New Feature: Proposal Histories

At the heart of ProposalSpace is the ability for teams to work on proposals and to manage calls. That collaborative environment, however, has sometimes made it difficult to track down exactly who made a change or took a particular action.

So we added proposal histories.

Now, every change to a proposal is logged. Log entries include the action taken, who took it, when it was taken, and if applicable, what the value was before the change.

history screenshotIf you’re an author, you’ll see a History link under the proposal’s Table of Contents, directly above the Print link (see screenshot, left). If you’re an admin or review chair, you can access a proposal’s history via the Tracker. In either case, clicking the link will pop up a window with actions listed in chronological order. (Note that the actions displayed are based on a user’s role: authors see all changes to a proposal’s content along with key admin actions, while admins and review chairs see all changes and all admin actions.)

We hope you’ll find this new feature useful. If you have any ideas for improvement, we’d love to hear them!

Layout Improvements for Reviewers

We’re improving the layout of the review page to make it easier than ever to review proposals in ProposalSpace!

Starting Wednesday, July 11, reviewers will no longer see each proposal’s contents displayed in tandem with the review form. Instead, the two will be side-by-side. In case you’re wondering what that looks like, here’s a comparison of the old and new layouts. (Click on a layout for a larger view.)

Old Layout: New Layout:
Old Review Form New Review Form

And here’s a larger view of the new layout with details about specific improvements:

New Review Form1234567

  1. The panels are independently scrollable, so you can navigate to specific areas of the proposal or the review form without one affecting the other.
  2. The panels are resizable. Just slide the divider between them to the left or right.
  3. We’ve removed the “No answer” option for scoring questions. Now, clicking a score once selects it and clicking it again de-selects it.
  4. If the review form has more than one scoring question, each question’s score is displayed to the right and the total score is displayed at the end of the scoring section. (Not shown in this screenshot.)
  5. The Save Review button becomes active only after you’ve made a change to the review form. (If you try to leave the page without saving your review, the system will prompt you to save your work.)
  6. Navigation buttons at the bottom of the page allow you to move to the previous or next proposal in your list of assignments, or to return to your list of assignments.
  7. An indicator across the top of the control bar helps you keep track of your overall progress.

We hope the new layout and functionality will make it even easier for reviewers to complete their work. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below!

Open-Ended Calls

We’re happy to announce that ProposalSpace now fully supports open-ended calls!

Previously, every call had to have a submission deadline, which was OK for most calls. However, for open-ended calls, that date had to be set way in the future or updated periodically to keep it in the future. So to make things easier, we’ve made the Submission End setting optional, which means any call can now be open-ended just by leaving that setting blank!

To get this to work, we had to make a few other notable changes:

  • All Dates settings, other than Submission Start, have been made optional. We encourage everyone to provide dates for informational purposes, but now you can activate a call with just a Submission Start.
  • Previously, calls had to be archived manually and could not be unarchived. Calls may continue to be archived manually, but if not done within a year of activation, the system will do it automatically. After a call is archived, admins still have full access to its settings and data, but may not change any settings other than those for the Advanced Scheduling Module and Publishing Module, if activated. If you have a call that needs to be active for more than a year, it can be reactivated for as long as you like with additional one-year extensions.
  • The Late Submissions setting has been moved from the General Submission settings page to the Dates settings page. (This wasn’t really necessary; We just thought it made more sense there.)

We really hope these changes make it easier for admins to manage open-ended calls using ProposalSpace. As always, feedback is welcomed.

More exciting changes are in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

New Feature: Public Description

ScreenshotIf you’re a call admin, the next time you go into the general-settings area for your call you’ll see a new field (labeled “Public Description”) that you can use to customize the text that gets displayed on the public call-details page (aka the call landing page).

Previously, there was only one field (Call Description) that was used for both the public call-details page and at the top of the new-proposal page. Some of our users pointed out that displaying the same content on the two pages could be confusing, so we added the second field. Now, the public call-details page will display the text from the Public Description field instead of the Call Description field. (The text in the Call Description field will continue to be displayed on the new-proposal page.)

We’ve made sure the change is backwards compatible, so if there is no text in the Public Description field, the text from the Call Description field will continue to be used on both pages.

Changes to the Data-Export Tool

Note: This feature has been removed. See our post explaining why.

One of our users recently reported a problem with the way our data-export tool was handling special characters. Abstracts for his call often contain mathematical symbols, which were being displayed correctly on the ProposalSpace website, but were becoming garbled in the output file generated by the data-export tool. For example, Δ (delta) was showing up as Δ and ± (plus-minus) was showing up as ±.

We fixed the issue by changing the character encoding for the output file. Now, any character that is displayed correctly on the website is also displayed correctly in the output file.

(A special note: Some programs, like MS Word, might ask what encoding to use when opening the file. If that happens, select “Unicode” on Windows or “Unicode 6.3 (Little-Endian)” on Mac.)

Also, we’ve removed the “strip HTML” option from the data-export tool and made that the default action. If you miss having that option, just let us know and we’ll be happy to put it back!

New Option in Data Export for HTML Tags

The data-export feature now has an option for controlling how HTML-formatted text is exported. You can find it on the data-export page (Tools -> Data Export) right above the Create Report button:

Data-export screenshot

So if you’ve set up any of your forms (submission, role, or review) to include a formatted-text field, you can now tell the data-export feature whether you want that text exported as formatted text (with HTML tags) or as unformatted text (without HTML tags).

For example, let’s say you have a field in your Presenter role form for the presenter’s bio. You’ve set up the field so the user can format the text, but you don’t want any of that formatting when you export the bio. Now, all you have to do is check the box at the bottom of the data-export feature and voilà—all of the HTML code is stripped out!

Improved Data Export Feature

We’ve just released some exciting improvements to the data-export feature in ProposalSpace!

  • Proposal information is no longer spread across multiple rows. All the information for a proposal—including role data, reviews and scheduling information—is now on the same line.
  • You can now select individual questions from the submission and role forms to include in the export file.
  • Special characters (like é) now display correctly in the export file.
  • The “Proposals to Include” section now shows totals for each category so you can tell in advance how many proposals will be included in the export file.
  • We’ve streamlined the code so the export file is generated even faster.

All of these changes were in response to feedback from our fantastic users. Keep the ideas coming!

New Tracker Dashboard

We’ve just released a new dashboard for the Session Tracker in ProposalSpace. The dashboard contains a couple of charts designed to help call admins track proposal activity over time and to monitor how many draft proposals are incomplete vs. complete. It also contains an Alerts section that displays issues that might require attention, like impending deadlines, submissions that haven’t been approved for review, and submissions that need to be assigned to reviewers.

The idea is to make the Tracker Dashboard a place where admins can stay on top of every aspect of a call. We’re always looking to make the feature more useful, so if you have any information that you would like to see on the dashboard, please let us know!

New Feature: Late Submissions

Good news, call administrators: You no longer have to re-open a call just to create a late submission. Now, even if your call’s submission deadline has passed, you will continue to see it on the Start a Proposal page.

A few important notes:

  1. Only you and your fellow administrators can see the call on the Start a Proposal page. If you want to allow a non-administrator to start a proposal, you will need to re-open the call.
  2. The call will remain listed on the Start a Proposal page until it is archived.
  3. Proposals you create are attached to your account. If you want to create a proposal on behalf of someone else, you will need to add that person to the proposal so that he/she can have access to it.
  4. Proposals you create after the submission deadline has passed will still need to be approved for review.