PASS Update #54-SQLSaturday Wish List

SQLSaturday IT Refresh

This is a draft of ideas for the upcoming IT refresh of SQLSaturday. Right now we’re trying to capture ideas and try to understand how they should be prioritized. We’re going to try to make an investment in each of three areas; public facing SQLSaturday web site, the site used by event leaders, and the site used by HQ do overall administration and reporting.

Public Site

  • Add a list on the front page of reserved dates/locations
  • List event leaders/photos (via gravatar), linkedin, twitter on front page
  • Add a page to reserve a date/location
  • Add a link to the front page that explains “national” sponsors and our process for selecting/updating them (and the page with the text as well)
  • Add a “schedule builder” that will let attendees pick the sessions they plan to attend and print the list (also used by event leaders to assign topics to rooms)
  • Fix data/formatting issues on View All Events Page, change to sort by Sat#
  • Add a link to the PASS logo on the header back to
  • Change the LinkedIn link on the home page to point to the main PASS group (related task, remove the existing SQLSaturday LinkedIn group, set up a sub group in the PASS group)
  • Change the Facebook link to point to the PASS Facebook page, and close down the SQLSat page
  • Deploying pending changes (bug fix to calendar, sponsor logos moved to front page, images added to networking page)
  • Add links to Twitter and LinkedIn on the networking page for each member listed
  • Automatically add new users to, email them a welcome letter,notify local chapter
  • Add a page to let user see(or get emailed) their current reg/lunch status (and potentially this would include the ‘speed pass’)
  • Expose a standard set of data per event that can be used for mashups (subject to legal review),but should be event/session info that is available to public in XML/Odata format, put links to this data on the event page
  • Explose a standard set of data across events (subject to legal) including event names, locations, sessions, sponsors, etc. Might be more than one. XML/Odata format. Put links on main home page. Note, look at
  • Option needed for speaker to edit presentation unless locked (this is true even if SB is online, they could need to fix a typo for example) (this requires a login/validation)
  • Review sizes of columns related to abstracts, if possible standardize to SB specs
  • Add option for ‘speed pass’ to be mailed out upon registration
  • Consider option to label raffle tickets per sponsor?
  • Consider supporting re-invoicing sponsors who have paid less than full amount (minus transaction fee) (not sure this is worth doing, low incidence)
  • Include a map that shows upcoming events, switch to show all events so far
  • Show testimonials on front page, either a list or maybe a rotating view
  • Change sponsor plan template to include a blog sponsorship
  • Change sponsor default options to include a $5 (or whatever currency) blogger option
  • Change the advisory council to include the “main” event leaders for the past 18 months, add text to explain the criteria and their role in guiding growth.

Event Leader Tools

  • Allow admin to change lunch fee, raise maximum to $15
  • Revise sponsor and budget pages to show currency being collected
  • Replace drag and drop schedule builder (for building actual schedule) with a better implementation (current one is slow/quirky)
  • Allow admin to see how many messages are queued ahead of their message
  • Allow them to approve messages via the site (in addition to current method of a link in email)
  • Open to receive event status report daily
  • Job to send event status report to all open/subscribed events, should go to all event admins for the event
  • Add page to “request a check” and to see status of the request
  • Post event survey page to capture info needed for reporting (see Nancy: lessons learned, # attendees, etc)
  • Fix issue with reports that don’t render correctly due to hidden eventid parameter
  • Implement the ability to do a mailing based on a user defined list (query)
  • Remove the option to email to all speakers (we will continue to send one email to that list per event that is set up until the speaker bureau goes online)
  • Provide option to set default currency for PayPal
  • Provide option to NOT send a PayPal link (check only)
  • Fix the Twitter notification process to announce sponsor and members on Twitter
  • Add an auto task to send out a link to a post event form asking for testimonials (form would be hosted on public site)
  • Provide UI tools to review/approve testimonials
  • Review ability to edit all public site pages, try to provide ability to edit content display more deeply than we have now (needs work)

HQ Tools

  • Review current reconcile process to determine if we can do more to speed up that process
  • Add a page to view check requests and update status
  • Page to add/update/remove reserved events
  • Online view/update of current event stats (from survey page or manually entered)
  • Online view of current sponsorship budget, amount allocated/reserved
  • Ability to email to all speakers, all event leaders
  • Review and refine the existing monthly report.
  • Add edit tools/storage for data points that need to be entered manually
  • Tools to handle tracking/updating of required/scheduled status calls/meetings and the results, should send weekly reminders to HQ
  • Online add/edit of event leaders, ability to tag “main” leader for each event
  • Track funds sent to events/remaining from sponsorship budget
  • Track additional support provided to event (lanyards, swag sent, etc)


  • Revise the SQLSaturday Logo to include a reference to PASS, update all sites to use it
  • Update the PayPal support to allow setting a default currency besides USD
  • Review all existing reports, fix if needed, remove ones that are duplicated or no longer needed

Please, help us understand what you want to see fixed and how it should be prioritized.

Added, not categorized:

  • Publish and make easily visible a suggested Powerpoint deck design
  • Publish a list of flyers used by various events for events to use for inspiration
  • Rework the graphics/layout to be as good as the SQLRally site
  • Track # of emails sent, delivered, undelivered, tagged as spam when sent via
  • Make sure all actions require confirmation (needs discussion/detail)


9 thoughts on “PASS Update #54-SQLSaturday Wish List

  1. A few more things that I would say were critically missing while planning/organizing SQL Saturday 71 –

    1.) Waiting list notifications to even organizers are useless at best “1 moved from waitlist” doesn”t do anything for us. Instead, who moved?

    2.) When printing raffles/nametags, it would be AWESOME to be able to print by a certain set of criteria (like “registered or moved from wait list since (date parameter – user defined) ). This way we can actually do a print job a few more times to get those who moved at the last minute, especially since those are more likely to show up.

    3.) When someone registers to an event the pay pal page apparently is confusing. I had to manually register a couple folks and can see why. We did an optional $10 donation to offset costs for lunch. When folks submitted on the SQL Saturday site they were greeted with a PayPal page with the normal pay pal dialog. This made it look like they had to pay or wouldn”t get registered. No confirmation saying “you have successfully registered for SQL Saturday ## please submit payment here if you have decided to purchase/donate for lunch”. etc.

    4.) More mandatory demographics. I REALLY like the idea of notifying local chapters. I have mentioned this a few times in person to folks but the biggest push back was always the response of “our demographic data isn”t the greatest”. I am sure part of that is because we don”t make much mandatory. I would love to at least see an official PASS region mandated, if not city/state/country. This was also my first SQL Saturday representing a sponsor. I know this is a tough call because it is folks going on their own time on a Saturday and it is more or less free (perhaps $10 for a lunch) but seeing the majority of raffle tickets I printed/cut/collated having name and personal e-mail only made me groan for the sponsors who were thinking they would be getting great names. After all we don”t give the lists away and we suggest they up the ante with their raffle prize to get more names. A lead with a personal e-mail and no company/title isn”t going to draw repeat sponsors (at least the ones who are in it for the names… Name recognition, wanting to foster community, upping the pool of candidates in an area, etc. also play in obviously).

    I like the rest of the list also but the above are some pain points I really felt this time and the printing all or none pain point was one I felt when helping you guys out in Orlando and running out of blank raffles/name tags because of all the “after print job submitted” registrations.


  2. “¦Allow admin to change lunch fee, raise maximum to $15”
    Give the event organizer a small description field to explain that maybe the lunch fee is also covering a coffee break in the afternoon.


  3. “¦Include a map that shows upcoming events, switch to show all events so far”
    Need any help building that map or how to organize the data automatically? 🙂


  4. Speakers:

    – Sign in and have a place where they can resubmit abstracts for other events. For speakers hitting a lot of SQL Saturdays, this helps greatly.
    – If you”re doing the one abstract/presentation that can be resubmitted, it also means speakers only have to upload slides once.
    – Single time sign up where bio and pertinent info on speaker is captured so a speaker doesn”t have to re-enter fresh for every new SQL Saturday.

    Funds Collection/Sponsorship:

    – Make it easier for event leaders to mark a “payment in kind” sponsorship, such as when we get books. Now it”s a manual, multi-step process.
    – RTRIM and LTRIM spaces for the images information. Multiple times I”ve had to go in and trim spaces off what was stored in the database to get a vendor logo to show up. And it looked right, except I hit one once trying to figure out why it wasn”t showing up and it was because the entry had a trailing space.
    – Ensure that the amount of money PayPal takes off the top (or HQ, or whoever it is) is included in the lunch fee. If it costs $10 for lunch/person and the entry into PayPal is for exactly $10, that means you come out short. I think it was $0.14 per lunch, which adds up over 150-250 lunches.
    – Some way of cutting off lunch purchases since orders to caterers usually have to be in several days before the event.

    – Some way of cutting off registration (and not going to waiting list) to handle printing better.
    – Accurate reports for printing the attendee “stuff.” We had several cases where tickets for a particular attendee weren”t in the extract file or where tickets were present but the badge wasn”t. This has happened at both events.
    – The ability to publish a set of lunch choices and collect that information at registration. Right now it”s a manual email and hope to hear back process if you want to try and forecast numbers for the caterers.

    Event Management:
    – Some way for HQ to notify us of an issue. For instance, the mailing problems that HQ was aware of that we didn”t find out about until we tried and failed to get email with tokens out. Had that been posted to a bulletin board when you first log in to the site that would have been wonderful. If all posts to the bulletin board for site issues emailed currently active SQL Saturday planners via their address as well, that would be bonus.
    – The ability to completely shut off an old SQL Saturday for anything but read-only access. SQL Saturday #48 came back on-line and no one could tell us why. It accepted attendee registrations and speaker submissions. This burned us. Also throughout the event planning for SQL Saturday #70, we continued to see (and our potential attendees continued to receive) those cryptic “1 moved from wait list” messages. We confirmed these were coming from SQL Saturday #48.


  5. So far the list is getting fairly comprehensive, good job! Last year as a first-time event organizer, I was often told to (and did) reference the wiki that is available. I think it is a fairly good idea (as an alternative to an “organizer packet”) especially for first time organizers. I had a few conversations with PASS that went along the lines of, “Did you order lunch yet?” “No not yet, we haven”t quite figured out how to split our offerings” “Well, better get on that!” that would have probably gone better if someone could have explained from experience a rough breakdown of acceptance of vegetarian vs. meatatarian amongst your average set of attendees.

    As a fellow organizer of Sql Saturday #70, I share a lot of Brian”s pain. From a back-end perspective, if an automated task fires, it is usually a good idea to log that fact for reference, especially when reporting an error back to the maintainers of the system.


  6. It”s nice to see there”s a lot of thought going into improving SQL Saturdays. One thing I would suggest that I haven”t seen mentioned is adding Twitter handles to the name tags. A lot of us have ended up writing our handles under our names because the question comes up frequently when networking at these events.


  7. Some thoughts:

    1. Better budget management in general; I think everything that has been listed is great, but I”d also like the ability to track funds that show up at the event (eg, last minute lunch purchases). it would be nice to be able to balance cash received versus cash spent (as well as in-kind allocations).

    2. make sure that the schedule builder is event-guide friendly; most of use the schedule builder and generate our event guide from that (after doing a lot of formatting to make it fit).

    A couple of nice-to-haves:
    –Flikr links to specific sessions. Students could upload pictures from a particular class and link it directly to a session (half-baked idea)
    –Speaker accounts so that speakers can submit an abstract to multiple SQLSaturday”s at once (or copy an existing description to a new event). For example, if I want to present at the Atlanta event and the Columbia, SC event, I have to submit the same abstract twice. It would be nice if I could log in to the session and submit it to multiple events Added benefit would be slide decks for recurring events would already be there; if I upload my slides for my Atlanta session, they would magically appear for Columbia.

    Thanks for continuing to evolve the product!


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