Light Blue wins ‘best business app’ award at software developer conference

Light Blue is built using a variety of software development tools, and one of the most important is Xojo. Xojo allows us to produce native apps that run on macOS, Windows, and iOS, but also to share a lot of those apps’ important logic between all of those platforms. That reduces the time it takes us to develop new features, and ensures that everything works consistently no matter which platform you’re using Light Blue on.

We’re very pleased to have been awarded the ‘best business app’ prize at this year’s Xojo Developer Conference. Tom was able to accept the award in person, and we’re delighted to have won an award in such a competitive field.

Light Blue 6.1.4: an important update for Mac users

Apple released macOS Sierra last week, and by most accounts it’s a good, stable update to macOS. We’ve heard very little about incompatibilities and Light Blue is running well on it, with one potential snag.
Sierra introduces a new iCloud feature called Desktop & Documents sync. This moves the contents of your Desktop and Documents into iCloud and syncs them across all of the devices that are linked to your iCloud account. While it’s convenient for a lot of Mac users, photographers might find this a bit problematic in that if you’ve got a lot of data in these folders (big piles of RAW files all over your Desktop, anyone?) then you’ll quickly run into iCloud’s storage limits unless you upgrade to one of Apple’s more expensive iCloud plans. You can find out more about how these feature works (including some scary things that can happen while setting it up, or turning this feature off again) here.
More importantly, this new synchronisation feature has the potential to interfere with Light Blue’s own data and file syncing. Therefore, we’ve released an update that moves Light Blue’s data folder to a location that won’t be affected by this feature.
All you need to do to ensure that your copy of Light Blue 6 doesn’t run into this potential problem is to update to version 6.1.4, and we strongly recommend that you do so before upgrading your Mac to Sierra. Light Blue 6.1.4 will automatically move its data folder to a new, safer location:  ~/Library/Application Support/com.lightbluesoftware.lightblue/
This new data folder location is less convenient for anyone who wants to manually create or restore backups, but avoids any potential problems caused by this new iCloud feature.

You can update to Light Blue 6.1.4 b1 by using the ‘Check for Updates’ command, which can be found in the Light Blue menu on a Mac or in the Help menu on Windows.

Versions of Light Blue older than Light Blue 6 store their data in a different location, and aren’t affected by this new iCloud feature.

Using ShootProof with Light Blue at Boggio Studios

Earlier this year, we launched Light Blue 6.1 and were delighted to be able to introduce integration with ShootProof. ShootProof provides stylish online galleries that beautifully showcase your work, and intuitive sales tools that help you to sell your images to clients. They’re also leading the way with allowing developers like us to automatically gather information about customer orders. With this new integration, anyone who subscribes to our online services can have notifications of new ShootProof orders automatically sent through to the Inbox in Light Blue, from where you can seamlessly import them, without having to re-enter anything.

Our friends at ShootProof got together with London photographer Julia Boggio recently to talk about how both Light Blue and ShootProof are key parts of her business, and how Light Blue streamlines all of the invoicing, bookkeeping, and management processes involved in dealing with ShootProof orders.

If you’d like to find out more about Light Blue’s integration with ShootProof, Ian’s recorded a short tutorial that walks you through how to set it up and start receiving ShootProof orders in Light Blue’s Inbox.

Importing purchases from a spreadsheet

It’s all very well recording your income, but unless you also have your expenditure in the same system then you can’t see how profitable your business is.

The advantage of managing your photography business in Light Blue is that everything linked together. It allows you to quickly & easily run reports on the financial state of your business, something we discussed in more detail in an earlier article.

You may have previously recorded your business’ expenditure in another system, or perhaps you’re using some receipt scanning software that produces a spreadsheet of purchases. Alternatively, you may have recurring expenditure in the form of subscriptions or regular purchases.

We introduced a really handy feature in Light Blue 6 which allows you to create many purchase records in one go by importing from a spreadsheet file (.csv). It’s a huge time saver when you’ve got lots of expenditure records to add at once.

Here’s an example of how to format your CSV file, you’ll notice that each line of the spreadsheet represents a new purchase, with the details about that purchase recorded in separate columns.


The formatting of dates and numbers is quite important. You must make sure that dates are written as dd/mm/yyyy (separated with slashes and using 4 figures for the year). You don’t need to include the currency symbol for financial amounts, just the number.

Importing this spreadsheet into Light Blue is really straightforward:


You can choose which fields in Light Blue will correspond to the columns in your CSV file & drag to re-order them:


Once you click import, Light Blue will create a new purchase record for each of the lines in the CSV file, as well as a payment record for the date that you indicated the purchase was paid for.


All of your expenditure data is now in one place with just a few clicks. It’s ideal if you’re moving from an old system or have a record of your purchases in another format.

Light Blue 6.1.3

We regularly release free updates to Light Blue that tweak existing features and fix bugs. Today, we released Light Blue 6.1.3 for Mac OS X and Windows.

If you’re one of our subscribers, or if you’ve bought a standalone licence for Light Blue 6, you can download this latest update by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command from within Light Blue. If you’re using a Mac, you’ll find this command in the ‘Light Blue’ menu. If you’re using Windows, it will be in the ‘Help’ menu.

Light Blue 6.1.3 includes the following changes:

  • Forms that have been submitted but not imported into Light Blue can now be printed via the linked shoot’s Activity panel.
  • Fixed a problem where some mail-merge tags that contained special characters could fail to work properly in contracts.
  • We’ve changed the “Your details” heading in our sample wedding booking forms to “Wedding couple’s details”.
  • You can now use all of the usual date options when using the ‘Email Date’ field in the query dialog.
  • Appointments that have been created but not linked to any other records can now be edited via the calendar.
  • Fixed a problem that could prevent our licence agreement from being displayed on Windows.
  • Fixed a problem that could occur when trying to link a shoot that doesn’t exist to a purchase item.
  • Fixed a problem that could prevent you from importing an MPA Cherubs data file that contains inconsistent data.
  • When you delete incoming data via the Inbox, any associated form is now always deleted as well.
  • Fixed a problem where, on Windows, changing the price list in a sale or quote item dialog failed to take effect until the dialog was closed and reopened.
  • We’ve fixed any unexpected quits that have been reported to us.

We’ve also been continuing to update our client portal, and have recently made the following changes live:

  • Required fields are more prominent and, if they haven’t all been filled in, an explanation is included next to the disabled ‘Submit’ button.
  • ‘Wedding Couple’ controls on forms now always require two contacts to be added.
  • Added a drop-down menu to time controls, to make it easier for clients to enter times correctly.
  • When a client adds new contacts to a form, they now appear in the correct order in Light Blue Inbox and in the email that’s sent to you.
  • When using a popup contact form, clicking the ‘Submit’ button scrolls you back to the top of the page to ensure that the thank you page is visible.
  • Popup contact forms are now reloaded if you close and reopen them.

One-to-one training and consultancy

To help photographers get the most out of Light Blue, we offer a range of training and support resources to suit a wide variety of needs:

Some photographers prefer a different approach, so we also offer a one-to-one service that allows us to offer training, setup, or consultancy that’s specifically tailored to your needs. We use screen-sharing software that allows us to work with you and your copy of Light Blue wherever you are in the world, and the session can be customised to cover anything that you need help with. For example, recent sessions have included:

  • Helping photographers set up all of the resources and processes for easily handling enquiries and managing your shoots.
  • Helping identify what information you find useful for running your business, including setting up helpful reports & queries.
  • In-depth training on specific aspects of using Light Blue effectively for your business, such as how to handle specific invoicing and bookkeeping scenarios.
  • Training for new employees, to quickly bring them up to speed on using Light Blue effectively.

Prices for one-to-one training and consultancy start at just £35 (plus VAT, where applicable) for a half hour session. If you’d like to book a session, or to discuss the possibilities, please get in touch via email.

Compatibility with macOS Sierra and iOS 10

In a couple of weeks, Apple are going to be releasing macOS Sierra (yes, they really have stopped called it “Mac OS X”) and iOS 10. Because many of our customers like to upgrade their Macs, iPhones, and iPads as soon as new operating systems become available, we’ve been testing the latest versions of our apps with both new operating systems.

The good news is that Light Blue 6.1.2 seems to work well with macOS Sierra, and our new iOS app appears to be working well with iOS 10. However, we can never be entirely sure that Apple won’t change something before the release of either operating system, so please read on for the important health warning…

Health warning

As with all major operating system updates, it is a very sensible idea to be cautious about updating all of your computers and mobile devices at the same time. Although our testing of Light Blue 6 and version 3 of our iOS app has been positive so far, there is every chance that Apple could change something that breaks compatibility or that we’ve missed something because we can’t test every conceivable combination of devices and settings.

If you rely on Light Blue to run your business, we would therefore recommend holding off from updating your operating system as soon as the latest versions of macOS and iOS come out. At the very least, if you absolutely must update on day one, make sure that you have at least one computer and iOS device on the ‘old’ operating system until you’ve had a chance to test that all of the features that you depend on are fully functional.

Also, please note that our testing has been has been focussed on the latest versions of our desktop and mobile app. The vast majority of our customers are already using Light Blue 6.1.2 and version 3 of our iOS app, and if you’re using older version of either the desktop or mobile app then please update to the latest version to ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all of the new features and bug fixes that we’ve been adding. You can update the desktop app by using the ‘Check for updates’ command (in the ‘Light Blue’ menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the ‘Help’ menu if you’re using it on Windows), and you can update the iOS app via the App Store.

Light Blue for iOS, version 3.0


We’re pleased to announce a major update to our iOS app, Light Blue for iOS 3.0, which brings huge improvements to Light Blue for iPhone and iPad users.

Helping you to run your photography business on the go

Version 3 of our mobile app has been rewritten to be faster, easier to use, and bring across some of the most popular features from the Mac OS X and Windows versions of Light Blue. The feedback from our beta testers has been excellent, and we’re very happy to be able to give all of our customers access to the new app today.

As well as a comprehensive redesign, one of the major improvements in the new app is that it syncs your data without interrupting your ability to use the app. This means that, if you need to look something up quickly, you can just dip into the app and do so without having to wait for it to finish syncing your latest changes. It also means that, as soon as you make any changes, they’re synced straight back up to your Light Blue account without you having to remember to manually trigger a sync.

Of course, syncing the app with your account requires an internet connection, but connectivity can be hard to come by when you’re out on a shoot or at a meeting. The beauty of Light Blue being an app rather than a service that you use via a website is that all of your data is stored on your iPhone or iPad, and that you can carry on using it even when you don’t have an internet connection or find yourself with poor data coverage. Any changes that you make while you’re offline are saved locally, and when you get back into mobile or wifi coverage then you can just launch the app again to sync any changes you made while you were offline up to your account.

Our new mobile app includes many new and improved features, but here’s a quick overview of some of the most important additions.


Adding a calendar view was one of the most popular feature requests for our mobile app, and this update includes a really helpful one. The calendar gives you a great overview of your bookings and enquiries, and brings over all of the colour-coding of events that you set up in the desktop version of Light Blue so you can quickly see what kind of bookings you’ve got on any given day.

You can also add events directly to the calendar, which makes it easy to search through your diary for an available date and book new enquiries in when you’re out of the office.


Task manager

Light Blue’s task manager is now available in our mobile app, allowing you to keep on top of your to-do list when you’re out and about. You can also schedule in new tasks (including using workflows to quickly add a whole series of tasks to a shoot), so if inspiration strikes when you’re out and about then you can quickly set up reminders from within the app.


Contracts & forms

One of Light Blue’s most popular features is our online contract & booking form system, and our new mobile app lets you publish contracts and forms from your iPhone or iPad. You can have these contracts & forms emailed to your client, just like you do from the desktop app, or you can open them up right there on your device.

So, if you’re at a meeting with a client and they decide to book you, you can add one of your contract templates to that client’s shoot, open up the published contract on your iPad, and hand it over to your client so that they can sign it right there and then. Our beta testers tell us that doing this with the Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro is particularly impressive in client meetings.

Because our online contracts and forms are hosted on our servers, you’ll need an internet connection to be able to use these features in our mobile app.


Publishing invoices

Our new app can also make use of Light Blue’s online invoice payment service, so you can create invoices in the app and send them to your client for payment online.

This great feature allows you invoice a client for a job as soon as you’ve finished it, maybe even before you’ve left the location. You’ve got access to all of the price lists that you’ve set up in the desktop app, so it’s quick and easy to build an invoice without having to go back into the office.


Light Blue’s Inbox is used to turn messages you’ve received from your contact form into a new enquiry, accept signed contracts, and process payments that have been made online. All of these features have been brought over to our new mobile app, which allows you to handle even more of your admin quickly and easily while you’re on the road.

For example, if you’ve got your contact form set up to send new messages to your Light Blue account, you can use the Inbox on your iPhone to create a new Shoot record when a new enquiry comes in. You can then use one of the email templates that you’ve set up in the desktop version of Light Blue to quickly respond to your prospective client by creating a new email in Apple’s Mail app.

One feature that we haven’t been able to bring across from the desktop app’s Inbox is importing emails, because iOS apps are tightly controlled and isolated from each other and therefore we can’t import emails from the Mail app. However, we’re working on plans that might eventually allow us to add this feature in a future update.

And much more…

These are just a few of the most important improvements that we’ve made in our new iOS app. You can find out more, and see it in action, in some of the new video tutorials that we’ve recorded:

We’ll also be going into more detail in our webinars. You can find a list of our forthcoming webinars, plus recordings of previous ones, in the Help section of our website.

How to get it

Our new iOS app is available to all of our subscribers via the App Store. You can either use this link to go straight to the app, or search for it by its full name: “Light Blue – business management software for photographers”. If you already have the old app installed, you can upgrade to the new version via the App Store (or if you’ve turned on automatic updates, it might already have been upgraded for you!).

The app is a free download from the App Store, but requires a subscription to our online services. Each iPhone and iPad you connect to your Light Blue account counts towards the number of devices on your account. For example, if you want to use Light Blue on a desktop computer, a laptop, an iPhone, and an iPad, that’s a total of four devices so you’ll need to be on our plan that allows you to use up to five devices on your account.

You can upgrade your subscription to add more devices by logging into your account on our website and using the “change your number of devices” link.

What about Android?

Although most of our customers seem to prefer using iPhones and iPads, we’re very keen to make Light Blue available on as many mobile devices as possible.

Previously, it’s been very hard for a small team like ours to produce apps for Android as well as iOS. However, one of the main reasons why we’ve undertaken this huge project to rewrite our iOS app is because we wanted to lay the groundwork for making Light Blue available on Android.

You can read more about our plans for Android in this blog post.

Bringing Light Blue to Android

Although most of our customers seem to prefer using iPhones and iPads, we’re very keen to make Light Blue available on as many mobile devices as possible. Currently, it’s only available on iOS, but we are planning to bring Light Blue to Android.

Our original iOS app was written by a team of external developers and, although it had some useful features, both us and our customers had a long list of frustrations with it.

One of our key frustrations was that the app was written in a way that would make it hard to bring it to Android. Android development is already more problematic than building iOS apps for a number of reasons, including the wide variety of devices that it runs on, the fact that many of those devices aren’t able to be upgraded to the latest versions of Android, and that we weren’t able to reuse any of the code that we’d built for our Mac OS X, Windows, or iOS apps. For a small team like ours, we have to concentrate our resources on building features that benefit the majority of our customers, and that meant prioritising iOS ahead of Android because Android development was so much more difficult for us.

Our new iOS app has been developed entirely in-house, and rewritten from the ground up. This has allowed us to rebuild it in a way that should make it more feasible for us to build an Android app that shares many of the same features. Once we’ve finished launching our new iOS app and the forthcoming Light Blue 7 desktop app, we’re hoping to be able to start working on bringing our mobile app to Android.

As always, we can’t make any promises about future features, including release dates. Building our new iOS app was a huge project, and bringing it to Android is going to be an even bigger challenge. There’s a lot that can go wrong with a project like this, and we’re going to be dependent on a lot of factors that are outside our control.

However, we want to remind our Android-using customers that they’re important to us, and that we’re keen to make sure that you’ll be able to access Light Blue via your mobile devices. We’re working hard towards that goal, and our new iOS app is a big step towards that.

Exporting data from Light Blue

Throughout this short series of articles, we’ve been covering how to make the most out of the information that you’ve already entered into Light Blue.

There’s a few different ways of finding useful information that’s already in Light Blue, both with Quick Queries and creating your own more specific searches using the Query Dialog. Once you’ve found the data you’re looking for, you can step back and look at the bigger picture using List View.

But there’s even more that you can do to make the most out of the valuable data in Light Blue, and in this article we’ll have a look at exporting information from Light Blue for use with third-party tools.

Finding the information you need

Before you export anything from Light Blue, you’ll need to find the records that you’re interested in. These could be within one of the Quick Queries (the saved searches in each of the main sections in Light Blue), a more detailed search that you’ve performed using the Query Dialog, or the result of one of the Custom Reports you’ve saved.

Simple PDFs

Clicking the Print/Send in the toolbar while you’re using List View allows you to produce a simple PDF of the results of your search. It’s read-only, but that’s still useful for getting a snapshot of your data.


More flexibility…

There may be occasions when you want to export a specific set of fields from your search, perhaps to import into a spreadsheet in Excel.

Clicking File > Export… opens a dialog similar to the Customise List View dialog we looked at in the last article. Here you can specify which fields of data you’d like to export (and in which order).


That will produce a CSV file (a simple spreadsheet) of the selected information from the records in your list.

You may be exporting the same information on a regular basis, and want to keep the format consistent. Saving a field set means that you can load the selected fields (and their order) again in the future, so you don’t have to remember which fields you were exporting.


If you want to send out a large email newsletter to a list of your contacts, using a service like Mail Chimp for example, you can export a list of email addresses at the click of a button. This produces a CSV file which you can upload/import into whichever application you’re using.


Finally, when preparing information for your accountant, there’s a really handy ‘Export Financial Information’ command. Once you’ve specified the period you’d like to cover (last financial year, for example), Light Blue will save a number of CSVs which you can send over to your accountant, without having to spend ages setting anything up!


Light Blue making your life easier

Because all of your information is in one place, making use of it is really simple. There’s no need to spend ages collating the data, to be copying and pasting things, or doing anything complicated, and because reports & queries pull up your live data, you’re always seeing the most up to date information.

You can use everything you’ve entered into Light Blue to give you an overview of how your business is performing and where you need to focus your efforts so that you can hit your goals!