Light Blue Software - Announcing Light Blue 3.1

Announcing Light Blue 3.1

Posted on Wednesday 4 May 2011

Released today, Light Blue 3.1 is a free update to all Light Blue 3 users that's packed full of new features for you and your business. From helping turn leads into bookings to keeping on top of your workload and sharing your calendar of events with your favourite calendar software, we've put a huge amount of work into helping your photography business by pushing Light Blue forward.


Live calendar feeds for hosting customers

We’ve now introduced a live feed of calendar data for users of our hosting service. This means that these users can now view their data in their calendar software (like iCal or Outlook) without having to remember to publish their data. These calendar feeds are live - users will be accessing diary information directly from our servers and they don't have to set up any publishing from Light Blue.


All of our existing hosting customers have been upgraded and told how to access their new calendar feeds. To find out more about the feeds and how you can use them in your own business, check out the video tutorial we've recorded, and our FAQs.


Task manager

Workflow and task management is one of the most important parts of the Light Blue v3.1 update. Light Blue has always had a strong set of task and workflow management features that help you to keep on top of your workload, but Light Blue v3.1 takes them to the next level by adding a dedicated task management section. Using the new task manager - which you can access directly from the top bar in Light Blue - it's much easier to focus on the tasks you want to concentrate on, as well as filter them by staff, or group them by date, shoot or member of staff. Selecting batches of tasks, rescheduling and marking your tasks as completed are all even simpler in the new task manager.


Find out more about Light Blue's new task manager in our new video tutorial.


Order workflow management

As well as introducing our new task management screen, we've brought in a whole set of order workflow features. These are particularly useful for larger studios which have multiple staff fulfilling orders, but will be helpful for all photographers who fulfil their own orders.


Order records now have a 'Tasks' tab that shows your outstanding to-do list for the order, and a history tab, listing the completed tasks for the order. If the order is linked to a shoot, the order's tasks also show up on the shoot's 'To do' tab, and of course they appear in the new task manager screen.


Products in your price lists can now have a workflow linked to them, and the steps in your workflows can have a supplier linked to them. When you add a product with a linked workflow as a new order line, the workflow is automatically linked to the order for you.


When you mark a task linked to an order as done, and other tasks with the same description for the same supplier are still outstanding for that order, you're asked if you want to mark those other tasks as done at the same time. (e.g. instead of clicking 'mark as done' for all of your "Send print order to the lab" tasks linked to the same order, you can just mark one of them as done then tell Light Blue to mark the rest for you).


We've added a new Quick Query to the Selection menu to help you quickly find orders with outstanding tasks and, when you mark the last task linked to an order as done, you're asked if you'd like to like to mark the order as ready for shipping or collection.


You can see the new order workflow features in action in our new video tutorial.


Manage your booking funnel with new contact statuses

We've added a new 'Status' field to your contact records so that you can easily see how far you've got with each of your leads. Contacts are automatically given a status if you've set their 'Type' field to "Client".


Status types

Client: you've booked and confirmed a shoot for this contact.

Strong lead: you've got an unconfirmed shoot linked to this contact.

Lead awaiting action: you haven't booked a shoot for this contact yet, but you've got an outstanding task for them.

Lead: you haven't done anything with this contact yet.

Expired lead: you've got a cancelled shoot or some completed tasks linked to this client, but no outstanding tasks.


We've added the 'Status' field to the Contact list view, as well new Quick Queries in the Selection menu to help you quickly pull up lists of leads for further action.


If you'd like to see more about the new status field, have a look at our new video tutorial.


Exporting data

We've made exporting data from Light Blue simpler and easier to understand and use. The 'Export Records…' command in the File menu still gives you the option of using FileMaker's powerful export records command, but we've added default sets of fields that will export the data that you're likely to want to work with to save you some hassle.


We've updated the video tutorial on exporting data to show you how the new, simpler system in Light Blue v3.1 works.


FileMaker Go!

Light Blue on the iPad and iPhone now requires v1.2.1 of FileMaker Go!, which is a free update to version 1 available from the App Store.


FileMaker Go! now uses the same built-in invoice templates that the desktop version of Light Blue uses. You can print your invoice directly from your iOS device (requires an AirPrint-compatible printer), or create a PDF that is attached to an email for you or saved so that you can access it via iTunes. Mac users who want to use Printer Sharing rather than an AirPrint-compatible printer might want to investigate this web site.


FileMaker Go! should only require your account name and password when first connecting to your hosted copy of Light Blue, rather than every time you switch back to the app. To enable this feature in your copy of FileMaker Go!, go into the FileMaker Go! settings screen and switch 'Auto-Restore Login' on.


Built-in calendar

We've added a 'Hide enquiries' option to the built-in calendar, as well as an 'Only my events' button in the filters dialog to help you focus your attention on only the shoots and meetings that have been assigned to you.


Calendar publishing

For iCal and Google Calendar publishing, if you change the name of the calendar you're publishing to we warn you that you might need to reset your calendar sync data in Light Blue in case you're publishing to a new calendar.


Workflows can now be added to contacts

Does what it says on the tin.


Tasks can be added to the current set of shoots or contacts

If you want to add a task to the whole current set of shoots or contacts (e.g. a reminder to follow up on a set of leads) you can do so from the Records menu when you're viewing either the Contacts or Shoots list.


Rescheduling tasks when the shoot date changes

If you change the start date of a shoot, all of its outstanding tasks are also rescheduled. Meetings are not affected.


Importing & exporting workflows

You can now import and export workflows, in much the same way that importing & exporting price lists already works.


Keyboard short cuts

You can now use Command-Shift-N (or Control-Shift-N on Windows) to add new lines to records. This works for:

  • Shoots (links a contact)
  • Orders (adds a new order line)
  • Payments
  • Purchases
  • Price lists
  • Requests templates
  • Schedule templates
  • Workflows

Picture thumbnails

Thumbnails for processed image files linked to a shoot are created as soon as you import the images into Light Blue, instead of waiting for you to generate a web gallery.


New quick queries

  • Shoots in this or the last financial year.
  • Added month, quarter and year queries to the Payments section of the Quick Queries menu.

Shoots

The drop-down menu attached to the 'Role' field for contacts linked to shoots is now based on the data you've entered, rather than being a pre-defined menu.


The 'Generate previews' and 'Generate web gallery' buttons on the Pictures tab didn't ask you for a prefix when renaming your images if you haven't already imported pictures for that shoot. Fixed.


The list of images linked to a shoot now displays in name order, rather than the order they were imported in.


Cancelling a shoot could delete some of the shoot's history, as well as outstanding tasks. This has been fixed.


Orders & invoicing

The "$x outstanding. Payment due by xx/yy/zz" text on invoices can now be switched off on the 'Invoicing' panel of the 'Settings' screen.


The 'mark this order as shipped?' prompt that appears after you invoice an order is now optional, and defaults to off. You can switch it on again on the 'Invoicing' panel of the Settings screen.


The addresses that appear on our built-in invoice templates have been moved so that they're in the right place for DL envelopes with address windows.


The date fields that you can use to track the progress of your orders (e.g. 'Order placed', 'Order ready') no longer complain if you try to edit them when the order has been invoiced.


Misc

Fixed a glitch that could stop a shoot or meeting from appearing in the built-in calendar or getting published to iCal or Google Calendar.


The 'Default mode' setting for calendars is now respected.


Custom field headings now appear in Find Mode.


Windows' habit of de-maximising a window when you open a dialog on top of it should be less irritating now.


You can now group a printed list of purchases by supplier.


The 'Find/Replace' menu command has been removed from the 'Edit' menu because users were confusing it with the 'Replace Field Contents…' command in the 'Records' menu.


Some of the web gallery templates shipped with Light Blue v3.0 have been updated. The slideshow, small squares and large squares templates which include e-commerce now remember where you were in the gallery when you click back from the 'Buy this image' page to the main gallery.


US-style dates now have commas in them when you use the long version in mail-merges (e.g. Friday, 1 April, 2011).


Our North American users now have "inquiries" in their copy of Light Blue, rather than "enquiries".


The 'Tax inclusive' setting now defaults to "No" for North American users when you're setting up Light Blue for the first time.


We've added a %scheduleAddressLandline% mail-merge tag that you can use when mail-merging shoot schedules. The %orderlegaltext% mail-merge tag now works properly.


The contact history tab now sorts correctly when you have several items for the same day.


If Light Blue doesn't have read/write access to its data file, you're now warned about this when you launch it rather than confronted with scary error messages.


When you add a new contact linked to a Purchase record, a blank address is automatically added to the contact and your cursor is taken straight to the 'Company name' field rather than the 'First name' field. i.e. we're assuming that you're most likely trying to create a record for a company rather than an individual.


The financial total fields that appear on contact records have been made wider. Now you can bask in the glory of those enormous orders your clients are placing, rather than seeing a question mark where that nice big number should be appearing.


You won't see 'Logged in as Joe Bloggs' appearing by default any more.


If you try to generate a web gallery on Windows and you haven't installed QuickTime, the error message you see is more helpful.


The 'Modify Last Find…' menu command now takes you to the detail view if you use it on a list view.


Find mode now goes to the list view if more than one record is found by your query.


The unpaid amount has been added to the grouped version of the printed list of orders.


Clicking the 'Reschedule' button when a meeting is selected now brings up the 'edit meeting' dialog.


Fixed an issue where Light Blue's daily backups would fail (with an appropriately scary warning message) if your archive folder is located in a home folder on OS X that's using FileVault encryption.

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