Tuesday, November 6, 2018

SiteTogether is Responsive!

Being responsive may seem like a ridiculous thing to brag about in 2018 but in this case it's warranted. SiteTogether made an early push for mobile friendly browsing. Our first mobile-version was created in early 2011... back when compatibility with Blackberrys was a major concern. At the time  mobile browsing was just a weird thing done by early adopters or people in a pinch when they couldn't get to their main computer. That has changed. The mobile site has changed. We've made plenty of updates to the mobile site over the years. What was once almost an experimental set of mobile features evolved to become nearly an exact copy of the main site. In short, having a separate mobile version of the site just doesn't make as much sense as it used to.

We've known that a responsive design was going to be the future of SiteTogether for years. The arguments for having a separate mobile site don't really exist anymore and the arguments for a responsive structure are getting more compelling. We decided the time was right at the end of 2017 and began working on the initial design.

We always strive for clean and elegant solutions but we also don't want to leave anyone behind. Afterall, YMCA's aren't supposed to exclude anyone... even those with older web browsers. :) So as a policy, we don't pursue bleeding edge technology for SiteTogether. However, we've been able to hit the sweet spot on a few new pieces of technology that are well supported. In several places we've been able abandon old JavaScripts in favor of pure CSS alternatives. We've also replaced tables (class schedules primarily) with css grid layout. The css grid let us do very cool things with reordering data for mobile consumption.

This is the biggest design change since 2014 so we're pretty excited! If you'd like more information about the new layout or if you'd like to see a live demo, please get in touch!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

New Editor is in beta

We're very excited to announce that a new version of the content (page) editor is currently in beta and accessible to all who wish to use it. This has been in the works for a long time!  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Internet Explorer Compatibility. Recent versions of IE were incompatible with the old editor. The new version corrects this bug.
  • Resizable. The old editor had a fixed size. The new editor opens at a with used by the vast majority of pages and a height that is appropriate for the screen size being used. The editor can be enlarged olt the maximum with of a site together page sna can also be shrunk to simulate mobile browsing.
  • Improved rendering. The old editor have a few inconsistencies with the color of HTML links and other minor issues. These have been fixed.
  • Improved Styles. The old editor intentionally had minimal styling options to keep the look of pages consistent across the site. Unfortunately some needs were not being met with this approach causing individuals to create unique formatting that made for an inconsistent look.  There are a multitude of new formatting options available including:
    • 5 font-size options (upgraded from 3)
    • 3 Cachet font options (regular, semibold, bold)
    • 5 "Big Button" styles for calling out important links
    • Easy access to all 16 YMCA band standard colors.
  • Drag and Drop. The old editor had minimal support for drag and drop. This is now supported for adding images and text wherever possible. (Some browser/OS combinations may not fully support drag and drop.)
  • Improved Spell Check. Spell check is now more consistent across browsers.
  • Improved Toolbars. The toolbar buttons have been rearranged (slightly) to work in more screen sizes and group functions more appropriately. The look of buttons have been updated to be more clean and colorful which should make it easier to use.
  • Improved HTML Formatting. The editor now smartly uses paragraph tags instead of  adding double hard returns. This generally better and makes applying styles easier and more consistent.

Friday, July 28, 2017

version2 has a new website

The dynamic team that created and maintains SiteTogether has launched a new website! The new site showcases the strengths of the version2 team as designers, developers, marketers and innovators. If you have a few spare minutes, check it out: https://www.ver-two.com.

There are some fun features, controls and great examples of the work that this team does, including SiteTogether.

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017 Roadmap

SiteTogether continues to improve with new features and enhancements. Here's our roadmap for new features. We welcome all input about the system, what you'd like to see improved and what features you need:

Q2 2017 - Friendly URLs.
Right now a good portion of content is delivered though URLs with variable strings. Example: /schedule.cfm?class=115172. We plan to implement friendly URLs (URL rewriting) to make the site function via URLs that are formatted more like /schedule/YouthSwimLessons/

Q3 2017 - Upgrade of the Page Editor.
This is an upgrade of the code behind the WYSIWYG editor in the admin area. The current editor is several versions old. The upgrade is necessary for compatibility, security, and reliability.

The following new features are on the map but do not have a definite launch window:

Improved Reporting.
Up to the minute reporting of Info Requests by day and branch.

Sub-Navigation Sorting.
Ability to manage the order of links in sub navigation.

Page Versioning.
The ability to preview pages as you author and revert pages to previous versions.

Orphaned File Finder.
Find older PDFs and images that are no longer useful yet may still be indexed by search engines.

100% Responsive.
Right now the main site and mobile site are "Lightly Responsive" in that they are both built using Responsive web design but have fixed width limits. The main and mobile sites draw on the same source data, so eventually these two versions will become the same pages.

Site Search.
We believe that search is what gets used whe organization fails. However, there are times when it is faster when you need something specific.

Other pending new features are top secret. :)

Is one of these a high priority to you?  Is there something missing? Please leave a comment or reach out and let us know.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cosmetic update and fix

Brand change is complete!

We're officially operating as SiteTogether! The name change to SiteTogether is now universally applied on all backends. There's no change in functionality with this update, but users will see the SiteTogether name and logo throughout the management area.

Class Display Fix

We also took this opportunity to make a tweak to the class listings in the management area. There has been a buildup of "junk formatting" in class descriptions as a result of copy/pasting from Microsoft products. A filter was incorporated to the front-end last year to preserve font appearance, but the junk code may have been causing problems on the backend as well. The problem appears to have affected IE 9 and lower browsers when viewing extraordinarily long class lists. To solve this, a filter has been placed on class descriptions on the backend display and into the description add/update process. This should be a non-destructive way of fixing any sluggish performance or formatting issues.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Peashooter/CSTwo is now SiteTogether

I helped create Peashooter in 2007. It was a major undertaking. The goal was to create a system for YMCAs that was easy for users to navigate (especially in terms of finding classes) and easy to maintain and update. Over the past 9 years the system has necessarily evolved with changing technology and the input of numerous users and managers. Each update made the system a little better.

For almost a year I've been in a role where I'm not just maintaining the system, but charting it's course into the future. I want to make Peashooter better -- more useful. I want to make Peashooter the best way a YMCA can manage its online presence.

The way you contact us has already changed and the system will continue to change and improve. It makes sense to take this opportunity to reflect on what the system does and how we refer to it. What the system does best is let your entire staff manage online content without fear and with expert help when needed. It's a system that lets your staff and our experts make a SiteTogether.

Along with re-launching as SiteTogether, this month we'll be rolling out a major improvement in security and in SEO. The update includes an improved login process, default canonicalization of www. URLs, and always on HTTPS. This is just the beginning of big things for SiteTogether. We'll be sharing a road-map of future features and improvement and asking for feedback from all of our users. Thank you for choosing Peashooter/CSTwo and SiteTogether!