Thursday, March 26, 2015

Introducing the ACLator: fine-grained control over all the things

We are pleased to announce the release of the Permissions and Access Control List Editor, which we've pet-named the ACLator.  Think "Ack-ell-a-tor" using an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.

The ACLator places the power of fine-grained access control squarely in your hands.  By default, users have limited, read-only privileges on queues of which they are members - just the minimum for staffing.  From those humble beginnings, users are commonly elevated to full administrative access across an account or to administrative access within a subset of the account.  But it doesn't stop there!  You can grant or deny read and/or write privileges to most anything to anyone - and yes, even to LH3 users outside your account.  That last part has super-exciting implications and really deserves it's own blog post.  But we'll get to that in a bit.  And as always, there is no extra charge for any of this new goodness.

Groups & Folders -  The Building Blocks of Access Control

If you've ever used the admin dashboard to manage users or queues, then you've probably noticed folders.  Folders organize users, queues, conference rooms, canned messages, chat snippets, chat skins, and knowledge bases (FAQs) into a collection of resources.  Folders can also have child folders, allowing you to build hierarchies of resource collections.

A group is a collection of users with the same access privileges to a set of folders.  There are two special groups that every LibraryH3lp account has - Everyone and Administrators.  The Everyone group automatically includes every user within the LibraryH3lp account and provides the basic read-only privileges that make staffing possible.  The Administrators group contains all users that have full administrative access to the LibraryH3lp account.  From there, you can create your own groups with customized access to the resources within your LibraryH3lp-powered service.

As an administrator if you navigate to the ACLator (US, CA, EU, SG), you'll see a list of all groups for your account.  You can manage groups (add, rename, delete) using the button toolbar above the list.

Example list of groups in the ACLator.  The management toolbar is located above the list.

Managing Membership

When you click on a group from the list, you'll see a Members tab that lists the members of a group.  The default view is a flat list, but you can switch to a tree view that reveals the folder hierarchy.  Beside the view toolbar is a button that lets you add or remove members.

Members for an Administrators group.  The membership management buttons are located above the member list.

The ACLator makes granting users full administrative privileges easy.  Click on the Administrators group as shown in the screenshot above.  Then click the add/remove members button to make your changes.  Yep.  That's it.

Using the ACLator to Isolate Departments

How about extending your LibraryH3lp subscription to include other departments, but not giving the departmental administrator the full keys to your entire kingdom?   We call these users mini-admins.  Mini-admins can manage their own resources but cannot see any data (including transcripts) for the rest of the account.  Their view of the world is capped at their own folder.

Let's set up a mini-admin in 5 easy steps!

  1. Visit the Users page of the admin dashboard and create a new folder.  
  2. Add a new user within the folder.  You can use drag and drop if needed to get the user situated. 
  3. Head over to the ACLator and create a new group.
  4. Add the new user as a member of the new group.
  5. Click the Permissions tab and select your newly created folder containing the mini-admin.  Click Grant for read and write access.
The screenshots below shows how the ACLator Members and Permissions tabs look when it is all said and done.

The new user is part of the mini-admin group. 

Granting mini-admin privileges on the "mini-admin" folder.

When a new mini-admin user logs into the admin dashboard, they'll be able to create their own users, queues, knowledge bases (FAQ sites), conference rooms, canned messages, chat snippets, chat skins, and administrative hierarchies within their own restricted subdomain.  Since a mini-admin's view is capped at their own folder, they won't see their parent folder since that is beyond their administrative access.

Building Collaborative Services

Within the ACLator, you probably noticed the Collaborators tab.  This tab let's you manage access control for LibraryH3lp users outside your account.  Awhile back, we talked about how you can build ad-hoc collaboratives with LibraryH3lp.  The Collaborators tab lets you build collaborative services on-the-fly!  The ability to self-organize is unprecedented in the world of virtual reference software, removing the need for any middle man to form collaboratives.  In an upcoming post, we'll walk you creating and managing an ad-hoc collaborative.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hello Dashboard and 3mail

We have lots of exciting news to share!   The admin site has a new, modular design and a new name: dashboard.  Plus we've added three new features to the webclient for staffing: streamlined log in workflow, improved networking, and simple email module we lovingly call 3mail.  The updates are live on the main US server as well as the EU and SG regional servers.

Hello, Dashboard

We've transitioned from a monolithic admin site to a modular dashboard system.  The biggest visual change is a sidebar navigation menu that replaces the tabs across the bottom.  
New Dashboard menu: expanded and collapsed.  The menu can be expanded at any time by clicking the menu icon at the top.
If you peer a bit closer, you'll also notice that each menu item (chat history, chat reports, etc.) has its own URL.   This comes in super handy if you like to load pages as separate tabs within your browser or want to bookmark a specific administration page.

Webclient streamlined log in workflow

The dashboard (formerly known as the admin site) has always supported auto-authentication based on browser session cookies.  That is, if you haven't logged out, you can revisit later in that same browser session without having to log in again.  However, the webclient for staffing required a fresh login each visit.  We've removed that restriction and, like the dashboard, you'll be able to go straight to the queue selection dialog if you have already authenticated during that browser session.  

But there's more!  When you log into the webclient for staffing (or dashboard), by default, you get a session cookie, which is good for the duration of that particular browser session.  If you click the 'Remember me' option, instead, you'll get a cookie that remains valid for 14 days and persists between browser sessions (restarts).

If you staff from a shared computer, you'll want to stick with the default and not use the 'Remember me' option.  Either type of login ends when you logout from either the webclient or the dashboard.

Webclient networking improvements

The webclient and our server are in constant contact, verifying the network connection, to make sure that you'll be able to successfully answer incoming chats.  When that connection is disrupted, an auto-reconnection sequence begins that ultimately results in a successful reconnection or a notification to the operator of the error so that the operator can log in again.  We've reworked the networking in the webclient to better weather poor network conditions like dropped packets or low connectivity over wireless networks.

Hello, 3mail

LibraryH3lp already offers several points for email integration - tag for follow-up for chatsemail address or contact page for FAQs, and forwarding guest emails in reply to emailed transcripts.  But true to Zawinski's Law, your LibraryH3lp subscription now includes unlimited use of our new module, 3mail!

3mail provides a simple email system that is available from the webclient navigation menu and can be connected to one or more queues within your account.  Each queue represents a shared mailbox from which any operator assigned to a queue can view and send email.  Like Gmail, there are labels for categorization and email archiving features.

The webclient's Tag for Followup feature integrates with 3mail so staff can answer questions that need email followup after a chat is over.  You can also use your 3mail addresses to receive emails from places like web forms.  This way, the webclient can function as one-stop-shopping for email and chat interactions.

To get started with 3mail, please contact support.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Easy proactive chat for your LibraryH3lp-powered virtual service

Awhile back, we shared with you some ideas on how to add proactive chat to your web pages with custom JavaScript. Because there was so much interest and positive feedback from that post, we've rolled out integrated proactive chat invitations for your LibraryH3lp-powered service. No more need for custom JavaScript. Just dead simple point and click. Sound good? Let's do it!

Anatomy of a Proactive Invitation

Proactive chat invitations come in two basic flavors - a button dialog or an image dialog. For the image dialog, we offer a default "Chat now" image as well as several other choices. Alternatively, you can opt to use any image you'd like. And there are 24 different theme options available for your proactive invitation.

How To

The magic lives in the Services tab of the LibraryH3lp admin site.  You can add proactive chat invitations to any existing service snippet.  Proactive will include an invitation to chat in addition to your existing in-page option, leaving the in-page option unchanged.  If you've never used service snippets before, they replace the functionality of our old DIY-style code plus give you added flexibility to configure your virtual service on the fly without having to edit your web pages.

To add proactive chat to a service, click the Edit button and scroll down to the section labeled "Routing for incoming chats." Click the Proactive options tab and from there you'll be able to craft your own proactive service. The proactive invitation is timer-based. After a timed period that you control, a guest browsing your web page will see a chat invitation. Placement of the invitation within your web page is configurable.

Proactive and polite

So what happens when a guest declines your invitation? After all, you don't want to risk annoying the guest as they navigate your site with a recurring invitation on each page visit. No worries. For that, we have a cookie that remembers that the guest has declined your proactive invitation.

When you are testing your proactive invitation and need to trigger the dialog again, simply delete the "libraryh3lp-shhh" cookie and you're ready to go.

Note: Integrated proactive chat is not yet available on the LibraryH3lp Canadian regional server.  We'll update this post when released on that regional.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Webclient updates: conference room alerts, improved pinning workflow

This morning, we released a few new features in our webclient for staff.  Each of the new features is based upon feedback from you, so keep those suggestions coming!

Conference room notifications and alerts

Conference rooms now feature configurable sound notifications, desktop notifications, and alerts.

Conference room chat sounds and desktop notifications provide simple audio and visual notices of all new room messages. Every time someone sends a message, you'll hear your selected sound and see a desktop notification.

Conference room alert sounds provide a way to draw extra-special attention to a conference room message. Alerts can function like a "panic button," triggering a special sound and appearing as a bold message in the conference room. Need more help at a service desk? Sudden flurry of chats? Grab all your colleagues' attention with the Alert button or target a specific colleague by mentioning her username or nickname within your message to the room.

A conference room alert is ready to go out.

All sounds are configured independently in the Settings area. You can choose one sound for conference room messages, a second sound for conference room alerts, and a third sound for regular non-conference room chats.  You can also opt out of any or all sound notifications entirely.  For example, you may find a sound on each conference room message excessive but still opt into conference room alert sounds, so that you'll be notified when one of your colleagues needs help urgently.

Improved multi-chat workflow: proactive pinning for new chats

If the main chat workspace is occupied, new incoming chats are automatically pinned to the right sidebar.  Up to three chats will be auto-pinned.  Any additional new chats will be minimized in buddy list, with the red "new" badge.

Four active chats in view: one in main workspace and three pinned.  Conference room is minimized.

Three active chats: one in main workspace and two pinned.  Conference room is also active.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Conference rooms for the LibraryH3lp webclient

Today we released a conference room integration for the native LibraryH3lp webclient on the US, Europe, and Singapore regional servers. The Canadian server will be updated soon. Conference rooms are password-protected and are a great place for collaboration, coordination, and brainstorming among colleagues.

The conference room area sits at the bottom of the webclient for staff.  It can be
minimized or resized to suit your current layout needs.

Using the Conference Rooms tab in the LibraryH3lp admin site, administrators can create rooms for staff. When an administrator assigns you to a conference room, you'll see that room appear in the bottom pane of the LibraryH3lp webclient after login. Each room shows a list of participants, the conference room transcript, and the room's current topic.

If you use an external client that supports XMPP multi-user chat to staff LibraryH3lp (both Pidgin and Adium do), your administrator can provide you with the credentials necessary to access the room.

Give it a whirl and let us know what you think! And of course, this awesome new feature is included at no extra charge with every LibraryH3lp subscription and trial.

Update: Conference rooms now have flexible alerting features!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Improved Activity for monitoring and reviewing chats

We've packed all sorts of exciting new features into the revamped webclient for staffing, which is now out of the beta phase: canned messages, instant access to staffing info, and geocoding. And now we've also updated the Activity tab, available in both the revamped webclient and admin site. The main US server and Canadian regional server already have this update; the Europe and Singapore regional servers will receive the update soon.

Managing a chat
Following an active chat and hovering over the transfer button.

Chat management has a new look and feel with all the old goodness still intact. Click any chat to see its transcript (if you opt to store them).  You can pop any chat out into its own window/tab, e-mail the transcript, tag for followup, or block an unruly guest for 24 hours.

And for active chats, you can do even more!  Refresh transcript to follow the conversation, which comes in very handy for assisting colleagues with challenging sessions.  You can also intervene in an active chat by transferring it to a different operator or queue or by sending a file such as a hard-to-locate PDF.

Managing chats in bulk

Personalize your grid. Choose which columns you want to see.  Don't use profiles?  You can hide that column from view entirely. Drag and drop the columns to order them the way you want. Grab the column separator to change the width of the column.

Selecting metadata columns to display.

Slice and dice your data. Filter by one or more criteria. If you are working with lots of chats, multiple filters are great for finding the needle in the haystack. Click a column's header to sort the table's data by that column; click again to reverse the sort. View timestamps in your timezone and in either 12 or 24 hour formats.

Chats are filtered by queue and then sorted by duration.
Preparing a filter which will remove chats with our Ron Swanson bot from view.

Your customizations to the default settings will automatically persist between logins and across browsers.

Plus, you can download the tabular metadata in CSV format, download transcripts in ZIP format, anonymize, delete transcripts, or entirely delete the record of chats.  Transcript zip files are available in XML and HTML formats in addition to the original text format. Use the checkboxes to act on a subset of chats. If no chats are selected, all chats are assumed.

Navigating through space and time

The controls at the top of the Activity page help you navigate through time and view chats over a specific date or date range.  Single day navigation is easy using the left-most controls.

Preparing to display chats from Jan 1, 2014 through June 3, 2014.

The Calendar button opens a monthly view.  Click the year at the top of the monthly view to change to a yearly view. The calendar view shows total number of chats per day, and you can select chats by single day or by date range. Ranges can be selected by clicking the first and last days on the calendar or by providing a start and end date. After selecting a date range, you'll be returned to the tabular view now populated with chats from the desired date range.

So there you have it! A whirlwind tour of the new Activity page. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Typing timesaver: Canned messages are here.

The revamped webclient for staffing is now out of the beta stage. Our latest update folds in all the feedback from the beta stage and brings with it an important and highly anticipated new feature: canned (pre-scripted) messages!

Type-ahead canned messages in the webclient for staffing.

How it works

Administrators create shared groups (pools) of canned messages and assign operators to them using the new Messages tab in the admin site.  Those messages are available to designated operators through our new web staffing client.

The messages are easy to use and show up as type-ahead suggestions when composing replies to guests during a chat. Individual operators can browse their assigned shared messages and optionally create their own private messages via the Messages tab in the webclient.  If desired, operators can also opt out of canned messages in their Settings.

Into the pool!

Canned message pool management in the admin site.

A single set of shared canned messages available to all staff might be all you need. But since LibraryH3lp can be used across departments and even beyond libraries, different groups of operators might benefit from different pools of shared messages.  For example, someone in Admissions will probably need access to a different message pool than a librarian.

Flexibility is the name of the game. Administrators can set up unlimited pools of messages and then assign operators to one or more of these message pools.

Give it a whirl and let us know what you think!