"Ward List" iPhone App

Some discussions just don't fit into a well defined box. Use this forum to discuss general topics and issues revolving around the Church and the technology offerings we use and share.
User avatar
mkmurray
Senior Member
Posts: 3255
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:56 pm
Location: Utah
Contact:

#21

Post by mkmurray »

Alan_Brown wrote:There are a few advantages to the approach of scraping data from LUWS over MLS export files...
I will confirm however that it feels..."hacky" to scrape the data off LUWS. You feel like the code you write today could be broken if they change HTML structure tomorrow. It just doesn't feel reliable enough. I wrote some LUWS scraping code half a year ago. In the next week or two, I'm about to dust off that code and make sure it still correctly scrapes the data in order to get it ready to deliver to the community as a utility they can use.
jeffadams
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 12:28 pm
Location: West Valley City, UT USA

#22

Post by jeffadams »

So is the overall conclusion of this not to use the ward list iPhone App?
jbh001
Senior Member
Posts: 854
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:17 pm
Location: Las Vegas, NV

#23

Post by jbh001 »

jpa wrote:So is the overall conclusion of this not to use the ward list iPhone App?
Correct, because of the 3rd-party server issue. But iWard, iStake, and Ward Tools do not have 3rd-party server issues and are thus okay to use.
jeffadams
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 12:28 pm
Location: West Valley City, UT USA

Response from Developer of Ward List

#24

Post by jeffadams »

I thought that I would share with the forum a response that I received from the developer of the Ward List App by email. I inquired about security and church policy. Here is the response.
There are three methods of getting data from the computer to the iPhone:

1. General Upload: The data is encrypted and sent to the server. It remains on the server so it is always available for download by the iPhone
2. Device-Specific Updates: The data is still encrypted and sent to the server, but it is deleted once the iPhone downloads it. Only the specified iPhone can download the data.
3. Direct Upload: The data is sent directly to the iPhone and never sent to any servers.

It should be noted that while it is hosted on a third-party server, it is not publicly accessible. It can only be downloaded by the iPhone app and only then with the unit number and password specified when running the converter. Because of this, we maintain that this is still the most secure method of getting data from the computer to the iPhone. It is certainly much more secure than sending the CSV files via email or saving them to a USB disk. For that reason, most units choose to use the server methods. For those who do no feel comfortable sending their data to the server, the direct upload method is provided and does not involve any servers. I hope this answers any questions you have about the process.

Dave Yorke
Teknon Systems, LLC
It sounds like option three is similar to what the Ward Tools App does and requires a wireless network which not many wards have. Option two sounds better than option one since he states that the data is deleted from the server after being downloaded to the iPhone and you can specify which iPhones receive the download.

Would using the wireless option be okay? What about option two?

Thanks.
User avatar
mkmurray
Senior Member
Posts: 3255
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:56 pm
Location: Utah
Contact:

The Current Guidance Provided...

#25

Post by mkmurray »

jpa wrote:Would using the wireless option be okay? What about option two?
I am not a representative for the Church in any way and this will all be my own personal thoughts.

From conversations I have had with Church employees, I get the impression that they are in a dilemma when trying to answer questions like these. The Church loves to encourage such ingenuity and creativeness whenever it is found. However, they also have to error on the side of caution whenever possible. When it comes to data about fellow Ward Members, they want us to be cautious and prudent. They are many legal issues worldwide when dealing with the privacy of Church members, and it varies greatly in restrictiveness from country to country.

I will give you the "policy" as it has been relayed to all of us here in the Community by Church employees...

The Church has given us guidance (here on the forums, but not publicly announced beyond that) that they would prefer we do not take ward data regarding members and upload it to a non-Church hosted server. There were no requirements for security given that serve as an exception to that guidance.

Now, with that being said, I do know that it is difficult for Church employees to answer requests for a blanket, public policy that covers all situations. It has been admitted that if such guidance is pushed to be made official and binding, it will always land on the side with extreme caution. Again, the dilemma for them is that they don't want to just blindly squash all innovation.

So, in conclusion, and with all of that being said, my advice is to take this guidance that has been given to heart and follow the "spirit of the law" in the best way you know how. Seek personal inspiration and make as best an informed decision as you can. If necessary, seek counsel from your local priesthood leaders whether they feel it is appropriate use of membership info. I am most certainly not advocating a "do it and ask for forgiveness later" mentality. But if we as a Community push for a concrete policy, it is likely it will end up more restrictive than it currently is.

I hope my personal thoughts will prove helpful and explain the hesitancy by Church employees and other Community members to give a solid Yes or No answer.
RossEvans
Senior Member
Posts: 1345
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

#26

Post by RossEvans »

jpa wrote: It sounds like option three is similar to what the Ward Tools App does and requires a wireless network which not many wards have. Option two sounds better than option one since he states that the data is deleted from the server after being downloaded to the iPhone and you can specify which iPhones receive the download.

Would using the wireless option be okay? What about option two?

I don't understand option three. The vendor's email does not actually mention wireless, and there is nothing on the Teknon Systems web site that documents this option. If option three does use local WiFi like Ward Tools for iPhone does, the Ward List web siteneeds to be updated.

As for option two, it still uses a third-party server, which is what church guidelines forbid. The issue is not that the Ward List method is inherently insecure, but rather that it violates the guidelines per se.
jbh001
Senior Member
Posts: 854
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:17 pm
Location: Las Vegas, NV

#27

Post by jbh001 »

tomw wrote:However the Church does not approve of uploading that data to a non-church site, no matter how secure it is. There may be privacy laws that may inadvertantly be violated.
After that statement, I don't see how option 1 or 2 are still viable options. Unless the server in question is owned by the Church, is it not an approved method regardless of how secure that server might be.

I expect that as LUWS gains more features, I wouldn't be surprised to see the ability to export MLS files disappear altogether from future versions of MLS (or for MLS to disapper altogether). This would mean that apps similar to iWard/iStake would become the only method of getting this info to the iPhone/iPod Touch, short of a lot of cumbersome, tedious, and frequent manual entry.
RossEvans
Senior Member
Posts: 1345
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

#28

Post by RossEvans »

jbh001 wrote:I expect that as LUWS gains more features, I wouldn't be surprised to see the ability to export MLS files disappear altogether from future versions of MLS (or for MLS to disapper altogether). This would mean that apps similar to iWard/iStake would become the only method of getting this info to the iPhone/iPod Touch, short of a lot of cumbersome, tedious, and frequent manual entry.

I think there always will be a need for export files in some form, because the functionality of LUWS or MLS won't ever fill all the needs that custom developers do with this data.

I do agree that the architecture seems to be moving in a direction that would support online hosting of such export files on the church's own servers, with authenticated and secure download. But as far as we know, no such development is in plan yet.

The immediate threat to the export files is the new HT/VT application under development, which would destroy two of the current MLS export files without a replacement for units that choose to use it. At least the adoption of that application is optional.
RossEvans
Senior Member
Posts: 1345
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

#29

Post by RossEvans »

boomerbubba wrote:I don't understand option three. The vendor's email does not actually mention wireless, and there is nothing on the Teknon Systems web site that documents this option. If option three does use local WiFi like Ward Tools for iPhone does, the Ward List web siteneeds to be updated.

I inquired about this with the Ward List vendor, and was told that this option does use local WiFi, so presumably it is within church guidelines. The vendor's website is out of date of this issue, and they promised to update it.

As for the other two options that do use a third-party server, Teknon apparently continues to offer and promote those methods, which seems like encouraging users to violate church guidelines.
jeffadams
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 12:28 pm
Location: West Valley City, UT USA

#30

Post by jeffadams »

Thanks for all of your comments.
Post Reply

Return to “General Discussions”