Clean Auto-Invite Style For Live Chat

We are testing out a new and rather clean looking auto-invite style for Live Chat. Previously we were using the default style in Live Chat (the blue window)

You can download this style here if you wish to use it with your Live Chat install or your Live Chat Hosted Service.


Include your existing demographic data in Survey Software survey results

Many ActiveCampaign Survey Software users don’t realize that they have the option to add extra data into their survey link in order to have it included in the survey’s results. It’s easy if you’re using Email Marketing to send your invitations, because you can just use1-2-All’s own personalization tags like %PERS_NAME%, %PERS_33%, etc.

Let’s say you’ve installed ActiveCampaign Survey Software on your web site at example.com. A typical survey link would look like:

http://example.com/isalient/index.php?survey_code=79b22778&login=1

You can add your data onto the end of this link using an ampersand (&). So, if you wanted to include the zip code of your invitee, you would add an ampersand, indicating that a value has been added, followed by the value itself: zip_code=60601. You final survey link for that invitee would look like:

http://example.com/isalient/index.php?survey_code=79b22778&login=1&zip_code=60601

Only basic alphanumeric characters should be included in the name of your value–no spaces should be used. In this example, we’ve used an underscore (_) instead of a space.

You can add on as many values as you’d like in this manner, simply by placing an ampersand before each value. For example:

http://example.com/isalient/index.php?survey_code=79b22778&login=1&zip_code=60601&name=Frank

When the survey is opened through this link, the Survey Software will automatically store the values “zip_code” and “name” along with all other survey data, such that you can view the data along with the invitee’s survey responses and export it for manipulation in statistical analysis software such as SPSS.

SwiftTraction Update

We just released another update to the SwiftTraction beta. You can read about all the details by clicking here. Included you will find some minor bug fixes and some great new features and GUI updates. Here are some screenshots:

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SwiftTraction Projects and Actions

The SwiftTraction Beta got another new report today along the same lines as yesterday’s addition. This one displays a comparison of the times that each of your users has spent performing a particular action, and compares that time to any estimates you’ve alloted for the Action.

While our test data isn’t extremely comprehensive at the moment, this screenshot can give you a bit of an idea of what you’re working with. Each Project can have any number of Actions, and you can set a projected amount of time for each of the individual Actions. The time estimate for the whole project is just the sum of all of the actions within the project.

The new SwiftTraction Beta Action-Time Report

There been some discussion around here about how to the clarity of these labels in SwiftTraction. To break it down:

  1. A Projectis a set of Actions & Activities
  2. An Action is a general type of action you can take
  3. An Activity is a specific instance of an Action

For those of you interested in SwiftTraction as a time management tool: how do these concepts and labels work for you? What do you like or dislike about them, and how would you like to see them evolve over the course of SwiftTraction’s development? Some of us have been thinking that “Action” & “Activity” should be switched, so that an “Activity” is the category of task and an “Action” is a single instance of performing it.

We’re thinking seriously about how to structure the workflow of SwiftTraction right now, centering mainly on the development of wizards for setting up users and user groups, as well as projects. We’d like to hear about your ideal workflow for setting up and managing your projects. So, if you haven’t already, grab a copy of the beta and let us know what you like and what you don’t in terms of workflow and usability.

A quick view of your project time estimates and realities

The SwiftTraction beta just got a new report that displays the relationship between your set time estimates for each project and the actual time spent on the projects so far. This is a good thing for two reasons.

First, and perhaps somewhat obviously, having constant access to your running totals and visual representations of your progress just makes it easier to think about the project. Having this information at the ready gives you room to conceptualize how you’re going to allocate your resources and direct your team to finish the project on time before you end up in the crisis situation of being over-time and over-budget.

This new SwiftTraction shows the projected hours for each project versus the actual hours logged

Secondly, most projects end up costing more and taking longer than we at first anticipate. There just isn’t any way to accurately estimate the amount of time a project is going to take us, short of the specific expertise that a project manager can develop over a period of years working in the same environment. This is not only because it takes that long to understand the intricacies of the problems your teams are solving–and it does–but also because it takes time to understand the dynamics of the team itself: the attitudes and patterns of decision-making, the types of emergencies that come up, even the impact that vacations and holidays are likely to have on completion times.

SwiftTraction is quickly arriving at a point where it will be able to decrease this organizational learning curve by giving direct, immediate feedback on project time estimates versus actual completion times. This report is a first major piece of that development.

Live Chat Software 1.55.0 Released with new MySQL requirements; what it means for you

With the release today of Live Chat 1.55.0, we have for the first time increased the required minimum version of MySQL from the old standard, 3.23.x. Those versions of MySQL are what many people first used for a database with their web software, and for quite some time, never upgraded from despite the changes and additions made by the developers of MySQL. But, for some time, MySQL 3.23 (and 4.0) have been deprecated by their developers in order to focus on later versions, and most webhosts have upgraded their databases to later versions as well.

The new minimum MySQL version we require with Live Chat is 4.1.x. This choice gave us quite a few new features to turn to when readying this new version of the software. For example, we have changed the structures of the majority of our tables from MyISAM to InnoDB.

InnoDB tables support row-level locking, which allows for faster table access when many people are accessing a table for read and write operations, as opposed to MyISAM’s locks which lock the entire table. InnoDB is also much more reliable than MyISAM, able to survive a crash without fear of data corruption. Many other users of MySQL have switched to InnoDB, including Livejournal, with great success. Thus far, we have experienced performance gains across the board with our usage of InnoDB — in some cases more than others — but so far no slowdowns or other performance hits. InnoDB can result in larger table sizes than MyISAM, relative to the original size of a table; in Live Chat’s case, this hasn’t proved to be much, and the performance gains should easily outweigh this tradeoff.

We have also begun using subqueries, which is an excellent feature of MySQL 4.1, that should help to further optimize query performance. We’re excited by the potential that this change has not only for Live Chat but for other products of ours as well.

Many other bug fixes were made for the 1.55.0 release of Live Chat, which you can view here.

PHP & MySQL Version Requirements

Currently all of our products have a base requirement of PHP 4.3+ and MySQL 3.23+

You may have noticed recently that PHP.net declared that they will no longer be supporting PHP 4 as of December 31st 2007. Also there has been a widely publicized project called GoPHP5. The idea behind GoPHP5 is to get as many applications to back the PHP5 only development status.

While we do agree that it is time for hosts to make a final switch to PHP5 we will not stop supporting PHP 4.3+ anytime soon. We strive to ensure our product line works from PHP 4.3 to the latest version of PHP5. And we will ensure compatibility with PHP6 when it is closer to release.

Keeping that in mind we are currently testing increasing the MySQL version requirement to MySQL 4.1+ for TrioLive, SupportTrio, and SwiftTraction. We have found the vast majority of our client base to be utilizing MySQL 4.1 or above for some time now.

We won’t be rushing any of these changes out. If you should have any feedback during this time just let us know!

User Groups for Help Desks

We just released a new version of ActiveCampaign Help Desk Software.  The main change is adding user groups for public users.  You can now create user groups, assign users to groups, and allow users to share tickets within their group if you wish.
Click here to read more about this update.

Live Chat Desktop App Update

It’s been quite a while since our 1.09 version of Live Chat Desktop was released. Quite a few improvements have been made for this new release. The big ones are:

  • The desktop client now remembers the last location and size of the window when you exit the application. This includes the location of the splitter for the traffic/operator list and the chat area.
  • There is a “loader” graphic, similar to what is used on the web console, that notes when the client is waiting for data to load from the Live Chat server. It doesn’t appear during automatic timed events, such as downloading updates to the traffic monitor. The graphic appears on right hand side of the main menu.
  • This is the first desktop version that works to detect when the network connection is too slow to work, and — rather than behave slowly or freeze up due to the time taken — actually alert you to the situation and log out.
  • The actions top-level menu was redesigned to target actions on the operator list of traffic list, depending on what you’re viewing at the time.
  • Fix numerous other layout bugs and a few obscure crash conditions.

Give it a spin — it’s available for download via the Support Center.

Feature Overview: Cross-tab Reporting

A major development for ActiveCampaign Survey Software is that we have added crosstab functionality to reports. This is available for both the installable survey software and the hosted survey service. Showing a report with a crosstab lets you view only the responses from people who gave a specific answer to a question. For example, if one of your survey questions is which country are you from, you can create a report that shows responses only for those who are from the US, or only those from Canada, etc…

Crosstabulation is where you can view survey results that come from a subset of people. For example, let’s say I have a survey that asks people 3 questions: Gender, Age, and Favorite Hobby. While the survey results will tell me what people’s favorite hobbies are in general, it would be much more useful if I could break it down further so I can view hobbies for all males between 25-35, or hobbies for females between 40-60. Crosstab lets you do that.

Crosstabs can be added by going to Reports -> Add New Crosstab. Type the name of the crosstab (for internal viewing purposes) and choose a survey, and then save. Next, you can choose a question, a condition, and then an answer. So in our case I would choose “Gender”, “Answer is equal to”, and then enter “Male” (or select a suggestion). Then I could add another condition by choosing “AND” or “OR”, and then choosing “Age” for the question, etc…

It is easy to create a set of conditions for a question and even join those conditions to another question. Click on Conditions sand then select a question that you want to add crosstab functionality to. Conditions that you can set include Answer is equal to, Answer is not equal, Answer contains, Answer does not contain, Answer starts with, Answer ends with, Question has been answered, and Question has not been answered. You can set this using suggested answers to questions. You can then join this condition to another question by using an And or Or condition.

Now we are ready to view the results. Click on Reports -> Survey Responses, and choose a web survey. If there are any crosstab views for a selected survey then they will appear in the section below. Choose the crosstab filter and then hit submit. The charts and graphs you now see will contain ONLY those responses that match the criteria in the crosstab view.