Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients.
Read on to find out more about the new features that we’ve added to Light Blue 8!
Automate your emails and text messages with workflows
Requires a subscription to our online services
Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.
We’ve achieved this by allowing you to include emails and text messages in your workflows. Workflows could already include tasks and appointments, and you can now include templated emails and text messages. You have control over when your automated messages will be sent by telling Light Blue how many days before or after a shoot, enquiry, etc, you want them to be sent, and at what time of day they’ll be sent out. You can preview your workflow messages, and you add your own personalisation or customisation to your automated messages as well as using Light Blue’s flexible mail-merge tags.
Workflow messages are automatically rescheduled if the date that they’re based on is changed (e.g. if a shoot is rescheduled). If you’re using automated messages as part of an enquiry workflow (e.g. to send follow-up messages to your clients), they’ll be automatically deleted when you either confirm or cancel the shoot.
If you need any help setting up your workflows, get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help you get the most out of them.
- Workflow message features require Light Blue 8. If you add a workflow, reschedule, or change the status of a shoot from an older version of Light Blue, workflow messages might not be handled correctly. If you’re going to use workflow messages, please update all of your computers to Light Blue 8.
- Support for workflow messages has also been added to our mobile app. If you’re using the Light Blue mobile app, please update to version 4.3 via the App Store.
- You can use most of Light Blue’s mail-merge tags in workflow messages, but a few of them aren’t supported. If you use any mail-merge tags that aren’t supported in workflow messages, you’ll see a warning in Light Blue.
Other email and text message improvements
Requires a subscription to our online services
- Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent.
- Emails can now be composed in a separate window, rather than in a dialog box. This allows you to compose multiple emails at the same time, or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email.
- You can now use one of your email templates when you’re replying to an email.
- You can easily add contacts’ email addresses to an email by clicking the new + buttons that appear next to the To, CC, and BCC fields.
- We’ve added a reply-to field for emails sent from Light Blue.
- Text messages are now included in the Outbox.
- The number badge on the Outbox shows the number of draft messages and messages that have errors. It’s shown in grey if there aren’t any errors, or red if there are any errors that need your attention.
- On macOS, Light Blue’s dock icon now shows you the number of items in the Inbox that need your attention.
- If you’re using the “Pending Items & Unread Messages” filter in the Inbox, marking an email or text message as read no longer makes it disappear straight away. It will only get hidden when you reload the Inbox or change your filters.
- The “go to linked record” contextual menu command for emails in the Inbox now includes any contacts that Light Blue has automatically recognised based on the sender’s email address.
- We’ve improved how timezones are handled when you manually schedule an email or text message to be sent in the future.
- Images in emails can now have alt text.
- When you reply to an email that included attachments, you now have an option to include those original attachments in your reply.
- Fixed a problem where adding a signature to an email reply could put the signature below the quoted text.
- When emails or text messages are sent or scheduled, their status in the Activity panel now updates as soon as it happens.
- When you duplicate a text message template, the new template is now named as “[Original name] copy”
Other new workflow features
- You can now export or import workflows, which allows you to share your workflows with other photographers or import a Light Blue workflow that someone else has shared with you.
- Added “Add Workflow” buttons to shoot sessions (instead of making you go into the session’s options menu to add a workflow to it), custom date fields, and the appointment date field.
- When you click an “Add Workflow” button for a field that allows you to specify a default workflow (e.g. the shoot enquiry date), instead of only allowing to add that default workflow the “Choose Workflow” dialog is now presented and the default workflow is pre-selected for you. This means that you just need to click the “Add” button if you want to use the default, but can select an alternative workflow if you want to.
- The “Add Workflow to Found Set” menu command now allows you to add workflows to shoots based on their start date or enquiry date. Any shoots in the found set that don’t have your selected type of date are skipped.
- You can now set a default confirmation workflow for appointment types.
- Added a “Today” option to the list of key dates you can base a workflow on. The “Custom Date” option already defaulted to today, but this new option will provide a more understandable option.
- Changed the “Delete Outstanding Tasks” command from the Activity panel options menu to “Delete Outstanding Items”. This will delete uncompleted tasks and unsent scheduled emails and text messages, but leaves any future appointments.
- When you change the status of a shoot from “Confirmed” or “Completed” to “Enquiry”, Light Blue now offers to tidy up outstanding items (in exactly the same way as when you cancel a shoot).
- You can now reassign multiple tasks to another member of staff from the Task Manager, or change their category.
- Added an “Assign Workflow Tasks Without Allocated Staff To Logged In User” preference to the “General Preferences” section of the Preferences.
Online contract signing, forms, online invoice payments, and API
Requires a subscription to our online services
- Shoot and contract forms can now include image and file upload fields. You add these to your form or template like any other field (although they can’t be included in contact forms, mostly for security reasons) and clients can use them to upload an image or file to you. If a client uploads a file to you, the filename will be included in your notification email and in the Inbox, and the uploaded file will appear in the shoot’s Activity panel. Being able to request an image or file from a client is useful in lots of situations, such as asking a client for a picture of a room they want to hang wall art in for a viewing session. Warning: although we’re not allowing image or file uploads in contact forms, you should always treat files that have been sent to you by anyone else with a certain amount of caution!
- Added a setting to contract templates that allows you to choose whether (and which type of) booking fee you want to charge for that contract.
- Added support for separate Stripe and PayPal details for each client portal brand, so you can have payments going to separate accounts for different shoot types. Please get in touch if you might be interested in this feature.
- We’ve added an option to not CC you into client portal emails that we send on your behalf (e.g. when a contract is published, etc).
- Incoming data sent to your account via Light Blue’s API now includes a date field that you can use in queries.
Fundy client order import
- You can now import Fundy Design Suite orders into Light Blue. You’ll find commands for importing Fundy files in the Import section of the Records menu.
- Upgrading Light Blue’s database is much, much faster than before. In our tests with large databases, it’s now 20x faster to upgrade your database.
- Loading the Inbox and Outbox is now much faster when they contain large numbers of items.
Inbox and Outbox features
- The Outbox date filters have been changed so that you can more quickly find what you’re interested in. The “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Last 7 Days”, and “Last 28 Days” options no longer display messages scheduled to be sent on future dates, and you now have “Tomorrow”, “Next 7 Days”, and “Next 28 Days” options that will show you scheduled messages. The default option is now “All Dates”.
- Added “Create Enquiry” and “Link To Existing Record” buttons to emails opened up from the Inbox, to save you needing to close the dialog and use the buttons in the Inbox.
- When you’re previewing incoming data (e.g. from a contact form) that includes an email address, a new “Reply” button allows you to create an email to the first email address included in the data.
- Text messages that you open from the Outbox now display their linked record and can be linked to a different record.
Sales and invoicing
- You can now export a set of invoices in a format that is easier to import into QuickBooks.
- We’ve improved the “Issue Credit” button on invoices to make it easier to credit or refund a wider variety of invoices.
- You can now choose to include the Payment notes field when printing a receipt.
- You can now choose to include the shoot type on a printed invoice or quote.
Calendar and Home screen
- Added an option to display week numbers in Week and Month view.
- We’ve added an option that allows you to display cancelled shoots in the built-in calendar.
- We’ve added an option to include cancelled shoots in the results of quick searches. This is turned off by default, to avoid cluttering your search results with cancelled enquiries unless you’re specifically searching for one.
- The various data export commands that used to live in the File menu have been moved to a new “Export” sub-menu in the Records menu. This is a more logical place for them to live, is more consistent with the “Import” sub-menu, and removes clutter from the File menu.
- The list view now remembers any column widths that you manually adjusted, and restores them when you go back to that list.
- In list view, selecting a quick query that doesn’t include any records no longer takes you back to detail view.
- In the query dialog, you can now query on the “role” of resources linked to a shoot.
- You can now use “Invoice Number (without prefix)” and “Invoice Number Prefix” in the query dialog, lists, and data exports. You’ve always been able to use the full “Invoice Number” field in these situations, but these new options give you more flexibility.
- We’ve added new fields that you can use in queries, lists, and data exports: “No. of Confirmed Shoots” has been added to the Contacts section, “First Appointment Start Date” has been added to the Shoots section; and “Shoot Start Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” have been added to the Sales section.
- When you’re running a report, the report options dialog now defaults the most recent reporting period and output options to the options that you used for that report.
- Calendar notes are now included in the “Today’s Information” report.
- Google are making a small but important change to their Google Calendar API, and Light Blue 8 is now ready for this change.
- Improved the design of the staff login window to make it more welcoming when you launch Light Blue, as well as clearer in its purpose.
- We’ve updated the APIs that we use to publish contacts to the macOS Contacts app, which makes publishing contacts much faster (and future-proofs this feature in case Apple decides to stop supporting their old API). This requires macOS 10.11.
- You can now import individual contacts from the macOS Contacts app, as well as importing an entire group of contacts.
- Added a housekeeping command that marks any Sale records in the current found set as paid.
- Notes fields on Windows now have spell-checking enabled.
- Added a timezone setting to the Preferences window and setup wizard. This allows us to implement the %CurrentDate% and %CurrentTime% mail-merge tags in workflow messages.
- Added %ShootAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootNetAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootPaidTotal%, and %ShootOutstandingBalance% mail-merge tags.
- We’ve made our German localisation more comprehensive, and included both formal and informal options to give you a choice as to how formal you want to be when printing invoices, sending contracts, etc.
- When you set up a new database, we now create a default email signature for you.
- When you’re merging two contact records, spaces are now ignored when deciding whether to deduplicate a phone number.
- When linking a shoot to a purchase item, the “new record” button shouldn’t be available.
- The field label for custom paragraph text fields can now wrap onto extra lines if the label you’ve specified is long.
- Fixed a bug where duplicating time off wouldn’t publish the duplicated event to Google Calendar or the macOS Calendars app.
- Fixed a bug where printing a single record from the list view could print the wrong record.
- Fixed a crash that could occur when trying to attach a PDF of the built-in calendar to an email.
- Fixed a database error that could occur when using an unusual combination of related sections in the query dialog.
- Fixed a bug where shoots created via the API might not use their shoot type’s default session length.