Subject: BVCMS Newsletter, June 2012

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Newsletter #17
June 27, 2012

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Dear BVCMS Community,

This newsletter contains tips, information about new features, and announcments of upcoming events. See past newsletters.

User News & Announcements

Email Templates

We now have email templates for use with your BVCMS emails. We will put a couple of basic templates in your database and your Admin can take it from there. The sky’s the limit on the variety of templates you can have.

Now when you send an email, you will have the option to choose a template or start with a blank email (which is just like emails are now). There will be a basic template which will have a footer containing the unsubscribe message along with a small image and the tracking code (remember, that allows you to see who has opened your email). There will also be a basic newsletter template as well with a header, footer and a couple of columns. Read more about how a User will make use of templates.

Your Admin will want to customize these starter templates for your church since they only contain place holder images now. You can create whatever kind of templates your church needs. Perhaps you will want one for every ministry within your church, using the different logos, etc. that will help brand your emails visually. Read more about the Admin role with templates.

These templates can be restricted by role so that a lay user would not be able to use the template that you create for your mass emails, for example. On the other hand, you may decide that you want every email to contain the name and address of your church, a small logo and the unsubscribe message (which we recommend). In that case, the admin would make your church's "basic" template contain all of those elements.

This is truly a huge feature for BVCMS. Our new programmer, Steven Yarbrough, did the work on this project and we are so pleased with his contributions in the short time that he has been with us.

Summer is Here, so Promotion is Coming

Summer is here, so you know what that means—camps, trips and VBS are happening, and you are busier than a one-armed paperhanger in windstorm! But don't forget to start thinking about Promotion. Whenever you have a minute from creating nametags, scheduling buses, reminding parents of their final payments and all those other tasks that come with the advent of summer - take just a few minutes to think about Promotion for Sunday School, Bible Fellowship, Life Groups...whatever you call it at your church. For those of you who have never used BVCMS for Promotion, keep reading. The rest of you already know how easy it is.

Most of you (and I really do mean most) will use our super simple method for Promotion - Org Members Management.

For the rest of you - who have more than 1 class for each grade - you will use our Annual Promotion method. The basic question is this: do you have a choice about where to move a 1st grader or do you have only one option - 2nd grade? If you have an option, then you will probably want to use the Annual Promotion method, which allows you to put your classes in a pending state so that you can take more than one week to complete this as you decide how to divide your classes.

QueryBuilder—Faster and Better

QueryBuilder has been the mainstay of our advanced search capabilities and is used by most of our users with great success. Yes, it can get a little complicated and daunting when you need to build that crazy selection for that zealous minister you know! While working on QueryBuilder recently, it occured to us that we could add specific help articles on every Condition (there are 165 of them and growing!). Some are very simple and really don't need much explanation, but others are quite complex for a single condition and even we forget how it is used.

So, the first step was to build the infrastructure into the program to allow you to get a popup dialog window with the article about the Condition you are working on. We've done that. You can either click on the Condition's name in the top editing box or when you are selecting a condition, you can click the short description of the condition below the condition's name. You can click the X or press the Esc key to dismiss the popup.

But now for the second step...we have to write an article about every one of the 165 conditions. That is a work in progress. Karen has been working on the documentation for BVCMS since the beginning; now she is convinced that she will be writing documentation till kingdom come! I should interject something now just as a sneak preview, help is coming in the form of three very capable full time BVCMS employees. We'll introduce them in an upcoming newsletter.

But wait, what about this Faster thing you mentioned...

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. That thing we were working on when the idea for the improved documentation came to us...We were making QueryBuilder faster. Much faster for some of the previously slow queries. Some Conditions are seeing almost a 10 X increase in speed. We basically rewrote every condition using some new techniques we discovered. We got so excited about how fast everything was that we really wanted people to try some of the conditions that they were perhaps afraid of before. Now they are fast enough that you can really get a feel for what you can do by experimenting. Before, by the time you got your query back, you had almost forgotton what you were wanting to do in the first place. Speed really is a good feature of software. QueryBuilder's got it now.

Admin Corner


We still want to get our Admins together in some sort of virtual forum where we can communicate things that apply only to you or needs to be filtered through you. We tried it with a private group on Facebook but that has not worked out. We want a place that will not only allow us to notify you, but be a place where you can communicate amongst yourselves too. We have some new folks coming on board and hopefully we'll be able to take advantage of this idea soon.

In the meantime, continue to read our blog to make sure your users at your church are informed about the new features.

Developer Notes

Internationalization is coming

No we're not talking about one world government (although it does impact the Kingdom of God so I guess we are talking about that). We are talking about a three phase plan to make BVCMS usuable by our friends in other countries. We always dread that contact from Australia or Central America or Great Britian. Because we recognize that it will come to the point where they ask about how to display dates in their common format of Day/Month/Year and how to enter them that way too. And then we get the question from our non-English speaking friends who want to be able to enter names and other information using a different character set (including Chinese characters!).

So here's the plan. We have already begun the first phase and our prototypes are already done.

  1. Allow for a Culture code to be specified on each database which will determine how dates and money are formatted. This will also allow for entering dates in their format too.
  2. Allow for any character set to be entered into a member's information and stored in the database.
  3. Allow for menus and labels to be translated into different languages.

The first phase will open up countries like Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, etc. The second phase will open up countries like those in Central and South America, China, Korea, Japan, etc. The user interface will still be in English however. The final phase will require not only a lot of programming, but also translation work from our friends in these other countries. But then BVCMS will be available to any church in the world with Internet access. Stay tuned.

Iron Python Scripts

Our friends up at Redeemer have multiple campuses and have been using an online registration to let their congregants choose the campus with which they wanted to affiliate. This created a bit of work on the back end when an affiliation notification came in. They had to edit the People record and update the Campus for each person. What they wanted was for this to happen automatically and then to create a task for the appropriate person to follow up with this new affiliation. IronPython Scripts were the solution. Let us know if you think you have a job for IronPython. We can help you accomplish that.

Your BVCMS Team

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BVCMS is a an open source, web-based, ministry-focused, complete and affordable, church management system. Usage Defined Software, doing business as, provides hosting, services, support, conversions and and customizations for a fee.