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New Contact Importers and Release Notes

As many of you know from joining us in our public chatroom, we’ve been burning the midnight oil on some truly epic features. While we still have a a bit to go on those features, we’ve started to publish some of the more isolated updates from that release and they deserve a blog post.

New CSV and vCard contact importers

Besides helping new users get up and running quickly, these new importers are great for adding new contacts from trade shows or promotions outside the application. If you have a file to upload, just head on over to Settings and click on Imports in the bottom row of icons.

Contact import uploader

It’s also an interesting way to update your existing contacts as you can export your contacts from the contact lists, make changes with any spreadsheet editor, and then re-import them back into Táve using this new tool.

Another great use of this is importing contacts from your phone! In iOS, just pull up a contact and click on the Share Contact button and email it to the contact importer email address.

You’ll want to download the vCard for your importer address by going to Settings in Táve, clicking on the Email Integration link (next to the Imports link you clicked on above), and then clicking on the “Email vCards to Phone” button. Now just check the email associated with your user account and add the vCard to your phone’s address book.

Sharing a contact from iOS

Stay current with our new in-app Release Notes

One of the most common questions we get in our public chatroom is “released anything new lately?” Now you can find the answer even when we’re not around by clicking on the Release Notes link in the Support menu.

new Táve release notes

As you’ll see from reading over the release notes, we’ve published a number of notable updates that we haven’t blogged about. For instance, the new Primary Session concept and a handful of useful new placeholders for them in emails and contracts, PayJunction has been added to the supported gateway list, the Sales Order and Contract printouts have been dramatically improved, and lots of other updates worth reading over.

We expect to keep publishing frequent small updates like these while working on the massive new updates in parellel, so keep an eye on the blog and the release notes to stay in-the-know.

Táve 2012.9 Released

As you may have noticed, Jason and I have been releasing a series of small updates over the past few months without much fanfare. However, a few of the items released last night need to be called out as they affect the way you interact with your clients, so we’ve labeled it Release 2012.9 (previously called 3.0.9) and put together this blog post to highlight the updates.

Automatic Invoice Reminders

We’re all about making you more money with less work, and now that’s even easier with automatic invoice reminders. These brand-level settings (found at the very bottom of the brand editor) allow you to send up to 3 reminders to your clients about open invoices and even use your own quick response templates for each of them:

In this example, we’re sending a reminder 2 weeks prior to an invoice’s due date, on the day that it is due, and then finally when it becomes 5 days past due. In order to soften the first email we’ve customized the template to talk about the invoice simply being ready and payable online. The past due email on the other hand has been customized to be more explicit about what will happen if it remains past due.

We send the reminders at 8am in the studio’s local timezone each day and only on the exact day specified (so, for example, a new invoice due in just one week will never receive the “two weeks before due” email. Likewise, an invoice due today but created after 8am will not receive the “on the due date” email).

If we’ve sent reminders on behalf of your studio, we’ll send a summary of the activity to your studio’s email address so that you know what we’re doing on your behalf. You’ll also be able to fix any emails that couldn’t be sent due to a recipient not having an email address:

If your brand has a bcc address for outgoing mail, you’ll also get a copy of the actual emails as well.

You have to enable these reminders, as they are off by default.

Payment Promises & More Offline Payment Options

Not every client wishes to pay online, so we’ve expanded the list of offline payment options to include “Pay by Phone” and “Bank Wire Transfer”. You can also include these payment options and instructions on printed invoices too, which is especially helpful if your client needs to take a printed invoice to the bank.

In addition, we’ve removed the payment options page from client access entirely. Instead, the payment option buttons are included directly on the invoice page:

One of the downsides of your client selecting an offline payment option is not knowing that “the check is in the mail”, so we’ve reworked the offline payment page to add a form so that your client can easily let you know when to expect their payment to arrive. The email includes which offline payment page they used as well.

Contact List Exports

While T3 does nearly everything T2 did and a whole lot more, there are a couple things it doesn’t yet do. One of those things we hear about most are contact list exports. In T2 this was one massive export via a link in Settings. In T3 we’ve made it a lot more useful by adding the contact list exports, both CSV and vCard, directly to the Contacts section.

So now you can export only booked clients, only leads, just clients with balances, or vendors, etc.

Recent Updates

Speaking of features from T2, the other most-requested T2 feature was also released to T3 recently; the agenda calendar on the homepage now shows you all of the events on a given day and lets you create new events from there as well. Here’s an example we posted to our Facebook page when the availability calendar flyouts were released:

A common request we hear is “where should I start?” as well as “what all does Táve do?” We’ve helped address these two questions with a new setup progress bar. Clicking on it takes you to a page full of important areas to look into and ways to get more out of your account:

Also, just in case you missed it, we opened a new public chatroom a couple months back where users can come and chat with us or other users. It’s a great way to get instant answers to your questions, make suggestions, or just get to know us. You can join the public chat by using the box on the right side of any helpdesk page or directly by going here. Please use your real name so that it’s easier to help you with any support tickets or issues.

System Upgrades

Did you notice how insanely fast most pages load now? Our average page load times are now a third of what they were when our last blog post was published, with some pages regularly clocking in at only 0.08 seconds!

While our system was minimally affected by last month’s major Amazon AWS outage that took down the likes of Netflix, Intagram, Pinterest, and many other popular websites for half a day, it lead us to make some changes to our infrastructure. The net result of our work over the past month is that we’ve doubled the amount of CPU power and quadrupled the number of web servers powering T3. Instead of several powerful machines, we’re now using many mid-range servers across multiple availability zones. We’ve also adopted the AWS Elastic Beanstalk service for managing application deployment and autoscaling to further improve the ease of bringing new servers online when needed.

If you’re interested in how we’re doing on the systems front; our third-party availability reports are publicly accessible at status.tave.com. Clicking on the application, such as “T3” at the bottom of the page let’s you dig deep into our availability history. For instance, you can easily review our uptime for the entire month of July or see when we were briefly affected by the major AWS outage at the end of June.

What’s Next?

Our development roadmap is loaded with important updates and great ideas that we’ve assembled from talking to users via the helpdesk and our public chatroom. Our focus for the near future is on the items that most broadly improve the system for the most users.

We’ll likely continue to roll out new features as they become available, rather than waiting for a major release. Keep an eye out on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.

The Latest on Táve 3 Early Access

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.

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New Feature & Status of the Next Release

Email BCC Feature Released

If you’ve pulled up a job profile in the past couple days you may have noticed something new in the conversation module…

Tave Email BCC feature

Each job now has a dedicated email address that lets you send emails directly to the profile from any email client by adding the email address as a BCC to an email to your client or simply forwarding an email that your client sent you.

Once you send an email to the BCC address, you should be able to pull it up again directly inside your email application based on the job name.

You can also go to settings and click on the “vCard Job BCC Addresses” link (or the combined export) in the yellow box on the right.  As with all vCard imports, we suggest importing the contacts into their own folder/group to make it easier to manage them later. Once imported, you’ll be able to pull up the BCC address directly from your email client without visiting Táve first.

Other Email Features

The email bcc feature is meant as a convenience and is not what we’ve been referring to as “Email Integration”.  Full email integration (with templates, themes, reply and bounce handling, auto replies, parsing, etc) is still coming in a future release.

This feature was created outside of our normal development process so we could get it out there quickly (since we’ve had many requests for it) without having to wait for the next big release…

Our Next Releases are Game Changers

We’ve mentioned that Questionnaires (our top requested feature) is very close to rolling out, but we’re going to hold back for a bit and merge it into the next release.

Why?

Two main reasons.  First, we don’t want to change Client Access that much in the middle of what is a busy holiday season for many of our studios, and second, our Questionnaires go so far beyond anything available today that we expect a huge surge in new users, and that’s not something we want just yet.

Wait, what?!?!

We’re doing some amazing things right now.  Some of the upgrades are so impressive and so massive, that many won’t even recognize the application when they stop by our booth at WPPI in March, that’s how huge the next few months are going to be for us.  We’re improving the way you work, the way things are organized, and the speed at which you can work.  More emphasis is being put on jobs; from the way client access is set up and managed to the way you create and propose quotes.  We’re making the whole application more intuitive, the workflow faster and far more flexible, and a whole lot easier to start using from the get go.  Not to mention, we’re adding the most requested features from our users like Questionnaires, Email Integration, and more.

So even though it’ll remain fairly quiet on the Táve front for a bit longer, know that it’s because of some truly revolutionary improvements coming up.