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TXT System Update

We’re continuing to build our text / email distribution system to get the Word of God into the hands of teenagers and college students in a way that encourages and equips them in their faith towards a greater love for God and appreciation of their innate value in Him.

Today we published some new features to the site:

Post Comments

Post Comments have been working for a while, but they didn’t go anywhere. If you replied to a post, it logged it in the database, but it didn’t actually show up anywhere on the website. We built a small control that displays recent posts and their comments now. This is currently just on the homepage, but eventually it may show up in a variety of places. We could send a “digest” to each person that’s commented at the end of the day to let them see who else commented… but that’s for a later day. For now, the basic functionality works, and it shows up somewhere in case you want to go see it.

Feed Selection

The My Account page has been around for a while, but all you could do is edit your basic contact information. You couldn’t turn on or off the specific feeds you were subscribed to. When a new user is added to a school or organization, they’re automatically subscribed to the default feeds for that school. However, they need to be able to change that. Today we implemented this code. One you find your account by entering your first name and cell phone # (may have to change this later), you can edit the feeds you’re subscribed to from the list available to your school.

  • Since some feeds are private (“PHS – LeaderTeam” in the example above), we made the system deactivate a feed when you turn it off instead of deleting it. This way, it doesn’t require an organizational admin to come back and add someone to a list that they simply didn’t want to get messages from.
  • The little Features column displays a number of images about a feed in a small space – whether it’s for delivery via TXT and/or E-Mail, and also whether it’s a private list.
  • When a user is added to a list, they receive a confirmation email / text message via a new process we put in place behind the scenes. This process looks up a post “Template” from a unique key (in this case: “AddedToFeed”) and then adds a specific post distribution for the specified user. There is some personalization information available as well, so the text says something like “Welcome, you’ve been added to the DAB – EMAIL feed!” instead of just “Hey, something changed.”

Overall, I’m happy with these updates. We’re getting close to having an operational site. We’ve got 20 users in the system now and have sent over 145 messages to date.

Looking Ahead

I’m also quite excited to realize that on the day I showed this to the FCA service team @ Plainfield High School, the central Indiana rep for FCA was in the room as well! I didn’t even know that’s who the guy was, but he was the guest speaker for the day and heard what I was talking about. As we prepare to roll this out at PHS, I’m also looking at central Indiana as our “Judea” (if you’d call Plainfield our “Jerusalem”), so having him hear my concept was awesome.

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