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Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

New tag features

Written by admin on Monday, November 24th, 2008

Today is a big day for Tactile CRM, our small business contact and sales management system – we have just released Version 2.

After listening to our users feedback we have implemented a lot of new features around Tags. The new features are available via the ‘Tags’ tab and allow you to easily view all items with a specific tag (see the screenshot below) as well as being able to rename/merge tags, delete a tag, delete all items with a specific tag (if you are an admin), and search across all items (organisations, people, opportunities, and activities) with a specific tag as well as being able to drill down on specific tag combinations:

Lots of Tagged Items

We’ve also added a new tag cloud so that you can easily see the most popular tags and drill down on them – a bigger text-size means the tag is used on more items (organisations/people/opportunities/activities).

Spot any pre-release new features in Tactile CRM?

We hope that you find this new feature useful, and would love to hear any comments or feedback that you may have.

Version 2 – out now!

Written by admin on Monday, November 24th, 2008

The team behind Tactile CRM – the easy to use contact and sales management system for small businesses, are pleased to announce version 2 of our award winning CRM software.

Tactile CRM Tags

We’ve spent a while tinkering under the hood and adding some great new features that our users have requested, and we hope you’ll agree it’s been worth the wait. There are some big changes and updates this time – so, a drum roll please for our new version:

  • We’ve merged ‘Clients’ and ‘Leads’ to give ‘Organisations’
  • Added new Tag options
  • Added a new tag cloud to easily find everything you have tagged in Tactile CRM and to give a more powerful search
  • Added the ability to rename, merge and delete tags
  • Added the ability to delete everything with a certain tag
  • Updated the quick search to show ‘Recently Viewed’ items at the top
  • Increased the number of opportunities on the ‘Micro’ and ‘SME’ plans, and the number of contacts on the ‘Micro’ plan too
  • Hidden disabled users from the list of users you can assign items to
  • Added the ability to delete configurable data

Activities Updated

Written by admin on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

We are pleased to announce the second of two new feature sets we have recently rolled out to Tactile CRM.

These features are based around activities and calendaring.

Activities in Tactile have been upgraded – previously they were simply a list of ‘To Do’ type items that you could attach against clients, leads, people and opportunities. There was a bit more to them than that, you got an email when people added new ones for you, a daily update when you had things to do, but now we have made them even better (don’t worry all the old stuff is still there too)!

Events – the first change we have made to activities is to add the concept of an event. This could be a meeting, a lunch or anything that would typically block out a period of time in your diary for.

Event Screenshot

You can of course still add ‘To Do’ items, but now you can add events too.

iCal/vCal – Tactile CRM is designed to be an easy to use CRM system for small businesses. We have deliberately kept away from building a calendar application as there are several excellent ones already available (Google Calendar and iCal), what we have now added is two easy ways to add events to your favourite calendar application.

The first is an iCal/vCal feed you can subscribe to and keep your calendar application synced with Tactile CRM:

Link for iCal Feed

All you need to do is visit your preferences (generate the link if you haven’t already) and you can subscribe to the link in your favourite calendar application and keep updated with all the information in Tactile CRM.

If you want to share an individual event with somebody, or just download it for reference, you can easily do that too. We’ve added a handy link when you view an activity:

Download an iCal File

The Tactile CRM Help has been updated with full details on how to use iCal/vCal information.

Finally we have also added a date picker. When you need to add a date anywhere within Tactile CRM, simple click on the date field and the handy date picker will pop up to allow you to easily choose a date:

Date Picker

Remember – if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or feedback you would like to give us we’d love to hear them. Just drop us an email to support@tactilecrm.com and tell us anything you want so we can right any wrongs. We read every bit of feedback we can get our hands on, and try to rectify the things we can.

Contacts Updated

Written by admin on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

We are pleased to announce the first of two new feature sets we recently pushed out to Tactile CRM.

These features are based around the way we deal with contacts, particularly people within Tactile CRM.

Permissions on people – the way permissions used to work on people wasn’t great. If you created a person that didn’t belong to a client/lead then only you could see it. For freelancers and B2C businesses this wasn’t great as it meant you couldn’t share these contacts easily with other people in your organisation.

After comments and feedback from users we updated people so that when you add new ones everyone can see them unless you mark them as private:

Screenshot of People Permissions

We’ve updated the permissions help on the website accordingly.

Email linking – when you logged in and looked at your dashboard you could see all the recent emails that had been sent. Great, apart from the fact that you had to search for the person to find them and see what else was going on. We’ve fixed this by making the person a clickable link through to their record so you can now easily find them:

Screenshot of Email Link

Remember – if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or feedback you would like to give us we’d love to hear them. Just drop us an email to support@tactilecrm.com and tell us anything you want so we can right any wrongs. We read every bit of feedback we can get our hands on, and try to rectify the things we can.

Google Contacts API

Written by admin on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

As Jake has already mentioned, the latest update we rolled out for Tactile CRM included functionality that allows you to import contacts from your Google Address Book. This has been made possible in a secure manner thanks to the release of the new Google Contacts API. The new API allows you to tell Google that you trust us enough to access your data without having to give us your password.

The release of such an API should mean that cases such as that reported by Coding Horror (an application developer was havesting users GMail username and passwords) recently won’t happen again. However, unless users know that giving 3rd parties their passwords isn’t the only option there isn’t going to be a change anytime soon. Facebook still ask for your password rather than using Google’s preferred “AuthSub” method and if such a popular application is working in this way, then there isn’t going to be pressure on anyone else to change how they do things.

This was picked up back on disambiguity in November:

But do we really realise what we’re handing over when we give this log in information away? Do we realise how much we are trusting Facebook, for example, to play nicely with that information? Think of all the email and IM conversations you’ve had that are accessible using these login credentials… now think about the level of security at somewhere like, say, HM Revenue & Customs (where they recently ‘lost’ the personal information of millions of UK taxpayers), and now think whether somewhere like Facebook would have better or worse security… both now, and potentially in the future.

So how long before Facebook joins in and starts, as the author puts it, “Encouraging Responsible Behaviour”? Regardless of how secure Facebook itself might be, by getting people used to handing over such details, they’re not being very responsible. Should Google be more proactive in telling its users that giving away their passwords to anyone, no matter how much they trust them at that moment in time, is a really bad idea when there are alternatives? Will users pay attention if they do?

As web-application developers then, how do we go about making this work?

In Google’s words:

Web applications that need to access Google services protected by a user’s Google account can do so using the Authentication Proxy service. To maintain a high level of security, the proxy interface, called AuthSub, enables the web application to get access without ever handling their users’ account login information.

and a pretty picture:

How AuthSub Works

Thankfully, there are Client Libraries in a number of languages that make this negotiation pretty straightforward. The PHP Client Library is actually the Gdata package from the Zend Framework. We use various components of that elsewhere and we’re pretty familiar with it and so it dropped right in.

Unfortunately, given how recently the Contacts service was announced, there isn’t (yet) a Zend_Gdata_Contacts service but after taking a look at how the code was structured for the other APIs, adding the necessary components for reading the Contacts Feed wasn’t too difficult – credit to whoever developed it for coming up with such a flexible architecture.

The various Google feeds make use of the ATOM protocol but with a number of extensions for the representation of the many properties that make up an ‘entry’ that aren’t part of ATOM itself – things like email addresses and phone-numbers for Contacts; recurrence rules and time zones for Calendar events; and the many free-form attributes that Google Base items can be given.

Within the ZF code each API has a ‘service’ class that knows the URL of the feed and which XML namespaces are used inside it and determines what type of Feed is going to be returned. The Feed acts as a collection of Entry objects that are the result of a Query against the service. Each Entry knows about the types of properties that it can contain – a number of “Extensions” that have a number of attributes. It all follows the hierarchy of the XML quite nicely, with each level knowing what to do itself and what to pass up or down the chain.

From a technical point of view, it’s easy enough to make it work but from the user’s point of view it is a little confusing, the context-switch going from the Tactile branding to that of Google is quite jarring and while such transitions are becoming more common, it’s still not mainstream. It’s helping that Banks and credit-card companies have started using 3DAuth that works in a similar way, and OpenID is slowly becoming more popular and so hopefully people will start to appreciate that the extra couple of clicks are worth it for the increased security.

Getting back to the original point, systems such as Google’s AuthSub mean that our customers can give us access to their data without giving us their passwords – they still have to trust us, but they don’t have to trust us quite so much. It’s a shame that the only options they are presented with are ‘Grant’ and ‘Deny’, and that ‘Grant’ gives access to delete and add contacts, as well as just grab the list. It would be nice if there was a little more granularity in what you could grant access to. We’d be content with a ‘Grant Read Only’ option (or ‘Grant’ to a read-only feed), as we have no plans to do anything other than retrieve the list of contacts and put them in the Tactile database.

In an attempt at a conclusion then, AuthSub is a really nice idea but for it to really succeed end-users need to know it exists. Application developers need to be more responsible, and not ask users to hand over login details. The Zend Framework is really quite good and the components really do just drop in to existing setups, give it a try.

vCard and Google Contacts/GMail Import

Written by admin on Monday, March 17th, 2008

omelett.es are pleased to announce the latest version of their web-based contact and sales management system, Tactile CRM. Following customer requests for new ways to easily integrate their existing data into the system new features have been added to import the popular vCard format and GMail via the new Google Contacts API.

With several program’s making recent headlines by ‘capturing’ user details in a way that could be used maliciously. Senokian have made sure that the new version of Tactile uses the secure Google Contacts API to ensure users details are safe and secure.

You can signup for a Tactile free trial which allows organisations to test the system. With several payment plans (start from as little as £6 per month), Senokian have already signed up clients across the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

New Features on Tactile

Written by Jake on Thursday, February 28th, 2008

We’ve just pushed out an update to Tactile that brings with it some new functionality and improvements as a result of customer feedback, so keep it coming!

Both emails and notes on the Dashboard and when viewing things are collapsed initially but can be expanded by clicking the “Show More” link.

For Clients, Leads and People the default ‘index’ view is to show those you have recently viewed. This should be more useful than the previous alphabetical view but, if you do still want to just browse through all your contacts, the “A-Z” option is there just below the page title.

You will also notice that for Clients and Leads the “town/city” and “county/state” parts of the address on the index pages are now links. Clicking them will filter the list to show just those entries that are in the same location so you can, for example, find all of your clients in “Coventry” or in “Devon” really easily – if you’re planning on visiting someone, you can take a look at who is nearby and perhaps drop in and say hi!

It’s now even easier to keep on top of your Activities, as they can be marked as Complete right from the Dashboard so no excuses not to keep on top of things!

As always, feedback on features (both new and old) is much appreciated, we have added a few extra areas to the forums where you can make them.