Media Player update featuring new Rdio & Vimeo Integrations!

We’re excited to announce new integrations with Rdio and Vimeo along with a brand new Media Player! These new integrations give you more ways than ever to provide legal audio and video to your users.

Rdio is a music subscription service that lets you listen to millions of songs ad-free wherever you are. You can now easily link to any song on Rdio from the ‘Add an Attachment’ box on any Song Arrangement page. To play Rdio files, each user must have an Rdio subscription, which is $4.99 a month for web streaming, and $9.99 a month for web + mobile streaming. There is also a free option, but it only lasts for a couple of months. Users who don’t have an Rdio account (or who have run out of free songs) can still listen to 30-second samples or click the link to subscribe right from within our Media Player.

Rdio joins our ever-expanding list of integrations that give you a plethora of options for providing music and media to your users. You can now link to iTunes, AmazonMP3 and Rdio to make your users responsible for paying for their music, link to YouTube and now Vimeo for free online watching, or you can pay for RehearsalMix files to give downloadable mixes customized for each instrument or vocal part. In case you didn’t know, CCLI also updated their Rehearsal License earlier this year to make it easier and more affordable to legally upload music to give to your teams for rehearsing.

For more information on Rdio integration and to find out why we don’t have Spotify Integration (their API is lacking some key functionality), check out this article from our online manual.

New Media Player

We’ve rebuilt our media player to take advantage of these new integrations and greatly improved it in the process. The media player controls now stay at the top of the player instead of moving with each file. In addition, YouTube files will now play directly in the Media Player! That means if you have a playlist that includes files from YouTube, Vimeo, Rdio, iTunes previews or your own uploaded files, they will all play one after the other in the Player.

All of the old functionality is still there, too. If any audio files are downloadable, you will see a special audio badge with a download icon next to it. Click that download audio badge to download the file directly from the media player or click any of the other badges to go to those respective sites. You can collapse the track list by clicking the Track List heading to get a smaller player, or you can click the popout button relocated to the top left to get a standalone player you can keep open while you navigate to other pages. Finally, you can click the title of any file to restart it from the beginning.

RehearsalMix 30-day trial

RehearsalMix.com takes the original recordings of your favorite worship songs and gives you a separate mp3 mix for each team member with their part turned up. We announced RehearsalMix integration earlier this year, but now they have a 30-day trial so you can test it out free of charge! Take advantage of the new trial and see how RehearsalMix can take your team to the next level.

We’ve got some great new updates on Deck including a big new scheduling feature we plan to release very soon. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @planningcenter to get all the latest updates.

Planning Center Online needs another GREAT iOS Developer!

Planning Center Online is the number one Worship Planning & Volunteer Scheduling website with over 1,000,000 users and growing at a rapid rate. We are continuing to push the envelope in what software can do to help church staff.

Our Planning Center Music Stand App has been a huge success and we have a lot more great plans for it and some other cool iOS apps! Because of that we are looking for another GREAT iOS Developer position to come join our amazing team of developers & designers that work hard to help make life for worship leaders & staff easier.

We offer a competitive salary, 401K and Health Insurance where we cover 100% of the premium. You also will receive an iPhone, decked out MacBook Pro and a cinema display to program with. We prefer to have someone who can come work with us in our AWESOME new office in Carlsbad, CA, but we are willing to consider a remote developer also. The new office is an incredible place for us to call home with amazing views and built out exactly how we see fit with some private offices, some team working rooms and loads of community space.  We offer relocation assistance if necessary.

So, if you have a passion for Objective-C and Churches please shoot an email to jobs@ministrycentered.com with your resume and anything else you’d like: a cover letter, code, link to github or whatever will set you apart as a great person and developer.

Scheduling Preferences and more!

Two months ago when we released Positions 2.0 and Auto-Scheduling, I mentioned that those features would make way for even more cool stuff down the road. Well here at the Planning Center offices we’ve been walking down that road since then and are happy to release the first new addition: Scheduling Preferences.

Every user now has the ability to set preferences for how often they’d like to be scheduled. This can be set globally, which will apply across all service types in your account, or separately for each Category they’ve been directly assigned to using Positions 2.0. (If you can’t add people to the Assigned Positions box, it’s because you haven’t changed any of your categories over. Check out this article to learn how.)

For example, a person can indicate they’d like to serve in the Main Service band up to twice a month, in the High School Band once a month, but only 2 times a month combined. The options for each category default to “no preference” and include “x times per month” and “every x weeks”.

When you schedule a person more than the number of times they’ve requested, you will now see a new “Not Preferred” warning. Hover over the warning to see the details of the preference conflict. These new warnings will show up anywhere you schedule people, but just like any other conflicts, you are free to ignore them. In addition, Scheduling Preferences just made Auto-Scheduling much more powerful, because it now skips over people who have a preference conflict for that date!

Though we have put a new “Schedule Preferences” box at the top right of the My Schedule page which is the default dashboard for users with Scheduled Viewer permissions, your users probably won’t notice these changes unless you tell them. We’ve created a new lesson in our online manual showing how to set Scheduling Preferences here.

In addition to Scheduling Preferences, we’ve made a couple other minor changes. If you try to go to another page on Planning Center with unsaved changes on your profile page, a warning pops up letting you know you should save your changes. We’ve also enhanced commenting on items in your plans so that you can see who will be notified of your comment. And finally, Planning Center LIVE now includes any Song Sequences you’ve added on the Song Arrangement page.

We hope you like these new features and thy help you be even more efficient in your scheduling! If you missed our blog post, Facebook comment or tweet a couple weeks ago on our new YouTube integration, make sure to check it out here. And to make sure you don’t miss anything in the future, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

YouTube Integration

Happy Summer! We’re in the middle of adding some big new features but we wanted to give you something new in the meantime. With our recent iTunes and AmazonMP3 integration, linking to purchasable versions of songs has become much easier. The other largest source of links people have been using is for videos on YouTube.

YouTube SearchMany people link to song videos for rehearsal purposes, videos of their live services for review, or instructional videos. Whatever your purpose, we’ve added a great new YouTube tab to our “Add an Attachment” box that will allow you to search and link to a video on YouTube. When users click on the link, the video will play right from within Planning Center. In addition, if you add a YouTube attachment to an item on your Media page, the thumbnail image will be shown with that Media item.

All existing YouTube links will automatically be playable right from within Planning Center, so there’s no need to take any action to gain this enhanced functionality. If you would still like more control over YouTube links, like custom naming of the links or setting attachment types, you can continue to add them the old way by copying and pasting the link into the “Link To” attachment tab, though once you add them, they’ll be treated as new YouTube links with integrated previews!

In other news, we’ll be at the National Worship Leader Conference next month in Leawood, Kansas, so if you’re attending make sure to come by our booth and say hi! If you’re not attending yet, it’s not too late to register! It’s an awesome conference for Worship Leaders, and they just happen to use our other great product, Smart Events, for their registrations!

Smart Events Logo National Worship Leader Conference 2011

We hope the new YouTube integration speeds up your workflow and that you have a great summer! Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on the current news.

Wallpapers featuring PiCO, our new mascot!

On June 27, Planning Center will be celebrating its 5-year anniversary! We decided that since Planning Center has become such a big part of so many people’s lives, it’s about time we had a mascot. Our clipboard logo is great, but being an inanimate object, it can’t really express the joy people get from streamlining their systems and communication using PCO. Enter PiCO, the Planning Center robot.

So many of the tasks people were used to juggling in the past can now be almost completely automated by Planning Center. In fact, it’s almost like you have your own planning robot working for you! ;)

We’ve decided to make 4 new high quality desktop wallpapers available for free. All of these wallpapers feature PiCO and are available for Fullscreen & Widescreen monitors. Click your desired aspect ratio for each wallpaper and then right-click the image and save it to your computer.

Fullscreen [4:3] – 1920 x 1440
Widescreen [16:10] – 2560 x 1600
Widescreen [16:9] – 2560 x 1440
Fullscreen [4:3] – 1920 x 1440
Widescreen [16:10] – 2560 x 1600
Widescreen [16:9] – 2560 x 1440
Fullscreen [4:3] – 1920 x 1440
Widescreen [16:10] – 2560 x 1600
Widescreen [16:9] – 2560 x 1440
Fullscreen [4:3] – 1920 x 1440
Widescreen [16:10] – 2560 x 1600
Widescreen [16:9] – 2560 x 1440

We hope you enjoy the wallpapers! Tell us which is your favorite by leaving a comment using the link at the top of this post. Keep your eyes out for PiCO, you never know where he might popup!

Permissions Upgrade for Enhanced Security

We just updated Planning Center with a small but significant change to permissions to enhance security. Until today, any user who had permission to edit people could edit anything in that person’s profile, including updating their email address, phone numbers and password. One of our users pointed out that this ability could be exploited. A person with Scheduler permissions could technically change the password or edit the email address of an Administrator which would then allow them to login as that Administrator and have access to things their Scheduler permission did now allow.

To fix this, we’ve made it so that users can only edit the email address, phone numbers and password for users with their same permission or lower. If a Scheduler or Editor  edits an Administrator’s profile, the Change Password button is not visible, and any email addresses are grayed out and are uneditable. They can still change other information and assign Properties and Positions, but they can’t edit anything associated with that person’s login information. They can, however, edit the email, phone numbers or passwords of people with their same permission or lower, since logging in as that person wouldn’t give them any extra abilities.

Luckily, this has not ever been an issue that we know of, but once we realized it could be, we wanted to prevent it from becoming one.

Positions 2.0, Auto-Scheduling, & Last Scheduled Options

April showers are finally bringing May flowers. Well, since our Planning Center offices are located in the desert, we don’t really get many showers or flowers, so to compensate, we’ve been hard at work for the last couple of months on some pretty big features that can add to your bouquet and start ours.

Positions 2.0

Setting up your people so that they are assigned to teams or specific positions can be a complex task. We wanted to greatly simplify this process and set ourselves up for some even cooler things in the future, so we’ve designed a brand new way to setup your positions. You can now assign people directly to positions and skip creating, assigning and linking Custom Properties. That means when you edit a position (now available directly in your plan) instead of just seeing that you have x number of people setup for that position, you will see the actual people. And what fun would seeing be if you couldn’t add and remove them right from there, too? Don’t worry, the old way is still there as an option, but if you want to take advantage of this new feature, edit your people categories and switch them over using the new green toggle at the top.

Like I said, we didn’t do this just to change things up, we wanted to make it easier and more flexible. Since assigning people directly involves using a search box, we’ve taken all the power we’ve programmed into some of our other search boxes and made it better than just a simple people search. In addition to searching for people, search for other positions (even in other service types) or even custom properties to add many people to a position in one easy step! Plus, we’ve enhanced the Fill Needed Positions box so that you can add and remove people directly from there (if the category has been switched to assign people directly).

There’s so much involved in Positions 2.0 including a new filter on the main people page and a new “Assigned Positions” box on each person’s profile, we didn’t want to bog down this blog post, so we’ve made a help page documenting all of this information in detail here.

We’ve also made a video showing some of the changes here:


Auto-Scheduling using Needed Positions

After we added so much new flexibility to positions, we took a look at them in conjunction with our recently released Matrix 2.0 and decided we could do some pretty cool things. We’ve long had a feature called “Needed Positions” that let you specify that you needed a certain number of people for a position before you knew who those people were. Many churches add Needed Positions to their templates so that they are added to all new plans. Now, if you’ve setup your needed positions, you can go into the Matrix and click Auto-Schedule. Planning Center will go through each position from left to right and schedule the person setup for each position who hasn’t served in the longest time and also has no conflicts or block-out dates. If for some reason you don’t like the results, click the Auto-Schedule button again to undo it. Auto-scheduling obviously won’t be for everyone, but if equal opportunity is your main concern, it could save you a lot of time!

To see auto-scheduling in action, check out this video tutorial:



Last Scheduled Date Options

When scheduling a person to a plan, Planning Center sometimes shows you the last date a person was used. By default, this date is the date they were used in ANY service type in your whole organization. Now you can change that date to show you the last used date just in a specific service type, or even in any service in a specific folder. These options are set for each service type from the Edit Service Type box. To learn how, read this article from our online help.

We snuck in a couple of other things, too. When you create multiple new plans, you will now be taken to the first plan and not the last. Also, when creating a new Service Type, you can choose from some sample people categories to help get you started.

I think that about does it for now. In case you missed it, read our post on iTunes integration that we added last week. Remember to follow us onFacebook and Twitter to always have the latest information and to share the love!

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