Welcome! The GreatAlbum App is built to help you celebrate the lives of dear friends and family. To tell the story of a lifetime about them, whether it's an elder, contemporary or younger person. To learn more about the app, visit How it works.  To learn more about our team, visit About.

As part of cultivating a support network on my journey to build GreatAlbum, I've gotten involved with the New England Regional Developers (NERD) group over the past year. I attended NERD Summit 2020, where I got some great insights on a few topics relevant to GreatAlbum.

This year at NERD Summit 2021, while I expect to continue to learn from others, I also wanted to contribute something back to the community, which of course if it stimulates any interaction will also end up generating further insights for my team as well. I'm actually planning to present one session myself, and then have one of my team members co-present a second session, which will then continue into a Birds of a Feather Session on Day 2. Below are the session proposals, in case you're interested. I'll update this post with presentations once they're available. 

Proposed Session #1 - Non-Technical Founder's Approach to Agile Project Mgmt

Are you a non-technical Founder or Project Manager wondering how best to define the requirements and manage the development of a website or app? Attend this session to learn how one such non-technical Founder went about it - mistakes made, lessons learned, approach now being followed. A few highlights of the session:

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beta launchI've very excited to announce the launch of the Private Beta for GreatAlbum. We're calling it GreatAlbum v0.8.0. Why that version? Well, as mentioned in Where is GreatAlbum?, we're starting with Private Beta (v0.8), followed by Public Beta (v0.9) and then finally General Availability (v1.0).

I want to offer my huge thanks to the development team that has been at this most of the year - Angel, Ashley, Kevin, Negi, Sahana, Shilpa & Thomas. 

If you want to join the list of people interested in being a Beta user, then see our Beta page.

 

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red question markYou might have noticed that all this wonderful functionality described in What is GreatAlbum doesn't appear on this site. So where is it? 

The Answer: The GreatAlbum prototype quietly under development in a hidden site. Upcoming plans include:

Private Beta - We will be launching a Private Beta program in November with a select number of users to try out both the GreatAlbum site and the Help site and give us qualitative feedback. We anticipate spending a 2-3 months in Private Beta, slowly growing the number of users to a few hundred as we work out all the kinks.

Public Beta - Then hopefully in January or February 2021 we'll go into a Public Beta, where anyone can create an account and start using the Apps. 

If you want to join the list of people interested in being a Beta user, then see our Beta page.

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Community customer serviceAs mentioned in The 3-Part Mission of GreatAlbum, while we were in the process of building GreatAlbum, we had to think about how we would support the users of the app. We looked at a lot of traditional customer service applications, like Jira Service Desk, Zendesk, Zoho, etc. The problem was that with all of them, the model was to have a small number of people providing customer service to end users. That didn’t feel right.

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When I joined the Reunion Organizing Committee for my high school class, for our 20th reunion in 2006, I thought it would be cool to organize it on a website. WordPress v Joomla v DrupalKeep in mind, this was only two years after Facebook had launched, and a few months before it was available to the general public (not requiring a .edu email address), so that wasn't an option. I spent a week researching open source content management systems, narrowed it down to the top three - WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!, and ultimately decided upon Drupal - I think version 4.6 at the time. While I recognized that it wasn't quite as widespread as WordPress, and more complicated to learn, I liked that it seemed to have the most robust capabilities of the three. Thus began my journey with Drupal that has now spanned nearly 15 years and almost as many websites - typically as charitable hobbies for nonprofit organizations. 

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Drupal    Genealogy    
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Genealogy treeTwo of the most popular, revenue-generating hobbies for individuals and families - on and off the internet - are genealogy and family photography/social media. 

Genealogy is primarily focused on finding new family members, and documenting/proving key life events, like birth, death, marriage, & divorce, with citations to prove those "facts". Lately, the big push has been on DNA testing to help you find even more family members and learn more about "where you come from." The problem with this is it's focused on "data," with limited support for social media or stories about the individuals/families in your family tree.

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GreatAlbum    Album    
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When I started to entertain my dream of creating the GreatAlbum application, I always knew there were two parts of it that were important: 

 

Community customer service1. Community Content Development 

Great would be a different kind of platform from any other I have ever seen, incorporating what I felt were the most important parts of family tree content management and multimedia management, with a focus on creating rich stories about loved ones. It would leverage the power of community to collaboratively create content and celebrate to celebrate the lives of people that content highlights. This means:

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Erik's personal albums
The albums I made in my 20s & 30s

For over thirty years, I have been obsessed with collecting “artifacts'' about my life experiences and those of my family members, especially my ancestors. Since at least high school, I’ve always felt someday I would create the platform to share all these photos, videos and documents with others, hopefully in the format of rich, multi-media stories. In my 20s, I made 20-30 albums from pictures, ribbons certificates and other things I had collected so far. About the time I turned 30, this interest intensified as it became connected to a new interest in genealogy. I discovered one of my dad’s cousins had built a family tree in Family Tree Maker software, and one of his brothers had done a bunch of research, collected lots of family artifacts and taken lots of detailed notes about them.

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