Many customers use agileBase’s document generation capabilities to produce important documents such as invoices or product specifications.

In some cases, it’s important for documents to include footers containing an identifier and page numbers, like ‘page 1 of 10’. The reason is that when these documents are printed out, you want to be sure that you’re not missing a page without realising it, or mixing up pages from two different products. This can be important for example when dealing with documents relating to the safety of people, such as specifications for food products. If supplying an end customer, you don’t want them to miss out the page containing nut allergy information!

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Administrator information for setting up

There’s now an option for ‘footer style’ in file fields. Leaving this as ‘no footer’, the default, will produce no change but choosing ‘footer’ will include page numbers and also a record identifier (title) of your choosing.

The title is simply chosen from the first field in the view containing the document template.

We’ll be happy to consider adding additional footer styles containing different information or layouts if necessary – just let us know what you need.

Descriptive file names

There’s also another new feature with this release.

Previously, generated files would take the name of the template, so all files generated by a particular workflow would have the same name. Now, the record title is appended to that – this is the same identifier, or title, as above, i.e. the value of the first field in the template view. So you can make it whatever you like – if generating an invoice, it may be the invoice number or customer name for example.

A few customers have recently contacted us with examples of duplicate data being entered into the system, by different people. We though it would be good to try to address this for everyone at a system level.

Examples could be

  • As a purchaser, you start dealing with a new supplier and enter them onto the system, without realising that the finance dept. has already put their details in
  • You’re running marketing and sales campaigns from your CRM system. The marketing dept. import a list of 2000 of your top target companies, whilst salespeople enter individual companies they deal with that are already on that list
  • You’re a pastries manufacturer and there’s a sudden craze for cronuts – half a dozen customers ask if you can make them and a development recipe gets entered multiple times

Now in a perfect world, none of these scenarios would happen – people would check for existing records before adding new ones and everyone would spell names exactly the same.

In real life, it can happen from time to time and when it does, it can be really annoying and cause a lot of work for staff to sort out. It’s not just a matter of removing duplicates, because once say a company is in the system, all sorts of things get linked to them, like invoices, opportunities, contacts etc., all of which have to be un-picked.

So what do we do about it?

similar-existing

One thing that we’re introducing is a feature of the agileBase platform that automatically tells you if there are any similarly named items already in the system as you type. Here for example, I’ve started typing ‘Invest Bath Bristol’ and the system’s let me know that there’s already a company in there called ‘Invest Bristol Bath’, which is actually the one I’m thinking of.

This helps get around the fact that people often refer to company names slightly differently, so even if you force a field to be unique, that check won’t always catch near-duplicates.

How does it work?

Through an interesting and clever idea known as ‘trigrams’.

A trigram is a group of three consecutive characters taken from a string. We can measure the similarity of two strings by counting the number of trigrams they share. This simple idea turns out to be very effective for measuring the similarity of words in many natural languages.

The facility to compare text snippets like this is built into the PostgreSQL database that agileBase uses to store and query data. For more details, see the database documentation.

Activating the feature

This facility will work on any text field that has the options ‘use as record title’ and either ‘prominent’ or ‘required’ ticked in the field options. An administrator can set this up.

A starting point

On it’s own, this feature is unlikely to solve the duplication problem in all cases, however as usual we like to give customers useful features as soon as they’re ready, while acknowledging they will continue to improve as this isn’t the end step.

Next steps for this feature might be to allow you to click on a suggested similar record to navigate to it, while deleting the new record that you started to type. However we obviously want to be careful to take a lot of work planning and testing before releasing that update!

If you have any feedback, please let us know what you think at support@agilechilli.com

 

 

Last week we showed agileChilli‘s new Supplier Approval application to a number of customers and partners. It’s written using the agileBase platform to help food manufacturers audit new and existing suppliers, automating, documenting and speeding up the process.

We had some great feedback, validating the core ideas and suggesting some lovely features to add. For example:

Good seeing you today and the new update to software.

Been thinking about the software. Building on the feedback to suppliers. I know of some system that you can send emails from the UI that then track their return. […] As long as the recipient returns the email […] it pulls it in to the software. (thinking about something like that for our CRM module).

Not sure if it can be done, but would be a very handy tool for auto tracking supplier communication.

Not sure if this is any help, but thought it worth dropping you a note. 🙂

Whilst some customers have set up their systems like that, it previously only covered certain scenarios and required their in-house IT administrators to make changes to their email systems.

We’ve now simplified the process so this will work out of the box for anyone.

It’ll be a great feature not just for this particular use, but for any and all CRM applications built on the agileBase platform, so can benefit existing and new customers.

Improving email deliverability

With the above focus on sending and receiving emails automatically, ensuring they’re received properly becomes more important. We’ve done a lot of research on helping stop legitimate emails being mistakenly marked as spam and have taken a number of measures to help this, e.g. adding automated ‘unsubscribe’ functionality.

One important addition is the facility for customers to use their own email servers to send the emails. This allows them to use their own trusted systems, authenticated against their domain names, for example services like AuthSmtpSendGrid or Amazon Simple Email Service.

As another partner told us,

Adding to option for our own smtp settings would be ideal. […]

If there was an option in Agile somewhere for our client to use their own SMTP settings that would be idea.

To set this up, please see the new ‘company’ link under Administration in the administrator interface.

smtp-settings

Thanks to everyone for all the feedback and keep it coming!

Whatever business you’re in, you’ll likely be meeting and speaking to new people to expand your circles of contacts and customers.

If you’re using the agileBase platform to store your contacts, there’s now a useful little feature which will play you an audio pronunciation of a person’s name, so you can double check it before making the first call. We all know how important first impressions are!

nameshouts

This feature uses the NameShouts service, which was designed for this type of situation. They say:

NameShouts is a name pronunciation tool with a growing database of foreign/unique names. The tool provides you an easy way of finding the correct pronunciation of a client’s name, so you never have to lose a lead because of mispronouncing a person’s name

The database doesn’t cover every name but at the current count includes 15 languages and concentrates on names most likely to be mis-pronounced.

Setting up in agileBase

In the field options for any field that stores a person’s name, simply tick ‘person’s name’. The field can be for forenames, surnames or full names. When that’s done, in the user interface, a little audio link will appear next to names, if they’re in NameShouts’ database.

nameshouts-setup

The ability for users to add comments to any data, anywhere in the system, is one of the more powerful features of the agileBase platform, that lets people collaborate really easily without clogging up email inboxes.

We continuously improve the functionality and user interface of the comments system, so here’s a quick visual tutorial on how it works and how best to use it.

comments-anatomy

This is what a typical comments box looks like. The list of people to the right of ‘sending to’ are those that will see the added comment in the comments tile on their homepage when they log in. The list in ‘add recipient’ is those users who won’t see the comment.

Note: everyone will still be able to see the comment when they visit the record it’s logged against, it’s just that those not in the recipients list won’t get a notification of it in their comments tile.

Typically, everyone (with relevant privileges) will be selected by default. However, in some cases the software will select only certain users. For example, if you’re in a sales enquiry record that has an ‘owner’, only that salesperson may get comments by default.

If it’s really important that a particular user sees a certain comment, you can ‘up the priority’ by sending them a direct message. To do that, simply type include their first name when you’re typing the comment, with a capital first letter e.g.

Katharine, it's very important you see this

If two people share the same first name, include their surname too, or the first letter of it.

We’re aware that two people can share the same forename and surname, we’re working on that!

What is a direct message? It means that when the user views their homepage, they’ll see the message at the top of the screen very prominently, with an option to reply. In future, it’s possible the system will send them an email too, or pop up a message on the screen wherever they are. Please let us know what you think about those ideas.

In fact, please let us know if you’ve any questions or suggestions about how to improve commenting. We look forward to talking to you.

 

After the recent launch of our platform feature to send HTML emails, with good timing, Smashing Magazine have written a comprehensive article on how to produce the various types of emails you may be planning to send out and some of the issues to think about.

https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2017/01/introduction-building-sending-html-email-for-web-developers/

Worth a read!

 

 

As pre-announced recently, HTML emails can now be sent by apps built on the agileBase platform.

That means that your company can send out branded, rich-text emails (with attachments) to customers, suppliers and anyone else you deal with.

Setting up

Set up an email notification workflow as normal (in a view, use the manage -> send tab).

For the body of the email, simply start it with

<html>

and end with

</html>

The email will then be interpreted as HTML, i.e. formatted.

For the moment, you do need to know some basic HTML. If you’d like to get started there are plenty of great tutorials on the web – here’s an example: www.htmldog.com

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