We’re about to update the Message Center in both Site Administration and the Members Only Area. Read about the improvements and the launch schedule here.
The Message Center is getting a facelift and some new features. In the new version, you’ll be able to do everything you could do before, but will also be able to:
- Access all optional features the same way via a right-side menu.
- Send the same (or a slightly modified) message sequentially to different members, i.e., create your message, send it, modify it slightly, send it to other members, etc.
- Filter the recipients by member type, i.e., Active, Senior, Honorary, Previous, etc.
- Send a message to the Supporters group (those that have registered on your site to get some sort of info) the same way you send to members.
- Always use the text editor to create messages.
- Search for messages you have sent or that have been sent to you through the message center.
Only One Version
The last time we updated the Message Center, we found ourselves in the unusual predicament of having two versions of the Message Center on the sites. One version was in Site Admin, the other in Members Only. This meant that the features were the same in both versions, but the inner workings were slightly different. When this update is complete, both versions will match, so there will be no differences between the two.
Okay, this is just an appearance thing, but the new Message Center looks better. In Safari and Firefox, most of the elements have nice smooth corners. Internet Explorer 8, because it doesn’t implement the stylesheet feature that enables rounded corners, is stuck with square corners. the good news is that it sounds like IE9 will implement this stylesheet feature (the way everyone else has already done).
Sneak Peek and Schedule
Here’s a sneak peek of the new version. The new version will be implemented in Site Admin later today (unless something really bad happens between now and “later.” We’ll leave the Site Admin version active for a few days to a week, then implement the Members Only version.
Using the Message Center
You access the Message Center as you always have, by clicking on the Access Message Center link. This will display the Message Center. When you click in the Subject field, the text editor will begin to load. Type your subject, enter the message in the text editor, select the recipients, and click the Send Message button.
In Site Admin, you can use the Filter Members button to display the different group options for filtering members. If there are no members in a particular group, a message will display at the top of the list indicating that there are no members in that group.
The only difference between the two versions will be that in Members Only, the member filter will be turned off by default. You may activate this feature by going to Site Admin >> General Information >> Site Configuration Options >> Message Center Options and changing the setting for the member filter.
The actual sending of all messages will now be handled by the our delayed sending routine. All messages will be put into a queue and sent at the next available interval. Typically, this means that the message will go within one minute. On days when there is a lot of traffic, this might take a few minutes.
About two weeks ago, in preparation for this change, we implemented a new mail sending program for all messages marked for delayed sending. This new program is far more efficient and reliable than the older program. By putting all messages into a mail queue, we will now be able to better balance the load on the server, which means less opportunity for it to bog down when two or more messages are sent simultaneously.
You’ll note that all of the help options have been consolidated into a single Help button. For now, the content in that area will link to this post. However, before we release this to all members, we will be producing additional help materials and video tutorials to guide members through the Message Center.