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Gary Thornock's Weblog » LDS Tech Talk
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24th Jan, 2007

LDS Tech Talk


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Tonight I got to attend the Provo LDS Tech Talk, where LDS Church CIO Joel Dehlin and several Church IT directors gave half hour presentations on different aspects of technology in the Church. I wish I had also been able to attend the Salt Lake meeting last week, because there were only three sessions, and at least twice that many presentations I'd have liked to hear.

The first session I attended was Joel's CIO presentation. He talked about the vision of IT in the Church: to deliver high quality content to every corner of the earth, to decrease administration and increase ministration, and to bring souls to Christ. A few other highlights from his presentation:

  • Not including FamilySearch.org, the Church web sites serve 50 million page views per month, to 5 million unique visitors. There are 12,000 local unit (ward and stake) web sites in the US and Canada, and 61 country-specific sites in 42 languages.
  • There is a beta version of the new Church web site at beta.lds.org. The new site has a new content management system, is entirely stored in XML, and is much more search engine friendly than the current site. A couple of cool new features: "Prepare a talk", "Prepare a lesson" and the Newsroom.
  • The online missionary application site — significantly reduces the amount of time and overhead to aggregate all of the paperwork, while delivering the needed information to the leadership to issue mission calls
  • Challenges:
    • Scale
    • Languages
    • Complexity
    • Need to spend sacred funds wisely
  • Possible upcoming LDS Developer Conference (dates TBD)
  • Open Source
  • (From the Q&A at the end) Is there concern among the brethren that the technology might supplant the human interaction of leadership? Answer: Yes, and they carefully review each initiative partly for that reason.
  • Q: What is the relationship between the Church IT group and FamilySearch.org? A: Currently they are different organizations.

Next I went to the LDS Technology Community presentation, by Tom Welch. His main emphasis was the new LDS Tech community web site, which is in beta now. Highlights:

  • It's an official Church site
  • Latest news
  • Events & announcements
  • Forums & discussions
  • Web links
  • Products & services / Web services (which ones? Still TBD)
  • Currently there is no single sign-on between the LDS Tech site and the lds.org site. This is intentional because access to the LDS Tech site is to be easier and not require obtaining information from the ward clerk, and is not restricted to Church members as the local unit web sites are.

For the last session, I went to the Development and QA presentation, headed up by David Burggraaf. The bulk of the time was given to software architect Bryan Hansen, who presented information about the (mostly open source) unified Java stack that the Church is using for software development. Major components of the current stack include:

  • Maven 2 (archetype model)
  • Java 5
  • JSF 1.2R1
  • JPA/Hibernate
  • Spring 2.0
  • JUnit
  • "Stack Starter" (internally developed)

Bryan demonstrated Stack Starter. It produces, in just a few minutes, a working, unit and integration tested application with a JMX interface, security enabled, and built with the latest CSS from the interaction design group — very impressive.

Responses


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