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LibraryH3lp Blog

LibraryH3lp is software used by libraries, educators, and non-profits for better customer service.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Screensharing with Guests in Chrome 72+

Sunday, February 10, 2019
Great news everyone!  If a guest chats with you in Chrome 72 or higher, you can now screenshare with them with no special extension, plugin, or download required for either party.  That means that any guest using a secure chat box in Chrome (72+) or Firefox or Edge is available for screensharing to operators using Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari should the need arise.

Safari probably will support guest-side screensharing. Eventually. Someday.

And alas, Internet Explorer 11 will never support screensharing.  As Dr. McCoy would say, "He's dead, Jim."  But the good news with Internet Explorer 11 is that snapshots will work.  In fact, the awesome snapshot tool, which allows operators to paste in screens shots, mark them up, and send them to the guest, works in any modern browser. 


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Even more updates to 3mail

Saturday, January 26, 2019


For the third straight week, we've released updates to LibraryH3lp's email module, 3mail.  We're on a roll!  For those of you not already familiar with 3mail, the 3mail module transforms a queue in your LibraryH3lp account in to a mailbox shared by all operators staffing the queue.  So if you don't already have an email solution for customer support or are looking for something different, 3mail might be just the thing!  Unlimited use of 3mail is included in all subscriptions at no extra charge.

NOTE: To ensure you have the latest, hold down the SHIFT key while clicking Reload/Refresh in your browser at the login screen.

Larger editor for drafts

The real estate allotted to the editor when creating replies to messages was a bit on the small side so we increased the editor's height for more spacious editing.

Improve message delineation within threads

We've added a splash of color to the start of each message within a thread.  There is also an expand/collapse icon to roll-up or roll-down message content.  

Additionally, we're hiding quoted content by default.  You'll see a '...' where the quoted content is hidden.  To see that quoted content inline, either hover over the '...' or uncheck the checkbox in the message header labeled, "Hide quoted content".  We're still investigating ways to make quoted content display even better, so expect more improvements to come in the near future!

Phone number auto-complete

If you've opted for the SMS add-on and have 3mail configured, you'll now see phone number autocomplete when sending text messages via 3mail.  The autocomplete suggests up to 10 matches for any 3-character or longer sequence and works much like the type-ahead autocomplete for regular email messages within 3mail or canned messages within chat.

3mail Bug Fixes

  • Can now delete attachments to drafts.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

More updates to 3mail (and Sharing Tool)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Last week, we announced some updates to LibraryH3lp's email module, 3mail.  This week we've made even more improvements!  For those of you not already familiar with 3mail, the 3mail module transforms a queue in your LibraryH3lp account in to a mailbox shared by all operators staffing the queue.  So if you don't already have an email solution for customer support or are looking for something different, 3mail might be just the thing!  Unlimited use of 3mail is included in all subscriptions at no extra charge.

Also we've added a new markup tool for marking up snapshots in the recently released sharing tool.  We'll cover that first and then dive into 3mail updates.

Update 2019/01/26: These updates are now available on all servers. To ensure you have the latest, hold down the SHIFT key while clicking Reload/Refresh in your browser at the login screen.

Sharing Tool update

Previously, there was a markup tool called "Highlight" which (in retrospect) would have been more aptly named "Shadowbox" since everything outside the selected rectangle was darkened and the tool didn't involve a color selection at all.  So renaming it is exactly what we've done.  The new "Shadow Box" tool is the old "Highlight" tool. 

Plus we've added a new "Highlight" tool that works exactly as you would expect a highlighting marker to work using the available color tools.


Shadowbox and Highlight Tools for Snapshots (and meet Cherry, our latest LibraryH3lp hire!)


3mail email address autocomplete

We've added type-ahead autocomplete when adding email addresses to drafts.  The autocomplete suggests up to 10 matches for any 3-character or longer sequence and works much like the autocomplete for chat canned messages.


3mail address autocomplete typeahead with drop-down suggestions.


Double-check when sending emails with no subject

There's nothing wrong with sending an email with no subject, but sometimes that's not what you're after.  So now 3mail will confirm with you before sending emails without subjects.


Double-check when sending email without a subject


3mail Bug Fixes


  • Fixed display of inline images in emails.
  • Can easily reply to any message within an email thread, not just the last.
  • Avoid redundant use of Re: and Fwd: in subjects when sending emails.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Updates to 3mail (and Chat History)

Sunday, January 13, 2019
We made some updates to LibraryH3lp's email module, 3mail.  For those of you not already familiar with 3mail, the 3mail module transforms a queue in your LibraryH3lp account in to a mailbox shared by all operators staffing the queue.  So if you don't already have an email solution for customer support or are looking for something different, 3mail might be just the thing!  3mail is included in all subscriptions at no extra charge.

Plus we've make a small change to the search area in the Chat History page which we'll cover first and then dive into 3mail updates.

Update 2019/01/26: These updates are now available on all servers. To ensure you have the latest, hold down the SHIFT key while clicking Reload/Refresh in your browser at the login screen.

Highlight Chat Search Box in Chat History

Functionally speaking, nothing has changed with chat history searches.  All the dreamy search goodness is still at your fingertips.  What we've done is to rework the presentation a tad to draw more attention to the search controls at the top of the Chat History page, which is available in either the admin dashboard or webclient for staffing.

Updated look for Chat History search controls

Support for local email aliases in 3mail

3mail mailboxes have email addresses that look generally like QUEUE-NAME@chat.libraryh3lp.com (taking our main server domain as an example).  With local email aliases, the email address used to send and receive email doesn't actually change but your guests will see the local email address (Reply To) instead of your 3mail address when they receive email.  As an example: reference@mycollege.edu instead of mycollege-reference@chat.libraryh3lp.com.

You can set the local email alias for your mailbox in the queues management page of the admin dashboard.  Click the queue with which your mailbox is associated and set or update the email address.

Transfer emails between any mailbox

Previously operators could only transfer emails between mailboxes to which they were assigned.  But now operators can transfer emails to any mailbox in a LibraryH3lp subscription, much the same way an operator can transfer a chat to any queue in a LibraryH3lp subscription.

This feature should especially come in handy for folks with multiple departments or groups within a single LibraryH3lp subscription.  If an email comes into the wrong mailbox, simply move it to the correct one.  Easy peasy.

Delete Emails Forever

Emails in either the Trash or in Spam can be deleted forever.  Use with caution.  We cannot retrieve any emails you might accidentally banish to the netherworld.  They are really and truly gone forever.

Miscellaneous 3mail Bug Fixes

  • We now ignore the timestamp on drafts when sorting emails by date.  Instead, only the time of the last message in an email thread is considered.  This prevents emails with drafts from falsely floating to the top of your email listing.
  • Previously, operators could only reply to the last message in an email thread.  Now they can reply directly to any message in the thread.
  • The unread indicator for Inbox, etc now reflects the total number of unread email threads and not the number of individual messages.  Suppose for example that you've emailed a guest and that guest replied twice and you have not yet read either reply.  Such a situation now counts as 1 in the unread badge for your Inbox instead of 2.





Monday, December 17, 2018

Updates to the webclient and sharing tool

Monday, December 17, 2018

Webclient: easier snapshot and file sharing

You no longer need to launch the new sharing tool in order to send snapshots or files to your guests!   

Now, you can simply use the regular message composition portion of your chat window to:
  1. Drag-and-drop any file from your file manager or desktop.  OR
  2. Paste images from your clipboard.  These can be captured through whatever screen capture method you already use, such as print-screen, or any snipping tool, or Jing (use its built-in Copy button rather than uploading to screencast or saving the file).

Right click in the typey box, then paste!  Or you can ctrl-v.

After you paste in an image, you can either just send it along right away, or you can have it pulled into the snapshot editor, where you can annotate it with arrows, boxes, etc..., prior to sending it to the guest.

After you paste an image, you can either mark it up with the sharing tool or just send it.

Webclient: improved staff-side communications

Have you ever wanted to send a file or image when chatting directly with a colleague or maybe share a file within a conference room, in the same way that you can already do with guests?  Now you can! Operators staffing chat within the webclient for staffing can send files to other operators and send files to conference rooms.  And there are three ways to do it:

  1. use the handy paper clip button just above the typing area for your chat, 
  2. drag and drop any file to the typing area for the chat or conference room, 
  3. or click in the typing area and use Ctrl-v to paste an image from your clipboard.


Sharing tool: guest images go straight to your snapshot editor

When you have the sharing tool open and a guest sends you an image, that image will automatically open up into the snapshot editor. This makes it even easier to edit images and send them back to the guest. In case you missed it, the sharing tool, which debuted about a month ago, lets you share snapshots with guests and even view the guest's screen if their browser supports it.

We have more exciting enhancements coming to the sharing tool which are in active development.  More soon!



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Share things! Share... screens?

Sunday, November 18, 2018
Yeah, we're just a little bit excited.  Let's just get right down to it: we've created a new tool that allows entirely new kinds of sharing in LibraryH3lp chat.  And unlimited use is automatically included with your subscription at no extra charge.

For the moment, the new sharing tool is only available on our main, US server.  We'll be updating the regionals to also offer the sharing tool in the coming weeks.

Update Dec 1, 2018: Canada regional server updated to include share tool.
Update Dec 8, 2018: Europe and Singapore regional servers updated to include share tool.

Before we get down to brass tacks here, let's start with one of our general design goals:  no one, neither guest nor operator, is required to download anything special.  All anyone ever needs is a web browser.  Our new sharing tool is no exception.

Operators using external XMPP clients like Pidgin and Adium instead of the browser-based webclient for staffing are supported too.  They will use the familiar chat management page (the same one they use for things like transfers) in order to access the new sharing tool.

Share snapshots!
Let's start with our AWESOME new snapshot sharing and annotation tool.  This allows operators in any web browser to paste in their own screen shots, mark them up with our built-in snapshot editor, and send the marked-up snapshot to the guest.

The guest will receive your snapshots in any web browser as well.

And of course, you can still send any file that you have saved locally to the guest, but we've had that capability since like 2008.

Share screens!
Oh yes!  Our sharing tool also aims to let you view the guest's screen in real-time, with no plugins or extensions required.

And what's even better?  It works in tandem with our snapshot tool.  At any time while you are viewing the guest's screen, you can grab a snapshot of their screen, take it into our built-in editor to crop and mark it up, and send the revised version back to the guest.  Yeah, please click HERE!  Your picture can be worth a thousand words.

Now, we must interject a bit of pesky reality.  We would love to tell you that screensharing works in any web browser, with no downloads or extensions.  But we simply cannot do that reliably given the current state of web browser technology.  This new-fangled screensharing we're implementing relies on new kinds of APIs recently built into some modern web browsers.

So where does the real-time screensharing work?  At the moment, the guest has to be using Firefox,  Edge, or Chrome v72+ in order to share their screen with the chat operator.   The guest also needs to be using a secure (https) chat box, but chances are pretty good that your chat boxes are all https by now.  If the guest's browser isn't using a secure chat box in Firefox or Edge, you'll simply get a note to that effect, and you'll still be able to use the snapshot tool.

To be clear, the operator can use any web browser (except IE11) to view the guest's screen, but the guest needs to use either Firefox or Edge when chatting in order to share their screen in real-time with the operator. Importantly, the guest can send screenshots to the operator (even when screensharing is not an option) in any browser.

Chrome has gone a different route for now and, in order to share the screen in real-time with an operator, the guest would need to install a LibraryH3lp extension in their Chrome browser instance.  Such a LibraryH3lp extension does not currently exist, but if this is something for which you'd like to lobby please let us know your thoughts and potential use cases.

Update February 10, 2019: You can screenshare with guests using Chrome version 72 and higher without the need for an extension.  Technically, it is possible for guests using Chrome version 70+ to screenshare without the need for an extension if "Experimental Web Platform" is enabled in Chrome's flags.

Safari probably will support screensharing. Eventually. Someday.

Internet Explorer 11 will never support screensharing.  As Dr. McCoy would say, "He's dead, Jim."

Overview Video



How do I access the screensharing and snapshot sharing tool?

The combined screensharing and snapshot sharing tool opens up in its own window and is available for chats over queues in:

1) the webclient for staffing

Chatting with a guest in the webclient for staffing.

2) the Chat History page,
Select a chat in the Chat History page

3) or in the chat management page for folks who use a third-party chat client like Pidgin or Adium.
Chat management page

Screensharing Show and Tell

If the guest is chatting with you in Firefox or Edge (and you are not using Internet Explorer 11), then you can screenshare with the guest, which allows you to view their screen in real-time.  The operator cannot actively control the guest's screen, only view it.  The guest cannot at any time view the chat operator's screen, and the guest cannot initiate screensharing.

Screensharing is kicked off with an invite to the guest, which you can customize to suit.
Default screensharing invitation to guest which can be customized as desired.

The guest receives the invitation and then has to explicitly allow you access to their screen.  There is absolutely no way an operator can spy on a guest without explicit permission (and a sequence several deliberate mouse clicks to grant that permission) from the guest.  And the operator cannot accidentally initiate screensharing because it has taken a sequence of several deliberate mouse clicks to get to this point.
Permissions dialog to share screen seen by guests using Firefox.
Permissions dialog to share screen seen by guests using Edge.

Once the guest grants permission for screensharing, you'll be able to see the guest's screen and take snapshots which you can annotate and send back to the guest.

Snapshot Show and Tell

You can take snapshots of the guest's screen during screensharing OR upload your own screenshots OR upload any other image of your choice.  In short, any image can become a snapshot.  Snapshots can be annotated with rectangles, lines, arrows, text, and highlights.  You can also zoom and crop to focus in on areas of interest in the snapshot.  Snapshots can then be sent to the guest and/or saved to local disk.

Snapshot example: In memory of our sweet and recently departed hound, Sprinkles.
Once shared with the guest, snapshot thumbnails appear in the transcript for guests. Guests can click on snapshot thumbnails to open the full snapshot in a new browser tab or window.
Guest view of shared snapshot

Shared snapshot thumbnails also appear in the chat transcript for operators using the webclient for staffing.  By default, the images are hidden:
Image thumbnails are always initially hidden in the transcript for the operator. Click Show Image to reveal.

However images can be revealed by clicking on the "Show Image" button associated with the snapshot in the transcript.
An image thumbnail that has been revealed in the transcript. Click Hide Image to re-hide the image.
Clicking on the snapshot thumbnail (or image link if the thumbnail is hidden) opens the full snapshot up in a new browser tab or window.

Plus Chatting!

If you are using the webclient to staff chat, you'll see a place at the bottom of the screen of the screensharing and snapshot window where you can continue your chat with the guest so that you don't have to go back and forth between windows to chat with the guest.

Expanded view of chat area in screensharing and snapshot tool.

More to come

This is our initial release.  We anticipate incremental updates to provide additional polish and more features over time. Let us know what you think as well as any suggestions you might have for improvement!


Monday, October 22, 2018

New webclient preferences and optional note when emailing transcripts

Monday, October 22, 2018
We just released a few improvements, mostly for the webclient for staffing, directly as a result of excellent feedback from folks like you.  Additionally, we'll be including future announcements directly in the webclient for staffing, 3mail standalone page, and admin dashboard.  When you log in to any of those three and there's a new announcement, you'll see that announcement in a purple box at the top of the page.

Now, here's the rundown of those improvements we mentioned...

New, optional note when emailing transcripts

When emailing transcripts from either the webclient for staffing or the Chat History page or the chat management page (used mostly by those folks who staff with third-party chat clients like Pidgin), you can now include an optional note along with the transcript just like you already can with tag for follow-up.  Super handy for providing context as to why someone is receiving the transcript.



Two options for guest status change notifications

As part of our guest re-engagement feature, we added timestamped messages into the chat transcript for operators so that you have a persistent, timestamped history of when guests come and go during a chat.  This is currently the default behavior and provides the most context on the guest's behavior.

As a bit of background, guest comings and goings are especially common with guests in a couple of contexts.  On mobile devices, the device kills the network connection to the chat box when the chat box is not in front, and so the guest will appear to go offline when they bring something else to the top and return again to online when they bring the chat box back to the front.  On websites where the chat box is embedded in the page (or embedded within a tab), the guest's status toggles on page navigation.  They start the chat on one page and then navigate around the website, picking up the chat on later pages as they go.  This is seamless from the guest's perspective, and chat operators can continue to send messages even when the guest is in an offline state.

Depending on your set-up, these persistent guest status messages can become overly verbose.  If you'd prefer not to see the full timestamped guest status history and instead just have a 'simple guest is offline' indicator as part of the chat, uncheck the 'Include guest status as part of chat' checkbox in your webclient preferences. Webclient preferences are available within the webclient for staffing and set on a per-user basis.


Left screenshot shows default timestamped message guest status history.
Right screenshot shows simple, current guest status indicator.


Ability to disable away/busy reminders

The webclient for staffing periodically checks your status and will remind you (if you have visual notifications enabled) if you are set as away or busy.  When away or busy, you won't be available to answer any new incoming chats, so this reminder can come in handy if you forget to set your status back to available.  But if you find these new reminders annoying, you can turn them off by unchecking the "Remind me when I've been busy or away for awhile" checkbox in your webclient preferences. Webclient preferences are available within the webclient for staffing and set on a per-user basis.



Uppercase Guest IDs

Previously, we used only numbers in guest IDs.  Recently we switched to a combination of letters and numbers to pave the way for future improvements.  We received some feedback that the lower case letters were a bit hard to read, so guest IDs are now a combination of upper case letters and numbers when shown to the operator in the webclient.