Light Blue 2020.1

Light Blue 2020.1 is a major update that includes big new automation features and a whole load of other improvements.

Payment schedules

Payment schedules allow you to easily break an invoice down into several smaller payments. That means that you can offer a payment plan to your clients and make it easier for them to pay an invoice in more manageable instalments. Because it’s more affordable for your client, a payment schedule can help you to make larger sales or get bookings more easily, too.

Find out more about how you can use payment schedules to make it easier for clients to pay you in this knowledgebase article and video tutorial!

Automated payment reminders

Our new payment schedules feature has given us an opportunity to build another popular feature request: you can now have Light Blue send automatic email payment reminders to your clients. You can set up simple rules for your reminders and your personalised messages will help you to get paid on time.

Want to find out how to start sending automatic payment reminders? Click through to our knowledgebase!

Percentage booking fees

Quotes can still be split into separate invoices for the booking fee and the balance. This is especially useful if you want to have separate tax points for the booking fee and balance. 

Booking fees can now be a fixed amount or a percentage of the quote. You can set up a default booking fee for each of your price lists, and when you raise a quote from a shoot Light Blue automatically fill in any booking fee you’ve set up for the price list you’ve chosen for that shoot.

Email tracking

When you send emails from Light Blue’s email servers, you can now track whether those emails have been opened or if the links in them have been clicked. This is optional, and you can turn the feature on via the Preferences window.

To see whether an email has been opened or a link clicked, open it up from the Outbox or the relevant Activity panel. You’ll see a summary of the tracked email’s status that you can expand to see more details, including when the event happened and the IP address that triggered it.

Click here to find out more about email tracking!

And much, much more…

This update includes hundreds of improvements and changes to make Light Blue faster, better, and more efficient. You can read the full release notes here.

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 2020.1 by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command within the Light Blue desktop app.

If you already have a Light Blue licence, but don’t subscribe to our online services, the best way of upgrading to version 2020.1 is to add a subscription. As well as being able to upgrade for free, subscribers have access to Light Blue’s most popular features, including our online contract signing service, forms, online invoices, and enhanced email and text messaging features.

Light Blue 2020.1 release notes

Light Blue 2020.1 is a major update that includes big new features and a whole host of other improvements, including:

  • Payment schedules that allow you to easily break an invoice down into several smaller payments, helping you to make larger sales and get bookings more easily.
  • Automated payment reminders help you to get paid on time.
  • Email tracking features that help you to gauge your clients’ engagement.

Read on to find out more about the new features that we’ve added in Light Blue 2020.1!

Invoicing, quoting, and payment improvements

Payment schedules

We’ve added a new payment schedule feature that makes it a lot easier for you to ask your client to pay an invoice in instalments.

A payment schedule can include as many instalments as you want. Each instalment can be for a fixed amount (e.g. £100.00) or for a percentage (e.g. 50% of the invoice total). The due date for each instalment is a number of days, weeks, or months after the invoice date, or before or after the shoot date.

When you apply a payment schedule to a sale, Light Blue automatically calculates the due dates and amounts for each instalment. The due dates and amounts appear on both the printed and online versions of the invoice.

We’ve supplied a few example payment schedules, and you can customise them or create your own in the “Payment Schedules” section of the Preferences window. We recommend having a “100% of the remaining balance” step at the end of all of your payment schedules in case anything changes on the invoice or your client makes some unscheduled payments along the way.

Your existing data works seamlessly with the new payment schedules feature. Old Sale records will display a single “100% of the remaining balance” payment step with the same due date and amount that you had in previous versions of Light Blue.

For online invoices, your clients have simple options to pay each instalment when it’s due, or to pay the full unpaid amount if they want to do it in one go. You can choose which online payment options are available for each instalment, so you could ask them to pay part of the invoice by card and another part by bank transfer.

For online payments, payment records are now created automatically in Light Blue. The payment will still appear in the Inbox so that you can see it’s arrived, and accepting the payment via the Inbox will offer to create a Purchase record for the transaction fee.

All of Light Blue’s built-in quick queries and reports have been updated to work with payment schedules. The “Overdue Payments” quick query in the Sales section now shows you any Sale records that have any overdue instalments. Reports such as “Contact Statement” now use the next payment due date to sort invoices, and for your old invoices this date will be the same as the old “payment due date” field. “Next Payment Due Date” and “Final Payment Due Date” fields are available to use in your own queries and reports.

If you don’t want to ask your clients to pay you in instalments, you can ignore payment schedules. The main change that you’ll notice is the new “Payments” tab on Sale records.

Examples:

  • Using a payment schedule with a single instalment of “100% of the remaining balance” is much the same as the old way of doing things. You have options to set the payment due date relative to the date of the invoice, the date of the linked shoot, or manually select a date.
  • A portrait photographer can ask a client to pay for a large order in any number of monthly instalments.
  • An event photographer can ask for part of the balance before the shoot and a final payment on completion.
  • A photographer who runs their business on a cash basis (i.e. using the payment date rather than invoice date to record their income) could use a payment schedule to set up instalments for a booking fee and as many balance payment instalments as they like. If you run your business on an accrual basis, you might still prefer to raise a separate invoice for the booking fee and balance if the tax points are months apart.

Automated payment reminders

Our new payment schedules feature has given us an opportunity to build another popular feature request: you can now have Light Blue send automatic email payment reminders to your clients. You can set up simple rules for your reminders and your personalised messages will help you to get paid on time.

Payment reminders are set up in your payment schedules. Even if you don’t want to ask your clients to pay your invoices in instalments, you can still use a payment schedule: you can have a payment schedule with a single “100% of the remaining balance” instalment.

You can send a payment reminder before the due date, on the due date, and every X days after the due date if it hasn’t been paid yet.

Payment reminders include a link to view the invoice online, so Light Blue 2020.1 automatically makes invoices available online when you click the “create invoice” button. You no longer need to specifically publish an invoice to make it available online. Online invoices use a randomly generated ID number in their URL so clients will only be able to see an invoice if you send the link to them or set up payment reminders. The online version of the invoice is automatically updated as soon as you make any changes to it in Light Blue 2020.1 and it syncs to your account.

Percentage booking fees

Quotes can still be split into separate invoices for the booking fee and the balance. This is especially useful if you want to have separate tax points for the booking fee and balance.

Booking fees can now be a fixed amount or a percentage of the quote. You can set up a default booking fee for each of your price lists, and when you raise a quote from a shoot Light Blue automatically fill in any booking fee you’ve set up for the price list you’ve chosen for that shoot.

Other financial changes

Online invoices now have a handy “Print This Invoice” button to make it really easy for your clients to print or save a PDF copy of your invoice for their records.

Clicking the “Mark As Paid” button on a sale now displays the payment in a dialog, rather than taking you to the Payments section.

You no longer need to specifically publish an invoice to make it available online. Online invoices use a randomly generated ID number in their URL so clients will only be able to see an invoice if you send the link to them or set up payment reminders. The online version of the invoice is automatically updated as soon as you make any changes to it in Light Blue 2020.1 and it syncs to your account.

The “payment received with thanks” page for online invoices now displays the full invoice details.

The online payment receipt email now includes a link to the online invoice instead of including all of the invoice details in the receipt email. This helps to protect your clients’ privacy against email services that scrape the contents of incoming emails, and also avoids problems with displaying the invoice in some email clients. If your client wants to view or print the invoice, they can click that link.

The old “online invoice publication email” and “online invoice payment receipt” templates have been replaced by email templates. Your old templates are automatically converted on upgrading. You can choose a different publication email template for each payment schedule and different receipt templates for each instalment (e.g. so that you could use a different receipt template for the final instalment).

Email improvements

Email event tracking

When you send emails from Light Blue’s email servers, you can now track whether those emails have been opened or if the links in them have been clicked. This is optional, and you can turn the feature on from the “Email” section of the Preferences window.

To see whether an email has been opened or a link clicked, open it up from the Outbox or the relevant Activity panel. You’ll see a summary of the tracked email’s status that you can expand to see more details, including when the event happened and the IP address that triggered it.

It’s important to note that email open tracking might not be 100% effective, for a variety of reasons. For example, some email providers and email apps can block email open events from being reported back to us. We’ve also heard of email open events being triggered by some automated content filters. If you CC or BCC yourself into emails, be careful not to trigger open or click events yourself!

We’ve also been working hard to make sure that the deliverability of emails that are sent from our own servers is high, and this includes providing personalisation of the address from which these emails are sent. If you’re sending emails using our servers then we’ll use your unique @lightbluecustomermail.com email address, which you can personalise via your account page (e.g. myphotostudio@lightbluecustomermail.com).

Behind the scenes, we’ve created an email suppression list to avoid sending emails to recipients that either don’t exist or have told you that they don’t want to receive emails from you. We’re automatically adding a recipient to your email suppression list if they (or their email provider) send a complaint to us or we receive a permanent bounce notification. Just like opens and clicks, bounces and complaints can only be tracked for emails sent via our servers. If you try to send an email to an address that’s on your suppression list, you’ll be warned and the email address will automatically be removed if you ignore the warning. You can remove an email address from your suppression list by going go the relevant contact record and using the cog menu that appears when you hover your mouse cursor over the email address.

Storing copies of client portal emails

Copies of emails that are sent for Light Blue’s contact forms, questionnaires, contracts, and online invoices are now recorded in Light Blue’s Outbox and the Activity panel for the relevant records. We’re still CCing a copy of these emails to you so that you get an instant notification when your client has done something, but this gives you a clearer record of all of your communications with your client.

If you no longer want to have a copy of these emails CCed to you, there’s now an option to switch that off in the Email section of the Preferences window.

No more “add email template to found set”

Light Blue is designed to send “everyday” emails to your clients and is very good at doing so: dealing with new enquiries, responding to your clients’ messages, automated appointment reminders, and so on.

However, when you’re interested in sending a message to a large group of contacts at once (we’re defining ‘large’ as anything more than about 20 contacts in this context) then specialist marketing tools are a better fit for making sure that those messages reach your audience. Sending lots of marketing emails from your own email address risks damaging the reputation of your email account, making it substantially less likely that your prospects (or paying clients) will receive your messages, that’s why it’s best to use a tool that’s designed for the job.

It’s easy to export email addresses from Light Blue to use with a dedicated email marketing tool.

We’ve removed the “Add email template to found set” command to make it less likely that someone could get themselves into trouble by trying to send lots of emails from Light Blue.

Other changes

As always, we’ve included as many new features, customer requests, and bug fixes in this release. Here’s a list of the biggest changes.

Inbox, Outbox, and Activity

  • The speed of loading or searching the Inbox has been massively improved for customers with large numbers of incoming emails, text messages, and forms.
  • Client portal emails sent on your behalf (e.g. when publishing a contract, or when an enquiry fills in one of your contact forms) are now recorded in the Outbox and linked to the Activity panel of any related records.
  • If an error occurs when sending an email or text message, you’re now notified by a dialog rather than have to spot the error badge appear on the Outbox. Email and text message sending errors are highlighted in red on their parent record’s Activity panel, as well as in the Outbox.
  • Added a button to the Outbox and email dialogs that allows you to dismiss email and text message sending errors. This will remove them from “Errors” category in the Outbox and also stop them from counting towards the count that appears on the Outbox’s badge, but leaves them in your database so that you can refer back to them in future. e.g. if you receive a hard bounce from an email that you send, you might want to have a record of that but not have that bounced email count as an error once you’ve dealt with it.
  • Added an “Automatically CC Client Portal Emails To Yourself” preference.
  • Added French and German translations of Light Blue’s contract signing service terms & conditions.
  • Light Blue’s contract signing service terms & conditions now refer to the text of the “submit” and “save” buttons, if you’ve customised or translated them.
  • Added an option to display your booking fee description on the “pay booking fee” step of online contracts.
  • Removed the indent and outdent buttons from the email editor toolbar. This is because the HTML and CSS used to implement this feature is not supported by some popular email clients (e.g. Gmail’s web interface) and we don’t want to encourage you to use formatting that might not appear correctly in all email clients.
  • When you create an email from a template, we’ve reduced the amount of vertical space between email template body and your default email signature.
  • Fixed a bug that could leave the old signature in place when you select a different email signature while composing an email.
  • Draft emails now appear in the “To Do” section of the “Activity” panel instead of the “History” section.
  • Clarified the warning that’s displayed when you delete an item from the Inbox or Outbox to make it clear that it will also be removed from any linked records too.
  • Contracts and forms can now be sent to contacts that don’t have an email address of their own, but belong to a group of contacts whose head has an email address.
  • You can now include VAT number in the list of contact fields that you can include in online forms.
  • Light Blue can now split name & email address combos of the form “Your Name >”
  • You can no longer include the “confirm email” field in a form that does not include the “email” field.
  • Fixed a bug where the “Accept Contract” dialog could open behind the contract dialog when you try to accept the signed contract from the contract dialog.
  • Checking and unchecking the “preview mail-merge tags” checkbox when editing one of the emails in the contract setup dialog now reloads the dialog much faster.

Finances

  • Added a “print this invoice” button to online invoices, so that clients can more easily print or save a PDF copy for their records.
  • The sale “payment due” field has been replaced by the payment schedule features.
  • Added more fields that can be used in queries, lists, and custom reports: “Shoot Start Date” has been added to the Quotes section; “Shoot Enquiry Source” has been added to the Sales section; “Most Recent Payment Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” fields have been added to the Purchases section.
  • Added new mail-merge tags: %SaleBillingTitle%, %SaleShippingTitle%
  • Added a “Copy Link for Online Payment” option to the “Create Invoice” dialog.
  • The “Export Financial Information” export now includes the purchase invoice number field.
  • QuickBooks invoice exports now show “None” for items that have no tax applied to them, instead of a blank value.
  • The “Mark Purchases As Paid” housekeeping command now offers you a choice of using today’s date or the purchase records’ invoice date.
  • Online invoices now display the linked shoot’s reference number, if you’ve turned the shoot reference option on in Light Blue.
  • The “Contact Financial History” report no longer shows a value in the “Days Overdue” column for invoices or purchases that have been marked as paid.
  • Removed the “Financial Details” heading and “Included in the items above at the rate shown” text from quotes and invoices.
  • Added a preference to include the purchase reference field in linked records and record selection lists that include purchases.

Shoots

  • Shoots now display payments for their linked sales in their “Linked Records” panel.
  • The printed version of a shoot now includes linked resources’ full names, rather than their abbreviation.
  • When you confirm a shoot that has a single linked quoted, Light Blue can now automatically change the quote’s status to “Accepted”.
  • When you change a confirmed shoot’s status to “cancelled” or “enquiry”, the dialog that offers to tidy outstanding items now includes a clearer “Don’t Tidy” option.
  • The various tools in the Housekeeping section of the Records menu for changing the status of batches of shoots have had their names tidied up, and we’ve added a new “Change Status of Found Shoots to Enquiry” tool.
  • Fixed a bug where an enquiry with multiple sessions might not have its default workflow applied when a single session is confirmed.
  • You can now save a shoot schedule step that doesn’t have a description. A schedule step requires either a description, time, or linked address to be saved.
  • Fixed a bug where changing a shoot’s type from one that has a different default price list to a shoot type that uses the global default price list did not automatically change the price list.

Miscellaneous

  • The ‘Finances’, ‘Printing’, and ‘Shoot Types’ sections of the Preferences window have been redesigned to make the options easier to find and understand.
  • It’s now possible to export and import saved queries and custom reports. If you’re sending a saved query or custom report to someone else, please bear in mind that the way Light Blue handles links to related records means that you should design your query to work based on the name of the related record rather than selecting it from a popup menu.
  • Improved the workflow and messages displayed when you’re going through the process of resetting a member of staff’s password from the staff login dialog.
  • Improved the warnings that are displayed when you turn on the “require password” option.
  • Our old static web gallery generator was deprecated more than two years ago and has now been removed from the app.
  • The record selection dialog now defaults its height to just a tad less than that of Light Blue’s main window when you open it.
  • When you go to related record, the first tab of that record’s tab panel is now always selected.
  • The workflow export and import features now include the member of staff assigned to a task.
  • The quick search feature now includes addresses in the list fields it searches.
  • The bulk text message setup dialog now includes an estimate of the number of credits that will be used.
  • Added the contact VAT number field to the contact import dialog.
  • Changed references to “setup code” to refer to “one-time password” instead.
  • Using the %BusinessAddressCommas% version of the %BusinessAddress% mail-merge tag now converts any paragraphs in the address into a single, comma-delimited line.
  • Company contacts are now displayed in lists using their company name, rather than the value from the “company” field of their address.
  • The list of localisations in the “Template Translations” section of the Preferences window is now in alphabetical order.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when typing a reply to an email that contains emoji. Also fixed an error that could change the font settings back to default after typing an apostrophe in the email editor.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the Inbox unread badge count to include text messages that don’t appear in the Inbox.
  • Fixed an obscure bug that could cause a product workflow to be added twice when that product was added to a sale.
  • Fixed a bug where duplicating an appointment with an appointment type adds the appointment type’s resources again.
  • Fixed a bug where going to list view, then double-clicking on the same record to go back to detail view, would display a blank detail panel.
  • Fixed a bug where clicking or tabbing into the “schedule step” field when adding a schedule step to a form would lose focus when there are unsaved changes in other fields.
  • Fixed a bug that could prevent the invoice date in the detail view list from being updated when it’s edited.
  • Fixed a bug where duplicating a shoot and using the “don’t group” option could still group the new shoot with the original.
  • Fixed a bug that could result in upgrading from versions of Light Blue older than version 7 from upgrading workflows properly.
  • Fixed a bug where adding an appointment via the calendar failed to display the full set of workflow options when you close it.
  • Fixed a bug where the “you need to link some contacts to this shoot” warning was displayed in a form setup dialog when it shouldn’t have been.

Light Blue 8.2.7

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.7, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.7 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

Here’s a list of the changes that we’ve made in this update:

  • Removed warnings about sending emails via Light Blue’s own email servers, because the Gmail now respects the “Reply To” header in emails. Previously, we encouraged you to use your own email account because Gmail sometimes didn’t respect the “Reply To” header and that could cause client’s replies to your emails to not be sent to you.
  • Google account authentication for our Google Calendar publishing feature is now handled in your default web browser, instead of a browser embedded in Light Blue. This is because Google no longer allow embedded browsers to be used as part of their authentication process. If you’re already using our Google Calendar publishing feature then you won’t notice any difference with this change, but if you’re setting up Google Calendar publishing then you should make sure that all of your computers are using Light Blue 8.2.7 or newer.
  • When printing a contact or shoot record, line breaks are preserved in any notes that you include.
  • Added a UK flat-rate VAT scheme version of our accrual basis tax report.
  • Importing an order from theimagefile no longer creates an unnecessary Purchase record.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where adding or deleting branding files could fail to “stick” after reloading the preferences window.
  • Fixed a problem where an email template with unusual formatting could sometimes fail to be displayed properly.
  • Fixed a couple of rare crashes that have been reported.

Light Blue 8.2.6

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.6, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.6 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

Here’s a list of the changes that we’ve made in this update:

  • Added “Most Recent Payment Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” fields to the Purchases section. These fields can be included in list view, queries, or when exporting data.
  • Added buttons to save and reload field import orders to the “Import Purchases From CSV” command.
  • Accepting a contract that doesn’t include a form now takes you to the linked shoot record, just like accepting a contract with a linked form already does.
  • The %SaleInvoiceNumber% mail-merge tag is now blank when you use it in the wrong context, rather than making it look like it was used from an uninvoiced sale.
  • Renamed the “Send Now” buttons in the workflow email and text message dialogs to make it more obvious that clicking the button will convert the message from a workflow message to a normal message.
  • Changed the character encoding of our CSV data exports to UTF8 with a byte order marker. This ensures that Excel and other apps will open the correct encoding.

Keeping in touch with your customers this Christmas

At this time of year, many photographers are getting in touch with their customers in order to send their season’s greetings. You might be sending everyone a festive newsletter or posting them a Christmas card.  You’ve been adding information to Light Blue throughout the year, and now’s a perfect time to get that information to go to work for you.

Using Light Blue you can find the records of customers who matter the most to you, and then use various tools within Light Blue to send them a festive message.

Querying for records

In an earlier blog post, we wrote in some detail about using the query dialog to dig deep into your data & find records that you were interested in.

You can design a query to find the contacts that you’re interested in reaching – perhaps all of your customers who’ve spent over a certain amount?

When you press Query, Light Blue will display a list of records that fit all the criteria in your query. You can use that information in a number of different ways.

Exporting email addresses to Mail Chimp

If you plan to send out a lot of emails in one big festive mail shot, you could export a spreadsheet of your customers email addresses to upload to an email marketing software like MailChimp. Light Blue is great if you want to email a small number of contacts, but you have to be very careful when you start sending too many emails via your own email account: sending large volumes of mail has the potential to flag you as a spammer, and so we recommend using a dedicated service like MailChimp for this.

Using the results of the query you ran earlier, simply click Records > Export Email Addresses to save a CSV spreadsheet which can be uploaded as part of an email campaign.

Sending Christmas Cards

You may prefer to post your customers a Christmas card. Printing your customer’s addresses onto labels or envelopes en mass is really simple. After performing your query, simply click Print/Send and choose the Labels / Envelopes option to print all of the primary addresses of your main contacts onto labels or envelopes.

Using mail-merge documents to send a personalised letter

If you are posting out a Christmas card, you may want to enclose a personalised letter. This could be a newsletter telling your customers about the past year in your studio or maybe letting them know about upcoming offers in the New Year.

We’ve got a handy tutorial all about using your own word processor software to generate template letters:

There’s also a comprehensive list of all of the mail-merge tags that you can use in Light Blue, which will populate your template documents with information from your records.

Once you have created your template document you will need to select the customers to send it to. Again, using the results of the query you ran earlier, go to Records > Add to found set > Document from Template.

Select the template you created earlier, then save the documents to your desktop ready for printing.

You can choose to add a copy to these records’ Activity panel (but this option can use a lot of disk space if your document template is large).

Do you send your customers a festive message? We’d love to hear how you find Light Blue helps you keep in contact with customers throughout the year.

Light Blue 8.2.5

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.5, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.5 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

Here’s a list of the changes that we’ve made in this update:

  • Worked around a change in Google’s account authorisation page that could prevent you from authorising Google Calendar publishing on Windows.
  • Changed the character encoding of our CSV data exports from UTF8 to UTF16 to work around a problem where Excel can fail to decode some characters properly when it reads a UTF8 file.
  • Fixed an error message that appeared when you create an email from the Resources panel of the Preferences window.
  • When you accept a contract that includes quotes, Light Blue now only reject other quotes for that shoot that were included in that contract. Previously, it would reject all other quotes for that shoot, even if they weren’t included in the contract.
  • Fixed a problem where mail-merge tags that should contain multiple lines (e.g. %ContactAddress% or %ShootSchedule%) are being displayed on a single line when used in an email.
  • Fixed a problem where the “Check For Updates” command on Windows could display the “you already have the latest version of Light Blue” message twice.

Light Blue 8.2.4

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.4, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.4 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

The main focus of this update is on improvements to our Google Calendar publishing feature and adding some new fields that are particularly helpful when using Light Blue’s powerful querying and marketing tools. For example, you can now limit a query for contact records to just those contacts that are the head of a group (e.g. so that you can build a query for all of this year’s family portrait clients but limit the results to just your main contact).

Here’s a full list of the changes that we’ve made:

  • When you switch on Google Calendar publishing, you’re now given the option of using one of your existing calendars instead of creating a new one. The “Reset Google Calendar” button also allows you to reset your current calendar, rather than creating a new one.
  • Reduced the number of Google Calendar API problems that would cause the “Publish To Google Calendar” checkbox to be automatically un-ticked.
  • Added “head of group” fields to the query dialog, list view, and export fields for contact records.
  • Added an “Is Head Of Group” field to contacts.
  • Added “All Contact Names” and “All Contact Names And Roles” fields to the query dialog, list view, and export fields for shoot records.
  • Reinstated the popup that appears when you click on a link in our HTML editor, so you can edit, clear, or visit the link’s URL.
  • ShootProof orders are now always imported with tax-exclusive pricing, because that’s the pricing that their API provides.
  • Typing into the Inbox search box now only runs the search when you finish typing.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when importing a CSV file with bad character encoding.
  • Fixed a problem that could cause text to be accidentally deleted when you’re drafting an email.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where PDFs and printed output would use a slightly larger font size than in previous versions of Light Blue.
  • Fixed a problem where applying a positive font size adjustment didn’t work.

Speed up your workflow by importing your orders from Fundy

As a busy social photographer, you’re always looking for tools that will help to lighten your workload and save you time. Our friends at Fundy help to save time with all your photo design needs.

With Fundy designer you can design albums and signing books, create wall art, design web collages and watermark images all in one software, but did you know they also do IPS?

Selling products to your clients face-to-face after a portrait session is a long-established method of taking orders and making money. Many photographers choose the in-person sales or IPS model as they believe it is part of giving their client a great customer experience. It will often result in better sales than online galleries as it’s much easier to sell wall art and albums in person when the customer can see the different products you offer.

Light Blue is the core of all of your photography businesses admin and there are substantial advantages to having all of your business information in one place. To help you to have the complete picture, Light Blue can import your in-person sales orders from Fundy, a great way to keep on top of your finances!

After an IPS session, recording your client’s order and linking it to their shoot record in Light Blue helps you to see how successful that session was as well as giving you the all-important bigger picture within your business.

“Recording you IPS sales has never been easier with the new integration between Fundy Designer and Light Blue.”

Andrew “Fundy” Funderburg
Founder Fundy Software

In the guide below we’ll show you how to manage an IPS session in Fundy, then export the helpful information and bring it into Light Blue so that you can link everything together.

One of the great things about doing an IPS session is that you can show clients exactly how their images could look as a canvas or frame on the wall. There are a number of rooms built into the software, but you can also upload images of your client’s homes to show them exactly how their wall art could look in their own home.

Once you’ve decided on the size and framing you can add the framed print to your client’s order.

To view the items in your client order click on the image browser button.

Select the orders tab to show you what’s already been added to your client’s order. You can also add extra items to your order such as prints or cards.

Selecting ‘add print’ will bring up a dialogue box and allow you to select sizing and add notes to your order.

When you have finished adding items you will click on ‘view order’ to see the final selection.

You can then export this order by selecting ‘Export> Studio Management XML’.

Once you’ve exported your order from Fundy, you’ll want to import it as a sale in Light Blue. To do this, go to the Records menu, select Import, then ‘Sale From Fundy XML File’.

This will import the Fundy order into Light Blue as a sale. It’s really important to remember that you still need to turn the sale into an invoice, even if you’ve already taken payment for the sale from the customer. Turning the sale into an invoice flags it for inclusion in various reports in Light Blue. You will get a reminder to do this when you import the XML file.

You can choose whether to send the invoice to your customer. If you’ve already given them a copy of their Fundy order at the viewing session, you can uncheck the Print/Send box and Light Blue will simply create an invoice number for the sale.

You’ll also want to make sure that you link the sale to your shoot record. Click on the cog in the linked shoot record and choose ‘Link Shoot’.

Start typing the shoot name and it will appear in the drop down menu.

If the customer has already paid you for the order you can mark is as paid simply by clicking the “Add Payment” button on the sale record.

By importing your Fundy orders into Light Blue, you’ll always have a clear idea of your sales income, as all that information is in one place. We hope you find this helpful in streamlining your order system. We also have integrations from Shootproof and theimagefile which we will cover in future blog posts. We looked at our integration with ProSelect in this blog post.

We’d love to know if you are already using some of these integrations and how you find it helps you & your business!

macOS Catalina

tl;dr: Light Blue 8.2 is fully compatible with macOS Catalina and is a free update for all of our subscribers.

Apple have just released this year’s major macOS update, macOS Catalina. Catalina includes some really big changes behind the scenes, including dropping support for 32-bit apps and introducing new security and privacy measures.

We recently released Light Blue 8.2, which is fully compatible with macOS Catalina. You can update to Light Blue 8.2 by using the “Check For Updates” command in Light Blue or by downloading the installer from your Light Blue account.

Mandatory 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. 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 version of macOS comes out. At the very least, if you absolutely must update on day one, make sure that you have at least one computer on the ‘old’ operating system until you’ve had a chance to test that all of the apps that you depend on are fully functional.

Light Blue 8.2

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2, which builds on the success of Light Blue 8 by adding new features, improving existing features, and squashing bugs.

Light Blue 8.2 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.

macOS Catalina compatibility

This update adds compatibility with macOS Catalina, which is expected to be released in October 2019. Please make sure that you install this update if you’re going to upgrade your Mac to macOS Catalina.

Online contract, forms, and online invoice translations

All of the text in our online contracts, forms, and online invoices can now be translated so that they can be presented in any language! We’ve provided French and German translations as part of Light Blue 8.2, but please get in touch if you’d like to find out more about adding other languages.

Home screen and activity improvements

  • Shoots displayed on the Home screen now include their location summary, so you can see where you’re going at a glance.
  • The task manager now includes totals next to its group headings.
  • The quick query totals for each of Light Blue’s main sections are displayed more quickly when you have large quantities of data.
  • Added a preference for displaying the time and date of all items in the Activity panel instead of just the date.

Email and text message improvements

  • We’ve made it much simpler to include images in your emails and email templates. When you’re adding an image to an email, we can now host that image for you to save you from needing to host the image yourself.
  • Improved the performance of our HTML editor when working with large quantities of text.
  • The “Insert Link” button in our HTML editor now allows you to add links to images as well as text.
  • Removed the ability to add multiple levels of indentation to ordered and unordered lists in emails, because they’re not a standard HTML feature and some email clients (especially Gmail) don’t display them properly.
  • When you’re replying to emails where the email address is of the form “Someone’s name <someone@example.com>”, we now strip the name part out automatically. We can also handle email addresses of the form “Someone’s name [mailto:someone@example.com]”
  • Added support for GroupHead: prefixes for contact mail-merge tags in workflow emails and text messages.
  • Fixed a problem where a manually created text message could be displayed with the wrong time until it’s sent.
  • Fixed a bug where the “Insert Link” button in our HTML editor could remove the first letter of the text you’re adding a link to.

Other client portal improvements

  • We’ve changed all references to “public forms” to “contact forms” because that’s what most photographers use them for!
  • When you receive a new lead from a contact form, we include the name of the lead in the subject line if you have a “main contact” control in your form.
  • The receipt email for online invoices now has more sensible headings when the invoice had previously been partially paid.
  • Worked around a problem where Gmail could fail to display the button text in our client portal emails in the correct colour.

Other improvements and bug fixes

  • When importing a price list from a CSV file, we now automatically handle currency symbols and preserve the order of the items in your price list.
  • You can now save and reload import orders when doing a “shoots and contacts” data import.
  • When you use the “Mark Founds Shoots As Completed” housekeeping command, you now have an option to change the status of enquiries as well as confirmed shoots.
  • The “Add contact” dialog now allows you to set the label for any new addresses that you’re adding.
  • The “Save New Product” button in the sale item editing dialog now allows you to save items with a negative or zero price, as well as items with a positive price.
  • Our Australian English localisation now refers to “State” instead of “County”.
  • The “Update Linked Contact’s Address” command now explains why you can’t update the linked contact’s address when there are no changes to save.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur on macOS when creating a reply to an email containing emoji.
  • Fixed a bug that could prevent the Contacts, Calendars, or Reminders permission dialogs from being displayed on macOS Mojave or newer.
  • Fixed a problem where the records list contextual menu in the Preferences window would never enable any of its items and the “Move Record to Trash” menu item was also disabled.
  • Fixed the title of the calendar note dialog on Windows.
  • Fixed a bug where background threads the load the contents of the Inbox and Outbox could persist after they’ve finished their job.
  • Fixed a problem where the “Skip This Version” button in the Windows version of our autoupdater wouldn’t remember that you’ve skipped that version when you quit and relaunch Light Blue.
  • In the background activity window, if you’re doing a large sync and a temporary error turns the sync status text red, it’s now changed back to black as soon as the error is cleared.