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Introducing standby.tave.com, our read-only hot-standby system available 24/7/365

Just in time for Monday’s release of Táve 4 and the 3-hour maintenance window needed for the upgrade, we’re pleased to make our private standby system available to all users.

Any time the main web application is unavailable, be it due to scheduled maintenance or an availability event in Virginia, you can visit the standby site and access a read-only version to get at your critical data.

standby.tave.com

 The Táve 4 maintenance page will include the link for your convenience.

The web servers and database are located in the AWS US-West Oregon region and pull their data from our primary AWS US-East Virginia region using database replication. In the event that the primary database failed, the standby database would simply stop updating but remain available.

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.