BEACON 2

Beacon 2 Project Update

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We recently published a statement from our delivery partner, APT Solutions, about the challenges the upgrade project had faced in 2020 and what had been planned to enable us to move forward positively in 2021.

This month we bring you an update on our progress against those plans. We’ll include further such updates in each monthly edition of Beacon News.

Progress

A key element of this month’s work has been the iterative development of a global style guide to govern the look and feel of the system. This guide, which includes information about the u3a brand and reusable software components for developers, will help us ensure that the system is accessible by design, and consistent across all areas. The style guide has been the subject of workshops and review sessions with the Beacon Testing sub-Team in January.

If you’d like to peer under the hood you can take a look at the style guide at http://staging.aptsolutions.net/u3a-styleguide/ but please bear in mind that it is still a work in progress and therefore subject to change.

At the same time we have been working closely with APT’s technical lead to review the approach to meeting the requirements of a number of key modules within the u3a Administration Portal: membership, groups, communications, events and finance.

This has in turn enabled APT’s design team to begin the process of wireframing each of these components. Wireframes are simple diagrams that give a flavour of the user interface and experience for an element of the software. As these are completed, the plan is to publish them to users via the Beacon website.

Meanwhile the Beacon Documentation and People sub-Teams have been undertaking preparatory work for producing videos and video training materials on Beacon 2. A standard is being worked up to ensure the materials we produce for users are consistent, accurate and of high quality.

There is now video in the Beacon Help Centre which explains simply how to generate a list of members who have renewed in Beacon 1. You can find it in Knowledge Base under Membership or just search from the Help Centre homepage.

Members of the Documentation and People sub-Teams have been working on the Entrinsik Informer tool so we can prepare some guidance on using this within the Beacon 2 environment.

The Beacon Communications sub-Team has begun a complete review of the Beacon website to ensure that users are able to access the information they are looking for, about both Beacon 1 and Beacon 2.

The Beacon Team continues to support more u3as to implement Beacon 1, and this is still recommended for those u3as waiting for Beacon 2 to become generally available. So far in 2021, ten u3as have gone live on Beacon, and many more are in the process of doing so.

Plans

Over the next month, we plan to finalise the global style guide, cementing the look and feel of Beacon 2.

We are also planning to complete the reviews and wireframes of all the components of the u3a Administration Portal. Once this is done, we’ll publish more details about these components, and they will start to be developed and tested.

This being done, we will begin to firm up the timeframe for the rollout of Beacon 2.

Next month will see the start of the review and wireframe process for the dedicated Group Leaders Portal and the Network Portal. The Network Portal is new to Beacon 2 and will for the first time enable u3a regions and networks to take advantage of the benefits Beacon brings to u3as.

The review of the Beacon website will be completed and visitors should begin to see changes reflected in the site. We will be publishing an overview of the features planned for Beacon 2, as well as more information for u3as thinking about adopting Beacon 1 in the meantime.

The Documentation sub-Team team has plans in place to start work on the new User Guide for Beacon 2. In the meantime, as a result of feedback, we have updated some on the existing information in both the User Guide and Knowledge Base.