Well, it’s been a long time coming, I know – but OD 6.0 has finally arrived. You’ve probably already seen parts of it before you got to this entry, so hopefully you’ve also seen why we are so proud of this release.
There are a huge number of changes in OD 6.0 – it is the most widespread and comprehensive upgrade to the site since OD was launched over ten years ago. Many months of programming and development, followed by more months of testing and re-testing, have culminated in the new OD home that you see today.
I began serious programming on OD 6.0 over a year ago, working with a long list of suggestions that had been collected from the Site Suggestions forum over at the OD Boards, and with a longer list of things I wanted to upgrade, enhance, and fix. By September of last year, the development effort had proceeded far enough to start testing – at which time I involved our OD Administrators, EWS, Gail, and X in doing the first user testing of the system. The three of them (who are the most unbelievably dedicated people when it comes to the health and well-being of OD) put in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours testing the new code, making suggestions, and keeping me on task to get things finished. As I’ve said before, I couldn’t do this job without our three Admins – we are truly blessed to have them, and they deserve a huge “thank you” from all of us.
We worked through the end of the year, and the testing effort became larger than I originally expected. I also came to the realization that if I was going to have a major rollout, with major testing, I was going to include some features that had not been in the original plan. It seemed like a good idea, considering the amount of effort we were putting into OD 6.0 – we might as well make it as complete as we could. I think you will agree, when you see some of the great features that are included.
By January, we had gotten to the point where we felt comfortable with the new system, and felt that the major bugs had been ironed out. At that time, I invited in a set of beta testers – long-time OD users, picked by myself and the Admins to give OD 6.0 a real run-through. Our beta testers are: Grenouille, Keeha, Mr_A, Pandora, Pham, Sapphire’s Gaze, Tigressa, ValentineGuy, Zinfandel, Cinderella, Jane Says, and Kate. Many of these members put in long hours helping to iron out the last wrinkles in the system, and also made many suggestions for enhancements and better ways to do things. We all owe them a big thank you for their efforts.
Which brings us to today – the OD 6.0 you see in front of you is vastly improved from OD 5, and is also a far cry from where I started with it over a year ago. It is truly a system that I am proud to roll out.
Which is not to say that OD 6.0 is the be-all and end-all of OD development. Several suggestions came up during beta testing that we could not implement in our time frame, and we have already started collecting them, along with other enhancements (like a mobile browser compatible OD) for OD 6.1. Work will begin on the next release almost immediately, and this time it won’t be years until an upgrade – it will be months.
Well, that’s enough carrying on about how we got to OD 6 – let’s talk about some of the significant upgrades and improvements. There are some basic ways in which OD has changed – I know this is a long entry, but try to stay with me!
The first big upgrade I want to cover is Bookmarks and Friends - this one is a fundamental change in how OD works, so I want to make sure everybody understands it.
Your old Favorites list (you may have noticed) is gone – not gone, but changed. What the Favorites list used to do, is now done by two separate lists – Bookmarks and Friends.
Bookmarks are the diaries that you like to read – this is the place to keep track of the people you want to visit, so you can find them again. You will find that your Bookmarks list has been populated with all the people that were on your Favorites list in OD 5 – so all your old favorites will be there. There is some new functionality on the Bookmarks page – it now keeps track of the last time you visited each of your Bookmarks, and bolds the person according to whether they have updated since the last time you visited them, not since the last time you logged into OD (as OD 5 did). The Bookmarks list also now has a function to “mark read” and “mark unread” diaries – so if you want a diary to not be bolded (or vice versa) you can do it manually.
Finally, if you are an OD Plus user – your Bookmarks list can now send you an e-mail notification when somebody updates, and you also can add groups (three for Plus users, nine for Lifetime users) to help you organize your Bookmarks.
Your Friends list is the place where you keep track of people that you give access to your diary, if it is Friends-Only (in OD5, Favorites Only) or if you write Friends-Only entries. You will find that this list has also been populated with the people from your old Favorites list, but only with the people that you had checked the “can read FO entries” box.
So your Friends are the people that read you, and your Bookmarks are the people that you like to read. There is a “Friends Of” list that will show you all the members who have you on their Friends list – but be aware that each member has the option to keep this information private. If you had your Favorites list private in OD5, that setting will stay in affect now (unless you change it) for the Friends Of list. More importantly, unlike Bookmarks, your Friends list is private and can never be seen by anybody other than you.
You can have one person on just your Bookmarks list, just your Friends list, or on both – they are completely separate. In fact, when you add somebody to either list, you will get an automatic prompt asking if you want to add that person to the other list – to save you the trouble of having to do it twice.
Finally, if you are a Plus user, you now have a powerful addition to your Friends list – Friends groups (again, three for Plus users or nine for Lifetime users). Friends groups not only give you a way to organize your Friends, they also give you a way to fine-tune who can access your Friends-Only entries.
Let’s say you have a Friend, “Big Bob”. When you first look at Big Bob on your Friends list (if you are a Plus) user, you will see that he is “not in a group”. You decide you want to have two groups of Friends – so you go to the “edit groups” link and add two groups – “Close Friends” and “Closer Friends” (you can name the groups whatever you want).
Back onyour Friends list, you can then assign Big Bob to one of the groups – so you put him in “Close Friends”. Now comes the cool part.
When you go to write an entry, and you select “Friends-Only” for the entry privacy, you will see checkboxes appear for your Friends groups – in your case, you will see two checkboxes for “Close Friends” and “Closer Friends”. For the entry you are writing, if you want Big Bob to be able to read it, you would click the box for “Close Friends” – doing this gives access to that entry to everybody you have in your “Close Friends” group.
If you don’t check the other box, “Closer Friends”, then the people in that group will NOT have access to the entry.
Now this is important: if you have Friends who are not in any group (they will say “not in a group” on your list), then those people can see ALL of your FO entries. This is how FO works for people who are not Plus users – if you are not a Plus user, you don’t have groups, and everybody on your Friends list can automatically see all of your FO entries (as they did before on OD 5).
This means you do not have to change anything on your old FO entries to have the same people be able to read them as used to be able to.
Well, I hope you made it all the way to the end of this entry – if so, thanks! I’m going to continue in another entry about more of the OD 6 upgrades, as soon as I get a chance.