GRA v4 and 2017


I know it’s been quiet around here lately, sorry about that. We are hard at work on GRA version 4! Here’s an update:

We are upgrading the GRA to work in the Microsoft ASP.NET Core environment. This will make the code easier to improve and maintain. It also gives us some cool new possibilities for environments where the software can run.

We’re making good progress! We’ve upgraded basic functionality based on what we needed for our winter reading program. Once that kicks off in a week or so we’ll start working on the extra features we need for summer. We are also simplifying and streamlining the administrative part of the site.

We are not planning on migrating the Adventure functionality right now (the games played on the Web site). Our team determined that the engagement they provided for our participants was not commensurate with the effort invested in creating the content. Our team asked us to focus on improving the Challenge experience (activities that happen away from the computer and then are reported back to the software, such as reading a book from a book list or engaging in a community experience).

Right now, our timeline is not written in stone. We’re hoping to have key functionality upgraded by March and it would make sense for us to do a release at that point. Version 3 of the software will always be available. If our release deadline doesn’t align with your needs (or we miss our date) then our recommendation is to use version 3.

Our management is pleased with the ongoing feedback we’ve received. We couldn’t be prouder of offering this software for free to anyone who can use it. Please don’t hesitate in providing feedback and helping us make this software the best we can!

New Features for 2017?

Do we need to have the latest version in order to upgrade in March?
We didn’t upgrade last April…



The new version will need to be deployed from scratch. We’re making a lot of architectural changes with it so there won’t be any easy upgrade path from 3 to 4. If you’re going to need the ability to take data out of 3 to put into an instance of 4 let me know and we’ll see what we can do.

Also note: there’s no reason that you need to switch to the new version this year if version 3 is working for you. If you are heavily dependent on the functionality in version 3 it might make sense to keep using version 3 until we’re sure version 4 will do everything that you need.


K - Thanks. We don’t need any specific data to transfer over, so we’re happy to deploy from scratch.
We didn’t upgrade to 3.1.0, but I think there were a lot of features we were wanting with that upgrade. So, my guess is that we’ll use 4, if it is ready in time.


I trust completely that the wait for v4 is going to be worth it, as all past upgrades have been.

BUT, it sounds like I can’t do anything useful with v3 in the meantime? I just did a completely fresh install on a new server, so I have a “like new” v3 with nothing but a sysadmin login (no Org users or anything yet). Can I do anything like set up the basic Org/Prog structure?

If not, any idea when in March v4 will be available? I’ll be gone from work most of April and we start registration a few days after I return, so if I have a few weeks of March to build I’m okay with that. Or, you know, I could selfishly get a sneak peak at v4 now be helpful and beta test v4 for you.



Version 3 should work fine for you as it has in the past @Holly! You can absolutely set up organizations (if you need multi-tenancy) and programs as you see fit.

As for v4: we’re working as quickly as we can. We have some crazy deadlines in our organization that we’re trying to meet and then we’re going to do an assessment about a v4 release. Without getting too deep into the weeds I’m going to suggest that v3 is the best approach for a 2017 summer reading program for most at this point.

Don’t hesitate to post with questions or comments about v3! We’re still here to help. :smiley: :beers:


Thanks, @harald. I know I’m putting extra pressure on you! I’m really excited to hit the road running this year, because we’re doing just ONE org! Simple! I’ll document this Take Two for sharing.


Just wanted to check in aaaaaand say how is v4 going? Any chance it’ll make it out of the gate by April? Should everyone really just go with v3 still?


So sorry that I’ve been away, things have been pretty hectic here. As always: good news and bad news.

Development is going really well. We are moving at a swift velocity with implementing features and improvements. We’re a lot more nimble due to the improved design and environment afforded by .NET Core. We are really excited about the work we’re doing and we cannot wait to share it with everyone.

Unfortunately we’ve been in a huge crunch to meet deadlines here (our big deadline was a couple weeks ago). We’re still recovering from the marathon of work that went into meeting that deadline and getting more functionality included that our organization will need for this summer.

In order to meet that deadline we’ve had to bootstrap a lot of stuff. For example: there’s no way right now in v4 to create a program or modify settings for a site. It’s our hope that as we are able to move into our summer reading program we can devote some time to getting that stuff added and have a proper initial installation and configure process like we have in 3.1.

The summary here is: you should go with 3.1 for hosting a summer reading program in 2017. So sorry that we don’t have a release for you all this year. I feel comfortable promising that you will all like v4 when you get to use it!


Good thing we’re not paying you :stuck_out_tongue:


I am absolutely positive Summer 2018 is going to be amazing. Thank you and your team for all you do.


A big “thank you” to Harald, et al who develop this CMS :grinning:


Thanks for the update @harald, will look forward to the next version whenever you’re done.


Happy 2018!

Is there any updates on any new versioning? We’re already starting to discuss our summer 2018 plans…



Hey, everyone! My apologies, as usual, for neglecting the forum and not posting timely updates. The good news is I’ve come with a gift to (hopefully, partially) make up for it!

First, news and updates: version 4 is pretty close to being usable without lots of messing around in the database. We don’t have some functions that we’d like to have in there (role management, as an example) but there’s only one show-stopping feature we are missing and we’re scheduled to have that completed in the next week or so (site management). I’m hoping at that point to roll out a version that you all can download and install.

It’s been rewritten as an ASP.NET Core 1.1 application, as I said above (in December of '16…goodness how time flies). Currently there’s support for SQLite and MS SQL Server as database back-ends but I believe it will be trivial to add support for MySQL (we just haven’t had time to add the two files that I think are necessary). Deployment of ASP.NET Core is a little different than the former plain old ASP.NET approach - it can be deployed to IIS (of course) but it can also be deployed in Linux. We’ve actually been using it deployed inside Docker (on Linux) which makes managing the deployment environment and pushing upgrades a lot easier for us. More to come on how we’re handling deployment!

Here’s a test deployment of the latest code:

Once you join and sign in, you can access and use the authorization code gra4testadmin which will grant you full rights to the admin interface (now called Mission Control, accessible with the left-most rocket icon in the navigation bar).

Please be careful with how much personal information you enter into this instance as everyone will be able to gain administrative rights with the above information. This database also won’t stay around forever so treat it as a test environment only!

Feel free to add content to see how it all works. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the forum here. Make sure you choose an avatar and see the crazy selection of available art from Glitch!

Again, sorry about the long time between updates!


I’ve only just registered and logged in to the Control Room… I mean, Mission Control :slight_smile: … Already so awesome! The admin interface now more closely resembles the front end, so this alone will make it easier to use. Kudos, Harald! Okay, now time to dive in…


Good Day Everyone,

I just wanted to check in to see what the status of GRA v.4 is. Will it be likely that we will be able to use v. 4 during summer 2018? I tried out the test deployment of v.4 linked to by @harald above (and it looks good :slight_smile: ), but I cannot find information on a release date. What can I help with? It looks like we’ll need to update our ASP.NET on our servers too, yes?




Stay tuned for an update this week from @harald


This week we are going to release 4.0-beta1. I know “beta” has connotations but this is the software we’ve been using in-house for our last three reading programs so it’s not intended to mean ‘not ready for prime time’ - it’s more intended that if you guys find some issues we’ll correct them before we do a formal full-on 4.0 release.

More to come, very soon!


Yay! :smiley: Thanks for the update.