No Long Term Contracts

Following up on the previous post about our pricing philosophy, it makes sense to also mention our approach to contract term length.  That is to say, there is no term length. 

If a client wants to leave, they should be able to without any financial repercussions from breaking a long term contract.  Our goal is to only have happy customers.  And, if a customer is not happy, we want to make it easy for them to find a better fit for their needs.  Our belief is that happy clients will be long term clients and over time that will work out well for everyone.  So, if you want to work with us, that's great.  But, if we're not the right fit, we want you to be able to find a better option. 

CitySoft's Pricing Philosophy

Philosophy is a funny word to use about software pricing.  But, it may be fitting in this case.  Stated simply, we ideally want anyone to be able to use the software who wants to.  If you think our software is a good fit with your needs, we want to make it as available as we can.  And we don't want anyone to be excluded unnecessarily because of a price that is beyond their means.

To accomplish this, we recommend prices for various sized organizations, based on our expectations about how expensive it will be to support them. But we ultimately leave it up to you.  It's more of an honor system approach that asks clients to pay what they think is a fair price that will benefit both sides.  Everyone needs to be a winner in order to build a good, long term relationship.

Software does not need to be expensive in most cases.  But, for many reasons, often the wrong reasons, it is.  CitySoft is trying to do things differently.

Open Source Plans

One of our long (long, long) term goals here at CitySoft Global HQ has been been to open source the whole platform, much in the way that Wordpress and others have (although perhaps to a greater extent than Wordpress).  It turns out that doing this right, or at all, takes quite a bit of preparation.  Besides all the code work, there ideally needs to be a lot of documentation, training material, and so forth.  And, we would like the platform to run on some different flavors of application servers and databases, which requires even more preparation.  And all this needs to be done while running a regular business with many client and platform development needs.

So, it's not a small enterprise.  That said, we've come a long way towards the goal and it is still a high priority for the platform.  Our goal is to make it more available and more valuable for more people and organizations.

Restarting Blog Posting

And... we're back! After a long stretch of not blogging about our features and platform, we're restarting the blog to provide new information and detail about the platform, the features, how clients are making use of it, and anything else that comes to mind and might be useful and interesting.  Hopefully this will be a channel to provide useful information to clients and prospects.  Thanks for reading!!

New HTML5 Date Picker Widget

 

In our latest build, we've started adding in the new HTML5 date picker widget.  Pictured at left, this new HTML5 feature is a nicer, slicker date picking widget than we had used in the past.  

For now, it is mainly supported in recent Chrome and Opera browsers.  But, eventually it will be supported in all major browsers as HTML5 becomes the default standard on the web.  So, if you are using chrome with our platform now, you will be able to take advantage of this new and improved feature.

 

Upgraded Web Editor And New File Manager

Here at CitySoft HQ, we get pretty excited about software upgrades.  Today is exciting because we are announcing a big upgrade to our web editor (pictured at left) and file manager (pictured at right).  Both of these components are very important parts of our platform and both are licensed from one of the best web software companies around - CK Source.

In case you aren't familiar with web software jargon, the web editor (at left) is for editing web pages, articles and emails within our platform.  And, the the file manager (at right) is for uploading and managing images that are used within web pages.  We've used the CK Source web editor for years, but are excited to have their very latest version built into our platform.  Furthermore, this is the first time we've included the CK Source file manager in our platform.

You can learn more about CKSource here.

You can learn more about CKEditor here.

You can learn more about CKFinder here.

Redesign Using Free CitySoft Theme

 

Customizing our free web design themes for a web site is a very affordable way to get up and running quickly with an attractive, contemporary design.  CitySoft offers a library of free web site design themes (here) which are completely open source and free.  Although we designed them for use with our software, anyone can use them.

When our clients use one of these themes for their website, there is usually a short process of customizing the theme for a specific client.  We thought it would be helpful to show an example of what a customized theme can look like at the end of the process.  

Recently, a long-time client (The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) re-designed their website using our Professional theme. They were happy with the final results, which can be seen here.  The initial theme (with no customization) can be seen here.  

History, Rollback and More Caching in Articles Module

CitySoft has added several new features to the Articles module that are worth noting here.

History and Rollback
The articles module now includes both History and Rollback features (as pictured).  The means that each time an article is added or edited over time, all versions of the article are saved in the database.  The older versions can be viewed from the article history screen.  And, at an time an administrator can "roll back" an older version of the article and make it the current version.  This history and rollback functionality also exists in the Pages module and with page sections.  These features will be added to more modules in the future.

Caching
Although extensive caching already exists in Community Enterprise, we have recently added some new caching features to the Articles module.  With this new functionality, articles are stored in cached versions on the server.  These articles can be retrieved and displayed more quickly than in the past, improving client and user performance.

Former Contacts Feature Added To Organization Contacts

A great new feature has been added to the Organizations module that will be useful to clients who use CE to track organizations and the contacts within those organizations.  Within an organizations record, in the past you could track primary contacts and regular contacts (e.g. employees) of an organization.  Now, you can also track former contacts of the organization (as pictured below).  This means that when an individual leaves an organization in your database, you can retain that historical information by simply changing their status within the organization record to "Former Contact."  The organization record will maintain a list of all former (as well as current) contacts.

Updating email address from email preferences screen

I just wanted to note a small but important improvement to our email preferences feature which makes it easier for a user receiving a blast email to update their name and email in the database.  

In the past, this would require that the user login to the system to update their profile.  That still works well, but is a little cumbersome because it requires logging in.  

Now, a user who receives a blast email from our platform can update their name and email directly from the preferences screen without needing to login (as pictured in the graphic at right). When they do, this also generates an activity in their record so that an administrator can easily see or report on this activity.

 

Improvements to a hidden gem - File Upload channel

We're finishing off some enhancements to a little known hidden gem of a feature in our platform - the File Upload channel.  This channel allows a user with permissions to login to a web site and securely upload files that are associated with them and their organization / company (which is also tracked in the database).

This feature has helped clients that manage organizations and need employees of those organizations to submit documents (like quarterly reports).  This can be easily managed online with our platform.

The new enhancements help a client manage more documents, with an easier interface, and more searching, sorting, categorization, and downloading options.  In addition, an admin can limit the types of documents (e.g. .xslx, .pdf, .doc) that users can upload.

New register "on behalf of" feature in event registrations

Today we are announcing an exciting new feature in our event registration functionality.  This feature allows a user to easily register for an event on behalf of another person.  So, if an employee who is not going to an event needs to register a colleague, our platform makes it easy.  The registration is completed like usual but the system will keep track of and notify both the registrant and the person who registered them.

Note that this functionality is initially available with the PayPal Pro account (but not PayPal Standard).

Custom fields in event guest registration form

We've added a cool and useful new feature for event registration.  Now admin-created custom fields can be included within the guest registration form during event registrations.  This has long been a feature in our regular event registration form.  With no technical skills necessary, a CE admin could create custom fields within the event registration form to collect any information necessary during registrations.

However, in the past when a user added guests to an event registration, custom fields were not part of the guest form.  Now you can add these fields to a guest registration form.  So, for example, if you need to collect specific information (e.g. meal preference, allergy information, track preference, etc.) for each guest during a registration, it's easy.

Secure multiple domains with SSL within one software instance

We've launched an important new security feature that allows clients to secure ecommerce transactions across multiple different domains on one instance of Community Enterprise (CE).  Now, when using a payment gateway like PayPal Pro, you can have multiple websites with different domains (e.g. http://www.domain.com, http://www.example.com, and so forth) which all transact securely with PayPal and are manageable through one admin login.

In the past, CE could only support one SSL secured domain per instance.  

Cool new task management features

While task management functionality may not be everyone's idea of excitement, here at CitySoft HQ, we love it.  And, we've recently launched some spiffy new task management features.  

Automated email reminders

We've added the ability to send automated messages to users when an assigned task is overdue or almost due.  You just set it and forget it.  The software takes care of the rest.  Now, when a user has upcoming or overdue tasks, the system sends them and their supervisor a nicely formatted email.

Pop up reminder screen

Similar to the email reminders, there is a new feature that can display a pop-up window to users who have upcoming or overdue tasks.  Now, when a user logs in the first time, they can be immediately shown a window containing their tasks.

Together, these enhancements help make it easier for users and their managers to keep track of what needs to be done every day.

Lots of UI improvements

Over the years while building our large software platform, we often focused on function over form.  Too often the result was functionality that worked but did not look as nice as it should.

Fortunately, the user interface (UI) is catching up with the features.  We have spent more time in recent months improving the Community Enteprise UI and the work is paying off.  Many of these changes are on the administrative side of the system, where content and data is managed.  We have added many new icons, graphics and inline support documentation and tips to help users navigate the system's many features.

We have also streamlined many features.  For instance, a web page can now be created in one step instead of three.  And, a document can be added to the system from within the web editor link tool (to make it easier to upload and link to a document while creating a web page.

We have also added a lot of contemporary design and UI elements to our free web site themes.  These can be seen in our theme library.

The work continues but the good news is that the admin UI is now sleak and contemporary.

New 'Copy Page' feature in Pages module

With the ability to host and manage multiple sites from one instance of our platform, some clients end up having many sites and many pages.  One result is the need to copy page content frequently from one site to another within the system.

In the old days copying pages within CE required cut-and-paste work.  Now, the process has been automated.  For each page in the system, on any site, you simply click an icon, choose where to copy the page to, and you're done.

New And / Or Grouping For Custom Reports

We have added And / Or Grouping to our report filters.

A strength of the Community Enterprise platform has always been the ability to create highly customizable reports.  Customization has included the ability to select exactly which fields, the order of the fields and the filters to be applied to the data.  For instance, you could select all donations that came in between certain dates and for certain funds.

However, in the past report filters had to be all "And" filters or all "Or" filters.  The created some limitations when users attempted more complex reports.  Now, we have included a grouping feature for report filters.  This allows for both "And" filters and "Or" filters to be used within groups, such as "A AND (B or C)" where the letters are filters.

This is an exciting enhancement that will make life much easier for our clients and users.

Recent Items Admin Sidebar

We've added a very useful Recent Items admin feature that I just wanted to mention.  When using the admin side of Community Enterprise, it can take a while to browse to all the data you want to see and use.  To cut down on the time spent moving from one module (e.g. Contacts) to another (e.g. Organizations), we've created an admin sidebar that tracks all the recent items that you've viewed (e.g. a contact, application, organization, event, committee, etc.).  The feature then displays links of the 10 most recent items.  As a result, your most recent items are never more than a click away.

New Native, Built In Blog Functionality

Well this is exciting.  The Community Enterprise platform now has native, built in blog functionality.  In fact, this blog runs on it.

No longer is there a need for separate third party blogging tools.  Instead, for the same price and within the same platform you can have a blog within or next door to your web site.  

Our blogging tools include typical blogging features such as the option to:

  • Post in multiple categories
  • Include social media sharing links on screen
  • Choose the number of posts you want to appear per screen
  • Use the summary or full post as the blog entry
  • User our built in blog themes are easily implement your own