We’ve been hard at work on the next generation of LibChat, and we’re thrilled to report that part 1 – our major under-the-hood rewrite – is now live! This update is all about improving the general back-end performance of LibChat, so you may not “see” much new stuff at first – we’re saving the major widget improvements and additional updates for later this summer. Here are the changes we’re rolling out now:
- We’ve rewritten the core of LibChat from the inside out – But don’t worry, any existing widgets will still work as they always have.
- Online/Offline behavior is now directly tied to the chat window – We know, it happens. Now, if you close the chat operator window without clicking “GO OFFLINE”, no worries – your status will remain accurate.
- New “pop out” option in all patron chat widgets – Now all chats can be floated on top of the existing window instead of being embedded inside. If your patron navigates away from the current page, no sweat!
- New help text in chat widgets – we’ve added a helpful “press enter to send” message to the public chat widgets
- Terminate Operator Session (Admins Only) – We’ve all been there – anxious to leave at the end of the day, you forget to close your browser window; when you get home, you realize your chat service still appears available. No worries – head to Admin Stuff > LibChat > Who’s Online and click Terminate Session – this remotely closes your browser window.
- Please use this feature with care, as it will end any existing patron chats when the chat window closes.
As a result of this update, several commonly-reported bugs have been eradicated, including:
- New patron chats won’t “flicker” in the operator pane
- You’ll no longer see chat duplication in the operator pane
Stay tuned for part 2 of the LibChat update later this summer – we’ll be revamping the widget builder and adding all manner of new features!
We’re seeking SpringyCamp proposals and there are only two days left to get your submission in!
What is SpringyCamp, you’re probably asking yourself! SpringyCamp is Springshare’s bi-annual virtual conference where you can learn how colleagues from around the world are using Springshare tools. Springshare4Everyone is this year’s conference theme and we’re looking for submissions on how you’re using Springshare products – easy peasy!
Submit your proposal by March 10th.
We noticed a great exchange happening right now in the Springshare Lounge – it’s the type of conversation that reminds us of the power found in the collective knowledge of the Springy Community. The discussion kicked off as a request for information on adding LibChat widgets to library databases. The librarian hive mind didn’t disappoint (no surprise there, it never does!), and strategies for embedding widgets in several major library databases have already been outlined.
Catch up on the conversation: http://springsharelounge.com/group/academic-librarians/forum/topics/adding-libchat-widget-to-library-databases
We get excited when we see discussions like this take off – particularly on topics like embedding content in library databases, to which we don’t have direct access. We love seeing your ideas and questions creating such fruitful conversations – High-five, Springy Community!
Good Morning Springyland – we’ve rolled out a LibAnswers and LibChat update! This time around we’re focusing on some of your most requested features – here’s the highlights reel:
- File Transfers - Patrons and Librarians can now share files via chat, all with the click of a button.*
- Operator-to-Operator Chat - We’ve made it easy to chat with other online LibChat operators. Just click on another operator’s name, and you’ll initiate a private, back-end chat.
- Transcript Download and Email - It’s here! Head to the Transcripts management area, and you’ll be able to download transcripts. We’ve also added an easy email option for individual transcripts, making it easy to share interesting chat logs with your colleagues.
- Was this Helpful? Voting – We’ve added a super simple way to generate patron feedback on the helpfulness of answers in your public knowledgebase.
- User File Uploads - Patrons can now submit files along with the questions they submit; uploads are fully supported in the question form as well as via emailed submissions.*
- New API Options: We’ve added a host of new APIs, making it even easier to embed your LibAnswers content in other sources. Head to the widgets and API area to find these new options:
- Full Question API – use this to grab the full question and answer content for any public question.
- Search API – Send a search query to your LibAnswers system and get a list of results back – great for building your own search box and displaying results in the same page!
- Query Spy Updates: we’ve added some excellent features to the fount of knowledge that is Query Spy:
- One-click IP lookups – you’ll find IP addresses listed in your Query Spy results – click them for a quick view on patron’s location info.
- Internal/External IP reporting – Admins: head to System Settings and define your internal IP range, so Query Spy reports can reflect searches coming from inside / outside your IP range.
- New Filters available to narrow in on query source and questions users selected.
- Query Re-run – want to see the search results your users saw? Hit the spyglass to view their search results.
- Most Popular Queries – find the most popular search terms used to search your system! Head to Query Spy > View Statistics and scroll down to view the new “Popular Words” report.
- Question Form Updates: We’ve added a host of new options to your system’s question form. Admins, head to Admin Stuff > Question Form to enable these options.
- Receive Response via SMS – Patrons in a hurry can now submit a question with the system question form, but choose to receive an answer via SMS.
- A Third Free-Text Field is now available for more in-depth data collection.
- Character Limit for Question/Details has been upped to 64,000 characters, making it easier to capture all the information a patron might submit.
- New Queues: We’ve added new queues to help you keep track of bounced emails (ie emails not received by patrons) and spam messages (questions submitted to your system marked as spam).
As always, we’re sending out a million thanks to our user community for sharing these fantastic feature ideas – you guys are the best!
* Note: File upload and transfers are limited to 5MB; files are stored for 1 week, then deleted due to privacy concerns.
Hey there, LibChat users – we’ve got several exciting updates to our existing chat widgets to share!
Encourage users to add a name to the chat: Instead of auto-filling the “Guest” name in the initial chat form, we’ve added a new checkbox option. Users can still chat anonymously, but we think the switch will encourage users to share their real name.
Ask Users a Custom Question: Prompt your users to answer a single question right in your chat widget. Ask anything, whether it’s “What’s your initial question?”, to “Is this for a class? If so, what’s your course number?”. Their intial answer will show up in the operator panel – here’s what it looks like:
Comments/Feedback at the end of the chat: We’ve added a new comment box to help collect feedback from your users on your chat service. It displays underneath the star rating when a chat concludes.
- color_backg: “#E7F3EF” (Background color)
- color_border: “#AFB6B4″ (Text input borders and main border color)
- color_heading: “#3278E0″ (Heading/Title & Chat button color)
- And here’s what those settings will create –>
As usual, we’re super excited about these changes to the chat widgets! For our next act, we’ll be updating the embed code pages to generate the color customizations automatically – keep an eye out for it in the coming weeks. If you need more instructions on customizing your chat widget, these customizations (and a lot more!) are covered in our help documentation.
If you’re not chatting with LibChat yet – why not?! Check out the features and view a 3-minute video of the new functionality – and when you’re ready to jump in, email us at email@example.com to get chatting!
In the words of Dr. Frankenstein, “It’s Aliiive!” – the LibAnswers update, that is. In case you missed our preview post last week, remember: you can check out a full list of the new features available at http://help.springshare.com/laupdate-June2012. We’re super excited to tell you about the new Email features. You can now choose to funnel emails sent to a specific email address – like firstname.lastname@example.org – straight into your LibAnswers system.
Instructions for setting up the new Email features can be found below. We highly recommend that admins take a look at the new Email Settings page (found under Admin Stuff -> System Settings) to confirm settings.
If your Libanswers system is on the libanswers.com domain:
We’ve set you up with a generic email address already – ask@*.libanswers.com (where * is the lead part of your domain). Change this to whatever you’d like – head to Admin Stuff -> System Settings -> Email Settings.
If your LibAnswers system is on your own domain (ex: school.edu):
We’ll work with you (and your IT folks) on set up – email us at email@example.com to get things rolling. There are two primary options:
- Ask your IT folks to redirect a whole domain (like @ask.yourlibrary.edu) to LibAnswers. Similar to setting up Custom Domain Mapping, this requires your IT to set up a DNS record. Contact us for specific instructions. This is the most reliable way to receive and send mail with a non-libanswers.com address. [Please note - this will apply to the entire domain - it won't work for one address in the domain, like firstname.lastname@example.org. We recommend using a dedicated domain, like @ask.yourlibrary.edu, for this reason.]
- If your IT folks aren’t keen on setting up a custom domain, you can forward specific email accounts to an Incoming Email Address. Patrons can still email email@example.com, but the message will forward to firstname.lastname@example.org for ingestion into LibAnswers. Contact us and let us know what you’d like email@example.com to be (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Plus, LibChat is here!
We’ve been working on some awesome new LibAnswers features that are going to be rolled out Wednesday, June 27, 2012. There will be no system downtime during this code update.
What’s so fabulously awesome about this update?
- Answer Page Redesign: The Answer page has been redesigned & more closely mimics the answering workflow. You’ll *love* the new interface.
- Replies for Public Answers: You asked for it & we heard ya! You can now reply to public answers.
- Email Templates: You’ve wanted to customize the emails that come from your system – now you can!
- Reference Email Management: LibAnswers has a fabulous new email management tool! Set up your email address(es) & the system will pull in any emails sent to those addresses. Patrons ask via email, librarians answer via LibAnswers, and patrons can reply via email.
Emails saved & searchable in your system. One place. All questions. *swoon*
Ensure your patrons receive emails from your LibAnswers system by asking your IT department to whitelist 22.214.171.124. Note: This IP changed with this update.
- Improved Dashboard Notifications: See how many unanswered questions await you in your queue right from the Dashboard, queues, or “Add a Transaction” pages.
We created a LibAnswers Update guide so you can get some sneak peeks at everything listed above & check out the list of other enhancements!
Also, did you know that LibChat fully integrates with LibAnswers? Check it out: http://springshare.com/libanswers/
Bet you can’t wait for June 27th now… We can’t either.
By now you’ve probably heard that Meebo is discontinuing its chat service on July 11, 2012. The good news is that LibChat will be ready before then. The even better news is that is it so super awesome that even if Meebo wasn’t cancelling their chat, you’d still switch to LibChat in a heartbeat!
We know what you’re thinking: “So Springy friends, 1) what can it do and 2) when can we get our hands on it?!”
Well, LibChat’s awesomesauce is made of:
- full integration into the LibAnswers reference workflow (including new question / SMS notifications right in the LibChat window!);
- 1-click integration into LibGuides / CampusGuides (embed chat on every public page; embed individual chat in your profile);
- simple integration into any webpage – put your chat at point of need;
- several widget types – easy to use & not Flash based, so they work on non-Flash supported devices (we’re lookin’ at you, Apple);
- multiple queues – create as many as you need (individual & department based);
- chat transfer: transfer in-process chats from one librarian to another (making referrals easy peasy!);
- customizable canned messages;
- transcripts: all chat transcripts are saved & can be analyzed; patrons can also email the transcript to themselves with one click;
- full statistics, including patron ratings;
- …and more!
Of course, one of the prime ingredients in Springshare’s awesomesauce is our outstanding support. Anyone caught by the Meebo chat shut-down can certainly appreciate the full value of having a library-focused company develop & support a library-centric reference solution.
True, it’s not free like Meebo was, but remember that you get what you pay for with free. With real-time reference being an important piece of the library’s mission, we feel it is very important to offer not only a great product, but also incredible service & support and continued product development.
This is where Springshare excels, and we are proud of the fact that we have built a sterling reputation for support & service in the library market. LibChat is no exception, and our clients – new and old – can expect the same awesome service / product / developments from us. We will never abandon you or let you down.
Excited yet? Want to see it in action? Alrighty then – let’s do it!
- Are you going to ALA? Stop by booth 712 and chat with us! Check out all of the awesome features and get your library signed up.
- Not going to ALA? No problem! Email email@example.com and ask for a demo for your library.
LibChat will launch in early July – before Meebo shuts down. Chat with you soon!