YouthMaster

Discussions around miscellaneous technologies and projects for the general membership.
mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:51 pm

boomer,

The map does render, it's just zoomed in 100% to the ocean off the coast of Africa (0,0). If you zoom out a dozen levels or so you'll begin to see Africa. :)

I appreciate your concerns but am willing to take my chances with Google. I've been an active member of their maps API developer forum since its inception and not only have had plenty of contact with them, but I maintain contact with several of their employees. The chances of a lawsuit landing in my lap have to be somewhere around 1000:1 -- what would be far more likely is a simple cease and desist email, in which case I'd happily comply.

That said, Google *does* offer their API for private sites for a small fee (you have to call and talk to a sales associate to get a quote for your site). So chances are the letter would read "We see you are using the maps and plot addresses for people logged in -- we would like you to pay for this, please contact our sales department at ###-###. But again, knowing Google well, I would be shocked if they had any concerns about YouthMaster.

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:08 pm

mfarley,

You are free, or course, to take your chances with Google's lawyers. If it were me, and the fee for licensed use is really so reasonable, I would rather be forthright and pay it. My assumption has always been that the fee would be non-trivial.

p.s. I apologize for not figuring out the default 0,0 coordinates on the public map. That was pilot error on my part, not yours.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:28 pm

You have my interest piqued further about Google's business terms. The only paid license for the Google Maps API I was aware of from the Google site was this one:


Q: What is the cost of Google Maps API Premier?

A: Google Maps API Premier is extremely cost-effective, starting at just $10,000 per year. Pricing is based on the number of map page views for externally facing websites. For internal uses, it is based on the number of end users who use the application or number of vehicles you're tracking. Please contact us for more information.

$10,000 per year to start is not my idea of cheap, but then I am from the "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" school for church projects. When you say that a Google sales associate would quote "a small fee" for private web sites, are you aware of a different pricing model with better deals?

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Postby kennethjorgensen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:50 am

mfarley wrote:Last year I was called to be Young Men's Secretary and inherited a mess of spreadsheets (mostly outdated). As a software developer by trade, I knew there was a much better way to do this. I began work on YouthMaster.org during Christmas of last year.....


mfarley,

Its great to see some impressive work like yours and Brad.O's HT/VT. I think it will "set the tone" for the future. While the church IT guys can see the future potential here we also know it is those higher up who needs to catch the same vision. We all know talk alone gets you nowhere and to instead see ideas of actual products out there done by church members can only help furthering the cause.

It is also good to hear you have experience with the Google Map API and still maintain close contact with individuals there. It is often worth more than we realise.

mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:51 am

boomerbubba wrote:When you say that a Google sales associate would quote "a small fee" for private web sites, are you aware of a different pricing model with better deals?


Right. It was about 2 years ago when I last spoke to them concerning the licensing. But it was the fact that we were a small government agency with only 50 users or so and did not see the justification for the $10,000 price tag. Google said to give them a call (sales associate left his contact info) and we could discuss the size of our site, our traffic, and they'd quote us a price (lower than the $10k).

I honestly can't remember what it came to, but if I had to guess it was in the $3k-$5k range.

I have to admit I had a grin on my face as I wrote "for a small fee" in the earlier post -- what Google considers a small fee is not necessarily what we do! :)

But again, they aren't targeting free sites like YouthMaster, their intent is to make sure they get their fair share when sites are profiting off their technology. To quote their home page "The Maps API is a free beta service, available for any web site that is free to consumers." So yes, their TOS is more strict and my arguments may not hold up in court, but I am fairly confident that it's not Google's intent to sue free religious web applications showcasing their technology :)

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Postby RossEvans » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:07 am

mfarley,

Thanks for the info. I am just more conservative about such things. And for my own purposes, I can't afford $3K-$5K either.

Along those lines, I have been toying with the idea of another architecure that I think would satisfy the letter of Google's TOS for the free API:

1) Build a pubilic web site that would take input from all comers in the form of addresses (or coordinates), an icon type, and a key value for each. All calls to the API would occur here.

2) Render the map (and any other desired results from the API, such as routing directions) on the public web site with a temporary, public URL, much like Google does with its own My Maps feature.

3) Within my own private authenticated site, display the map from that URL rendered within an IFrame tag. The legend matching any names, addresses, categories, etc. to the map icons would be displayed outside the IFrame. And all really private data would still be handled client-side.

4) A downside is that, because the public home page is a bona fide public URL doing something non-trivial, there is a risk that it might become too popular with strangers, who would eat up my free quota with Google, But if I did not publicize the site outside my intended audience (fellow LDS users), that risk would be livable.

What do you think of such an architecture? I think it would thread the needle between the Church's privacy guidelines and Google's legal TOS, and would still be free.

(Sorry to fork this thread in my own direction re Google. In theory this solution might be applicable to your own site, too, but you are the architect there. I do think it would be unfortunate if your own excellent site got undermined by legal uncertainties -- especially since your map feature, while very attractive, does not seem critical to the core functionality of your tracking application. And for purposes of attracting users, wards would probably feel more comfortable if there was no ooching on the legal TOS.)

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borenmt
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Postby borenmt » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:11 am

Some great work here! Here are the issues that might arise should I propose using this tool in my stake:

1. Our demographics are such that our stake has structured the Scouting program to combine boys from multiple wards into combined Scout units. (Under the hood, each ward is still chartered, but they function as a single unit with members from multiple wards.) To further complicate things, the combined units are composed differently for different age levels, so wards 1-6 are combined in one Venture Crew, but wards 1-3 and 4-6 are combined into two Varsity Teams, and wards 1-2 and 3-4 and 5-6 are combined into three Scout Troops. How would Youthmaster handle that? (Do you end up with one pseudo-"ward" per scout unit so you can slice it right, grant permissions, etc.?)

2. If we could combine YM as above, would it be possible to then also track Young Women WITHOUT the combinations (by true ward)? (Because our young women are NOT combined across wards.) I'm guessing "yes" but only under another set of pseudo-"wards", with only the Young Women features enabled.

3. Any thought of adding "Faith in God for Girls" and "Faith in God for Boys"?

Thanks again.

RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:43 am

As a former 11-year-old scout leader, cognizant that this program is sort of the red-headed stepchild of scouting in the Church, I would suggest an option to add them into the program. (Of course, the 11-year-old scouts are part of the Primary, but as far as the BSA is concerned, they are scouts like the others.)

The goal of the Church program for 11-year-olds is to get each boy to First Class before he turns 12. (Not all succeed, so their records needs to carry over to the Deacons.) So many of the scouting requirements you are tracking would really apply to the 11-year-olds.

I recall that when I was in that calling, the YM organization and scoutmaster were using ymyw.org. and our boys were sort of left out.

(BTW, if you think Google's TOS is complicated, try navigating the BSA rules and the special rules the Church imposes on the 11-year-old scouting program. For that you really do need a Boston lawyer :) )

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Postby RossEvans » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:46 am

mfarley wrote:But again, they aren't targeting free sites like YouthMaster, their intent is to make sure they get their fair share when sites are profiting off their technology. ... So yes, their TOS is more strict and my arguments may not hold up in court, but I am fairly confident that it's not Google's intent to sue free religious web applications showcasing their technology :)


mfarley,

In the interest of full disclosure, note that I am now scraping egg off my faceregarding a somewhat similar issue over Yahoo's API. Like you, I don't really fear any action by the online service in question. But I am withdrawing my own application from use unless I can be confident that it complies with the letter of the TOS.

mattfarley
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Postby mattfarley » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:33 pm

boomerbubba, I commend you for such diligence on the various TOS.. I should probably put it on the to-do list to allow wards to disable the Google Map if it makes them feel uncomfortable.

On that note, that's generally been my development process for YouthMaster (and other projects) -- release a v1, then take notes on suggestions over the course of a few months. When time permits, develop and release a v2 incorporating the bulk of the new ideas and suggestions.

I plan to carry forward in that same manner -- so v3 (release 3?) will include an option to disable/enable the mapping tool.

I also like the idea of 11yr old scouts (I too was an 11 yr old scoutmaster). The system currently allows "anyone" to register, so 11 yr olds can get in, they just won't show up on the "Deacons Scout Progress" page. It will be very trivial (< 5 minutes) to add a separate link to "11yr Old Progress" and just filter on any males < 12 yrs. That could either be a v3 feature or a quick addition if someone really needs it.

As far as "Faith in God" -- that's never been in scope, and my knee-jerk reaction is to push back. I believe a lot of software applications become bloated and loose any hope of being user friendly due to the amount of screens, options, buttons, checks, features (the user eventually gets lost in the UI). I firmly believe in KISS (Keep-It-Simple-Stupid). I fear if I move into "Faith in God" then "PrimaryMaster" and "EldersQuorumMaster", etc, will be the next ones knocking at the door. I'd prefer to keep the focus on youth (12-18) with 11 yr scouting as the exception. .... All that said, I used to make the same argument about adding YW/Personal Progress, and finally caved :) So who knows.

Finally, on the complicated mix of wards/troops -- the scenario you described sounds like a nightmare to translate into proper use cases. I'm sure it is possible (anything's possible) from a technical standpoint to develop the code to support your scenario, but what would it do to the codebase in terms of complexity and maintenance going forward? As an already supported solution I'd offer you the option of giving the various troops/segregations their own instance of YouthMaster. (i.e. Ward1-Troop1.youthmaster.org Ward1-Troop2.youthmaster.org, etc). Then you'd need Ward1-YW.youthmaster.org. Unfortunately, the segregation would diminish the value of tools like the Send Email and Maps which really need everyone in the same database -- but at least for tracking requirements and EditGrid spreadsheets you'd be in good shape.


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