We continue to work our way toward General Availability and have released over 140 new features and fixes since Early Access was opened up to everybody a little over a month ago. We wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of those changes since Early Access launched.

The job viewer has a new Orders page

Several of the recent changes have been to reduce the number of clicks to get at the information you’re looking for (and many more of those on the way!). One of the most noticeable is that we got rid of the Invoices page in the job viewer and rewrote the Orders page, which now includes the invoices and payment history grouped by order.

The job lists are now sortable

With Táve 2 you had to sort and filter your job list yourself and hopefully arrive at the information you’re looking for. With Táve 3 we went the opposite direction by creating separate pre-made highly purposed lists to make it super simple to get at what you’re looking for, whether you’re looking for who owes you money or which leads need proposals still.

A few of the lists make sense being sorted several different ways and it generally comes down to a matter of how you work or how large the list is. Because of that, we’ve brought custom sorting to the job list in Táve 3. Just click any column title to change the list sorting.

Hovering your mouse over the title of the current sort column will show you the current sort order. Clicking the current column a second time will reverse the sort.

As part of this process we also cleaned up the lists themselves a bit, adding the “Expired Proposals” list and correcting some columns (like the “Client Activity” column in the various lead lists) and adding others (such as a new “Payment Due” date column in the “With Balances” list).

New “Mail Activity Log” and changes to the default email layout

Today’s 3.0.7 Early Access release includes several new features for email. To help improve the spam scores of email sent through Táve, we updated the default email layout to move your brand’s email logo to the bottom of the message rather than the top. We’ve also started including a text version of your messages in outgoing emails to further improve the score. In addition, we wrote a short spam tips article in the helpdesk.

The most exciting email update in this release though is the new Mail Activity Log in the Reports section. This report shows a full list of email events, such as opens, clicks, or bounces, since we switched email providers last month.

The details with dashed lines under them have tooltips with technical information, which can often hint as to how the email is being handled even if they’re often rather technical.

We’ve also added a version of the report to the Job’s mail viewer. So if you’ve sent an email, you can access it from the job’s conversation log and get all the activity for just that one message.

Finally, if an email fails to deliver, such as the email bouncing or being reported as spam, we now send a notification email to the studio’s primary email address.

Improvements to the “Offline Payments” page

While this is a relatively minor change in itself, it is on a client facing page that may affect you so we wanted to bring it up here. The offline payment instructions were previously displayed below a sentence describing the payment to be sent. Many of you wanted to customize that sentence as well.

So now instead of the amount and due date being inside a highly variable dynamic sentence, they’re simply labeled “Amount Due” and “Due Date”. To hide or style those details, you or your web designer can use the Brand’s “Advanced Editor” to edit the CSS using the body.payOffline #PaymentInfo {} selector.

Lots of new tutorials

Karen has been creating a lot of new tutorials on the helpdesk.

They’re always just a click away by clicking the Support link at the top right of Táve 3 any time.

 Stability improvements

Many of the changes we released over the past month have been bug fixes and the Early Access system continues to stabilize more and more every day as we respond to helpdesk tickets and work toward implementing some of the top requested features.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to work through the 3.0 release and especially those of you who have filed helpdesk tickets (bonus points for urls and screenshots!) or joined us in our helpdesk’s public chatroom.

This is a quick note for our Táve 2 users: You probably noticed a large Táve 3.0 Early Access banner on the left side of the application. Clicking on the banner will take you to the 3.0 migration website, where you’ll be able to configure a preview migration or go live with the new version. Once the migration is complete, you’ll be able to sign-in to the new Táve 3.0 Early Access site at my.tave.com.

Thank you for your patience and support as we worked long and hard to develop Táve 3!

With our final and largest beta being readied for release to our beta testers, today’s 3.0 preview post will be longer than usual as Beta 5 covers a lot of ground.

Beta 5 is all about the client facing items. Proposals, questionnaires, invoices, and contact forms are all added or recreated with this release. Client Access as it was in T2 is no more. With T3, clients access items directly, be it an invoice, a questionnaire, or a proposal. With this, Brands become much more important and far more powerful.

In T3, your public look and feel, your contact information, and even custom domains are all determined by the brand. As part of this, we’ve added more color and image settings, including separate email and printout graphics (as well as container HTML for emails and printouts in the advanced configuration page).

With these options you can easily create highly customized pages without ever touching the advanced configuration page. With the exception of the invoice screenshot that illustrates how customizable the design is, all of the screenshots below use the default options. If you don’t provide a page background, we add a texture to your background color to make the page a bit less plain.

We had to change the proposal editor inside the app (compared to the prior version) to handle the additional features. The advantage of the new layout is we can show more information on the page.

When you hover over the recipient, several icons appear, including one to email an invitation to the recipient and another to open the direct link in another window. Using the Email Proposal button at the top, all of the recipients will be sent their own trackable direct link in an email you compose. Unlike T2, there isn’t a preview mode as that often caused confusion for users, instead we added a button to resets the statistics for the proposal. Clicking on the direct link icon pulls up the proposal either on your brand’s custom domain or its secure tave.com subdomain.

In this example proposal, I’ve provided two quotes, which are displayed along with my introduction (the order is customizable too, another new feature in T3). You’ll notice that the links showing the steps to book the proposal are now textual, allowing your brand to completely customize the look of them, a welcome change from T2 with its hard-coded Client Access navigation design. The orange colors in this Brand come from the default accent color seen in the first screenshot above.

The contact information below the page is all configured on the Brand as well. The screenshot above highlights two completely fictional quotes, one using a package and the other not. There’s an option to show individual package item prices as well as the package discount, but it isn’t enabled in this screenshot. Another new feature here is the ability for your client to explicitly decline a quote, which may provide more insight into what your client’s are looking for. The final item in the second quote, “Wedding Art Prints”, is followed by a description from the new product editor.

In the next screenshot, the client has selected the Gold Collection above and is prompted to select the payment schedule that works best for them. If you only added one payment schedule to the proposal they skip this step and continue on.

The subsequent pages are exactly what you’d expect, so I’ll skip them here, but the configuration for two of the steps are worth highlighting. Contracts have been improved with more explicit “initial here” boxes, many more placeholders, a copy of the sales order, and 1-4 signers (T2 was only 1 or 2, and it could only be set on the contract itself). Here’s a small clip from the Proposal’s contract editor, where you can configure those signatures and preview the quote based on which quote and payment schedule are selected.

The payment system in T3 has been enhanced to add an “Offline Cash Payments” option and you can now enable multiple payment options, so your client can select to mail you a check, pay with PayPal or Google Checkout, or use a credit card with your merchant account.

To illustrate just how customizable the new client facing pages are, here’s an invoice page using Karen’s brand design. When you or your workflow email an invoice to a client, they receive a direct link to this page.

There you have it, the highlights from the final Táve 3.0 beta!

 

Táve 3.0 Release Plan

With only a few small exceptions, like simplifying the new New Lead Wizard, this beta essentially brings us to feature complete status. That’s quite a milestone when you consider my very first code submission labeled as 3.0 was on November 2nd, 2009 (changelist 3009 and we’re on change 5960 now, though we did release 2.8 and 2.9 between then and now it still illustrates how nearly as many changes have gone into 3.0 as have gone into all prior releases combined).

We’ll be working out the details and scheduling of the public release over the next couple weeks and will post more details about that then.

When we began work on Beta 5, our final beta, in early August, we were aiming for a 2 month release schedule. It appears we’ll be pretty close to that goal as we’re now down to 10 points for this iteration in our project plan (our points are averaging about one day). Beta 5 is extremely exciting, as it completely replaces our client facing pages from T2, bringing far more attractive default designs, superior browser compatibility, and many more features. We’ll go deeper into it in our Beta 5 preview in two weeks.

In the meantime, I’d like to illustrate how some of the fairly simple changes in T3 can have a huge impact on what you get out of the system, by sharing a preview of the new sidebars from the Jobs and Contacts homepages. The Job section opens with an overview highlighting revenue (including a small chart), jobs that need attention, upcoming payments, etc. The Contacts section however, which replaces the Clients and Vendors sections, is more of an address book and thus opens directly to your full contact list.

One of the things we’ve been hearing about in T2 is that it isn’t always easy to get to your open leads or booked jobs, check account balances, or export only certain items. With the new lists in T3, all of that and more is available with a quick click (filtering is no longer required). We’ve also added a few other useful features here, like being able to star jobs and contacts that you want to quickly access later, to allowing bulk changes to the items (such as deleting or completing multiple items at once).

We’ve mentioned in earlier posts how contacts in T3 can be re-used around the app, being a client here, a subject there, and a vendor on another job. These lists bring all that together. For instance, adding a contact as a vendor on a job automatically adds them to the vendors list, rather than having a separate Vendors section as we do in T2.

Speaking of organizing important items, we also replaced the “Attention Needed” box on the homepage, which had a tendency to get rather massive for busy studios by listing each item right there, with a new “Right Now” summarized snapshot of your studio that links various item counts to these new lists.

These screenshots were taken with my test studio, so your actual data will make more sense than mine.

In Closing

We’ve had mixed reaction to our preview posts, with some feeling reassured that we’re doing the right thing and on track but others feeling teased by them. So we’ve spent the last couple months (as we in hurricane country say) “hunkered down” focused on development of this final beta, knowing that what everybody really wants (us included!) is the final T3 release announcement. Once Beta 5 completes the beta process, we intend to ramp up our communication significantly.

Until then, and as always, we’re available via Helpdesk. Thank you for your support!

In our previous Táve 3.0 preview series post, we looked at the new workflow system. Moving the workflow into its own section meant we could clean up and simplify the product editor, which had always been a bit of a challenge for new users to really jump into. Now all the work to create when ordered and default expenses are completely separate from the product editor. This also means you can reuse the same product workflow for multiple products, saving even more time.

 

Options and add-ons can be added and edited directly on the product page now, and add-on pricing is now located in the add-on quick editor instead of being grouped with all the other product pricing configuration. These popup quick editors are also new to Beta 4, replacing the inline quick editors used throughout the application due to feedback from previous betas.

When it comes to editing the pricing of complex products, such as albums, it’s easier and clearer than ever. We’ve also optimized it to handle larger and more complex products much more efficiently than before.

Jason and I are excited about today’s substantial Beta 4 release for many reasons. One significant update includes a major upgrade to our javascript framework that speeds up initial load so much that we’ve removed the loading screen. Another reason I’m personally excited about Beta 4 is that it means my focus now moves to the client-facing products, which are the last major components to deliver before we hit feature-complete status across all products and start planning the Early Access release schedule.

Táve has always had a versatile product-based workflow, and with Táve 3.0 Beta 4 we’re taking that to a whole new level.

First, we’ve moved the workflow from the product editor into its own editor. This has the advantage of letting you re-use and manage the same workflow across multiple products much easier than before.

Then we expanded the existing list of items that you could create from just tasks, events, and expenses. Now you can have credit automatically added or redeemed during any phase. In addition this powers our most frequently requested feature; you can have the system create and (optionally) automatically send emails to your clients using the new Quick Response feature.

To make the workflow even more powerful, we’ve expanded it to include job-based workflow. Now you can have items that get created the moment a lead comes in or applied to any job regardless of what products they’ve booked.

Because the workflow system is completely customizable, this also means you can now modify the phases in a job or deliverable, adding or removing them as you wish.

In this screenshot (click to view full size), I’ve created a very basic job workflow illustrating some of the things that can be done in Táve 3.0. A few of the items would be more appropriate on a deliverable workflow, but they illustrate the potential.

PS. Have you seen the photos of our new office we posted to Facebook? We’ve been putting the new office to good use with lots of 3.0 development and continuing the rapid helpdesk response times we’re known for.

This week’s “Beta 3” takes sending email, a top requested feature that’s new in 3.0, even further by letting you create message templates complete with an expanded collection of dynamic placeholders. These placeholders go well beyond what’s available in Táve 2 (as part of the contract editor) and are much easier to use.

In this screenshot of the quick response editor, you can see that increased selection of placeholders as well as their new home inside the editor (which has also been replaced with a new rich text editor that provides a vastly superior editing experience and should be more familiar to members with experience using WordPress).

Here’s an example template being used used inside the new message composer. As you can see, we’ve adopted a more intuitive visual approach to working with placeholders.

These message templates will play an even more important role in Beta 4, which will be adding a whole new workflow system which includes the ability to send emails automatically.

Continuing our Táve 3.0 Preview series, this week we look into the new file and attachment management features in Táve 3.0.

In Táve 2.9, you have to upload a new copy of a file every time you attach it to a job or client profile. This can eat up your space quickly if you’re adding PDF files during the sales process. In Táve 3.0, our new upload window lets you reuse previously uploaded files, which can lead to dramatic space savings:

This new uploader, which takes some inspiration from the WordPress media uploader, was added to the latest beta release to support reusable attachments in email and quick response templates without having to leave the page.

Since it wouldn’t make sense to add a file browser to the uploader without a way to manage the existing files, we’ve also added a new file management section to Settings so you can delete or purge uploaded files.

These small improvements continue the Táve 3.0 trend of making everything easier to use while cutting down the number of steps you have to take in the process.

We have another segment in our Táve 3.0 preview series here on the blog. Today we are sharing the Proposal Editor.

This is a new addition which works a bit differently from 2.9’s method of inviting the client to their Client Access Portal. It is very powerful and adds many new features such as emailing recipients, multiple payment schedules, change requests, proposal introductions, and more. Additionally, the proposal keeps the related quotes, payments, and information all contained together in one place, which is helpful for those of you who have returning clients.

My favorite new feature with proposals is allowing you to email the proposal directly from inside Táve. You can now email as many recipients as you need (for example, bride, groom, mother of the bride, etc) and track their individual access to the proposal.

Táve 3.0 Proposal Overview

Additionally, we’ve taken your input regarding payment schedules and have made it so that you can create custom payment plans to display to the client right inside the proposal, even giving them the choice between multiple plans. This is great for a client who is trying to put together a budget and needs a little bit of help. Like everything else in Táve 3.0, the payment schedule preview updates live as you add or modify the schedule rules, which can be edited directly inside the payment schedule editor without ever leaving the page.

Payment Schedule Editor

Like Quotes, Proposals can be saved as a templates so you can quickly create a fully configured proposal, with quotes, contracts, and payment schedules all ready to go.

In continuing our Táve 3.0 preview series now that we’re in beta, I’d like to share one of the most powerful new features in Táve 3.0: the Live Quote Editor! (We shared these screenshots in the members-only section of our Helpdesk last month, but the feature is important enough, and exciting enough, that I wanted to publish them to our blog for all to see, especially since many members may have missed it in the forum.)

A basic quote in our new Live Quote Editor

Right off the bat you’ll notice a small but important addition; an option to save the quote as a template. This option has been added to both individual quotes and entire proposals. Once selected, you can quickly create a new quote simply by selecting the template from a dropdown that you’ll find next to any “New Quote” or “New Order” button, including the “Book Order” button on the new New Lead Wizard. Once you have a few templates set up, you’ll be flying through the new lead process.

The second important addition to note is that you can now hide configuration of individual items, as indicated by the blue carets. What’s more, they aren’t hiding a simple configuration overview as you’re used to in Táve 2.9, but instead hides the full editable configuration and pricing details for the item. Packages take that even further and list each included product as re-configurable sub-items! Let’s take a look…

Configure everything instantly! Product configurations, packages, and discounts…

Where to start?

Any time you change a price, discount amount, or product configuration, you’ll see the change reflected in the total instantly. Going to a separate configuration editor and back again just to tell your client how that album or package upgrade will affect their quote is a thing of the past my friends!

We’ve extended discounts to include percentage based discounts as well as the usual fixed amount discounts–a popular feature request amongst our users! We’ve even included the package discount as an individual line item so you can modify that on the fly too. Another new package-related feature (configured in settings) is the option to show these package discounts as line items and to show all package line-item prices outside of the quote editor, places like Client Access, print-outs, and emails.

Speaking of working with your clients to create a quote; Táve 3.0 has improved on our “Client-Safe Mode” feature located in Táve 2’s Settings, by placing a badge for it up top in the navigation bar. Click the shield at any time to toggle the mode without leaving the page you’re working on. Once enabled, we hide information we don’t think you’d want a client or prospect to see, such as cost, revenue, and balance columns in the various section homepages and lists (balances and totals, but not costs and expenses, still show up when you access an individual contact or job profile, as we assume it’s that client’s profile you’re accessing).

When it comes to Client-Safe Mode in the new Live Quote Editor in Táve 3.0, we hide the the Cost and Profit columns so you can safely edit the quote in front of your client.

Another new feature with the quote editor, is the ability to go directly to a booked order, completely skipping the proposal phase. It’s as simple as heading to the Orders page and clicking “New Order”, optionally starting from a saved template.

That’s it for this week’s preview. Stay tuned to our blog for next week’s preview of Proposals, another exciting addition to Táve 3.0, and don’t forget to join the Táve Newsletter! Show your love for the new Live Quote Editor, click on the Facebook “Like” button: