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03 Sep 10 A Gaggle of Connect Enhancements

As we head into the fall, when we’ll be working on some major projects (file repositories, the conference scheduler), we took some time in August to make some minor improvements across the site. You’ve been requesting some of these for several months, so we hope they enhance your Connect experience.

  1. Possibly the biggest change we made was to implement HTML email in order to make it easier to read notifications from the site. This means styles will be preserved (bold, italics, lists), and the text won’t be just blocks of Times New Roman words.
  2. Last year we built a statistics module that gave us more granular information than Google Analytics. You can see some screenshots of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alastaff/sets/72157622789077553/, but basically it tells us more about the users logging in, rather than just the top pages.For some reason, when we began counting how many members from each division are logging in, we didn’t create a similar report for round tables. This glaring omission has now been rectified. When we do the biannual update in October to analyze the latest statistics, we’ll include recent round table numbers for the first time. In addition, a round table’s staff liaison can look up these statistics at any time.
    round table statistics
  3. Although we’ll be building a module for group-based repositories this fall, we know it can be a pain to download a bunch of attachments so in the interim, we installed the PCLZip module that lets you download all attachments as a single zip file. Much more convenient. Of course, if you don’t like zip files, you can still download each attachment separately.
    download all attachments at once
  4. You’ll now receive an email notification when someone friends you on the site. Sorry this took so long to implement.
    email notifications when someone friends you
  5. You can now attach files to comments. This should work on any type of content that offers commenting (posts, online docs, calendar events, polls, and discussions).
    attaching files to comments
  6. In July, we added the ability for you to “compare versions” of online documents so that you could see exactly which text had been revised. In August, we added a direct link to the revisions page in the email notifications so that you can quickly go straight to the page on the site to see what changed.
    direct link to revisions
  7. All of our working groups (committees, task forces, etc.) and dues-based groups (divisions, round tables, sections) have rosters that synchronize automatically with our member database, saving staff a ton of time. In the past, staff liaisons and member chairs were able to edit a working group’s properties and could change the status of the group from “closed” (synchronizing) to “open,” thinking anyone could now join the group. This caused some confusion, because users added to a roster only in Connect and not in our member database would lose that affiliation the next time they logged in. The database would tell Connect the person isn’t affiliated with the group, so Connect would remove them. This happened enough times that we’ve hidden this option from view for those working groups. Hopefully this will clear up the confusion.
    "membership requests" block when editing a group's properties
  8. We added some extra fields to the Opportunities Exchange that will allow our awesome Office for Human Resource Development & Recruitment staff to begin adding the thousands of opportunities available in the Financial Assistance for Library & Information Studies  (FALIS) Directory so that they’re searchable and shareable.
  9. We’re excited to announce that you can now view position titles on working group rosters. Now you can tell what each person’s role is in the group when there’s a specific title noted for them in our member database. This is especially helpful on something like the Website Advisory Committee roster, where each person represents a different constituency.
    position titles on working group rosters
  10. And saving big news for last to see if you read down this far, we’ve upgraded the chat module without any loss of archives. There’s no guarantee this new version will solve the problem a few users experienced getting kicked out of chats, but it worked well in testing and we’re hopeful it will resolve things.I’ll do a separate post about the upgrade in order to provide more details, but while we were working on the chat module, we also added a checkbox you can use to “pause autoscrolling” in case the conversation is going by too quickly for you to read. We did this primarily for accessibility purposes, but we think it can help everyone (as is so often true with accessibility improvements in general).

Whew! We’re constantly trying to improve the site, and we have a couple more things in this month’s pipeline, but let us know how these enhancements work (or don’t work) for you. And as always, additional suggestions are always welcome.

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