Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Great AQ Update!

It's huge! It's massive! The update has arrived! Thousands of lines of code added, modified and deleted! There will be question--oh, I know there will be questions. What changed? Why? Why does the website look broken?

First, as I announced earlier, you'll have to use a relatively recent version of a browser for the website to work correctly. All of the major browsers will work: Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Edge. The first three have supported the necessary HTML since March/April. Edge's support--literally--came out last night. For me, at least. If Edge doesn't work, I suspect it will the next time you run a Windows update.

Second, even if you are using a recent browser, the pages may still look wonky if your browser is using a cached version of the CSS. Be sure to click the "refresh" button a time or two on your browser and try forcing it to reload the CSS.

With that out of the way, everything on AQ should look.... normal. =) You'll notice minor cosmetic changes all over the website. I changed icon sizes (some are bigger, some are smaller), spacing, etc. These kind of changes are visible all over the place, but they're relatively minor and completely cosmetic.

Where you'll find major cosmetic changes are on the obituary and tribute pages. I completely rewrote all of the code there. The pages should look a lot nicer on mobile devices and (I think) just nicer in general. The changes are cosmetic, but I'd consider these major cosmetic changes since I completely redesigned the layout of the pages. I also changed the RIP icon from the headstone to a cross candle. It seems more elegant and nice than a headstone.

AQ Mail

Then there's the AQ mail sub-system. This too has been completely rewritten from the ground up and not only are there super-major cosmetic changes, but functional changes as well. It's intended to be a lot nicer and easier to surf using mobile devices, but it's a lot nicer on desktops as well. (At least I think it is--I know some of you are going to disagree! But I hope most of you will agree that the changes are generally good!)

For non-premium members, the changes pretty much stop at "super-major cosmetic changes."

For premium members, there are a few new features rolled into this update including a drafts folder as well as the ability to create custom archive folders. I hope how to use them is largely self-explanatory, but it might be useful to kick the tires on a desktop machine where you can hover your mouse cursor over icons to see tooltips describing what various buttons and links do.

Drafts, of course, are AQ mail messages that you start to write but haven't yet sent. They're saved automatically every time you click a few keys on your keyboard, or you can save it by manually clicking the "Save" button.

AQ no longer will break mail across multiple pages, 100 messages at a time like it did before. But on the other hand, I also didn't want someone with 10,000 messages in an archive folder downloading such a massive list every time they open a folder, so I've limited archive folders to a maximum of 1,000 messages. If you had more than that in your inbox, AQ automatically created custom archive folders (named Page 1, Page 2, etc.) moving 1,000 messages into the new folders at a time until you had less than 1,000 in your main archive folder.

For non-premium members, this means you're now limited to 1,000 archived messages. For premium members, since you can create up to 100 custom folders, you can store a maximum of 100,000 messages. (Only about 50 people had more than 1,000 archived messages, and nobody is anywhere close to 100,000.) Although custom archive folders are a premium member perk, non-premium members can still access them if they already have them. Non-premium members just won't be able to create more folders or move messages into the existing ones. (You can move messages out of a custom folder, however.)

Part of the AQ mail sub-system also includes contacts and "mailing lists"--both of which have also been completely re-written from the ground up. There's not really any new functionality in them, however. The "mailing lists" is in quotes because it used to be called "contact groups." Same thing, different name. I never liked "contact groups" because it's not a contact, and it's not a group--at least not in the AQ sense of the words. So I renamed the feature "mailing lists" which is what it was originally supposed to be in the first place. Also, to help discourage people from abusing the system, a mailing list can now have a maximum of 100 people in them. (If you had a mailing list with more than that, I'm leaving it alone--but AQ won't allow you to add anyone else to it anymore.)

And..... that's all of the important stuff that I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure you'll notice other tweaks and changes and--given the thousands of lines of code that have been updated--probably several bugs as well. I'll try to fix the bugs as quickly as possible. Suggestions and comments are welcome! I'll also probably be making additional tweaks and changes as we use the system and figure out what we like and don't like. I've been working on this update for two months on my development machine kicking the tires, but it's never quite the same as using it for real.

And if you have any questions, post to the message boards! Others might have the same question--or might be able to answer your question before I can. =)