Archive: Feature Spotlight

Feature Spotlight: Form Presets

Did you know that appFiles allows Agents to have custom pre-set form default values and that Brokerages have system wide form value defaults too?

Agents can log in to their appFiles home screen and add their personal form default values using the Form Defaults link on the top of the left hand column of their home screen.

Brokerages can add default values that apply to every user in their Add/Edit Forms control panel using the Pre-Filled and Fixes values tabs. Pre-filled means an agent could edit the value and Fixes means the agent would not be able to edit the field value. For example, the brokerage name…

Save time and set up your default Form Values today!!

Feature Spotlight: Document Pack

The appFiles Team in Colorado

We traveled far and wide to discover ways to help you become more efficient

It has been a very exciting year for all of us here at appFiles and we hope it has been a great year for you too! With the season’s celebrations at the door we want to take this opportunity to wish you happiness and prosperity in the year to come.

A great part of our excitement is making appFiles a better, more useful tool for everyone, and we always depend on our users to help us do that. Based on all the feedback that we received during 2010 we were able to better understand the needs

of our users, as well as plan which features will be the most beneficial to add and improve.

We confirmed that document management is a fundamental need for our users, and that the tools available today fall far short of meeting those needs. I remember a time when it was easy to simply pick up a customer’s file, leaf through its contents and pick what I wanted, photocopy it and drop it in

the mail. But today, with email replacing FedEx and faxing this has become nearly impossible to do.

We believe that having the ability to easily share and manage paperwork is vital to a business running smoothly and the new Document Pack feature allows you to do just that. Pick one or more documents, add a cover page, include a header or footer on every page if needed (very useful when submitting documents that have a unified account number or ID) and email it, all in one easy step.

When you are looking at an appFile you will find the Document Pack Tool as the first link at the top of the right hand column.

Also look for the “Add New Version” button when you are viewing your documents. We wanted to make it easy to keep track of the real world changes a document goes through during its life cycle. With this feature, it’s simple to upload or scan your document after its been changed, maintaining the most current version in front for everyone to see, but at the same time, keeping older versions available for historic reference.

So, in the season best geared to giving thanks, we want to thank you, our users. Without your invaluable feedback we wouldn’t be where we are today, and we wouldn’t be so excited about the year to come.

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Feature Spotlight: Notes

When we started the design of appFiles we knew that having a free-form notepad was going to be important. Sometimes you need to jot down a thought about a customer, or simply start writing some ideas on a project.

We wanted to make it really easy and yet we didn’t just want to throw a text area for people to write. Making a word bold or italic matters. Naturally the solution for this was simple, we incorporated a WYSIWYG editor that allows users some basic formatting features. It won’t replace the word processor any day, but it offers an opportunity to just type whatever’s on your mind.

Notes Editor

A simple HTML editor was all we needed to make Notes work

The Notes Section is a simple feature, and yet, we’ve found some interesting uses for it that we had not anticipated. When we’re writing an email and we want coworkers to review the text and make corrections or suggestions, it was just too easy to start a note and type it in there, and then have people come over to the appFile and work on it.

We have some of our customers keeping their cooking recipes in the Notes Section of an appFile, or even a grocery list. Because the level of engagement necessary to start the editor and type is so low, sometimes it’s easier to start a note than it is to create a new word document and fuss about with saving the file and trying to remember where it was.

In the end it’s all about making things simple, that’s always the philosophy behind appFiles.

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Feature Spotlight: Email Tracking

Email is the oldest application on the internet (it was first used around 1971), but unlike many other technologies from that time, it refuses to go away.

It’s just plain useful, it creates an instant person-to-person communication with a comfortable level of confidentiality (what I mean by this is that under normal circumstances, the whole world won’t see the text, just the intended recipient) with anyone on the internet, provided they too have an email address (which is just about everybody).

The challenges of today’s world should have phased email out in light of newer forms of communication, and yet, email continues to be the de-facto standard for getting a hold of somebody, specially in the SMB world.

A lot of good things happen over emails: orders are placed, job statuses are updated, documents and files are sent back and forth, even news is delivered via this medium. We identified however, that while sending an email is easy, finding an email that was sent is significantly harder. Sure, there’s search and tagging and folders and what-not. But what if the email you’re trying to find wasn’t sent by you? What if the email was sent by your secretary, or a salesman representing your company? Well, it’s sitting safely (you hope) in their inbox, to which you may or may not have access. The pattern gets complicated when there are replies to conversations that go to different recipients.

Naturally, we wanted to support email. We decided to give each appFile a unique email address, and to recommend the practice of forwarding emails into it. The idea is very simple, but we have found it to be quite powerful.

Every time we email a customer, we Bcc to the internal appFile we have on them, and when they answer, we forward the answer in. The result: a single place where we can find all the communications that have happened with the customer, regardless of who sent or received the email.

Email Tracking

Email Tracking: just forward emails into your appFile

We’ve been using email tracking for a while now, and it’s a fantastic feeling when I open one of our customer’s appFile and read through recent emails sent to them, or questions they may have asked. It’s good to be in the know.

Coming Changes

Because it’s so easy to forward email attachments, we’ll be offering the option of taking those attachments and turn them into something else (i.e. turn a pdf into a document, copy photos to a gallery or other files to the storage area).

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Feature Spotlight: Info Section

The Info Section is sometimes difficult to explain, and yet it’s one of our most useful features inside of appFiles.

Basically, the info section can contain any piece of loose information that you want to keep in a file. When we developed the idea, we were thinking on a variety of different things: Phone numbers and addresses were some of the first that came to mind. We wanted to be able to just put a phone number or an email address somewhere in the file and be able to get to it later. We also thought that other pieces of information like customer id numbers, quickbook ID’s etc. were perfect candidates for it.

We were surprised when we saw how our customers were using it: They were keeping track of so much more! Some of our Real Estate users started using info sections to capture property data (i.e. Parcel Numbers) and Checklist Data (like the Buyer Checklist, which can require up to 30 different pieces of information). We even started keeping track of lead qualification data in our info sections.

We designed the info sections to be as versatile as possible while at the same time maintaining a certain degree of order. Currently, it’s possible to add a new field by simply entering it into the boxes at the bottom of the section. That’s it; just type the name of the field, the value, hit “Add” and you’re done. You can also change the order of the fields so that they come up exactly how you like them.

Info Section

We use the info section to keep contact numbers, addresses and emails

But having to enter the fields one by one is tedious, so we created the concept of a “Field List”. Think of it as a template: if you like the fields you have on your list, simply save them, and when you’re working on another file you can just create a section using that same field list and voila! all your fields are there waiting for you to just enter the values.

Coming Changes

As we continue to work on updates for appFiles, we will be introducing new features to the info sections which will make them more robust and intelligent. We plan to synchronize saved field lists across all the files, so that when you change the order of the fields in one file, the system will track every other file with the same list and re-organize it in the same manner. We also want to start providing overview grids of data for a number of files at a time, sort of like a spreadsheet view of your info data.

As always, the feedback we have received from our customers and our observations of usage in the wild are the best sources of ideas on how to make appFiles more user friendly and effective. So keep the feedback coming!

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