The LDSTech community consists of hundreds of Church employees, members, and volunteers that come together to discuss, learn about, or work on Church technology. The LDSTech site has several components — a blog, a discussion forum, a wiki, and a projects section. Each is used for a different purpose:
Blog: Informs members about the latest Church technology news and projects.
Forum: Allows members to ask questions and exchange ideas about technology.
Wiki: Hosts instructional articles and other technical information.
Projects: Allows community members to work together in teams to build software applications and other solutions.
Despite the different uses, the common theme of the LDSTech site is Church technology.
A code library is a compilation of code originally written for a particular software application that can be used in other applications. At the Church, any code that developers have not written themselves while working on Church applications is called a “code library.”
Using a code library is one of the most popular ways to reuse content created for the web. After all, a lot of different applications are released every day, but many of their essential functions are the same. A code library offers developers a shortcut. Rather than write all code from scratch, you can simply borrow the existing code that others have written and spend more time refining unique parts of your app.
For example, if you are developing a photo album as part of a mobile app for a touch-enabled phone, you can get a code library that allows you to resize images by using a pinching motion with your fingers. Code libraries can be used for simple functions, such as changing the font, or for complex functions such as multi-step financial calculations.
The use of Church-produced smartphone apps among Church members is steadily increasing. Seminary teachers, for example, have noted that many of their students have begun to use the standard works provided by the Gospel Library app in place of traditional scriptures, citing the convenience of pulling up their scriptures on their phones as opposed to hauling the printed volumes around.
Use of these technological resources is limited, however, as not all Church-produced apps are available to all smartphone users. There are currently five official Church mobile applications — Gospel Library, Mormon Channel, LDS Tools, Scripture Mastery, and LDS Youth.
All five apps are available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch Apple devices, but only Gospel Library, Mormon Channel, and LDS Tools are available to Android users. The potential audience for the Scripture Mastery app is drastically reduced because it’s only available on Apple devices.
The calendar team will be running a beta test so users can work with the new calendar application and provide critical feedback to help discover issues before the official release. The team is looking for at least 30 testers, particularly individuals that have roles as stake administrators, ward administrators, building schedulers, and stake and ward clerks.
While all are welcome, beta volunteers that live in diverse locations and serve in Church units that cover large geographic areas would be of great value for this testing.
The Church is working on a beta program that will allow third-party developers to apply for approved access to the Church’s repository of gospel content. The access will require developers to sign an intellectual property license agreement and will specify what content is approved for distribution. The third-party developers will then receive an API that allows them to access Church content (such as magazines, manuals, scriptures, conference addresses, and other gospel resources) for use in their applications.
Not long ago, my wife received a new calling as the ward photographer. Her task, like many of her predecessors in wards around the world, was to create a ward photo directory for the bishopric to use. The bishopric was new, and learning names as well as faces was important.
My wife (and later a second ward photographer) spent hours corralling ward members after church or at ward functions to take family pictures. This was followed by cropping, editing, and creating a document with ward family names and contact information. Finally, printed photos were placed into the pages of the newly created binder with tabs. By the time they finished, there were already move-ins and move-outs to contend with.
Create.lds.org allows you to share your talents by providing media that can be used to share the gospel worldwide. The site currently allows you to submit your photos and videos, but in the future you will be able to submit much more.
After you submit your photos or videos, Church designers will look for submitted media that meets their project needs and use it in magazines, videos, brochures, presentations, and other Church products. Members will be able to download much of what is submitted for their own gospel-oriented, non-commercial use, such as creating a video.
Many project leaders have high hopes when they see 20+ volunteers on their projects, but they soon realize that numbers alone don’t translate into productivity. Finding a way to make your team of volunteers more productive is a constant challenge. A team of 50 or more volunteers may still yield low productivity if the project leader doesn’t understand how to lead community volunteers.
Despite the techniques managers have in leading employees, the techniques for leading community volunteers can differ substantially. Volunteers are located remotely, they work according to different schedules, they have varying time commitments, they are driven by different motivations, and they possess a variety of skill levels. Leading a successful community project requires you to take all of this into account as you orchestrate your plans. The following are seven best practices for increasing volunteer productivity.
LDSTech is one of the many community projects available. The goal of the LDSTech project is to improve the development and design of the overall LDSTech website. Although the LDSTech website has several elements (a blog, wiki, and forum), the project team is focusing most of its energy on the new Projects area of LDSTech.
Tom DeForest, an interaction designer, is the project lead for the LDSTech website project team. His team works on the site's user interface, trying to make the LDSTech website as user-friendly as possible. Currently Tom’s team is trying to make sure the interface of the new Projects tab allows users to intuitively access all the tab’s capabilities.