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Latest Side Job Track News & Commentary

The Side Blog is where you can find information on the latest Side Job Track services, features, updates and bug fixes.

The schedule tab got a couple additions this weekend. Now in addition to the weekly view, there are also monthly and yearly views. Each of the views has distinct characteristics: The monthly view has brief summaries of daily events that can be expanded to view the full details of each day; the yearly view gives you an overview of your projects without any detail in terms of services and tasks. The yearly view gives you a quick look at how long your projects are running, based of their begin and end dates.

Today's date is more obvious than ever:

Schedule Screenshot

Switch between views quickly:

Schedule Screenshot

Expand days in the monthly view to get detailed information:

Schedule Screenshot

This is the beginning of the new features and updates for SJT. Hope you like 'em!
Holy crap there are actual Side Job Track updates! In no particular order, here's a list of what changed:

* Project Begin date no longer required - This means what projects that haven't started yet, projects that started then stopped or projects you are creating for estimate's sake don't have to be given a fake begin date and any projects without a begin date are accessed in the new On Hold tab of the projects page.

* Bigger project notes textarea - When you add or edit a project note, the screen shifts a bit to give you more room to type out your project notes.

* Services Completed Date on default Print & Email invoice templates - If you have a custom invoice, download the new template to incorporate the new template logic.

* New template logic & codes - Now if a service has a completed date, it will show on the invoice. This takes advantage of a new template logic code that works within looped data like a list of services or materials:

{IFSET{CODENAME} Text to Output END}

* Custom Template MS Word Bug Fixed (Maybe…) - I think -- big THINK -- that the dreaded MS Word custom template breaker bug is fixed. If not, send me a link to your custom template and I'll investigate further.

* New Setting: Time Zone Adjustment - Allows you to set a time zone offset.

* New Setting: Project Summary Display - Allows you to set how much project summary to display on the projects page. If set to short description and the project summary is over 300 characters, it will cut off your project summary to the first line break. Should be a space-saver for folks who have detailed project summaries.

* Invoice-Only Export - In the same way you can export your list of clients, you can now do the same for invoices.

As always, if you notice any bugs with the new features, let me know via the help page within SJT or in the comments of this thread.

So what about Pro Job Track and all those promised summer updates? Well, some of those summer updates are included in this round of updates and others are on hold. When I announced PJT earlier this year, I was over halfway done. After a few months away from the site, however, I realized that in order to do the best job possible I was going to have to throw away almost everything I'd done and start over.

So, I may not make the 2007 deadline, but I am working on the site and it's going to really kick-ass.

Pro Job Track

Expect Side Job Track updates while I tinker with Pro Job Track this summer. If you're interested in the site, add your email to the notification list via the form provided on the PJT homepage.
An invoicing update was pushed out today and now billing open projects in multiple increments where the cost of the project increases over its lifespan is easier. Lets say you have a project that you've invoiced and received full payment but later the project has some additional cost. Now, instead of only being able to create a new invoice for the entire project total you also have the option of invoicing for only the additional cost.

Basically the update is an easy way to convert your existing invoice into an incremental invoice -- where your client's previous payments are noted -- without having to convert your invoice manually.

I tested it with as many scenarios as I possibly could but keep track of your invoices when using this new option to ensure the totals are calculated correctly and report any inconsistencies as soon as possible.

Another minor update relates to the Side Job Track homepage as it received a slight change to the header.

If you have questions or comments about the invoicing or homepage updates, please feel free to comment about those in this thread. As always, you can use the contact form on the help page to contact me directly.
Some quick notes on recently loaded updates:

* Boatloads of Style Updates -- Be sure to refresh your browser.

* Updated Help Page -- The help page now has the support email form on the right side of the page for easier access.

* Print Invoice Line Breaks -- When you create a print invoice, now how you've entered your service/material description will be reflected exactly as you've typed it, including line breaks. (Thanks Mike!)

* Percent Invoiced Graph -- When you bill by percent, now you can see a bar graph that represents how much you've billed for that particular project. (Thanks Ben!)

* Export Bug Fixed -- There was a bug with the data export where the invoice's total wasn't showing up, this is now fixed. It is recommended that you export and save your data at this time.

* New Logo -- Dropped the "uno" from the logo. Be sure to refresh your browser if you don't see it.

* Service Due Date -- You can now set a due date per service. The amount of time until the service is due will show up on the projects tab and in the schedule, the due date or completed date will show up and include a link to the service.

* Service Completed Checkbox -- Will now automatically set the completed date to today's date if no date is present. Also, when you uncheck the completed box, it will unset the completed date.

* More Detailed Reports -- Now, your reports break down and subtotal by month. Also included in reports are any invoice increments to give you a more accurate idea of the amount of money you've invoiced and received. If you want to double check the new reports page against the old, a link to the old reports page is available under the reports tab.

Finally, if you notice anything odd about the new reports page, or any of the other updates mentioned, please use the administrator contact form on the help page to provide a detailed explanation on the errors you are encountering.
Updates! Invoicing gets some much needed attention in this round of updates including:

* Invoice Number is now editable when not using the default invoice numbers. This way if you want to enter in historical invoice numbers you can now do so when you edit an invoice.

* Invoice Number is more visible. On the Projects tab, the Reports tab and when editing a project in the invoice section you can now see an invoice's number easily.

* Invoice Increment amounts are more visible. On the Projects tab if you're billing that project in increments the total for the increment that's due will show below the project total cost. Also, on the out-standing invoices summary on the Projects tab the increment that's due is shown along with the project total cost.

Along with the invoicing updates, I finally got around to something I've wanted to add for a long time -- something I hope to grow in the future but wanted to get released now: A Simple Schedule.

Simple Schedule

Located under the new Schedule tab, the Schedule is essentially a time line that shows all the major dates you've already entered into your Side Job account in a detailed weekly view and a monthly view where that month's events are highlighted.

As always if you have any problems or questions about the updates, please send me an email using the contact the Side Job Track Administrator link located on the help page when logged in to your account.
Tiny updates! I finally had a chance to go through and make a few updates to Side Job this weekend and made some small yet useful modifications. Nothing ground breaking but there are probably a few additions you'll enjoy:

* Service Completed Date now shows up on the services list as well as on the link hover.

* New Invoice Due After Setting allows you to set a default number of days an invoice is due. So, for example, if your invoices are always due 30 days after you create the initial invoice, this setting will set that date automatically when the invoice is initially created. Of course, you can still edit this date if you need.

* Bigger Textareas for client comments, project service descriptions and project material descriptions make it easier to give more detailed information for each.

* Bar Graphs on Reports tab for Client report. Now it's even easier to tell who your most profitable client is based on a percent of the invoices you've received for the report year. The graphs themselves were created using the awesome CSS Bar Graphs developed by Apples to Oranges.

* X/HTML is now allowed in textareas. If you have files on a webserver, you can now link to those documents using the standard anchor tag. This is especially handy for project notes or service descriptions. Any mark-up you add, however, will be removed before you create an invoice regardless of type (rtf, txt, htm).

There are some more features I do plan on adding in the future; so, if you've requested something that wasn't added in this round of mini-updates don't despair, there are more things I have plans to add. If you have any comments or questions about the additions, please let me know.
The updates I've been working on since the beginning of December are finally available for all to enjoy. These updates include a lot of what I consider baby steps that may be incorporated and extended into future updates but are available now to ensure the fundamental code works as planned.

Here's what's new:

- Project Discount. Now you can discount the cost of an entire project instead of lowering the cost of each service manually.

- Invoice increments by percent and/or amount. Now you can specify either a specific dollar amount for an invoice increment OR set the percent. There may be an issue with remainders on certain percents so the amount will override the percent if both an amount and percent are listed. Pay close attention when editing existing incremental invoices!

- Convert out-standing invoices to incremental invoices. If you send an invoice for the full project total and only receive partial payment, you can now convert the invoice into an incremental invoice when editing the original invoice.

- Service completed date. Now you can check off performed services and/or set a performed date. This really doesn't "do" anything now, but will probably used for something else later.

- Template logic. I added a couple new logic-specific codes for invoice templates. Hopefully I'll add more but for now just a couple have been added to see how it works out in the real world.

- New template codes. Various codes have been added for more detail over what's being billed. The old codes should still work if you have a custom template, but you might want to check out the new template logic and codes if you're interested in future customization possibilities.

- Download clients in XML. If you want to download client-only information you can do so on the clients tab. Look at the bottom of your list of clients for the link. If you need to download your SJT project data, that export remains available on your business details page.

- Client names on projects tab. Just below a project's notes on the main projects tab you will be able to see that project's clients.

- Tighter nuts and bolts: I. Going through and bug testing I came across a couple of interesting bugs. One being that for recurring invoices, if you didn't print or email the invoice, the actual invoice amount wouldn't get set. So, now when you create a recurring invoice, the invoice amount gets set to the project total at that time. If the bug already effected you -- and my guess is that about 80 invoices are vulnerable -- then you will be alerted where the invoice total is displayed and you will get an option to set the total to the amount shown and correct the issue.

- Tighter nuts and bolts: II. A project's tax rate is now locked after you invoice the project. If you want to change the tax for a project, you will have to start a new one. A project's discount will lock once the project completed date is set but if you have recurring invoices for a project, you will be able to set the discount per individual invoice.

Ok, as always please pay extra special attention to your invoices and projects and let me know if there are any problems.
With the recent release of the oft requested Simple Timer, it's time to turn my attention to other feature requests that have popped up over the last month as well as gather feedback on anything else that should be added. This will likely be the last round of updates for a while as I want to turn my attention back to my homepage and other experiments I've wanted to perform.

To get things started, here's a list of what's been requested and is currently in consideration to be added:

* Invoice conversion: If you invoice for the total project cost, but only receive partial payment, there should be a way to easily convert that invoice into an invoice increment -- to keep track of the percent paid.

* Secondary Tax Preference: A way to charge a second tax on your invoice for countries like Canada.

* Show Client Name on Projects Tab: When displaying project summary, show the client name in that list.

* Clean up and Finish Custom Template Gallery: There have been some shared custom templates submitted, but I need to get a better admin process for that, as well as develop some language so folks understand not all codes may be present.

* Service Preformed Date: Add a date to note when a service was preformed. This would be an optional field.

* Less Rigid Invoice Increments: Allow new invoice increments to be created even if the last increment is still open. I'm not sure I want to add this, but it's a possibility.

Ok, that's my list, what's yours? (Keep in mind this will be the last round of updates for a while.)
The redesigning of the homepage has sort of taken away time from adding new features, but fear not because more updates are on the way. I'm working on a list of what I am considering adding to the site, but first I'd like to explain an oft-requested feature I added recently: a simple timer that can be used for hourly services.

The timer can be used when editing services that are attached to projects. Edit or create a service on a project and look to the right of the Quantity box:

Timer Open

Opening the timer will automatically start the time. The timer itself has five buttons, three control the function of the timer and two control how the time is recorded back onto the corresponding service:

Timer Full

If you have a quantity already listed and you open the timer, the time that it records will be added to that time.

The timer icon will be available regardless of whether the service is by item, weekly, monthly, etc. but it's only useful when charging hourly.

UPDATE: Kevin Wetzels, the maker of the free and most excellent Drunkey Love icons that Side Job uses, created a brand new stop watch icon that makes this feature's purpose more obvious.

Thanks Kevin!


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