of the projects so that developers and testers can see their work integrated with other people’s work.

Member and Leader Data APIs

It is very difficult to ask the community to help us build applications without providing access to membership or leadership data. However, because of privacy and security concerns, we cannot allow access to real membership data. We have, therefore, created some membership and leader application programming interfaces (APIs) that will access fictional member and leader data but will access real data when an application is deployed within our production environment. We have also created a tool that we call CODA (COmmunity DAta) that will allow the community to type in and create fictional data to help us maintain and update our sample data set.

Maven Repositories – http://dev.lds.org/javarepo/

Many of the projects we sponsor will require the use of the LDS Church Java Stack. The stack can be created using Maven and the Church’s Maven repository. This same stack code is used in many of the Church’s applications. You can read more about the Church’s Java Stack by visiting the LDSTech Wiki Java Stack page and the Stack Site.

We hope to streamline the process of engaging individuals engaged in helping us build more products. This will result in more products being built that will benefit members of the Church worldwide and will also help Church employees do more with less.

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Open Plan Office Print E-mail
Written by Greg Patterson   
Thursday, 26 February 2009

Agile methods emphasize face-to-face communication over written documents. Most agile teams are located in a single open plan office to facilitate such communication. An open plan office environment makes collaboration much easier. Communication is clear and open between all members of the team. In our agile development environment, it is important that we get things done quickly with a partnership between designers, developers, and QA. Because of our workspace, there aren’t geographic divisions between different groups. Each environment has strengths and weaknesses. I really like this open plan office because it encourages communication, team unity, and the spirit of agile development.

 
Employee Spotlight: Jimmy Zimmerman Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009

QuestionJimmy Zimmerman

What is your current position at the Church and what are your responsibilities?

Answer

I am a FamilySearch support engineer for third party developers. Software engineers from around the world are connecting to FamilySearch data through our RESTful Web services. I help companies and engineers learn about
our API and integrate their products with our systems.

More specifically, my responsibilities include:

  • Giving presentations at conferences and Webinars
  • Writing sample code and documentation
  • Recruiting developers to the FamilySearch Developer Network
  • Networking with key individuals in genealogy industry
  • Troubleshooting API bugs
  • Maintaining the FamilySearch Developer Network Web site
 
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