VFDS

What is the Veterans and Families’ Directory of Services?

The Veterans and Families’ Directory of Services (VFDS) allows you to view the locations of veterans’ charities and services on a map. The services have been grouped into categories such as Education and Training, Employment, Finances etc., which are displayed as ‘map layers’, that you overlay onto the map to view.

There are two versions of the VFDS map. The first version is powered by RippleNami’s rWAVES application, and requires a login to access. It is through rWAVES that VFDS map data is managed and maintained. The rWAVES version of VFDS can be accessed HERE.

The second version of the VFDS map is powered by RippleNami’s rVIEW application. rVIEW is a simplified, view-only version of the rWAVES map that can be embedded into any website. This allows veterans and their families to access the Directory of Services to quickly and easily to locate and view information without restriction or requiring any login. rVIEW is available to the public via the Veterans’ Gateway website, HERE.

rWAVES provides the capability to upload and control the mapping content, which is then pushed to the rVIEW embedded map in real-time, with no website development needed to display the updates. If rVIEW is hosted in more than one website, all of the instances would be updated at the same time.

If you are interested in hosting the VFDS map in your website, please email Northumbria University’s Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families Research: hl.vsdsupport@northumbria.ac.uk.

Here is an example of the embedded VFDS map, powered by rVIEW (Live version available at https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/local-support)

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rWAVES

How to find and view services on the map

The short video below shows you how to navigate the menu of services within the rWAVES version of VFDS, select the map layers of services you wish to view, how to turn the map layers on and off, and to see the details about a service at a specific location.

Video:

Steps:

  1. To open the menu of service categories, click the down arrow in the top-left navigation bar.
  2. From the menu, select a category, subcategory, then the map layer of services you would like to view.
  3. Click the plus symbol to select the map layer of services. This adds that map layer to your Layer Tray.
  4. Open the Layer Tray by clicking on the icon in the upper right-hand corner.
  5. To turn a map layer on or off, click the bullet-point in front of the layer’s name.
  6. To view the details about a service at a location, click the icon on the map.

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How to submit feedback about services

VFDS allows you to easily submit feedback about services. Feedback topics include:

  • Register new service/report a service that is not mapped
  • Report data issues
  • Suggestion for a new function
  • Software Issue
  • General User Feedback

The short video below shows you how quickly and easily it is to submit feedback through the rWAVES version of VFDS:

Video:

Steps:

  1. Click the menu icon, represented by three horizontal lines, in the top-left navigation bar.
  2. Select ‘Contact Us’ from the side menu
  3. Complete your contact information
  4. Select a feedback topic from the dropdown list
  5. Enter your feedback as free-form text in the comments box
  6. Click ‘Submit’.

Our complete user guide can be found here: https://help.ripplenami.com

If you have further questions or need help, please submit an inquiry to support@ripplenami.com, we’re happy to help!

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Alfresco

The following Alfresco articles are for administrators of VFDS, who manage map data through RippleNami’s instance of Alfresco. If you are not an administrator, but have feedback about VFDS map data (such as incorrect or missing information), please email Northumbria University’s Northern Hub for Veterans and Military Families Research: hl.vsdsupport@northumbria.ac.uk.

What is Alfresco?

Alfresco is a content management and services platform. RippleNami’s instance of Alfresco connects directly to the rWAVES version of VFDS, allowing multiple administrator entities to upload, edit and manage VFDS map data for their region, without overriding the data of other regions. As updates are made to Alfresco, these are pushed to the VFDS map in real-time.

How to add a new charity/service to the VFDS Map using Alfresco?

Steps:

  1. Using the username and password supplied to you by RippleNami, sign in to Alfresco HERE.
  2. Upon logging in, you will be presented with your Site Dashboard. In the section Site Data Lists, click on the VFDS Location List:
  3. You will be presented with the list of services you are managing. Click on New Item
  4. You will be presented with the pop-up Create New Item. Complete the necessary information. Items marked with an asterisk* are compulsory:
  5. In the Category section, select the map layers that the organisation should appear on. If there is more than one category, hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and select each one:
  6. Enter the organisation’s latitude and longitude coordinates to be mapped. If you don’t know these, instructions for how to locate them can be found HERE.
  7. In the field Marker Link, enter the direct image URL of the map marker to display this organisation’s location on the map. Instructions regarding map markers can be found HERE.
  8. Click Save. 
  9. The new organisation will automatically be published to the VFDS map.

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Where do I find the VFDS map marker icons?

A map marker identifies a location on a map. VFDS uses an organisation’s logo, formatted in a specific way, as the map marker icon. The library of VFDS map marker icons can be found HERE.

The library of markers is in alphabetical order. You can browse the list, or search for a specific organisation’s map marker icon using the search field in the upper right-hand corner of the Alfresco screen. As you type, possible matches will appear in a drop-down list. Be sure to also check for acronyms when searching for markers:

To use one of these in your dataset, copy the direct image URL from the marker’s Description field and paste the URL into your organisation’s Marker Link field:

If you have an individual map marker icon page open, the Description will be found under Properties, in the lower right hand menu:

Before you use the URL in your data, first test it in a browser to be sure you have copied the right one. Copy and Paste the URL into a browser, and the image should display against a black screen, like this:

If your organisation’s map marker cannot be found, you will need to make one, upload it to the library and retrieve the direct image link to use in your dataset. Instructions for how to make a marker icon are below.

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How do I make a VFDS map marker icon?

VFDS map marker icons use an organisation’s logo. It must be formatted to these specifications:

  • Square in shape
  • Sized to be 150px by 150px
  • Includes a black border, 10px wide
  • JPG, JPEG or PNG format

At that small size, fine detail such as writing will not be discernible. To ensure that the logo is recognisable on the map, it is recommended that you take this into consideration when making the marker icon. For example:

Original Logo:

Map icon made from the full logo. The organisation will not be recognisable on the map:

Map icon made from edited logo. Much better for recognising on the map:

There are lots of different tools you can use to resize and format images. One of our favorites is Snagit by TechSmith.

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How do I upload my marker icon to Alfresco and generate a ‘direct image link’?

Steps:

  1. This is the template of the URL to make your Alfresco image publicly available. Copy it: 
  2. Upload your icon to the library of VFDS map marker icons
  3. Click the button to make the image publicly available.
  4. A popup will appear. Click View located to the right of the Public Link:
  5. You will be directed to a page displaying your icon image. The URL for the page will have a format like the image below. The last portion of the URL is the image ID. Copy just that portion of the URL:
  6. Paste your image ID into the portion of your Public Alfresco image link that you copied in step 1, replacing {{imageID}}. You can now use that direct image link as your organisation’s map marker icon: 
  7. Don’t forget to also add the direct image link into the description of your marker in the VFDS map marker library, so that it can easily accessed by everyone in future.

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RippleNami and GDPR

RippleNami is proud to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. More information about this can be found HERE.

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