Block out Vacation and Holidays

You can block out your vacation days and holidays in Scholaric using the day's calendar menu:

This allows you to create a named vacation, holiday, or event - either on the student's calendar, or the family's calendar.  Vacations and holidays are considered "days off" for purposes of course generation, and lesson bumping.  They are skipped for consideration of these.  

Events do not block a day off, but simply allow you to label them, to serve as a reminder to you.

After creation, new label appears on that day, along with a menu that allows you to rename or delete the label.  You can then edit the label through the menu or by clicking on the label:

Note: if you have lessons on a date that you want to make a vacation or holiday, I recommend bumping the lessons away first, then creating the holiday for future creating/bumping.

Happy Planning!

Reordering Students

Scholaric Students can be reordered two ways:

Drag and Drop

Drag the students and drop them on one another to move them up or down.  (Note: referring to students on the dashboard :)  This is only available in the desktop version.

Student Menu

The student menu has a move option to change the order also.  Both mobile and desktop users have this option.

Happy Planning!

Domain Name Transfer Issues

Some or you are having issues accessing Scholaric this morning.  This is due to the domain name transfer.

I'm working with the DNS host to resolve the issue.  In the mean time, you can use the or

Update 7:47 AM Central Time Feb 18th - The underlying issue is fixed, there is one final step in the transfer process that I missed.  Many thanks to Hover's help desk for finding and fixing the issue.

However you may see issues for the next 24 hours.  If so, you can use the above domains, which are not impacted.

What Happened in 2014

Here is how Scholaric Changed in 2014

Letter Grades on Report Cards

Letter grades appear on report cards.  By default, they are 10 point scale grades.  You can modify the the grading scales to your liking, and even have different scales for different courses, as you may need with advanced classes.

Printout Improvements

Printouts can be both reduced and enlarged.  This helps if you printout has an extra page with just a little bit on it, or if your student has vision impairment and needs larger printout.  I also added the ability to add page breaks in weekly printouts.

Bumping Earlier

In addition to traditional bumping, you can now bump earlier, for the cases when one is ahead of schedule.  It happens, really!

Generating Multiple Lessons Per Day

In addition to Lesson Groups, you can generate multiple lessons per day generation which you would want to use to enter scores for each individual lesson.

Links in Printouts

URLs in printouts became clickable links.  Certain links to YouTube videos became embedded videos.  TED talks, look out for us!

Switching Periods

You can temporarily switch periods within the report card or grade book.  Much better than changing period, running report card, and changing period back.

Color Scheme

You can change the background colors in Scholaric.  This helps those of you who have have better taste than I do - that its, all of you.

Payment Processing

I automated the sending of emails when payments failed.  Big time saver for me.  Great timing, because now I'm switching off of Amazon to Stripe.

That's a lot for one guy to do in his spare time.  I'd love to be working on this as my primary job.  Help spread the word.  More good things coming in 2015.

Happy Planning

Dashboard Speedup

You may have noticed your first visit to the dashboard each day taking a bit longer than expected.

The dashboard has goal calculations, which involve retrieving the year's lessons from the database, and calculating them.  This is a slow process, so the calculation results are cached.  However, this calculation expires each day at midnight.

So when you first visit Scholaric, the goals for all of your students had to be recalculated.  I've now added a cache primer that runs each night so that your first-visit experience should be a faster one.

Check it out, and let me know if you think it is faster.

Happy Planning

Where Scholaric Visitors Come From 2014 Edition

It's fun to look back at the end of a year and see where users live.  At the national level, the visitor heat map looks like this:

With the top 10 countries being:

  1. United States (96.06%)
  2. Canada (1.06%)
  3. Brazil (0.53%)
  4. Australia (0.48%)
  5. Japan (0.22%)
  6. Italy (0.18%)
  7. United Kingdom (0.17%)
  8. Thailand (0.17%)
  9. Russia (0.12%)
  10. Mexico (0.09%)

Within the United States, the distribution looks like this:

With the top 10 states being:

  1. Missouri (14.01%)
  2. North Carolina (12.43%)
  3. Texas (7.22%)
  4. California (5.20%)
  5. Georgia (4.73%)
  6. Florida (4.00%)
  7. Minnesotta (3.57%)
  8. Illinois (3.35%)
  9. Michigan (3.15%)
  10. Indiana (2.82%)

For the first time, Scholaric has users in all 50 states!  Thanks for helping spread the word to your neighbors.

Happy Planning

6 Reasons I'm Switching Payments from Amazon to Stripe

I've been working on switching the payments backend from Amazon Flexible Payments System (FPS) to Stripe.

I decided to make this switch in November, after receiving a message from Amazon saying FPS was being replaced with an offering called "Login and Pay with Amazon".  This new system integrates your Amazon login with applications like Scholaric, along with Payments, which it already does today.  I was motivated to try something better than Amazon for several reasons, and I like what I am seeing in Stripe.  Here is what I have found:

  • Better support for subscriptions: Amazon provides a token to allow you to charge, a fixed amount monthly.  It’s up to the application to figure out what accounts need to be charged each day and how much.  Things get tricky when payment plans change, or when Amazon changes what it feels constitutes a month.  Stripe charges that fixed amount monthly, and notifies the application when that happens.
  • Better support for retrying failed payments: Amazon notifies the application of a failure and then allows it to be recharged. Stripe retries automatically, and notifies the application when it has cancelled the subscription.
  • Better test environment: Amazon has a “sandbox” for testing, but I found it lacking, and it has no real way of testing calls Amazon makes back to me.  Stripe has a complete test environment, including the web dashboard, and callbacks, which can be replayed on demand to test them or have a do over if they were handled incorrectly.
  • Better customer service:  Amazon, which prides itself on the customer  experience, should be ashamed of the service it provides developers.  I've experienced poor response times on emails, very little oversight of forums, and disputes which don’t get settled.  I’ve even received errant emails telling me they are going to shut down my account because it is "unused", in spite of my charging many times that day!  Stripe gets back to you the day you ask a question, and has been very helpful.  They even look at my code.  In addition, their documentation is so clear and helpful, it answers most of my questions.  They even provide examples in the programming language of choice (Ruby in my case), so many things I need, I can just copy and paste into my code.
  • International Payments:  Unbelievably, Amazon does not support international payments for developers.  And, this is only found when a card is charged - no warning is given when it is entered.  Stripe supports these cards.
  • Everything Done Through The most frustrating biggest struggle with Amazon, was when users got informed of failed payments, they would often enter new card information on Amazon's site, but I would not be able to charge it.  This would cause confusion and delay.  With Stripe, everything is entered and modified on without visiting another site.  But don't worry, credit card information is still stored at Stripe, not with me. 

Some of you may ask, "Why not PayPal?"  In addition to being difficult to integrate with, they can (and do) lock out your account for up to 6 months, without warning, or reason.  This effectively puts you out of business.  This is not infrequent, and there is no appeal, no one to help you.  I've hear of this happening when, for example, your sales increase suddenly, and they assume you are a fraud.  Sorry to the PayPal fans out there.

The switch to Stripe will happen gradually, so you will receive a follow-up email when it is time to transfer your subscription.

Happy Planning

Switching Periods within a Report Card or Grade Book

The grade book and report card summarize lessons completed within the current period.  Select an alternate period from the period menu located just below the title of the report card...

...or of the grade book...

...and you will see a list of other periods.

This action will display the report using the selected period, without changing your current period, which can be confusing if you forget to change it back. 

Happy Planning