New online invoice and email features

We’ve made some small changes to the way that Light Blue’s online invoices and emails work. We’ll be announcing some big new features in the coming weeks but these changes have been made now so that we can start beta testing those other new features.

Online invoices

Our online invoice receipt emails now include a link to view the paid invoice online, rather than including a copy of the invoice in the email itself. There are two main reasons for this change: it works better with a wider range of email clients; and it also protects your clients’ privacy if they’re using an email provider that scrapes the contents of their emails for information.

We’ve also changed the information that’s displayed when your client views a paid invoice. Instead of just displaying your “thanks for paying this invoice” message, we’re displaying all of the details of the invoice so that your client can refer back to it or print it for their records.

Client portal emails

The other new feature that you’ll notice is that 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.

Feedback

As always, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any feedback about our new features. And if you’re on our list of beta testers, expect to hear more from us in the coming weeks 🙂

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.