GRACE :: News/Info
Denise Brock

We’ve accomplished so much! And there is more to go…

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There is a game that my daughter and her friends used to love to play when they were 2 and 3 ish years old.  It is called ‘Elefun’, I think.  It is a plastic elephant that blows air through its trunk, and little flitty butterflies would float and fly all over.  The kids would jump around and try to catch all the butterflies in little nets. 

I feel like I have been playing Elefun the last few days, so much flying around and trying to capture it all…

First – I wanted to thank everyone for your patience, diligence, and understanding while we continue to work through the kinks with the new GRACE.  Honestly, the old site – though we were used to it – had so many broken parts behind the scene that we were worried that sometime it would just die and leave us stranded in the desert.  So this upgrade was a sorely needed one, even though it is a hard transition.  I know some of the things you want fixed haven’t been fixed yet, but please indulge me while I boast about what great work has been done so far! 

The structure of GRACE has changed, as you have noticed.  The idea of partitioning the site forums into sections really is a great idea.  We all want GRACE to grow, and it just couldn’t with the format it was in before.  We really are proud of GRACE and what it can offer to people, and being able to open doors for other people dealing with other cancers I feel is an incredibly important thing.  My mother dealt with breast cancer 25 years ago and my father with prostate cancer soon after that.  Neither one of them were armed with any information and felt pretty helpless when they followed blindly the treatments recommended to them.  Thankfully they are both fine, but it was a trying time, and they (as well as myself – dealing with my last year of college exams) would have fully embraced an avenue to educate themselves and feel much more in control.  As most everyone (I believe) knows, my best friend Melissa was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and she was able to travel her journey with grace (no pun intended) and a depth of knowledge, so much of it because of GRACE and Dr. West and faculty, and she felt in control through most of the struggle.  Being able to offer this to people dealing with other cancers is an incredible gift, and this structure allows us to begin to do this. 

As many had requested, our Masterful Webmaster – Mark- has been able to rework the signature boxes so there is not as much confusion regarding those and the bio for user profiles.  Learning to get there is still a bit of a learning curve, but now it is much clearer how to add your signature.  He is continually adding help text, clarifying, and styling the page so it is more logical and allows us to help ourselves.  This is an ongoing process – so keep your eye on your profile for further changes.  Newer versions of WordPress also seem to assume that people are pretty savvy when it comes to the WP dashboard and ‘backdoor’ settings available to all subscribers to a WP blog like GRACE.  If you poke around, you might start to like using the dashboard to navigate the site.  As you learn more, you will find it offers much nicer WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) options for composing and editing forum topics and replies.  You also can scan the ‘topics’ and ‘replies’ tabs to see the most recent entries within each subject area from the dashboard.

Speaking of signatures – we apologize for the disappearing and reappearing signature blocks.  Some tweaking behind the scenes has also seemed to ‘reset’ some fields which then consequentially wiped out a few things like your signature.   Unfortunately, submitting your dashboard profile will at this time clear your forum signature, also.  A way to avoid having to rewrite your signature is to go to the archived forums and copy your signature info from an old post there.  You also may want to paste your signature somewhere on a sticky note or document, so if it happens again (hopefully it won’t), you don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. 

On a positive note – we have Avatars!  You can upload your Avatar through the “profile” button on the main navigation bar, which takes you to the dashboard.  Clicking at the top right where it says “edit my profile”, will take you to the interface that lets you do that.  Mark has been able to put in a nice default GRACE Avatar if you don’t have a picture yet. 

A really cool thing that we have been able to implement is a site wide Glossary hovertext capability.  If you hold your cursor over a word that we have input in the glossary, (example – EGFR), a hover box shows with the definition for that word!  Cool, huh?  We will continue to populate this as we go along, so keep your eye on it. 

Mark has been working to change some confusing terminology and titles to reflect more user friendly terms, thanks to all of you.  We want this to be as intuitive as humanly possible.

We have been spending a lot of time doing a better job with “behind the scenes” issues, like complete and reliable backups of the site.  We want the stability of this site to be as close to foolproof as we can.  I know that this is like spending money on the plumbing of the house – it doesn’t make it more pretty, but it is so necessary.  With our small staff, if the site goes down we have to scramble.  Hopefully working on these behind the scenes issues will help all of us in the long run.   

 We have implemented an awesome ‘print to PDF’ plugin that allows us to print out posts and information from the site.  We are very excited about this.   Note that there is also a great ‘share’ button that enables you to share a post through facebook, google +, twitter, email, etc.  We highly encourage you to share information you find on GRACE!  In addition to these sharing capabilities, in the near future we will be adding more social networking features like Facebook “Like” and Google “+” buttons.

We have removed the redundancy of the More ‘New Forum topics/New Forum Replies’ listed on the right lower sidebar, and increased the size of the feed so more New Forum Topics in each individual subject area can be seen at a time.  We are working hard to figure out how to implement a site-wide “recent posts” functionality in the near future.

We have been able to get some WYSIWYG functions working for forum posts.  You can now add emoticons, quotes, colors, fonts, YouTube videos, pictures, etc.  You should see a bar above any text box in the forums that allows you those functions.   

Remember, the old forum is archived at http://www.cancergrace.org/forums, and we have made it so you can log in and navigate through the folders there, so old PM’s, etc. are now available.  A link has been added to the header of the archived forums that takes you back to the active new forums, to make navigation easier.

Mark did a spectacular job with the design of our new Tributes page.  We will be reworking the previous tributes to make them all even more beautiful than they were before.  We also have a much simpler tribute ordering system in place.

The new site has the capacity to have larger images, larger videos, and will have more podcasts coming soon.  The podcasts are much more accessible, easily subscribed to, and can be found quickly on the sidebar. 

And lastly, we are so so happy to have a search function – this was one of the most frustrating things about the old site.  We wanted a search function that was able to drill down into individual topics and we just couldn’t implement it on the old site.  We now have just an awesome search function, and it is pretty, too.  Search FunctionYou can search the whole site or drill into a different part of the site.  Each navigation button is clickable, and sifts through all the search results for that topic.   Results will continue to get more accurate as the site settles in and Google recognizes more information.  

And now – we also wanted to address your list of your wishes – we are truly working on these, and appreciate all the feedback!   We want you to know that we hear you and these wishes and suggestions are very important to us.  We will do our best to implement – if not the exact request – something that is very close if we can.  Here is a quick list of your requests:

  • Function that shows ‘unread posts’ or ‘new since my last visit’
  • Member’s directory- like with old forum
  • Simplification of the forums so navigation is easier, and we don’t miss new posts that haven’t been responded to – we will be removing some redundant areas and paring down the forums, providing more general topics to make it less confusing to know where to post and how to find discussions
  • Somehow be able to tell who else is online when you are online
  • Somehow be able to see if someone is a “newbie” or not – in order to welcome them properly to GRACE
  • An alert that automatically gives you notification that a new comment has been added since you started your post
  • Spell check
  • The ability to see how many posts a person has made
  • An easier way to see new posts from the homepage
  • Master list of “Recent Forum Replies”, similar to what is on the right side of the page, but aggregated for all of the forums
  • Newest post on top
  • Ability to preview your post – we are not sure this is going to be available at this time, though more things are improving every day.  Meanwhile we have set the ‘edit’ ability to a maximum time.  So you can post, review, and then edit your own post – vs  reviewing it in a preview window 
  • PM’s PM’s PM’s.  We are working on finding a solution for this request.  We realize it is a very important part of the community in the forums, and we are doing our best.

From what we have seen, the bbPress forum developers and community seem pretty motivated, so hopefully we’ll see more improvements every day.  As we see these improvements become available, we will implement them as fast as we can.

Remember – try to report and request here! http://cancergrace.org/forum/grace-errorsbugs-to-fix.  Please also feel free to contact us at info@cancergrace.org if you have individual issues that the community discussions in the forums and other information around the site haven’t addressed.    

Thanks everyone, and please continue to help us improve!  We couldn’t be what we have become without our loyal community. 


5 Responses to We’ve accomplished so much! And there is more to go…

  • laya d. says:

    Thank you Denise. . .You and the rest of the tireless behind-the-scene crew are doing a fantastic job. And thank you for keeping us informed as to what it is that we are working towards. . .We (I) will be patient. . .

    Laya

  • tanny says:

    Thanks everyone for all the behind the scenes work!

  • FaithAndHope79 says:

    Great work. Thank you Tech Team and Dr. West!

  • Denise Brock
    dbrock says:

    Thanks everyone – note that we are still doing some tweaking, moving things trying to make it easier to navigate the forums, etc. it feels like things are a bit crazy, but in order to make it perfect, there is a bit of trial and error. there have been some excellent suggestions and we are taking them to heart. hang tight. change is a good thing – but slow and steady, while we make sure that the avenues we are taking are the best ones. Mark is going through things with a fine-toothed comb, pulling out all the snags.

  • double trouble says:

    “A link has been added to the header of the archived forums that takes you back to the active new forums, to make navigation easier.”

    Thanks for listening.
    Debra

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