As you know, Turf Cutter is one of the most popular and powerful tools in VAN. It has contributed significant efficiencies to the way in which Democratic field programs are run and managed by allowing users to develop customized lists for voter contact simply by encircling households or individuals on a map with polygons, forming the basis for printed and MiniVAN lists.
We believe the changes to Turf Cutter are consistent with its inherent value to campaigns, while greatly advancing the speed and intuitiveness of the feature. Please see a detailed list of its new features below, many of which originate from system users as suggestions and requests.
Introducing Auto Cut
Field organizers have dreamed of a feature that would magically cut Turf for them. As a company filled with former campaign staffers, we can relate. The new Auto Cut Turf function realizes this dream by adding an option to divide the Map Region automatically by equal numbers of addresses by Turf or grouping addresses close to each other. Turf Cutter will do the rest.
Although the Auto Cut feature may not know local geography as well as you, the ability to edit Turf polygons drawn the by Auto Cut feature means that users can quickly tweak and modify Auto Cut Turfs in a snap, saving even more time in creating canvassing packets.
Working in Turf Cutter
Existing Turf Cutter: I'm too limited by size restrictions
For years we've heard that the 2,500 household limit on the Turf Cutter Map Region was too restrictive. In some parts of the country, campaigns don't necessarily draw Turf by precinct and require a larger universe; and for those that do, some precincts contain far greater than 2,500 households.
New Turf Cutter: Let's increase the Map Region size
The first release of new Turf Cutter will increase the household Map Region limit to 5,000 households. We are working on a plan to increase that number even higher, but for now, the new limit doubles the browser capacity for voter households.
Existing Turf Cutter: Zooming is cumbersome
It's true. The user needs to adjust the embedded zoom scale on the Google map in order to zoom in and out of the desired area of the Map Region while most online mapping tools have offered alternatives to the zoom scale.
New Turf Cutter: Additional Zooming Options
We've kept the zoom scale but new Turf Cutter will also permit users to move the mouse scroll wheel at any point to zoom in and out, and they can also double-click when not in drawing mode to zoom in.
Existing Turf Cutter: It's difficult to see household and voter totals in the same place
Users have long-complained about being able to view counts of voters as they draw individual Turfs. Although the existing Turf Cutter helpfully tallies the number of Doors in a Turf, it hides the total number of voters until you save all individual Turfs and examine the Folder where the Turf is saved.
New Turf Cutter: Door and People Toggle
New Turf Cutter places a toggle option for 'Doors, People and Both' so it's crystal clear how large you're constructing each Turf. Additionally, users can collapse the Legend view of already created Turfs. However, the number of assigned Doors/People should always be visible. Finally, scrolling over any Turf in the Legend will highlight the entirety of the Turf on the Map.
Existing Turf Cutter: Sure, it's fast but it could be faster
We agree. The workflow for drawing Turf in the existing Turf Cutter tool involves lots of clicking but also saving each Turf in a dropdown, one by one, until you're finished drawing. Over the years, we made drawing the Turf easier by adding an 'indicator' line and sub-totaling the household size, but undoing a Turf is still precarious and making minor edits is almost impossible.
New Turf Cutter: Movable Turf Lines
First, we've eliminated the notion of saving each Turf using the dropdown fields. Once you click the starting point of your Turf, it automatically saves and appears in the Legend. If you want to delete it, simply click the little trash can icon that appears to the right of each Turf when moving your cursor over the saved Turf in the Legend. Users can still undo the last click by selecting the green 'Undo' arrow at the top of the Map Region page.
However, if you want to edit a Turf polygon, highlight the polygon in the map region; the perimeter of the Turf polygon will update to display individual segments connected by movable boxes; simply grab a segment box and move it, thereby changing the shape and size of the Turf polygon. It's that easy.
What else do I need to know?
Turfs produced in the existing Turf Cutter and saved into Folders will automatically be available in the new Turf Cutter. Additionally, the Auto Cut feature will be available by a new security function, distributed to administrators, and can be added to User Profiles at their discretion. We'll also be updating our Help Wiki in the coming days, including with brief instructional videos on the tool.
We hope you're as excited as we are about these changes. We've taken an already powerful tool and made it a whole lot more useful and time-saving.