APHA 2020 Theme and Tech Updates

Updated: August 24, 2020

Phase one of our update/upgrades is complete! 

Phase one = this site:  The APHA membership site at myAPHA.org – the one you are reading now.  Whereas we thought it would take far longer than it did (we estimated the end of September!). In fact, it took only 10 days to complete. A LONG 10 days, but a fraction of the time we had anticipated.

We hope you like what you see. And most importantly, we hope you don’t run into those same server errors we were experiencing prior to the upgrade.

badget - APHA memberYou’ll note one of the most obvious changes: the new logo.  If you are currently using our logos on your own website or in your print materials, we’ve updated the files you’ll need if you want to change them.  Find them here:  https://myapha.org/resources/tools/badges/ 

Another big change to mention:  our new SEARCH function which will work better than ever before. We were finally able to incorporate the Connect! Discussion Forum threads into the search and so now, you can do one search (using the search boxes at the top or bottom of the page) and get results located anywhere in the site – both from the main site, and from the Discussion Forum part of the site.

Should you find anything you don’t believe is working correctly, or wasn’t what you expected to find, please  notify us immediately:  membersvc@aphadvocates.org  We need to know exactly what happened, at the exact time it happened. If you were trying to find a link that was incorrect, we need to know what page you are linking FROM and the page you wanted to link TO.

Next up:  the APHAdvocates – main site:  www.APHAdvocates.org  In this case, we will not be interrupting anything for members so until the site is complete, you may never be aware of the work.

We thank you for your patience as we made the 10 day transition. We hope you like it as much as we do.


Updated:  August 14, 2020

2020 APHA logo
Yes! This is the new logo we’ll be implementing along with the other changes. We hope you like it!

We’re pleased to provide some background information about our transition and updates over the next few months to a better platform for APHA and its associated websites.

The first site we’ll tackle will be the one you are viewing now:  www.myAPHA.org – our membership service site. Over time, additional APHA sites will also be updated, but there will not be an interruption of your use. Read below to see why.

It’s going to look wonky for awhile!  We apologize that we can’t make it a quicker transition. (If you are curious about the reasons, find them below.)

However – important! – all the information is still here, and still findable, but changed from what you have become used to.

If you have trouble finding something you believe should be located on the myAPHA site, you can still do a search from the search box at the top or bottom of every page.

Is there something you can’t find?  If so, please reach out. membersvc@aphadvocates.org

Background Information: Tech and Platform

For those of you with deeper interest in what’s going on – we offer some background.

In 2016 our membership site was moved to this WordPress platform in a major update away from a very old technology build. At that time, we actually changed the location from a subdomain (members.advoconnection.com) to its own site, here at myAPHA.org.

WordPress requires three components:  The WordPress Core, a theme, and plugins – plus a whole lot of implementation. All three of those major components have changed in big ways since 2016 – and that’s what has put us in this position of having to do the update in 2020.

WordPress Core change:  When our sites were rebuilt in 2016, we used “classic” WordPress which was the way text was added, images were added, forms, and the forum were added to the site. But in 2018, the WordPress core underwent a major change which they called “Gutenberg” – a totally different structure requiring the site build to be very different.

Fortunately, since then, they have allowed “older” sites (built before 2018) to continue to use the classic approach. However, support for classic will come to an end by late 2021, forcing all WordPress sites to rebuild using Gutenberg. That means us, and it means a learning curve.

Theme change: Themes are the look and feel – the presentation of a site. This includes things like the colors we use, the page layout, the fonts for text and headlines, the background, all those pieces that don’t just make it attractive, but make it readable, too. The theme we have used for almost all the APHA related sites is called Karma. Karma was chosen because it had so many great capabilities built-in, allowing us incredible flexibility in how we presented material.

It has served us well – UNTIL – last spring (2020) we began to run into difficulties with permalinks (meaning – you would get the pouty little girl when you shouldn’t) and more recently 500 server errors. It took a great deal of time and expensive experts to figure out that it was Karma that was causing the problems. (Seriously? Karma? There is something oh, so, existential about it being called Karma!)  We further learned that the company that developed Karma was sold and Karma will no longer be updated to fix these problems.

And so – to repair the problems, we now have to change the entire theme. THAT is what will take the most time. And that is why the site will look wonky for awhile. But it will be worth it, because it will not only fix the server and permalink errors, but it will be faster, too. All good!  Just a lot of work to update 1500+ pages of content. The theme we have chosen is called Astra Pro – which presents another entirely new learning curve.

Plugins: Plugins help us do all the “extras” on a site. So, for example, one plugin is called Memberpress, and it is what makes all the membership capabilities work, like different memberships having access to different links, or subscription renewals, etc. Other plugins help us with security of the site. Another one, called Buddypress, manages the Connect! Discussion Forum. In total, today we use 31 different plugins. During this update, we’ll need to tweak all the plugins as we go along to be sure they are still necessary (not all of them are) and change settings in others to be sure they still operate properly with the updated core and theme.

So – why the wonkiness?

In the past, we have been able to accomplish changes and updates because we could build the updated site in a separate location (a separate “staged” location) then migrate the updated site to the right web address. When it’s done that way, the new site actually wipes out the old site and all its information. We will be able to do that with the additional APHA-related sites – you won’t even be aware of the change until it’s completed, and it won’t matter if the old site is overwritten because the new site will have all the same content – it will just look new.

But for the myAPHA site, we can’t do that. We can’t overwrite the “old” site because our membership changes constantly.  If we built it somewhere else then moved it over to rewrite the existing site, then we would lose all the new members that join in the interim and we would lose all the conversations that take place in the Forum. There is just no way to repair that kind of loss. Therefore, we’ll have to put up with it being wonky for awhile.

What do we mean by wonky? 

Things won’t be lined up properly. Some pieces will appear to be missing, but will be found instead in code that will be visible that wasn’t visible before. Now visible code will look similar to this:

… all of which will need to be replaced and removed.

So – we thank you for your patience through this transition!  With more than 1500 pages of information on the myAPHA site, it will take awhile to complete. We’ll try to make it as painless as possible.

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