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We’re back in Vegas this week to participate in WPPI 2014 and and preview the next big thing this spring…

Táve 4

What started out as “just” our biggest release since the launch of T3, is now on its way to become our biggest and most exciting release in the history of Táve. One of our top priorities is to improve the experience on tablet and mobile browsers. While we initially planned to make that change over several releases, with tablets first and full mobile responsiveness across the application added in a subsequent release, it became clear that separating them would lead to far more time and effort than doing it all at once, even with mobile responsiveness requiring a completely new theme.

This release is focused entirely on the manager. With just a couple of exceptions, we’ll be focusing the rest of 2014 on your client interaction, from exciting new options in the booking process and going mobile responsive in client access, to adding new email options.

The list of features in T4 is impressive. Even listing the top features is a challenge as there are so many massive improvements, but I’d have to go with:

  • 100% mobile and tablet responsive (the entire system on your phone).
  • Jobs have been split into Leads and Jobs and we’ve added more lead tracking features.
  • A new homepage with a host of new mini-reports and an email activity summary.
  • Workflow is now a breeze as we’ve split them into two parts, Task Lists and Automations, which are far easier to use while letting you do so much more.
  • The huge New Lead Worksheet has been replaced by a per-job-type customizable all-in-one Job Worksheet.
  • Placeholders are now called Tokens and can reference anything on the job worksheet in your emails and contracts, be it a bride’s name, a 2nd shooter’s phone number, or the location and time of a particular session.
  • The questionnaire editor has been rewritten from the ground up. We’re adding a few new fields and responses can now update any information on a job that can be referenced by a token.
  • Most forms now have help text under the save button. Even better, this help text is can be improved by any user.
  • And much more…

Profit Centers

I must admit to being inspired by the PPA’s Studio Management Services (SMS) Manager Bridget Jackson’s Imaging USA presentation “Know Your Number”. Once we were all back up to full speed a few weeks after returning from the show, I took some time to clean up and extend our expense categories and introduce Profit Centers. Expense categories can now have sub-categories and by classifying each category as either cost of sale, owner’s compensation, or general expense, we can put together some really useful reports.

Most studios have between 2-4 profit centers, allowing you to easily compare your performance between Weddings and Portraits or Senior and Family, etc. We’re automatically creating a profit center for any job type that accounts for more than 10% of your business as part of this release to get you started. This screenshot shows a studio who gets the vast majority of their income from a single profit center and who hasn’t been entering their expenses into Táve (a common issue we’re improving with each release).

 Profit Centers report in Táve 4

 

Don’t miss our WPPI 2014 Sale!

You have until the end of Sunday, March 9th, to save up to 50% on pre-pays. Based on previous years, this will likely be our last sale of 2014!

As always, we operate in your local studio time, so don’t wait until the last minute or you’ll have to wait for Imaging USA in Nashville next January.

 

Learn more about Táve 4

It’s not just the best place to get answers from other Táve users or learn new ways to use the system; the Táve Users Group on Facebook got the first look at the screenshot above, along side several more screenshots of T4 (including a page in iOS Mobile Safari and another scaled for tablet). After ImagingUSA the group also got to see 20 other early screenshots of our work in progress from before we adopted the T4 mobile plan.

As always, this is a free upgrade to all users and your existing data will be upgraded automatically. There’s no harm in starting with T3, as the overall concepts are the same, you’ll just be getting more new features when T4 rolls out.

If you’re attending WPPI 2014 in Las Vegas this week, stop by booth 1361 to see T4 in action and meet the team!

A long standing request from our Australian photography studios has been to support the inclusive GST tax used there. With our Australian members recently breaking up the three-way tie with our friends in Canada and the United Kingdom as our second largest national user base, it is high time for us to comply!

To set a tax as inclusive, you’ll need to head to the Taxes page in Settings. Since this setting would cause previous totals to be incorrect if applied to existing quotes and orders, it will only apply to newly edited quotes or order revisions (if you’re not familiar with order revisions, check out the eraser icon, the second icon at the top right of the order viewer, to create and view order revisions after booking).

Order Viewer showing Inclusive Taxes

This gets displayed much as you’d expect in Client Access, with the inclusive taxes coming after the order total. Here’s an example tax invoice printout generated from Client Access:

Order Printout with Inclusive Taxes

With this release we appear to be in full compliance with the ATO requirements for tax invoices and rounding. Their tax invoice examples show a separate column for per-item GST totals, instead of listing the total amount for the invoice as we do, but our reading of the requirements for sales over $1,000 (as laypersons in Australian taxation) support this approach.

Published as part of Release 2014.1 on January 21st.

We’re proud to announce that you can now link your Táve account to ShootProof with Release 2013.9.

ShootProof empowers photographers to share, sell and print products online with no commission fees on their sales. Photographers control their own products, pricing, digital download options and print lab for each gallery. ShootProof simplifies the proofing, buying and fulfillment process. Integrated print fulfillment is also available with Bay Photo, Black River Imaging, ProDPI and The Lab Works or you can use any outside lab. Their users rave about ShootProof as much as we do.

Book more clients with ShootProof Mobile Apps by easily creating a custom app for each client to help them experience their sessions and drive referral business to your studio.

A 30 day free trial is available to any plan. Enter promo code: TAVE18 for 20% off your first year! Coupon Code is valid until the end of 2018.

See sample galleries and learn more at ShootProof.com

After creating your ShootProof account, read about setting up integration here.

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve published support for 6 more payment gateways. In fact, several studios have already set up and started using these new payment gateways. The list of new payment gateways includes Bank of America, Beanstream, Braintree, Merchant Warehouse, Stripe, and WorldPay.

 

2013-7 New Payment Gateways

Have another gateway you’d love to see added? Please let us know (besides Square that is, as they unfortunately don’t provide a third-party API, as they note here). While I’m now switching gears to join in on Adrian’s next major release, the framework is in place to easily add additional payment gateways outside of our standard release roadmap.

To utilize one of these new payment gateways or to get contact information for priority registration, head over to the Settings section and visit the Payment Gateways page.  Add the credit card option at the bottom of the list and then select the gateway you want to use:

Payment Gateways section of Settings.

 

One last thing: For those of you using Google Checkout, don’t forget that the service joins the frustratingly vast ranks of beloved yet retired Google services soon, so you will need to switch to another payment provider by November 30th, 2013. They suggest Braintree, which offers a simple flat rate fee structure without maintenance fees or minimums and supports merchants located in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Braintree also happens to be the gateway we use to manage all subscriptions inside Táve.

Overnight we published Jason’s Release 2013.6, in which he added an important new “Location” contact type, maps, and sunrise/sunset times.

Setting a location or venue for an event was never particularly straight forward, as the number of questions we receive in our public chatroom or helpdesk made clear. So we’ve gone in and simplified the entire process of working with locations and extended it to make it even more useful.

Here’s an example of the reworked event editor showing the Táve office as this event’s location:

Updated event editor with locations, sunrise/sunset, and a map

Once we set the location, the sunrise and sunset details appear and the map zooms in on the location.

Lots of smaller updates and fixes were also rolled into in this release, so head on over to the Release Log for the full details.

It’s tax time in the U.S. and today’s 2012.3 release focuses on financial features your accountant will love.

General & Recurring Expenses

Expenses no longer need to be included as part of a job’s ledger. Now when you click on the New Expense button on the homepage, you’ll go directly to the general expense editor. This is a great way to track equipment purchases, rentals, memberships, insurance costs, etc.

Many general expenses are recurring; things like rent, an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions, your PPA dues, and of course your Táve subscription. You can configure these recurring expenses in Settings.

Any recurring expenses you set up will be created at 8am studio-local time on the day they’re due to occur.

Income Statement

Also known as a Profit And Loss Report, your income statement is a clear and concise way to easily view the financial health of your studio.

If your taxes involve itemizing and deducting the cost of doing business, this report will be a huge time saver. If you report your assets, clicking on a grey chevron next to a category total will take you to the expense report for that category, making it easy to figure out when you purchased each item.

Initially, all of your existing expenses will be filed under “Other Expenses” but you can reassign them using the expense editor. You can configure your expense categories in Settings, look for the icon in the Lists section.

Expense Reports

Now that you’ll be entering in far more expenses, we’ve put together two new reports to help you monitor your spending.

The first report, Expenses by Category, lists all your expenses in the selected date range and groups them by category. The Income Statement has links to each category on this report as well.

The second new expense report, Expenses by Month, provides a chronological list of your expenses. Even though expenses are grouped by month, you can still use the date filter to review the total for any period, from a single day to all time.

All three new reports are vital when it comes time to prepare your annual taxes, so we’ve added a new Print Report button to make it even easier to pass this information on to your accountant.

Hot on the heels of releasing new contact importers and a new release notes page this past weekend, I’m proud to announce the immediate availability of one of our most requested features from T2. This was completed some time ago as part of Adrian’s large “workflow rework” project, but since that project is still ongoing, we thought it would be worth the time to stop and extract it so that you wouldn’t need to wait any longer to start using it.

Scheduling Work around the Primary Session

You might have noticed the Primary Session concept we released a couple weeks ago. The session marked as the Primary Session is special as any changes to the session’s start date will change the job date. Likewise, the job profile contains a few fields that let you easily change the primary session without having to pull up the full event editor.

With today’s release, you can now set tasks and events to be due before or after the primary session. Even better, and something that was missing in T2, these tasks and events will be updated if you later change the date of the primary session.

Here’s a quick example I put together to illustrate what this could look like:

As you can see, the tasks immediately before and after the Processing milestone are all based on the primary session date.

Thank you for your continued support and we appreciate all the feedback.

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.

Another month, another big update: Release 2012.10 is now rolling out to all Táve 3 studios and includes some frequently requested improvements for orders and packages. Your current version and build number can be seen at the bottom of Táve 3, above our logo.

New Unified Orders Page

Over the past few releases we’ve been gradually improving usability, adding utilities like flyouts, and better organizing the information you want to see. Today’s release continues that process by unifying the Orders page, eliminating the dedicated Order Viewer and Invoice Viewer and thus means less clicking to get to data. Here’s an example:

The order totals flyout includes more details, including taxes and discount totals:

 

Order Revisions

Modifying an order after it’s booked is verboten, so when a client wants to make a change you needed to void the order and modify a duplicate. Unfortunately, that process could get a bit tedious and error-prone as you also had to reallocate all payments to the new invoices after booking the revised order. Now there’s no need as we’ve introduced a new revision action that will automatically create a new version of the order, leaving the original version untouched. You can access the previous versions any time by hovering over the revision icon and clicking on one of the snapshots.

Automatic Invoice Numbering

Our advanced object IDs aren’t the easiest things to read, so we’ve added much more understandable numbering to all orders and invoices. With the exception of order revisions (which include the revision number, like R1 or R2), the new numbers are numeric and thus much easier to understand and convey over the phone. The new numbers are based on the job’s event date (or if there isn’t one, the date the order/invoice was booked or created). The final 3 Numbers are a counter for that date. One of the conveniences of this numbering scheme is that the invoices numbers will be sequential and similar to the order itself. These numbers are now used throughout the app, including printouts and client facing pages:

The printout button seen above is a new addition to the client facing invoice page in this release as well.

Split Payments

When a client pays you for more than one invoice in a single payment, you no longer need to merge your invoices to match, as you can now split a payment between multiple invoices.

% Discounts in Packages

When % discounts were added to Táve 3, they were only added to the quote and order editors. As of today’s release, you can now add % discounts to packages as you’d expect.

Job Date Conflicts

While the New Lead Worksheet and the Event Editor include an agenda so you can easily see potential conflicts when scheduling an event, there was nothing on the job overview itself to alert you to potential conflicts on the job date. Today’s release adds a schedule flyout when you move your mouse over the job date text on the job overview. If we find a conflict, we add a warning icon next to the date as seen here:

General Improvements

Most of the remaining changes in Release 2012.10 are bug fixes or minor tweaks (such as the invoice editor’s new option to evenly divide the balance across all open invoices). One of the more significant improvements behind the scenes has been a completely new incoming mail processor, which has dramatically improved the reliability of the BCC system. The previous system was using Google Mail and was having issues with the high volume of very similar incoming messages. The new system uses Sendgrid, our outbound email provider. This new system has exciting possibilities and we look forward to adding even more email features using it. We hope you enjoy our 2012.10 release!

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.