Light Blue 7.1.3

We’ve released Light Blue 7.1.3, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 7.

  • When you’re publishing a contract or form but not sending an email to your client, you can now open the contract or form in your browser as well as copying its URL to the clipboard.
  • The “Print/Send” checkbox in the print dialog now defaults to whatever you last set it to, so if you prefer to create invoices without printing them then you no longer need to un-check that box every time.
  • Added a 24 hour option to the built-in calendar’s week and day views.
  • If an email doesn’t already have attachments, you can now drag attachments onto the ‘Add Attachment’ button. You could already drag attachments into the list of existing attachments.
  • In the query dialog, you can now search on incoming data fields when you’re querying for shoots.
  • You can now query for records that have notes, tasks, or documents that are linked to a particular member of staff.
  • Added %ContactBirthDateDay%, %ContactBirthDateMonth%, and %ContactBirthDateYear% mail-merge tags.
  • Added support for detecting forwarded messages from the iOS version of Mail and the macOS version of Outlook.
  • The dialog for setting up sending a batch of text messages now closes automatically after you send or schedule your messages.
  • When you open the appointment editing dialog, the cursor will default to the start time field if the appointment doesn’t already have a start time.
  • If your country setting is set to one of France’s international territories, we now apply the French address format.
  • Fixed a problem where pasting text into an HTML editor on Windows could paste it in the wrong place.
  • Fixed a problem where you couldn’t paste formatted text into an HTML editor.
  • Fixed a problem that meant that you could only drag-reorder form fields if you kept your mouse near the left hand edge of the list of fields.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where tabbing into an HTML editor required hitting the Tab key twice.
  • Fixed a problem where reschedule tasks that are scheduled for the same day could fail to reschedule some of those tasks.
  • On some dates, the “Last 12 months” date range in Charts view could show the wrong results.
  • Fixed a problem with the HTML editor that could make it hard to add a space in a specific place.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when opening the Charts view.
  • Fixed a bug where the %ShootRequests% mail-merge tag didn’t include some requests.

Light Blue for iOS, version 4.0

This update brings more of the desktop version of Light Blue’s features over to iOS, including lots of the features that we added in Light Blue 7:

• Light Blue’s optional password protection feature now works on iOS, and if you have a device that supports Face ID or Touch ID you can use that to quickly and securely log into the app.

• The app’s built-in calendar can now display events from the Calendars app, to make it easier to schedule your shoots and appointments around your personal commitments.

• Incoming emails and text messages are now included in the Inbox, and you can use them to create new enquiries.

• The Inbox can now display items that are more than 28 days old.

• You can now trash and restore records from the main sections in the iOS app, just like you can in Light Blue 7. You can access the trash via the Settings screen.

• When you create an email from our iOS app, we now automatically set the BCC to the unique ID for the record that you created it from. That means that – even though the email isn’t sent via Light Blue itself – you’ll get a copy of it in that record’s Activity panel.

• Light Blue 7’s shoot tags now appear in the iOS app.

• Added support for Light Blue 7’s new custom field types.

• Add support for the new VAT number fields that were added in Light Blue 7.

• The new mailing list opt-in detail fields that we added in Light Blue 7.1 now appear in the iOS app, and are set when you import a form that contains a mailing list opt-in checkbox.

• Added support for Light Blue 7’s new Sale and Quote fields.

• If you’re in the middle of editing a field, its value is automatically saved when you switch to another app.

• Shoot and Contact references are now displayed, if you’ve turned that option on via the desktop app.

• You can now create a Sale from a Quote.

• When you change the status or type of an appointment, the app will ask you if you want to add / remove workflows.

• Items on Sale, Quote, Purchase, and Payment records can now be reordered.

• You can now reorder shoot requests within a group.

• Your localised versions of “wedding”, “bride”, and “groom” will now trigger special wedding-related behaviour, just like they do in Light Blue 7.

• Notes in Shoot, Contact, etc, records display more of their text without you having to drill down into them.

• Tasks are now sorted alphabetically within a date & linked record, to match their sorting in Light Blue 7.

• When you add a new contact to a shoot, you’re now asked if you want to make that contact part of a group.

• When you import a form that contains contacts, new contacts are no longer automatically grouped.

• When you cancel a shoot, the app now offers to cancel any future appointments for that shoot rather than deleting them.

• Fixed a bug where deleting a session from the ‘Current Events’ screen would only delete that particular session, rather than moving the shoot to the trash.

• Timezone handling has been improved for items displayed in the Inbox.

• Fixed a bug that made previewing contracts not display properly.

• Fixed a problem where new shoot requests added via the app didn’t have a sort order assigned to them, so reordering them could be unpredictable.

• Added better support for the iPhone X screen, and implemented iOS 11’s large titles in list views.

Using scheduling tools to allow your customers to book shoots online with Light Blue’s API

Photographers all over the world are using Light Blue’s powerful forms to streamline their workflows, using them to feed new enquiries straight from their website into Light Blue. They’re really easy to set up and embed in your website, and you can also our forms as part of your online booking process.

Light Blue also offers an API that gives you more advanced options for sending information to your Light Blue account. You (or your website designer) could use the API to link a customised contact form to your Inbox, or you could use in combination with Zapier to link a variety of other services to Light Blue.

Online Scheduling tools

Using a powerful combination of our API and calendar publishing options, can be used to link Light Blue to popular online scheduling systems like Acuity Scheduling.

Online scheduling tools like Acuity can allow your clients to book shoots online, based on your availability. The customer can choose their own session without needing any input from you, and the details arrive in Light Blue without needing to type anything in.

This article focusses on how to set up an integration with Acuity using the middle-man service, Zapier, to send booking information into Light Blue for you.

Give Acuity your availability from Light Blue

Once you’ve created and set up your Acuity account, you’ll need to be able to tell their system when are (and aren’t) available for bookings. There’s a couple of different ways that you can do this, either by publishing events from Light Blue to a Google Calendar, or to your iCloud account. You can then authorise Acuity to synchronise with that calendar. Any events that have been added to Light Blue (like other shoots, meetings & time off) will now block out time that could be booked in Acuity and show that you’re unavailable, so you don’t get double-booked.

Using Zapier with the Light Blue API

The next step is to link Acuity back to Light Blue, so that new bookings are sent to Light Blue using our API and integration with Zapier.

Zapier is a service that acts as a middleman between a variety of web services, with some services providing triggers (e.g. “a new booking has been made via Acuity“) and other services providing actions. Zapier allows you to set up a number of “Zaps” that link a trigger to an action. We’ve written a Zapier action that allows you to send information to the Light Blue API in response to one of these triggers.

Requirements

As well as a subscription to our online services, you need a Zapier account. Zapier offers a variety of subscriptions (including a free one) but please be aware that each subscription level will only handle a certain number of tasks per month.

Setup

The Light Blue action for Zapier is currently a “private” action, so you need an invitation code to be able to use it. You can invite yourself to use the Light Blue action by clicking the following link: Light Blue on Zapier

Creating your Zap

The first step in creating your “Zap” is choosing which app or service will trigger the Zap to start running. Choose Acuity Scheduling from the list of apps and enter your account details.

When a new appointment has been created in Acuity, the Zap will be triggered.

Select the ‘Send to Light Blue API’ action

Now you can select Light Blue from the list of action apps. You might need to type “Light Blue” in the search field to find it.

Enter your Light Blue API key

When you’re prompted to select a Light Blue account, enter your Light Blue API key. You can find your API key by logging into the My Account section of our website.

Match up the data from your trigger app to Light Blue API parameters

Once you’ve set up the trigger app for your Zap and linked your Light Blue account to it, you need to associate data from the source app with parameters that the Light Blue API recognises.

To do this, you need to fill in the ‘Light Blue API Parameters’ section shown in the screenshot below. You type Light Blue API parameters in the left-hand column and select items from the trigger app in the right hand column. You can use the + button to add extra items.

You can find a list of the parameters that the Light Blue API recognises in the Supported Parameters section.

You should leave the ‘Type’ and ‘Source’ fields alone.

Working with dates and times

Different systems show dates and times in different formats, which other systems may not necessarily be able to read or understand. When adding the date and time for a shoot from Acuity to Light Blue, we’d recommend using the ShootStartTimestamp API parameter and linking it to the DateTime value from Acuity.

Test and then save your Zap

Once you’ve linked your Zap to parameters that the Light Blue API recognises, Zapier will ask you to test and save your Zap. If any errors occur (e.g. you don’t provide any parameters that the Light Blue API recognises) then Zapier should inform you and display an error message that you can send to us for further help.

Help & support

If you’re having problems setting up your integration with Light Blue’s API, we’d be delighted to help you. The most useful thing to do is send some screenshots of what you’re trying to do and/or where you’re getting stuck. Screenshots of the settings you’re using in your Zap are most helpful!

AOP membership offer for Light Blue customers

The Association of Photographers has always been an excellent source of information, advice, and support for professional photographers. I remember how Helen and I devoured their excellent Beyond The Lens when we started our photography businesses, and the AOP have continued to be at the forefront of representing photographers on a variety of issues.

We’ve written a lot about GDPR on here recently, and thought it would be worth finding out how the AOP have been helping their members deal with such an important issue. Here’s what they’ve been up to recently:

From the beginning of February this year, we at the AOP began prompting our members to take any necessary steps to ensure compliance with the then impending implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Initial guidance and interpretation of the GDPR was provided around March, culminating with the provision of a template Privacy Policy that AOP members could customise and use both on their own websites, and in response to any demands from clients, to demonstrate compliance with the new legislation. Nick Dunmur, who provides the core business and legal advice service to Accredited and Assisting Photographer members, fielded a large number of individual queries from members in relation to their own businesses and was able to provide bespoke support and guidance to them. This service is included in their membership package and in an increasingly litigious environment, is highly-valued.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what the AOP can do to help you, take a look at their website.

We’re delighted to announce that the AOP are offering Light Blue customers a 10% discount on new “Photographer” and “Associate” memberships until the end of July. Just quote “LIGHTBLUE” when applying to receive your discount.