Light Blue 8.1.2

We’ve released Light Blue 8.1.2, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 8. This is a minor update that adds new features and fixes bugs that were reported after the launch of Light Blue 8.1.

  • Using “partner” as a contact role now supports all of the same features as using “bride” or “groom”. For shoots with a type of “wedding” or “weddings”, this applies to automatically setting the title, automatically selecting contract signatories when you add a new contract, mail-merge tags that use the couple’s details, and the “wedding couple” section in your forms and questionnaires. The default role for wedding couple controls on forms is now “partner” rather than “bride”. We’ve also added %ShootPartner1FirstName%, %ShootPartner1LastName%, %ShootPartner2FirstName%, and %ShootPartner2LastName% mail-merge tags, which use the first and second contacts with roles of “bride”, “groom”, or “partner” (or their localised equivalents) linked to a shoot.
  • Flagged more mail-merge tags as being available in workflow messages.
  • Added a “Mark As Unread” button to the Inbox and in the incoming email dialog.
  • When accepting a contract with a linked form, the form import dialog’s “Import” button is no longer disabled if there isn’t any updated information to import. This makes it simpler to get forms from repeat clients who haven’t changed their details off your Inbox’s pending list!
  • If you’re password protecting your copy of Light Blue, the staff login dialog is now displayed immediately after your initial data download or a client app reset sync.
  • On Windows, the “Check For Updates” command now downloads the installer much faster. n.b. this will apply to updates that you download from Light Blue 8.1.2 onwards, so downloading this update won’t be any faster.
  • When renaming the “Ungrouped requests” shoot requests group, default the name to that rather than “New group”.
  • Our QuickBooks export now includes separate rows for any percentage discount that has been applied to an invoice.
  • %EventX% tags in a workflow email preview could show the wrong value when linked to an event other than the shoot’s start date.
  • Fixed a rare crash that could occur when generating picture thumbnails.
  • Fixed a problem with the “Issue Refund” button on fully paid invoices, where the credit note would be created with the wrong sign.
  • Fixed some timezone irregularities with displaying incoming emails’ received dates.
  • Fixed a glitch where the calendar resource view includes column titles at top of timed section as well as the all-day section.
  • Fixed a problem where multi-date calendar notes linked to specific resources don’t show the note description on any day other than the first day.
  • Fixed an encoding problem that could occur when exporting a tax report to CSV.
  • Fixed unexpected quits that have been reported to us.

macOS and iOS public betas: our annual health warning

Apple have a reliable schedule of releasing major updates to macOS and iOS in the Autumn, and we can expect macOS Catalina and iOS 13 to be released towards the end of September 2019.

For the last few years, Apple have been releasing public betas of their major operating system updates in the Summer. Installing these public betas can be risky because they’re likely to contain bugs, and many apps won’t be updated to support major new OS updates until close to the official release date.

We would advise against installing major OS update betas on any device that you rely on to get work done and – even when they’re released to everyone – we always advise customers to be cautious about rushing to update. This year’s public betas seem to be causing problems with a wide range of apps, so we’d recommend staying away from them unless you absolutely have to install them for some reason!

We’re keeping a close eye on macOS Catalina and iOS 13, so expect to hear more about them from us in September.

We’re expanding the Light Blue team!

Light Blue Software is a company that helps professional photographers get organised and run successful businesses.

Going above and beyond to look after our customers has been at the heart of our business since day one. We feel a responsibility towards our customers. We want our products and services to help their businesses to be successful, and we cherish their loyalty.

We’d like you to help us do that even better by joining Light Blue Software as a customer support specialist!

We place a lot of value on being a small, friendly company. We want to work with a select team of excellent colleagues, and everyone here makes a valuable contribution to the company. We all work remotely, and we trust each other to get things done independently.

If that sounds like the kind of team you’d be perfectly suited to, we’d love to hear from you.

What you’ll be doing:

  • Providing front-line product support via email, chat, Facebook, and screen-sharing.
  • Relaying feedback from customers to our product development team.

The successful candidate will:

  • Thrive in a remote-working environment and have a reliable internet connection.
  • Live in the UK.
  • Be looking for flexible work within set office hours. This is a part-time role, averaging 4 hours per day Monday-Friday.
  • Demonstrate an excellent standard of written English and attention to detail.
  • Combine problem solving skills with the empathy required to understand customers’ needs.
  • Be passionate about technology and up to date with current trends.
  • Learn new software and systems quickly.
  • Be able to demonstrate a competent understanding of complex and detailed systems.
  • Be confident at solving a wide range of computer problems so that you can help customers deal with issues that might not be directly related to our applications.
  • Be able to intelligently discuss technology and explain it to non-technical users.

Salary: £30,000 per year, pro-rata (i.e. £15,000 per year for 4 hours per day)

If you’re one of our customers, we’ve almost certainly been in touch at some point 🙂 Get in touch with us by sending an email to contact@lightbluesoftware.com and let us know why you’d be a great fit for this role.

If we don’t already know you, please send your CV to contact@lightbluesoftware.com along with a covering letter that tells us why you’d be the perfect match for this position!

We are accepting applications until midnight on Friday 2 August.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) support added to Light Blue

tl;dr: we’ve taken care of this so that you don’t need to do anything.

On 14 September 2019, new regulations are being introduced across Europe to protect people using cards to pay for goods and services online. These new regulations are called Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and will add a requirement for two-factor authentication for many online payments.

The requirement for two-factor authentication means that affected transactions will require something in addition to the card number. Details will vary between card providers, but they might include codes generated by your online banking app, a security dongle, etc.

If you’re using our popular online contract signing or online invoice payment services and accepting card payments from your clients via our Stripe integration, you will be affected by SCA. However, we have already made all of the necessary changes and there is nothing that you need to do. Your clients won’t notice anything different: they’ll still be able to pay you quickly and easily by card.

If you’re not already using our online contract signing and invoice payment services, we’d be delighted to show you why photographers give us so much great feedback about them. Our customers love how easy these services make it for their clients to confirm a booking or pay an invoice.

You can find out more about our online contract signing service in this video tutorial, while this tutorial shows you how to go about publishing invoices for payment online. If you need any help getting started with these services (or with any other aspect of using Light Blue) get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to provide you with one-to-one help via a screen-sharing session.

Light Blue 8.1.1

We’ve released Light Blue 8.1.1, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 8. This is a minor update that adds new features and fixes bugs that were reported after the launch of Light Blue 8.1.

  • You can now create Purchase records from Sale records, using the cost information that you’ve entered into your price lists. In a price list, you can now specify the supplier, net cost, and VAT / sales tax cost of the products that you offer. From a Sale record, you can use the options menu in the Items section or right-click on an item to create Purchase records for the items in the Sale.
  • You can now create one-time setup codes from the “Manage My Devices” section of your account. This allows you to add a device to your Light Blue account without giving your account password to the owner of that device.
  • You can now set up automatic SMS credit top-ups yourself by logging into your account on our website.
  • Non-breaking spaces copied and pasted from other apps are now automatically replaced when you edit a text message template. These characters could make a message use the Unicode character set despite looking like they only contain characters from the standard GSM character set.
  • Workflow messages linked to a session or an appointment can now use contact and shoot mail-merge tags.
  • Added a warning message when you try to go to records that you don’t have access to from the Home screen.
  • The “Restore From Backup” and “Reset Your Light Blue Account” commands are now only available to staff who have full access privileges.
  • Clarified the “you can only submit this contract once everyone has signed it” message that appears on unsigned contracts.
  • Fixed a problem where non-https images included in emails couldn’t be previewed on macOS.
  • Fixed a problem where restoring a Contact record from the trash wouldn’t restore it to the group that it was part of.
  • Fixed a rare problem where an email could be sent via our servers rather than your selected email account.
  • Fixed a problem where the date of a scheduled text message in the Outbox could be displayed incorrectly.
  • Fixed a problem where the purchase net and tax amount calculator wouldn’t work with European decimal separators.
  • Fixed a problem where creating a credit note could create one with the wrong cents value if you’re using European decimal separators.
  • Fixed a problem where re-entering your account password in the “continue trial” or “your trial has expired” pages of the setup wizard wouldn’t successfully authenticate your account.
  • Fixed a problem with upgrading from Light Blue 4 to Light Blue 8.
  • Fixed a problem that could cause the “your trial has expired” setup screen to appear when you’re not actually using a trial account.
  • Fixed a race condition that could cause “The email hasn’t been synced to our servers yet” errors when trying to send emails in quick succession.

Updated Gmail security

Google are updating their security rules for apps that send emails via Gmail (and G Suite) and we’ve been keeping up to date with their changes to make sure that you’ll be able to continue to send emails from Light Blue via your Gmail account.

The new security rules mean that you might need to add your Gmail account to Light Blue again. You can easily tell if you need to do this:

  1. Log into your Light Blue account and go to the email settings page.
  2. If you use more than one email account with Light Blue, select your Gmail account from the list.
  3. If your Gmail account is affected by Google security change, a red warning will appear underneath the popup menu that you choose your email account from.

We’ve recorded a short video that shows you what you need to do to remove your Gmail account from Light Blue and add it again. This will walk you through the steps that you need to take:

Google’s deadline for switching over to the new way of sending emails via Gmail is 21 June.

As always, if you need any help with any aspect of using Light Blue, get in touch with us via email and we’ll be delighted to help.

Light Blue 8.1

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.1, which builds on the success of Light Blue 8 by adding new features, improving existing features, and squashing bugs.

Light Blue 8.1 is a free update for all of our subscribers. You can install the update by using the “Check For Updates” command in Light Blue (which is in the Light Blue menu on macOS, or in the Help menu on Windows) or by downloading the installer from your Light Blue account.

Improved staff access restriction options

For businesses that have members of staff, you now have much more control over the parts of Light Blue that your staff can access. The new “Restricted” access level allows you to choose which features they can access, so you can disable access to sensitive information (such as finances) or entire sections of the app.

Windows performance improvements

We’ve made big improvements to our Windows app, making it more responsive and improving its graphics performance.

Simplified account password management

Changing your Light Blue account password no longer requires you to re-enter your password in the desktop app. This used to be a common source of confusion, and the new approach also allows you to permanently remove Light Blue 8.1 and above devices from your account without needing to change your account password. We’ve also introduced a new one-off setup code feature that allows you to add a device to your account without having to type your account password into it. This is perfect for adding members of staff or contractors without letting them know your main password.

 

Other changes

Light Blue 8.1 includes lots of other new features and bug fixes. Here’s a summary of the improvements that we’ve made:

  • Light Blue launches more quickly and the Preferences window takes less time to open.
  • The Preferences window has been reorganised, and the “General Preferences” and “Custom Fields” panels have been split up into tabs to make it easier to find the settings you’re looking for.
  • The speed of processing large data syncs has been improved, making the initial download of data onto a new computer much faster.
  • Client portal emails (for example, the ones that are sent when you publish a contract) are now sent from your default email account, so they can come from your email address rather than using our email servers.
  • Form and API submissions in the Inbox that contain a shoot date are now colour coded to show whether they clash with an existing event or enquiry.
  • Orders from theimagefile can now be sent to your Light Blue account and imported as new Sale records.
  • Your current SMS credit balance is now displayed in the text message dialog.
  • Improved our VAT report for use with the UK government’s new Making Tax Digital initiative.
  • Added a preference that lets you choose whether to allow members of staff that don’t have a password set to log into Light Blue.
  • In the staff login dialog, if you fail to enter the right password the existing password is automatically highlighted for you so that you can immediately start typing to correct it.
  • Added a staff-level default email account setting, so members of staff can automatically use their own email address when they create an email.
  • Contracts and contract templates now have an optional thank you URL. If you specify this, your client will be taken to that URL after they have completed the contract (and paid their booking fee, if you’re charging one). You could use this to take your client to a custom thank you page that you’ve created on your own website.
  • When publishing a contract that includes a form, you’re now warned if the selected form template has been deleted.
  • When accepting a contract, the “Mark Shoot As Confirmed” checkbox is now displayed for cancelled shoots as well as enquiries.
  • Added a second confirm dialog to the “Send All” and “Schedule All” buttons in the Outbox.
  • Fixed a timezone-related problem where items in the Outbox could be displayed as being sent on the wrong day.
  • Added a “Copy Email Address” command to the Linked Records contextual menu.
  • Added a “Load In Query Dialog” command to the quick query list’s contextual menu.
  • When parsing an email address, Light Blue now recognises email addresses formatted like “Name [address@example.com]” as well as “Name <address@example.com>”.
  • Improved support for macOS 10.14 Mojave’s AppleScript security restrictions.
  • Added a preference for whether you want to include prices in a printed production order.
  • Added default photographer and salesperson options for new Sale records. When you create a sale, if there’s an assigned resource with the role “photographer” or “salesperson” then they are always used, otherwise we use the new default staff.
  • The “Add New Contact” dialog now includes the contact notes field.
  • Added an “Automatically Check For New Versions Of Light Blue” checkbox to the Preferences window, to give you the option of only manually checking for updates.
  • When you trash a shoot, if its linked contacts aren’t linked to any other records then we now offer to move them to the trash as well.
  • Fixed a problem where the first item in the Inbox could have its details appear to be repeated appear to be repeated.
  • Fixed a problem on Windows where if you have the staff login dialog enabled, Light Blue could quit after doing a database upgrade instead of carrying on.
  • Fixed a character encoding problem with the export financial data tool.
  • Fixed a problem where the EventX mail-merge tags could use the wrong event’s details when used as part of a shoot that has multiple upcoming sessions and appointments.
  • Fixed a problem that could occur when querying for contacts using linked contact criteria.
  • Fixed a problem where un-ticking the mailing list opt-in box in the add contact dialog behaved as if you were ticking the box.
  • Fixed a bug where the contract dialog “you need to add contacts” label is displayed on all tabs, not just the signatories tab.
  • Fixed a rounding error that could occur when using the “Calculate Net & Tax Amounts From Gross Total” button in a purchase item.
  • Dragging an event in the calendar to another date or time is no longer interrupted by the calendar getting reloaded during the drag.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and Light Blue

On 14 September 2019, new regulations are being introduced across Europe to protect people using cards to pay for goods and services online. These new regulations are called Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and will add a requirement for two-factor authentication for some online payments.

The requirement for two-factor authentication means that affected transactions will require something in addition to the card number. Details will vary between card providers, but they might include codes generated by your online banking app, a security dongle, etc.

If you’re dealing with European clients and using Light Blue’s client portal to take payments from them, you will be affected by SCA. However, we will ensure that Light Blue’s client portal is ready for SCA in plenty of time for the 14 September 2019 deadline, and you probably won’t need to make any changes at all.

Keep an eye on our blog and email newsletter for further news!

How Making Tax Digital affects Light Blue and UK businesses – an update

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is part of the UK government’s plan to make the country’s tax system more efficient. It’s first stage comes into effect in April.

You only need to pay attention to MTD in 2019 if you are based in the UK, registered for VAT, and use Light Blue’s VAT return report. The scope of MTD will be widened in the future, but it’s very limited at the moment.

HMRC will require businesses to start submitting their VAT returns via compatible software from April 2019. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to use just one piece of software to manage your company’s finances: so long as you use “digital links” to transfer data between applications or to your accountant, MTD allows you to use a variety of tools. HMRC explicitly list CSV data exports and imports as an acceptable form of “digital link”, which means that Light Blue’s existing data export tools comply with MTD’s requirements.

If you’re already using Light Blue’s VAT return report, we will be in touch with you in the next few days to help you get ready for MTD. If you’re not using Light Blue’s VAT return report, you can probably carry on using Light Blue’s invoicing and other finance features just as you are at the moment because you can use our data export tools to maintain a “digital link” between Light Blue and accountancy software.

As always, if you have any questions or need any help then please get in touch with us via email!

Google Calendar API update

Google are going to be making some changes to their Google Calendar API in the near future. We’ve recently released free updates to both Light Blue 8 and Light Blue 7 that will allow Light Blue to carry on publishing events to your Google Calendar.

If you’re using our Google Calendar publishing feature, please make sure that you’re using Light Blue 8 (any version of Light Blue 8 will do, but it’s always best to use the current version to makes sure you’re benefitting from all of the updates that we’ve been working on) or Light Blue 7.1.8.