June 8, 2009 Release

Good morning from the Populi Development Team!

We updated Populi with some new features, pushing them live during a brief maintenance window on June 8, 2009. With this release, and its stabilization and improvement of several features, we’re closing the door on Populi’s beta period. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to improve the program—far from it. We’re currently enhancing our courses and Billing features, and we have many new features planned for future releases. That’s the great thing about giving you web-based, hosted software—it enables us to be far more responsive and flexible with new development, and you won’t be bothered with having to install or upgrade anything yourself.

We wanted to let you know about some of the particulars of this new release, since some of the changes may affect many common workflows—we trust, for the better. As you read, you’ll notice links in the text; they will bring up articles in our ever-expanding help desk that go into greater detail concerning the new features.

So, without further ado:

People and Profiles

Adding a new person is much different and much improved. The old interface tried to do too much, and so required too much to do a simple task: create a new person. The new interface begins, essentially, with a blank profile, with simplified contact info fields and a nice new name input that parses out first, last, prefixes, maiden (only for females), the whole thing—while you type. We’ve knocked down the number of name fields from six to one, in other words. Check the help article for a few particulars on the name parser and how to indicate the different names you can put in there. Another workflow improvement—you can now tab through the whole form like on any other webpage. Tabbing = less clicking = happier wrists.

After you’ve added the person, adding, editing, and updating their information on their profile is much easier. Editing a person used to bring up the tabbed form, which we felt was too unwieldy, especially if you were just fixing, say, someone’s middle name. Now, you can just hover over the field you want to enter and click edit to change it. It’s a lot easier and should prove to be a real time-saver. Basic personal info—including any custom person fields you’re tracking—are added from the Information header’s add link. User status is now indicated by a note in the right column. All in all, the profile interface, we feel, is much improved.

We’ve also updated Organizations in a similar way.

Date Inputs

We’ve done away with the old date drop-downs. We’ve replaced them with a new, typeable date field that accepts almost any kind of date entry. Entering a student’s date of birth? You could type “January 11, 1987”. Or “1/11/87”. Or “jan 11th 87”. Or any other reasonable way to type a date. Entering a calendar event? Type a date in the same way, or even try other things in the start and end date fields. “Fri 10 am to Sat 8 pm” works. “6 to 8” blocks out the 6th through 8th days of the current month. “Last Friday to Next Thursday” blocks out the whole week between those days. And so on. Time entries work similar to dates.

You’ll know whether your entry will work by the color of the field’s frame—if it’ll work, it’s black; if it won’t work, it’ll turn red.

Academic Settings

Previously, grade scales were established and set in stone, as it were, during the implementation process. But several colleges, as we discovered while importing their data, had changed their grade scales over time, and so we built this flexibility into the system to accommodate them. And, as it turns out, it will accommodate your college should you ever decide to adjust your grade scales—or your full-time or dean’s list gpa requirements, or pass/fail minimum cutoff. Just inform us about any such changes, and we'll make the necessary updates to your Populi account. When a term’s settings are changed, those settings will carry on into all future terms until they are changed again.

Other Settings

Academic Admins can now set General, Academic, and Admissions settings by clicking the settings link above the search bar. This will save you the hassle of having to call us to adjust your database in case, say, your fax number changes (another item we used to set during implementation/import).

Other Improvements

Also included in this release:

  • We’ve enabled the creation of customized Prospective sources, with options to retire old ones
  • 1098T forms now available in Billing
  • Further improvements to IPEDS reporting
  • Course status for students can be edited in non-finalized courses in past academic terms
  • Enhanced photo uploader & cropper
  • Multiple enchancements to duplicate person checking
  • Roommates can’t sync their contact info—now only staff or other admin may do so
  • Changed student entrance term to be the first term in which they enrolled for a course
  • Discipline, Financial Aid groups now automatically also adds Staff group permissions
  • Transactions page in Billing now paginated (200 per page)
  • Changelog now features a date filter
  • Faculty can now choose to sync their own courses
  • Increased event description text limit
  • Added the ability to export course groups to .xls
  • Awards fields added to Data Slicer options
  • Subjects added to email templates

Bugfixes, Security Patches, Display Issues, Etc.

  • Various HTML fixes for Email
  • iFrame detection and disabling in incoming Email
  • CSRF attack protection protocols
  • Keyboard shortcuts permitted in numeric inputs
  • Fixed a bug where deleted buildings were still displaying in Calendar events
  • Fixed a minor rounding issue that caused excessive decimals in the gradebook
  • Mapped transfer credit institutions to “college” organizations
  • Fixed a display issue in the degree audit
  • Fixed a bug where the Registration screen was counting deleted students as part of a course’s roster
  • Fixed multiple instances of a bug where dates defaulted to Dec. 31, 1969
  • Fixed an issue with deleting mailing lists
  • Fixed a display problem with comments in the Final Grade
  • Stopped displaying granted degrees in students table
  • Fixed a minor issue with cloning courses
  • Improved the sorting in the Assignments view in course instances
  • Limited the number of events displaying on Home to the next 10
  • Numerous display and interface issues unique to IE7
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