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More 1APP improvements go live

by on May 31, 2012

We went live with further 1APP improvements last night. Just a couple of simple changes – an entrée before the main course, if you will.

Firstly, some form improvements:

  • Mandatory questions on the application forms are now marked with a red asterisk. These indicate which fields are required before the application can be submitted
  • The help text for each application page now expands and contracts by clicking the help icon. This stops you being taken away from the application page to view help text. We have also made the process of updating the help text simpler, a full review of the help text will take place in the near future
  • Text and presentation of buttons on the application forms have been updated to increase clarity
  • We’ve also fixed a number of form validation issues reducing confusion as to whether certain questions require an answer

Secondly, we’ve made some changes to the Welsh forms to meet legislative changes. Both online and PDF application forms have been amended to reference the new DMPO Wales 2012 legislative titles.

We’re planning to release the first wave of the really big improvements later in June.  This will include the ability to add 10 attachments on the same page and a considerable simplification of the questions which confirm document details.

We’re taking a little longer to test this than previously anticipated. Apologies for this but we want to make sure we squash all the bugs before releasing it to live. I’ll communicate a date as soon as we have it.

On the plus side, the extended testing has let us track down an annoying issue with session timeout that has been bothering some us and some users for a while. We’ll include a fix for that issue in the release.

21 Comments
  1. All improvements are welcome and these sound good. One thing I would like to see is that when you have entered your details in as an agent and these are stored, that when you get to the certificates your name is automatically entered into the box.

  2. Lyndon Morgans permalink

    I use the portal all the time to make householder applications my planning drwaing contains the site plan and location plan but it still asks me to uploade the site and location plan. It wouls be useful if it would accept just the one plan

  3. Kevin Elstow permalink

    I agree with Richard Garnet that automatic entry of agents details on certificates is required and should have been picked on original beta testing.
    Similarly the point raised by Lyndon Morgans that often one plan contains often the proposal details
    location and block plan yet the application forms make you have to enter same plan twice.
    This is a failing in the programmers ‘ understanding of the application requirements for small
    projects.
    Such suggestions should be noted by date and action taken to be noted otherwise the comment process is pointless.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Kevin,
      thanks for the feedback.
      We do take careful note of all suggested improvements, in fact all of those currently being implemented come as a result of such feedback.
      You’ll appreciate we have a pressing need to balance the impact of changes against cost and benefit, consequently we are not able to do everything we and you might wish.
      We will be publishing our long list of future improvements for user feedback as soon as the latest round of deployments are live.
      All my best

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Kevin,
      your complaint regarding the co-location of plans in one document will be resolved in the depoyment planned for Thursday evening.

  4. Trevor Dennington permalink

    All good stuff. Well done !

  5. It would be useful to expand the number of characters such as ‘&’ and ‘[‘ ‘]’ allowable as when uploading documents I find it a real pain to have to alter file names just because you don’t have this facility – this is after all, the 21st century and most characters have been around quite a time…

    • Lindsay permalink

      I agree with Chris. Precious time is wasted having to relabel drawings and documents. Having to remove underscores (which Architects seem to always use when labelling drawings!!), brackets, forward slashes etc is extremely tedious!

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Chris,
      unfortunately the chatracter set originally deployed with 1App excluded characters such as ampersands and quotations, as they conflicted with coding language at that time. Whilst I agree this is annoying i’m afraid it’s not something we can fix in the near term.

  6. Lesley Parsons permalink

    I would also find it helpful if the printed version of the forms corresponded with the on-line version – ie in the same order. Its quite frustrating to have to search through for the correct question or keep referring back to the form overview. A larger upload limit would be helpful too.

    • Lindsay permalink

      Yes, I also find I have to keep flicking from page to page of the paper copy to find the correct information to correspond with the Portal – time wasting!

      • Michael Hayes permalink

        I mentioned in another thread (I think it was under the file size heading) that that when you make an online Appeal you get a continuosly scrolling version of the form. This is much more user friendly, easier to find your way around, and of course you can scroll up and down to answer the questions in any order you like.

  7. First of all thank you for the great service. There will always be issues and some can be dealt with and some not. I have a particular query regarding the full application for a house. It would be useful if the full application questions not related to a house could be removed by a simple tick box to say this is a house not a factory etc, as it is time consuming to go through all of this stuff that is not required.

    hope that makes sense

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Your suggestion does make sense, it’s already on our list but requires legislative change as it involves the question set rather than functionality.
      We’re working on it.

  8. David Wood permalink

    The section requiring details of people whom you are serving notice will not accept house names only house numbers. Some addresses do not have numbers and the 1APP should reflect this.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Thanks David, we are aware of this foible and hope to rectify it.

  9. Tom permalink

    Good news re the portal upgrade. Can I suggest a link is provided to a help desk, but not a techy programmers help desk. The reasons are as follows:

    1. Since the 1APP for for a general application was changed recently it has programmers bugs in it. The hazard section when you delete one line the other lines show up for an instant before greying out again.

    2. Checking the application before submission does not reveal any errors but it won’t permit you to go forward. I resort to printing to pdf then emailing to the planning authority.

    3. The web link to FAQ had a fault last night.

    4. The reliability is the problem again. Not enough beta testing by a simple planner. Last night and today the system was giving me lots of problems. .

    5. When you print off the application it has numbered sections. When you are filling in the sections on screen there are no numbers headers sections.

    6. We would like to provide positive feedback that there are some minor problems but we do not need to tell everyone about it. What system can you provide?

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Tom, thanks for the comment.

      In the short term we are increasing the help desk with additional members from the team so we hope to alleviate any increase in calls, we’re also publishing some guidance about the changes, including a new video.

      If it’s OK with you, I’ll forward your email address to our head of corporate development Stuart Mockford to contact you regards some of your other service issues.

  10. Benita permalink

    I have used the Portal a number of times now since the improvements and welcome the multiple documents upload facility.

    One slight issue I have, especially when submitting larger applications, is that now when entering document comments I’m finding this window far to small. I always like to double check that plan no’s and descriptions are accurate before uploading and this is very difficult having to scroll back.

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