Posted on Monday 10 January 2011
Light Blue v3 has been released, with tons of new features, including interfaces for the iPhone and iPad, brand-new calendars, line-level tax, invoice thumbnails, and much, much more.
iPhone and iPad interfaces
One of the questions we get asked most often is 'Can I take Light Blue with me on my iPhone or iPad?'. We've always loved the idea, but up to now there have been too many technical barriers to releasing an iOS version - FileMaker's database format simply didn't play nicely with anything which ran in iOS.
However, earlier this year, FileMaker launched FileMaker Go, which lets you run FileMaker databases on an iPhone or iPad running iOS 4. We've taken full advantage of this, and from Light Blue v3 you'll be able to take your copy of Light Blue with you. The iPhone and iOS interfaces we've designed for Light Blue let you access your most important information on the go, letting you concentrate on the basics of running your business while you're out and about without getting distracted by unnecessary complexity.
Unlike other providers of photography business management software, the iOS features are built in to the release of v3, and there's no extra charge for them. The only thing you'll have to pay for is a copy of FileMaker Go from the App store (currently $19.99/£11.99 for the iPhone and $39.99/£23.99 for the iPad).
Another favourite question is 'Can I access my copy of Light Blue when I'm on the road?'. Our response has always been 'Yes, but you'll need to find a company to host it for you, explain to them what it is you want to do and get it set up'. Our new response is 'Yes, of course, we'll host it for you; it's really easy'.
As of Light Blue v3, we'll be able to host your data for you on our dedicated servers in London. This isn't 'cloud' software that you can only access through a web browser - you still have all of the benefits of a system designed to work closely with your computer, but you'll be able to access it from any of your computers that have an internet connection. We'll look after your data, including backing it up for you and ensuring you've got the most up-to-date version of Light Blue v3, and all you need to do is install the copy of FileMaker Pro that you’ll get from us as part of your hosting setup.
For the single-user version of Light Blue v3, hosting will be optional - you'll be able to run Light Blue either as a standalone piece of desktop software on your Mac or PC, or we can host it for you. We'll only be selling the multi-user version with a hosting package, which means that new multi-user setups will be much, much easier to install.
Of course, the hosted version will play nicely with our new iPhone and iPad interfaces.
New built-in calendar
The built-in calendar in Light Blue has been completely redesigned and now features time slots, colour coding and resource management as well as day, week, month and schedule views.
Improved tax handling
Anyone who sells different products and services at different tax rates will love the new tax-related features in Light Blue v3. If you're based in the UK, we've also added a VAT report that will calculate the totals you need for your quarterly VAT returns.
Picture thumbnails on invoices
If you're using Light Blue to manage your image files, v3 will include thumbnails of the pictures your clients have ordered on its built-in invoice templates.
Bulk contact importing and de-duplication
If you're buying leads or importing them from another system, our new de-duplication system will help you to keep your data clean and avoid sending multiple emails or mail shots to the same contact.
US time formatting
Our American users will be pleased with the new 12-hour clock option so that they don't have to put up with the bizarre "military time" 24-hour clock that the rest of the world uses.
New reporting features
We've added some new Quick Reports in v3. Aged debtors and creditors reports have been added, alongside a new report that totals up the amount earned from each shoot for each of your members of staff. Mileage reports now total up the amount of mileage done for each mileage rate, which is useful for your tax returns.
Shoot schedule & requests templates and mail-merging
Anyone organising complicated shoots - whether they're weddings or corporate jobs involving lots of locations - is already using Light Blue's schedule & requests features to keep their shoots organised. v3 adds templates that let you quickly apply a standard schedule or set of requests to a shoot, and even lets you customise them once you've applied a template.
Light Blue v3 now includes mail-merge tags for schedules & requests so that you can include them in your own branded communications, along with sample templates to get you up-and-running.
Contact and shoot enhancements
Customisable contact & shoot references. You can now edit the automatically assigned reference numbers for your contacts and shoots to fit your existing numbering system, or you can just stick with the numbers automatically assigned by Light Blue.
When you're linking a new contact to a record, Light Blue automatically processes what you're typed into the search dialog to save you having to re-type the contact's details.
Social networking links. Everyone's using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so Light Blue v3 lets you access your contacts' profiles directly from their record.
Contacts can now be assigned direct line numbers for each address you've added to them, as well as the main phone number that belongs to the address.
You can include warnings about particular contacts in Light Blue v3. These warnings will appear wherever you're able to link a contact to another record, so you'll know if any particular contacts need special treatment.
Each type of shoot can be given a default length, so when your staff are booking in new shoots they don't have to remember how much time you need to allow for them.
The next task for your shoots is shown in list view and on the Summary screen to give you a quick overview of what needs to be done next.
The 'Show all records' command now excludes cancelled shoots by default.
Other new features and changes include…
We've added new, super-slick web gallery templates for you in Light Blue v3, all including shopping carts for selling prints online.
You can export the contents of your price lists into standard file formats, as well as import a set of products into one of your existing price lists.
The 'Staff' list has been replaced by a generic 'Resources' list that lets you manage rooms and equipment as well as the staff in your business.
Orders that have been invoiced now put up a warning before letting you edit them. The same applies to payments or purchases that have been included in a VAT return.
Duplicating an order or purchase now duplicates the lines that make up the order or purchase.
You can choose different names for the 'processed' and 'unprocessed' folders in the shoot folders that Light Blue creates to manage your image files. You can also choose to omit the date of the shoot from the default name Light Blue gives your shoot folders.
Email signatures that are automatically added to all of the emails you send from Light Blue. When sending emails, Light Blue automatically warns you if you mention attachments in your email but haven't included any.
Enhancements to the iCal syncing options, including an option to only sync events to iCal and improved handling of situations where lots of events or tasks have been deleted from either Light Blue or iCal.
Improved mail-merging, with searchable lists of document templates and the ability to include more than one table in your templates (for example, a table containing the shoot schedule and another containing the list of client requests in the same template).
You can now customise the range of shoots that are included in the 'Current shoots & meetings' list on the Summary screen.
Searching Light Blue has been sped up throughout the application.
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