Light Blue 8 public beta

After lots of hard work here at Light Blue HQ, we’re very excited to announce that we’re launching a public beta of Light Blue 8 this week.

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. We’ve also added new features to Light Blue’s client portal, and added lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

If you subscribe to our online services, we’d be delighted to give you access to Light Blue 8 before its official release in January. You’ll be able to use all of its new features while we’re putting the finishing touches in place for the final release.

To find out more about Light Blue 8, get access to the beta, and learn how it can help you to be even more organised, please join us for one of our Light Blue 8 beta webinars. Sign up using the links below!

Light Blue 8 beta demo – Tuesday 11th December, 11:00 GMT

Light Blue 8 beta demo – Thursday 13th December, 16:30 GMT

Scheduled maintenance

We’re going to be carrying out some scheduled maintenance work on our servers this weekend, which is going to require some unavoidable downtime.

We’re carrying out this work at 06:00 GMT on Saturday to minimise any disruption. We expect our servers to be offline for roughly 10 minutes.

Because Light Blue’s desktop and mobile apps can be used without an internet connection, most of Light Blue’s features will continue to work during the downtime.

Automatic text message credit top-ups

Light Blue’s text messaging feature is popular with photographers all over the world. It allows you to stay in touch with clients, and to massively cut down on no-shows that cause your business to lose money and frustration for you! You can find out more about our text messaging service in this blog post.

We’re delighted to announce a new feature for everyone who’s using our text messaging service: automatic top-ups for your text message credits.

With this feature, you no longer need to keep an eye on the number of text message credits you have left. Just tell us when you’d like us to automatically top up your balance and we’ll take care of it for you.

If you’d like to take advantage of this new feature, get in touch and we’ll set it up for you.

Compatibility with macOS Mojave and iOS 12

In the very near future, Apple are going to release macOS Mojave and iOS 12. Because many of our customers like to upgrade their Macs, iPhones, and iPads as soon as new operating systems become available, we’ve been testing the latest versions of our apps with both new operating systems.

Light Blue 7 and the latest version of our iOS app appear to work well with Apple’s latest operating systems. However, we can never be entirely sure that Apple won’t change something before the release of either operating system, so please read on for the important health warning…

Health warning

As with all major operating system updates, it is a very sensible idea to be cautious about updating all of your computers and mobile devices at the same time. Although our testing of Light Blue 7 and version 4 of our iOS app has been positive so far, there is every chance that Apple could change something that breaks compatibility or that we’ve missed something because we can’t test every conceivable combination of devices and settings.

If you rely on Light Blue to run your business, we would therefore recommend holding off from updating your operating system as soon as the latest versions of macOS and iOS come out. At the very least, if you absolutely must update on day one, make sure that you have at least one computer and iOS device on the ‘old’ operating system until you’ve had a chance to test that all of the features that you depend on are fully functional.

Also, please note that our testing has been has been focussed on the latest versions of our desktop and mobile app. The vast majority of our customers are already using Light Blue 7.1.3 and version 4.2 of our iOS app, and if you’re using older version of either the desktop or mobile app then please update to the latest version to ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all of the new features and bug fixes that we’ve been adding. You can update the desktop app by using the ‘Check for updates’ command (in the ‘Light Blue’ menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the ‘Help’ menu if you’re using it on Windows), and you can update the iOS app via the App Store.

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.

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.

Light Blue 7.1.2

We’ve released Light Blue 7.1.2, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 7.

Like all of our minor updates, Light Blue 7.1.2 includes a variety of feature updates and bug fixes. We’ve also added a bigger feature that will help photographers who are keen to keep clients on their mailing list while making sure that they’re complying with the new GDPR regulations.

New Mailing List Opt-In Form

You can now send your clients to a special form that allows them to opt in to your mailing list. Each of your contact records has a special URL that identifies them, and you can get that URL in two different ways:

  • If you want to send mailing list opt-in links to lots of clients, you can export a CSV file of contact names, email addresses, and URLs from Light Blue. You can then import this spreadsheet into a service like MailChimp to email it to your clients. To do this, find the contacts or shoots that you want to send this to, go into the Housekeeping section of the Records menu and use the ‘Ask Clients To Opt-In To Mailing List’ command.
  • If you only want to send mailing list opt-in links to a small number of clients, you can use the %ContactMailingListOptInURL% mail-merge tag in an email template. If you want to customise the text of the link in your email templates, you can do so be using a tag like %ContactMailingListOptInURL:Click here to open the form%. We’ve included a sample email template in this update.

Your client portal branding is automatically applied to your mailing list opt-in form, and can customise the text that appears on the form by logging into your account on our website.

You can find out more about this feature in our blog post that explains how to use it.

Other changes

  • You can now customise more of the text that appears in your client portal when clients are signing contracts. You’ll find these customisable text options in the ‘Template Translations’ section of the Preferences window.
  • The following Sale reference values are now available in the query dialog, list views, and data exports: purchase order references, shopping cart references, courier references, client job number references, and quote references.
  • Added support for reading the original sender details from emails forwarded from Outlook for macOS to your unique Light Blue email address.
  • When you’re running a tax report, you now need to confirm that you want to mark the included records as claimed.
  • Added an option to use the shoot reference as the default prefix when you’re importing pictures for a shoot.
  • When creating a Sale record from a Quote, you’re now warned if the booking fee is greater than the quote’s total.
  • Added a “Email & Client Portal Branding” heading to the ‘Printing’ section of the Preferences window. This is to make it bit clearer where you need to go to adjust those branding settings.
  • Revised the wording of the “database upgrade required” dialog to make it less intimidating.
  • Fixed a rare problem where publishing an appointment to macOS calendars could make it appear at 12:00 instead of the correct time.
  • Fixed a problem on Windows where the email templates panel could end up with its scrollbar set to the wrong position.
  • Fixed a problem where clicking the “Save and add another” button in a form field dialog could fail to add the new item.
  • When you’re composing an email, the subject field is now always saved before you click the ‘Send’ or ‘Schedule’ button so you won’t see warning about having a blank subject. (unless you really do have a blank subject, of course!)
  • When changing a form field from a type that includes a ‘Description’ option to one that doesn’t, the description is now removed properly.
  • Fixed a problem that could affect rounding numbers to zero.
  • The quick sale dialog now works with European decimal separators.
  • The ‘add workflow’ dialog no longer gets stuck if you try to add a workflow based on a really old date.
  • Fixed unexpected quits that have been reported to us.

Finding and deleting old personal data from Light Blue

One of the tools that we added in Light Blue 7.1 is a housekeeping command that makes it easier to find old records that you might want to delete from Light Blue. For example, if the introduction of the GDPR means that you no longer want to keep any personal information about your clients any longer than you need to, this tool will help you to find records that can be deleted.

To use this tool, go into the Housekeeping section of the Records menu and select “Find Old Records…”. You’ll be presented with the following dialog:

Let’s go through the options and explain what they do.

Search for records older than…

The first option in this dialog allows you to pick how old records need to be before this tool will find them. You just need to pick how far back in time you want to go.

For example, if you decide to delete all records that are more than 6 years old because that’s the period of time you’re required to keep financial records, you can select “6 years old” from the menu.

Record types

Next, you need to select which types of record you want to find. For Shoots, Quotes, Sales, Purchases, and Payments these options are really simple: all records with a date older than your chosen number of years will be found.

Contacts

Searching for contacts requires a few more decisions, because you might consider a contact “old” if you haven’t done a shoot for them recently, or you might only consider them “old” if you haven’t heard from them at all recently.

If you’re using this tool to search for old contacts, you need to tell Light Blue which types of record that can be linked to a contact to take into account. In the screenshot above, I’m searching for anyone who hasn’t had a Shoot, Quote, Sale, Purchase, Payment, or Appointment in the last 6 years. i.e. I’m not counting people that I’ve sent emails, etc, to as being “recent” unless they’ve actually enquired about a shoot, placed an order, etc, during that time.

Filtering out tags

The final option uses Light Blue’s tagging system to filter out records from these results. For example, you could tag any shoots that have given you permission to use their images for marketing and then use that tag to make sure that you keep those records in Light Blue.

Checking your results

When you click the ‘Find Records’ button, Light Blue will find all of the old records that match your criteria. Before you delete those records, it’s important that you check them carefully! If you want to exclude a record from the found set, use the “Omit Record” command from the Records menu to hide it from the selection.

When you’re ready to delete the found records, use the “Move Found Records To The Trash…” command from the Records menu.

Light Blue and the GDPR

You’ve almost certainly heard about the EU’s new data protection and privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR requires businesses to follow strict guidelines when they’re using personal data. It comes into effect on 25 May, and affects all businesses in the EU. It also applies to businesses in other countries outside the EU that have any dealings with EU citizens.

We’ve made sure that Light Blue Software is ready for the GDPR, but we’ve done much more than simply making sure that we comply with the new regulations. We’ve also been hard at work adding new tools to Light Blue that help you to ensure that your business complies with the GDPR, and we’ve been working with legal and security experts to provide you with advice that can help you to do that.

Light Blue 7.1

Light Blue 7.1 is out today, and it includes several new tools that can help you to comply with the GDPR. Light Blue 7.1 is a free update for everyone who subscribes to our online services, or is already using Light Blue 7. You can find out more about the changes in the Light Blue 7.1 release notes.

Light Blue 7.1 also includes an updated licence agreement. The GDPR requires data controllers (i.e. you) to have a contract with their data processors (i.e. us, if you’re using our online services), and agreeing to this updated licence agreement forms that contract.

Helping you to understand the GDPR

You can find out more about the GDPR, how it affects your business, and how it affects your use of Light Blue in the FAQ that we have created.

Ensuring the security of your clients’ personal data is an important part of the GDPR, so we’ve also provided advice on securing the devices you use Light Blue on.

Updated legal information

As part of the changes that we’ve made to ensure that Light Blue Software complies with the GDPR, we’ve updated our privacy notice and the Light Blue licence agreement. This updated licence agreement is part of Light Blue 7.1, and agreeing to it covers the GDPR’s requirement for data controllers to have a contract with their data processors.