January 2016 Release Notes

The January 2016 release will be made available to all HandsOn Connect clients during the one week release window of January 25 - 31. The release contains a number of bug fixes, and as a bonus, has four new features as well!

Starting this month and going forward, HandsOn Connect releases will be deployed over a deployment window (usually one week), so that different customers will receive the release on different days.  This will allow us to capture any unexpected bugs and fix them before deploying to all customers.  (If you're interested in being in the first wave and having first shot at new features for future releases - let us know!  We're looking for folks who really monitor their site and  will report any bugs or unexpected behavior the day of the release!)

 Here are the details of this month's release:

How will I know when I've gotten the new release?

So you can always identify when the new release has been deployed to your organization, we're initiating the use of Release logos.  That way you'll always know which release you're in and what features and fixes are available to you!

When you release the January 2016 release, you'll see this logo in the upper left corner of your screen!

How will I know when I've gotten the new release?

New Feature:  More robust filtering for Calendar allows you to create 'saved' custom calendar views!

All experienced HOC users have created saved, filtered search views as a way to quickly allow navigation to a filtered search result.  But the calendar view has only had limited filters available.  That means you couldn't, for example, create a calendar view that showed just the opportunities for one partner organization, or just opportunities good for groups or seniors.  

With the January 2016 release - now you can!  Introducing advanced filtering for the Volunteer Opportunity Calendar.

The new calendar is divided into 'basic search' and "additional filters" to avoid things getting cluttered.  Clicking on the 'Additional Filters" reveals additional filters.

New filters added to the calendar include:

  • Serve with this Organization  (Meaning you can search for just the opportunities for one partner!)
  • Populations Served
  • Duration of Project
  • Appropriate for filters  (Court Ordered, Groups, Seniors / RSVP)
  • Invitation Code!!!   (yes, you can now create a 'private' calendar for a business that shows only their projects!

Use these filters to produce the calendar you want, and then save the search.  Copy the Search results link and you have the link to a custom calendar.  Send out the link to people you want to access that calendar, or add a new CMS item with that URL and it will open the filtered (custom) calendar view!

New Feature:  More robust filtering for Calendar allows you to create 'saved' custom calendar views!

New Feature: Search results are sorted by distance based on the users location!   (IP-based geolocation)

HandsOn Connect Opportunity Searches have been made geo-location aware based on the IP address of the person using search.  

This means that default searches will always be relevantly sorted to bring the closest opportunities to the user to the top of the list.  This is particularly useful for organizations that have volunteers in multiple counties or states, as results will now no longer be always displayed based on the old "Default Zip Code" in the control panel setting.

Notes about this feature:  

  1. The Default Zip Code field in the control panel should remain populated.  That zip code will be used as a fall-back for sort if for any reason the geolocation API doesn't return a result.
  2. IP Geolocation doesn't usually find your exact zip code -- but it WILL find a zip code close by and relevant to you.  Users will still have the option to put their own zip code (or any zip code) into search and get results for a zip code they request.


New Feature: Search results are sorted by distance based on the users location!   (IP-based geolocation)

New Feature:  Most Recent Connection Field available for contact record

A much requested support item has been this:  "How can I create a report that shows me everyone who hasn't volunteered in the last six months"  or "How can I create a report of volunteers who have registered last month, and not created any connections?"    And it has never been possible (or at least not easy).

What's been needed is a field on a contact record that tells you the last time a contact created a connection, and it hasn't existed.  Until now!

We've added two new fields to the contact record that will give you significantly increased reporting power on your volunteers:

The two new fields are:

Most recent Connection Date: Displays the date and time of the last connection created by or for the contact.   (Populates when a volunteer signs up or expresses interest on the public site, an administrator creates a connection administratively, or a team captain creates a connection for a team member).  

Most recently created connection:  Populates a hyperlink to the most recently created connection (in case you want  to look at that record for some reason).

These two fields are available for all administrators in the January 2016 release.  However, to fully take advantage of this the following administrative actions are recommended for all System Admins.

(Optional) Add one or both fields to contact page layouts if desired

Choose which contact page layouts you want to add the fields to, and add one or both fields to your page layout(s) for contacts.    You can place the fields wherever you like, but a good choice might be to move the fields to the  "Volunteer Information" section of the page layout:

Decide whether or not you want these fields visible for partners and/or Volunteer Leaders, or just for internal users.

See these instructions on how to modify page layouts.

(Optional) Add one or both fields to contact page layouts if desired

(Optional) Add both fields to any custom report types that include fields from the contact record

The new fields will automatically be available in report types like Contacts & Organizations.  And that may be sufficient for your reporting needs down the road.

But if you wish to use them in any of your custom report types you'll need to edit the custom report type and add the new fields to the report types.  (examples: HOC_Connections and Contacts, HOC Contacts without Organizations, HOC Organizations Contacts and Connections,  and any other custom report types you may have created that involve contacts.

See this post for instructions on adding fields to custom report types.


Here's a quick peek at a custom report you can create using the new fields

Here we've used the report type "Contacts &* Organizations" and filtered to show only contacts who "most recent connection date" is greater than 1/1/2016.

In the report, we've grouped the records on the field "Most recent Connection Date" so that each date shows up in its own group. (You can also group by month, year, etc.)  

A report like this will enable you to list volunteers who have not used the site in the last year, haven't made a connection after registering, etc.

If you need assistance creating new reports using this field - pop into one of our daily labs!

Here's a quick peek at a custom report you can create using the new fields

New Feature:  Banner Ads can be linked to external sites

With 29 votes in the feature request forum, this is one of the most requested new features:  When users click on a banner ad, users will have a new tab opened up with a URL that you have specified.  This makes your sponsor ads more valuable to your sponsors!   (HOC-143)

Here's how to use this new functionality:

New Feature:  Banner Ads can be linked to external sites

Go to Control Panel / Sponsor Manager

1. Click edit on any existing sponsor ad, or create a new one.

2. Put the URL in the new field "Banner URL".   Use the format http://{Full URL}

3. Click Save.    The banner ad will now open that URL in a new tab!  

Go to Control Panel / Sponsor Manager

Fixed Bug:  Banner Ads not alternating when multiple sponsors associated with a search page

A bug was preventing the display of more than one banner ad for a sponsored page, (search or project detail page).   With the fix, when more than one active sponsor ad is assigned to either the search page or opportunity detail page, the different ads will be alternated each time the specified page is accessed. (HOC-141)

This makes it possible once again for you to sell multiple ads to these pages.

Improvements:  Mobile Responsive Sites

A number of issues reported by early users of the Mobile sites on phones and tablets have been resolved and improved.

  • Fixed issue with Safari and Chrome in IOS 9 zooming on the display of drop-down menus.  (HOC-176)
  • Improved layout and increased font sizes for various pages on mobile for increased legibility and clarity.   (HOC-123)
  • Addressed issues where custom colors were not appropriate on mobile sites (HOC-99)
  • Addressed freezes in Safari browser in IOS  (HOC-114)
  • Make Opportunity Links more clearly visible in mobile site (HOC-95)
  • Powered By image on home page had ragged edges - this has been corrected. (HOC-100)
  • Improvements for Google Forms (HOC-105)
  • Prevent hidden links from appearing (HOC-115)
  • Font issues addressed (HOC-120)
  • Calendar View now jumps to current day (HOC-122)
  • Resolved log-in issues where 'apex' was inadvertently added to URLs. (HOC-174)
  • Corrected miscellaneous, such as the display issues for some specific custom content on individual sites


Improvement:  Team Management

In the Winter 2015 release we added a new feature where a team captain, whether or not they were signed up to participate in an opportunity, could go to the "My Teams" page, look at their team, and see all opportunities any team member was signed up for.  By clicking on the "Participants" linked, the team captain could still see the current team members signed up, and add or remove team members from that opportunity.

This worked fine for 'sign up' opportunities.... but express interest connections were not visible here.  We've improved the functionality so a team captain can now see and modify which team members have expressed interest in an express interest opportunity, and remove or add team members who wish to express interest in the opportunity.

Note:  It's not a best practice for you to allow team signup for express interest opportunities, as the team captain has no way to know whether or not the team members have been confirmed or not.  If you do have team members signed up for express interest opportunities, we recommend you call the team captain to let them know which team members have or haven't been confirmed by you, and (if its a TBS Opportunity) when each team member is scheduled to attend.   If you decide NOT to confirm team members (or reject some or all of them) - the opportunity coordinator should call or email the team captain and let them know the status of their team.  

You can disable team signup for express interest opportunities by checking the "Turn off Teams" box in the occurrence record.  See this post on how to add the "Turn off Teams" feature to your occurrence records if its not already been enabled by you.  (Superuser Tip:  Savvy system admins could even write a workflow to automatically turn off teams for any occurrence that's part of an express interest opportunity :-)

(When we re-examine team functionality in Summer '16 - we'll re-examine how the system can better support teams and express interest opportunities.)  

Teams:  Fixed warning pop-up that confused team captains

In the "My Teams" section, when a team captain managed the participation of a team for a specific opportunity, and removed themselves, a warning pop-up appeared saying "Are you sure you want to remove your team?"    

Removing oneself from the opportunity does not, in fact, remove the whole team, so this message will no longer appear :-)    (HOCAVV-131)

Corrected log-in behavior

Logging into the public site was no longer taking a volunteer to their 'my account' page.  This has been fixed and returned to its original behavior.  (HOCACC-167)

Fixed: Administratively updating a connection to attendance status "Attended.."  didn't populate hours served

Some customers reported circumstances where creating a new connection with attendance status of "Attended (and Hours Verified)" was not automatically calculating the "Hours served" field.  Some customers experienced this by reporting attendance directly in the connection record (as opposed to via the connections grid in the occurrence record).   Now, editing or creating connections with "attended (and Hours Verified)" will automatically calculate the hours served for that connection.  (HOC-182)

Checkboxes in connection grid on occurrence record now work as expected

Sometime last year, the 'select all' checkbox on the occurrence record stopped working when you wanted to uncheck all the connections.  This meant that if you selected all connections, and then decided you wanted to unselect them, you had to unselect them one by one.

Now clicking on the 'select all' checkbox at the top of the connections grid will UNCHECK all records as expected.

Checkboxes in connection grid on occurrence record now work as expected

Fixed Visualforce error message on public site that occurs when too many occurrences are listed on one page

There have been reports of Volunteer Detail pages on the pubic site displaying the Visualforce error message "Maximum view state size limit exceeded".  This occurs when too much content is trying to be published on one page.  In the reported case, the one opportunity had over 600 occurrences on the same page.

The system has been fixed so the VF error will not occur.    (HOCAVV-135)

But on the non-technical side, as a business practice, we'd suggest that publishing over 600 occurrences for a single project that are all available for sign-up is not a great idea :-)   The odds that you won't have to change details of occurrences taking place so far into the future are slim -- and it'll just make extra work for you down the road.  While we don't encourage you to try to publish occurrences for 2021 on your public site at this time, the system will now avoid presenting an error on the page preventing volunteers for signing up for tomorrow's occurrence on long, long, long pages like this :-)

Success message now appears when editing in the static page editor

Fixed an issue where saving changes in the new WYSIWYG editor in the Control Panel / Static Page Editor did not display a confirmation message.

Now you'll see a confirmation message and know your changes have been saved!

Success message now appears when editing in the static page editor

Improved validation in the "Login with Facebook" option

Improvements made in Social Login via Facebook.  

Remember:  When you convert your site to a secure log-in, you can also opt-in to allowing volunteers to log in via Facebook.  We strongly recommend that all clients make the request to convert to a secure site.  Please see the Winter 2015 release notes, items 2 and 3 for more info about secure sites and social login.   Use this form to request Avviato to convert you to a secure site and enable social login.

Improvements to speed up search updates

We continue to tweak and improve the speed at which edits and changes to volunteer opportunities will be updated in the search.   This release improves situations when a lot of search changes are created all at once  (i.e. when you create a lot of occurrences through a recurrence).  (HOAVV-32).

Fixed an issue earlier this month where the January 2016 calendar was not showing up

This was fixed and patched when reported after the December release so that January did exist as expected :-)

Critical Updates Addressed

For system admins who don't like being constantly reminded about Salesforce "Critical Updates" -- you can now safely activate the following three critical updates if you wish.   (Note: No action needs to be taken, Salesforce will eventually automatically activate these features.  Activating them yourself just removes the nagging pop-up reminder :-)

OK To activate:

  • Serve Static Resources from the Visualforce Domain
  • SMS Identity Confirmation
  • PageReference getContent() ........

Improvement:  Rating made clearer in "Feedback" popup  (HOC-157)

This was fixed and pushed with the January release, but didn't make the first publication of these release notes.  But here's another little improvement to volunteer feedback:

Previously, on the feedback link in 'my accounts' the ratings dropdown picklist had the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5   but it wasn't clear if 1 was better than 5 because they were just numbers.  To clarify this - the ratings now indicate that they are the number of Stars you award to the project.. Clearly 5 stars is better than 1 star.  This will make for more accurate ratings from volunteers who rate the projects they attend when giving feedback.

Improvement:  Rating made clearer in "Feedback" popup  (HOC-157)


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