I love Fridays, especially when there is a big Method update to share with everyone. There hasn't been an update to the platform since the beginning of August, so we are long overdue - but I can assure you the Dev team has been extremely busy.
Overall, the focus of the Dev team's work was to prepare for a rework of some key areas of Method's backend to make Method faster and more flexible than ever before. It's been 4 years since we broke ground on coding Method and along the way we've had plenty of great feedback from you, our Method users and Method Solution Providers on where you want us to go. Yet, while preparing for the rework, they managed to get in many new features and fixes into this release - and in the coming months you'll start to see the true impact of their rework as we release more updates. Here are just some of the highlights:
- Credit Card Processing now have Intuit Merchant Services and Authorize.NET added to the supported payment processors list!! This works just like the other credit card processors we have where you enter your merchant account information into the action, grab values from the screen for credit card numbers, addresses, and amounts, and get back an action result on whether or not it was approved.
We had a lot more planned that we wanted to get into this release related to credit card processing, but it will have to wait for the next update. Next update should have database field encryption, PayPal, Google Checkout, and most importantly a way for you to enter your Merchant account info under Customize > My Account so that a new version of the customer portal can use this for customer payments without you having to customize your screens. Next update.
- Https green bar. Rather than being selective on which pages were https and which were http, we have made all pages https. There is a slight performance hit in doing this, but the Dev team found a way optimizing it so that it was minimal. Plus the green bar really does look cool.
- SSL for Email Preferences - needed for Google Apps email integration, since it requires SSL.
- Ability to mask characters. Certain fields you just don't want someone standing behind you to see you type into, such as a password or social security numbers. So we added a feature to use when designing your apps so that you can now add a mask to textbox objects. This feature is found in Step 1 of 3: Textbox Properties, under the Advanced Options area.
- Color scheme - I love this feature. When designing an app before, the fields and colors you chose would look great in your environment......but when screens were copied over to someone else's environment it would look messy since they might have a green, brown or custom theme, while yours was, say...blue. Best example is the Field Service dashboard. When I designed the dashboard screen, my tabs and grids were all a shade of blue. So when I made my headings in the Field Service Dashboard, I chose a big blue font. I've seen Method Field Services on user's screenshots where their color code is different and my dashboard just looks UGLY. Next time I do an update for the Field Service Dashboard, I'm going to choose "Active Tab" for the color of my headings, so that no matter which account the screen is copied into, it will match their Active Tab color, not mine. Love it.
- Similar to the color scheme settings on the designer, the color scheme and default logo are now available on all report templates. That way you can make a report template that will automatically adopt the user's logo and color scheme no matter what account it is imported into. To do this:
a) Drag a picture object onto a template, and set the Data Binding to Company.DisplayLogo:
b) Drag a color field onto the screen, such as Company.DisplayColorActiveTab.
c) Name the field something meaningful like "xrActiveColor", and set the field's Visible property to false.
d) (Advanced geek stuff, beware!) On the object you want to set the color of, edit the BeforePrint script for the object or the band the object is in, and put in the script:
xrYourObjectName.Backcolor = ColorTranslator.FromHtml(xrActiveColor.Text)
xrYourObjectName.Forecolor = ColorTranslator.FromHtml(xrActiveColor.Text)
- Fewer/More Rows icons for grids (). This is so that you can temporarily increase the number of rows visible in the grid without having to permanently set the row count by customizing. Next time you sign out or sign in it will go back to the original row count. This is really useful if you normally just need to see 10 rows of CRM activities, but you are browsing through looking for a specific activity and want to see 50 or 100 at a time.
- Time in a grid in HH:MM format is now editable. This is good for Field Service users, or anyone who tracks time. The best display for time is in HH:MM format, so that instead of 150 minutes it displays as 2:30. Previously this was read only, but now if you type "170" or "2:50" it would save and display as 2 hours and 50 minutes!
- Multiple attachments in sending emails. Previously you could only attach a single attachment to an email in a Send Email Action. Now you can attach up to 5 attachments to an email, by clicking the "+" symbol next to the Attachment Location label.
There are numerous fixes too. Here are some highlights:
- Calendar now supports displaying 24 hours, when customized. Previously it only supported 23 hours.
- PNG images files did not preview for picture objects, unlike JPG, BMP and GIF.
- Dropdown wizard in the designer did not always show the unique fields for the first dropdown field value. This was a little embarrassing .....it was showing fields that had unique values, rather than fields marked as unique.
- In Step 2 of the grid wizard, columns with single quotes in their captions were rejected. Now they are happily accepted with open arms.
- Export to Excel - previously the Export To Excel action for grids was a little lazy and exported everything that the grid was first loaded with, instead of the currently filtered values. It now exports what is visible, no more, no less.
- Customize > Display color theme. Also embarrassing , when you changed your color theme, you had to jump through hoops to get the new colors to take on all your screens. For example, if you changed your theme from green to blue, it would be very common to have a screen with a blue grid, green tabs, and blue calendar, and green appointments on the calendar! Yuk. That is fixed now. Sorry.
Next update should be in just over 4 weeks. We're looking forward to releasing more great features then.
While studying at Queen's School of Business in 1999, Paul founded Alocet Incorporated, developing 'QXpress', which later became the top rated field service scheduling add-on for QuickBooks.
Alocet Incorporated later went on to create Method Integration - an innovative small business management platform that allows users to create their own web apps for QuickBooks.