GRACE Site Ongoing Improvements

Portal Forums GRACE Site Bugs/Errors/Support GRACE Site Ongoing Improvements

This topic contains 16 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by GRACE Webmaster GRACE Webmaster 1 year, 6 months ago.

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September 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm  #1266122    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

As some of you may or may not have noticed, we’ve been putting your donations to good use by steadily working to improve the GRACE site on the front and back ends.

In an effort to keep you informed of these changes and to explain anything that may affect your use of the site, we’re going to use this forum topic to make periodic posts.

Feel free to jump in if you have any questions or comments about the specific changes listed in this thread, but please start a new support topic for any site suggestions or unrelated support issues.

Cheers and Thanks!

-Mark

September 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm  #1266137    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Around the beginning of the month (Sept. 2014), I performed the following maintenance:

Replaced the plugin that displays new site-wide blog posts on the homepage. The previous plugin was outdated, unpredictable, and throwing so many errors that it was drastically slowing down page load times. I’m hoping to make some modifications to this new plugin to restore features like showing the date of each post.

Updated all other plugins to insure compatibility with the latest version of WordPress, and to maximize page load times. This is a time-consuming process that involves testing each upgrade on a development server and then assessing any problems and making any necessary adjustments to maintain consistent functionality.

Upgraded our forum software, for the same reasons as above. This didn’t bring any new features, but stay tuned for a few somewhat hidden forum improvements that I’ll list in a new post below soon.

Upgraded WordPress to the latest version with enhanced security, features and speed. This update of several versions of WP has brought a new look to the WordPress Dashboard (where you edit your Profile Bio and Display Name), including new color options. Not much else has changed, but I’m always here to help if you have any questions about the updated interface (please start a new support topic).

While this seems like a fairly small list of items, it represents several solid days of testing, preparations, upgrades and then even more testing and tweaks. The changes have dramatically improved the site loading time and brought everything up to date with the latest security patches, giving us a solid base in which to continue to improve upon. :)

Cheers!

-Mark

September 26, 2014 at 3:48 pm  #1266138    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Sometime before and after the major upgrades listed above, I also performed the following maintenance:

Increased the size of video players to take full advantage of the GRACE site’s body width (for desktop viewers). Remember, you can always click on the “expand arrows” in the bottom-right corner of the video player to increase the playback to full-screen.

Changed the video format that we’re using (.mpg instead of .m4v) to be more compatible with users on older Windows-based Internet Explorer browsers. Hopefully most of you can now watch the videos without any problems. We also include a Download link under each video so you can view with your favorite desktop media player, if desired.

Installed new permissions software that allows us to better tag egregious spammers.

Revised the GRACE theme for proper alignment on mobile browsers and all popular desktop browsers (IE, Chrome, Safari, Opera, FireFox on both Mac & Windows). If you notice any remaining problems, please report them in a new support topic.

Installed a new widget management system so we can post sidebar notifications/features/ads/badges (such as for GRACE event videos) in a more timely manner. You may have noticed the new Website Rebuild Fundraiser badge on the right as part of this new system. Wink-Wink, and thanks for your ongoing support! :)

Cheers!

-Mark

September 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm  #1266139    
Denise Brock
Denise Brock

Mark is my favorite person in the world. Just sayin’…

So I just want to thank Mark once again for being the reason that the engine continues to run. He continues to monitor the site, catches any issues and suggests and implements fixes, and I am also continually amazed that no matter what time of day (or night), we can always get Mark to respond and help. The upgrades to the site are much needed, and we are stepping towards better and bigger stuff. It is hard to realize just how much it takes to keep this massive database of information running smoothly, but it really is a huge task. I don’t know what we would have done without Mark through the years.

So – Yay Mark, and thanks so much for posting the updates here. It is very helpful to see the running list of all that you do behind the scenes – on top of the everyday monitoring and help with the site.

Thanks!
Denise

September 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm  #1266144    
Dr West
Dr West

We love you, Mark!!

:-P

September 26, 2014 at 5:24 pm  #1266145    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Awe, shucks! ;)

Thanks Denise & Dr. West! I really appreciate the kind words, and it really is my pleasure knowing that at least in some, if even a small way, the work I do on the site and on the podcasts can help people get through this horrible disease with a bit more understanding, and perhaps a little peace of mind.

The people on the GRACE site (members, staff, doctors, caregivers and patients) are the best!

September 29, 2014 at 3:48 pm  #1266197    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

After doing the bbPress forum updates outlined above, a longstanding bug was finally fixed, which allowed the following forum profile functionality changes:

• You can now edit your GRACE Profile Bio and Display Name (nickname) on the Forum Profile Edit page, along with your Forum Signature.

Previously, editing your Profile Bio (using the grey PROFILE link on the main nav) and submitting the Profile page changes would make your Forum Signature go away. Now, you can edit all of these items above from the Forum Profile/Signature Edit page. To reach your Forum Profile, use the Forum Profile link at the top of most forum pages or click on your username link under your avatar image on a topic/reply of yours. Then use the Edit Bio & Signature link to the right of your username near the top of the page, to enter the edit page.

You still need to go to your GRACE Profile (the grey PROFILE nav link at the top of the site) to edit your GRACE avatar picture. However, after you upload and optionally crop your avatar image, you do NOT need to submit the Profile Edit page (which would make your Forum Signature go away) unless you have also changed other fields on the profile edit page.

The next version of the GRACE site won’t have this pesky limitation, but at least for now, you can edit just about everything without losing your Forum Signature if you follow these suggestions. :)

Let me know if you have any questions or problems with either profile area.

Cheers!

September 29, 2014 at 9:13 pm  #1266215    
Dr West
Dr West

Thanks, Mark!

October 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm  #1266386    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

GRACE Video Player & Media Hosting Changes

I recently changed the default behavior of the video players on the GRACE site.

Videos now load only after you have clicked on a play button.

In the past, when you went to one of the main Cancer Info landing pages such as Lung Cancer, all of the videos on the page would start to load. This may have inundated older computer systems or those on slower Internet connections.

While this means it may take a few moments before a video will start to play (as the video buffers), it will allow more GRACE members to enjoy our videos.

You may not notice this next change, but we’ve just upgraded our media hosting service. This will allow us to publish longer and more video podcasts, and the delivery of all videos should be even faster than before.

If you’re having any problems with video/audio playback, please post a New Topic in the support forum and we’ll try and help.

Cheers!

-Mark

November 21, 2014 at 5:24 pm  #1267248    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Subscribe To New Forum Topics & Replies Option Now Auto-Checked

– Now, when you start a new forum Topic or post a Reply in an existing Topic, the “Notify me of follow-up replies via email (Subscribe)” checkbox under the topic or reply form, will be pre-checked for you, so that you don’t accidentally forget to check it and subsequently miss any future email notifications of activity on the topic. :)

A future update will hopefully remember each users’ preference for the forum Subscriptions checkbox.

Cheers!

-Mark

November 22, 2014 at 3:17 am  #1267249    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

WordPress Security/Plugin Updates, plus Performance Tweaks

I performed the following maintenance and upgrades this evening/morning:

Updated to latest WordPress version for security and speed improvements, along with all plugins.

Modified page-load memory allotment to speed loading times and increase server availability.

As always, please report any repeated page loading errors or slow loading times.

Thanks and Cheers!

-Mark

March 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm  #1268904    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Blog Post Comment Links Enabled

– I’ve squashed a long-standing bug that was blocking the ability to click on links inside blog post comments.

– As well, the same bug was blocking the ability to click on the date of a specific comment. Clicking on the date allows you to go to a specific comment on a page, and more importantly share that link URL on social media or anywhere else (email, etc.).

Let me know if you have any questions about this change and happy clicking!

-Mark

March 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm  #1268905    
Denise Brock
Denise Brock

Mark – THANK YOU! that is great. very happy for the removal of this frustration! and as always, thanks so much for logging it all here.

March 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm  #1268906    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

:) You bet!

March 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm  #1268907    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

HTML Post Comment Notifications

– I’ve enabled HTML for blog post comment email notifications. This means that you should now see nicely formatted email notifications of any post comments that you’re subscribed to, including clickable links.

– I’ve also clarified the language used in post comment notifications so users are reminded to click on the link to jump to the GRACE site to write a reply, and not reply to the notification email (which won’t be seen).

Happy Commenting! ;)

-Mark

May 4, 2016 at 3:33 pm  #1273895    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Unified GRACE Profile Bio & Forum Signature Editing

I’ve made the following changes to the way users can access their GRACE Profile Info, Avatar, Bio and Forum Signatures:

– Using any of the “Profile” text links found in the Discussion Forums or in the Footer on any GRACE page, or the grey “Profile” Nav Menu button at the top of the site, you can now view and edit all of your GRACE Profile items in one place, including your Name, Nickname, Social Contact Info (links), Email, Bio, Forum Signature, Avatar (headshot picture/image), and Password. From your public Profile, click on the “Edit Profile Bio & Forum Signature” link next to your Nickname to edit your info.

– The Forum Signature field will now remember blank links, so you can now control the formatting of your signature.

Note: Users can still use the WordPress Toolbar to access their profile in the Dashboard, but be aware that updating your Profile from the Dashboard will cause your Forum Signature to be erased, so please make sure you have a local copy of your current signature before submitting the Dashboard Profile.

As well, please note that for the time-being, our Avatar function does not allow you to crop your image on the site. Please create a nicely cropped image (.jpg, .gif or .png) on your local system before uploading your image, which will look best if it’s square and 300×300 pixels or larger.

Unfortunately, making this change forced us to reset all user Avatars, so please visit the Profile Edit page and upload your new Avatar soon. Have some fun with it!

Finally, as a GRACE Member suggested this morning, now that you can edit both your Bio and Forum Signature on the same page, you might consider using your Bio for your complete case history, and your Forum Signature just for your recent history. You can view another member’s Bio by clicking on their linked Nickname anywhere in the forums.

Let me know

May 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm  #1273974    
GRACE Webmaster
GRACE Webmaster

Added a “Sign Out” link to GRACE Profile page

I’ve added a handy (thanks to cards7up) “Sign Out” link (in bold red) at the top of the GRACE Profile page, so people that are using GRACE from a public computer/device can now safely log out of their GRACE account without having to use the WordPress Toolbar (especially useful for people that don’t have the Toolbar enabled in the WordPress Dashboard Profile).

Cheers,

-Mark

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