13 April 2015
On Thursday 9 April, we achieved another significant milestone. We switched our site to be fully encrypted, with the SSL protocol (also known as the padlock) now applying to our entire site. Every page is secure, and every communication between our servers and your computer, tablet or smartphone is now encrypted. We also upgraded the search software, and that part of the site should be somewhat faster now.
We switched on a new membership management system last Thursday too, where we now have our user information in a single manageable format. New members will notice a more streamlined application process, and now only have to enter their details once to communicate with our website, and enable us to manage their membership. Not everything is automated, and our membership officer is still available to provide personalised service when you need it.
We will soon enable an automated membership renewal/reminder system, for those members who have an Email address. We have many members without an Email account, so the postal system will still get a workout to serve their needs.
The above work took longer than expected, and I can now turn my attention to improving the search section of our website. The new process still needs to be built, and will allow the use of more search options, and provide the ability to sort the columns of results. The most important gain will be our ability to add new datasets and indexes, and add additional records to existing datasets. I think realistically, we are looking at a May launch.
17 March 2015
We are one week away from the Australian Genealogy Congress, and have to admit we won't quite get the new search process working by the original target date. We are close, but I have not got all the data sets ready, and programming is only just starting. However, I can tell you what is coming soon, with a new target of late April 2015.
- Birth Certificate index 1842-1928 E
- Marriage Certificate index 1842-1937 E
- Death Certificate index 1842-1972 E
- Newspaper births 1969-2010 E
- Early Newspaper births 1929-1942
- Approaching Marriages 1970-2010
- Wedding Anniversaries 1960-2010
- Death notices 1973-2013 E
- Funeral notices 1973-2013
- In Memoriam notices 1973-2013
- Lest We Forget notices 1973-2013
- Cemetery Headstones to 2010 E
- Burial Registers various
Six of the above data indexes are already on this site (E=existing), so we will be adding seven new indexes initially. Some of the existing indexes will have more records included.
Once these are up and working, we will be able to add more recent dates for the newspaper notices, and add to the cemetery and burial records. This stage of the project involves setting up a framework, after which we can easily add new datasets, and add additional records to existing datasets. We will be able to add new datasets every few weeks for some years, I think.
I will be at the National Genealogy Congress in Canberra next week, and Genealogy SA will have an exhibitor's stand there. Please call by to say hello. We welcome the opportunity to discuss our projects.
21 February 2015
I have just had a look at the new integrated membership system we are launching soon, and it does look good. I just need to help clean up a few rough edges and we should be ready to launch in a week or so. Anyone who logs into our website will then be able to see what information (if any) we hold about their membership with us, and they will be able to edit/update most of it. The new membership application process will also improve. Once a visitor decides to take up a membership, they will go to the information page to understand what they are purchasing, then fill out the application form, go straight to the Shopping Cart and credit card form, and then have immediate access to the member data and extra search fields. All the security controls have been checked and are regularly updated.
Shortly after, we will implement an automated membership renewal and reminder system. If you don't have an Email address, or even no internet access, we will still communicate with you by other means (post, phone, etc).
I have also confirmed our new search package is on track to be launched in mid-March, and more information will be posted in coming weeks. As part of getting ready for this exciting development, I need to modify the menu structure substantially, and have already started this process. You may not notice the changes immediately, but the one major change will be the removal the short-cut bar across the middle of the page, to be replaced with a quicklinks option on the top menu bar. This will give us more visible text space on most screens to improve user experiences. Please let me know what you think of the changes, and any ideas you have to improve your user experience. The webmaster Email address is at the bottom of every page.
One other significant project is to upgrade our website software, to allow us to improve how our pages look on tablets and smartphones. This is not easy to get right when many of our pages include data tables, but we should improve viewability in the next few months.
5 February 2015
Some of our valued users will have noticed our site has gone off air for brief periods over the past couple of months. The causes are varied but our servers are being stressed occasionally by high loads. We have decided to upgrade the server next week to provide better service, stop the outages, and give us more flexibility as we prepare for the search upgrade in about 6 weeks time. Our membership has increased by 30% since September, and we expect this growth will continue. The upgrade is tentatively scheduled for around 10am Monday (local time), and involves our site going off-line for a few minutes.We will put an alert on the home page once this is confirmed.
We are very grateful that so many of you are willing to invest in membership of Genealogy SA, and we will be expanding our on-line resources as quickly as we can. We also thank our many volunteers who are working to add records to our indexes, and we thank our checkers and others who help to get the indexes web ready. We have plans for remote data entry later in the year, so that those of you not close to our library will be able to contribute to these activities.
We have decided which indexes we will have ready when the new search upgrade is launched. It will include the current 6 indexes, plus several new newspaper notice indexes; for early births (from about 1920), death notice indexes for funerals, in memoriams, lest we forget, a marriage notices index,and a burial register index. Some of these have been available to visitors to our library, but in most cases we will add more recent entries. I will provide more details as we get closer to launch. We have hundreds more indexes available and will add them progressively throughout the year. All users will have access to much better search options, and will see useful results including the year of the event. Members will continue to see all the information we have, including actual dates.
14 January 2015
Christmas has come and gone, and now we are very busy getting datasets ready for our next major upgrade in March. This will consist of reworking the search part of our website to allow for additional search criteria, and to make it much easier for additional datasets to be added. I already have several new newspaper indexes ready to go, to complement the existing birth and death notice indexes currently on our site. I will have much more to say on this topic as we get closer to launch. I can say we are committed to having it live by the time of the National Genealogy Congress in Canberra at the end of March 2015.
You can now pay for membership renewals on-line, for both full and associate memberships. Just look in the menu under 'About Us | Shop'.
I am looking at adding articles from early Journals that had useful information in them. Unfortunately these are typed pages and are not kind to my OCR software. I will add these articles as I get time to type them up. These will be for members only to access. Recent Society Journals will also be added soon as PDF files, for those that like reading on their portable devices. Members will still have paper copies posted in the foreseeable future.
10 December 2014
This week, I have solved some smaller issues. The menu system now allows three levels so I can include more links, and prepare for the launch of Version 3 in March 2015.
The Shop now shows the log-in box properly, along with the items currently in your Cart. I am still working on getting Shipping costs and options to display properly (only relevant for books), because they presently mess up with Search related purchases. Shipping calculates properly for books posted to Australian addresses, but the $ value is not visible in the Shopping Cart. It should also work properly for overseas addresses but I have not tested it.
I hope to have a working membership renewal link this week, along with an on-line member application form. A full membership system is being planned for launch in February 2015, allowing us to ensure details are consistent across all the parts of our organisation that need to look after our valued members. While on memberships, the annual fee for 2015 will increase to $85 for twelve months membership (currently $80). This will apply for any payments made from 1 January 2015. We are aiming for at least 20 new datasets/indexes when we launch the next upgrade in March 2015. The upgrade involves a complete rewrite of the search function to allow for much better search options, and the many new indexes we want to make available. We will keep some information searchable for free, but most of the detail will be for members only.