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LibraryH3lp Blog

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

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.

NOTE: These updates are available on the main US server and are expected to come to the other servers in the coming weeks.  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 (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: instead of

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 or Edge 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.

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.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Big update: re-engage with recent guests, timer-triggered rollover, and more!

Sunday, July 29, 2018
We're pushing out a big update with some new exciting features!  We'll run down the changes shortly, but here is the release schedule for all of our regional servers:
  1. Canada: released July 29, 2018
  2. Europe, Singapore: August 4, 2018
  3. Main/US: August 11, 2018

It's a good idea to clear browser cache prior to signing into the webclient to make sure you have the latest.  Hold down the SHIFT key while clicking reload/refresh in your browser at the webclient login page.

Onward to the features!

Re-engage with Recent Guests

Ever close a guest's chat window and then think of something you'd really love to add?  Now, you can do exactly that.

Jump-starting a chat for a guest that is still hanging around in the chat box.

When you (the chat operator) close the chat on your side, the guest will move into a new Recent Guests contacts group.  Locate your guest in there and click on them to re-open their chat window, and send your message.  That's all there is to it!

If the guest is still hanging out with the chat box open on their (the guest's) side, they'll appear with a green dot and will display as a contact by default.

If the guest navigated away from the chat box, you'll need to show offline guests in your chat client, and then locate the guest to send your new message.  Guests come and go a lot as they move around web pages, and if they re-visit the chat box, they'll see the messages that you sent while they were not present.

Jump-starting a chat if the guest has moved away from the chat box.  They'll get your message on returning to chat.

We've created a short, silent movie showing how to re-engage a guest that has navigated away and then returns.

You can re-engage with guests in ended chats or who have navigated off of the chat box for up to an hour.  This feature is not limited to the webclient and also works in chat clients like Pidgin and Adium.

Timer-triggered safety net for simple rollover queues

If a chat goes unanswered for 75 seconds, you can have it automatically roll over to another queue.

This feature works with our existing "simple service rollover" mechanism.  With simple rollover, a designated queue backs up other queues.  For example, a specialized queue staffed by only a small number of operators can receive backup from a more general queue that is staffed over longer hours.  Read more about service rollover...

We're working on an update to the queues management dashboard page that lets you manage this directly, but if you'd like to enable this now, contact us through our regular support channels with the desired rollover order and queue names, and we'll hook it up for you.

Webclient enhancements

Away and Busy status reminders

When you are on Away or Busy status, you'll receive desktop notifications every ten minutes, just in case you forgot to change back to Available.  This feature requires that you have Show visual notifications enabled in your webclient settings.

Hide contact avatars option

Option to hide avatars in contacts list.  This creates a more information-dense view and allows you to see more of your contacts all at once, without scrolling.

Expand/collapse contact groups

Click the group title (for example, Recent Guests, Current Guests, and Queues) to collapse or expand the list of contacts associated with that group. 

Guest metadata added to profile overlay

The guest's IP and referring URL continue to display at the top of the chat messages.  That is fine, but it means you need to scroll up if you want to double-check later in the chat.  Now, you can also access this guest metadata without scrolling by clicking on the profile avatar that stays fixed at the top of the guest's chat window.  The guest's information will be at the top.  
Access guest metadata in floaty profile at any time, no scrolling required.

Note that if you have enabled the option to always open profiles in new browser tabs, you will not see the guest's metadata.  The new feature only applies to the floating profile overlays.  

"Floaty chat window" layout usability improvements 

If you have the "Automatically arrange and size chat windows" option turned off, you're using what we call the "floaty chat window" layout.  This means you have individual chat windows for each guest, and you can drag them around the workspace and resize them, instead of having the webclient auto-tile your chat windows.

In the floaty layout:
  • The "close/end chat" icon is no longer a drag handle, so you won't accidentally close chats by trying to drag them starting from the top right corner.
  • Contacts list defaults to right side of workspace, so that new chats will not appear on top of it.
  • You can resize chat windows from any edge, not just the lower right corner.

New IP retention options

LibraryH3lp has been crafted from the ground-up as a privacy-first application, and so we were in good shape for the new GDPR regulation.  Libraries can fully control their transcript retention and have access to an "anonymize" feature.  Guests are given anonymous ID numbers by default, with no software requirement to provide identifying information.  

GDPR treats IP addresses as sensitive, but it also allows for storing such data if there is a business case for it.  IPs are used to support the "block" feature, and they are often used to help determine whether a guest is on campus when chatting about licensed resource access issues.  However, now, we have additional options for ongoing storage:

  1. Save the IP indefinitely, until the chat is deleted or our "anonymize" feature is used.  This is the default.
  2. Never save the IP, so it vanishes after the chat is completed.
  3. Save only the subnet for the IP (all but the numbers after the last dot).  This allows continued analysis via geo-IP tools or on/off campus determinations, without ability to associate the IP with a specific individual.

If you'd like Option 2 or 3 set up, let us know through our regular support channels.  You can use the same routine across all queues, or mix-and-match.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Updated Guest IDs

Monday, May 21, 2018
Hi all!  Just a quick update to let you know that the guest IDs for chat have changed slightly.  We're moving to a format that is a little shorter and consists of letters as well as the numbers.  Functionally speaking, nothing has changed.  But this is the first indicator of new features to come!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

3mail module 2.0

Saturday, March 17, 2018
We've just released oodles of improvements and new features for the 3mail module. For those not familiar, the 3mail module provides a simple shared email system that is available either standalone or within the webclient.  3mail is connected to one or more queues within your LibraryH3lp account. Each queue represents a shared mailbox from which any operator assigned to a queue can receive, view, and send email.

It is a handy place to direct chats that are tagged for followup and can also receive email from places like Ask a Librarian email forms.  Each LibraryH3lp subscription includes unlimited use of 3mail at no additional charge. To get 3mail enabled for your account, visit the 3mail page in the webclient or the standalone 3mail app.

Here's a quick rundown of what's new...


We've added search to 3mail. 3mail search works much like Chat History search but against email metadata instead of chat metadata. By default, both message and subject are searched but you can restrict your search to only subject or body, with or without additional keywords. You can also use the attachment, tag, sender, recipient, and operator keywords to further restrict search and/or search over date ranges.

Download messages

All of the messages for your current search can be downloaded. You can select what message metadata you'd like included in the download. The file downloaded to your computer will be in comma-separated value (CSV) format, so you can use a spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets to further analyze your mail.

Mailbox settings

As part of a mailbox's settings, you can set up a name, signature and auto-reply (a.k.a. vacation).

A mailbox's name is a human-friendly name associated with your mailbox's email address that is visible to email recipients.

If a signature is set for your mailbox, it will automatically be included in the message body of any reply or with forwarded messages.

For auto-replies, you can set a subject and message. If a subject is not provided, the sender's original subject will be used. You can optionally set a start day/time and/or end/time.  When auto-reply is active on a mailbox, you'll be reminded at login time so that auto-replies are not accidentally left active.


The 3mail module now accepts form submissions, allowing you to build a custom form for your web page and submit the data collected from that form to 3mail.

Custom Tag Kung-Fu

Delete, rename, search, and even hide your custom tags.

Notifications to other email addresses

Let's hypothetically say you don't use 3mail super heavily, and you are not in there each and every day.  But you want some correspondence, such as from an email reference form, to go to 3mail rather than being locked in in any single individual's mailbox.  How will you and other staff know when there is a new message waiting in 3mail?

Bring on notifications to external email accounts!  This way, users can receive alerts in their personal (external) email accounts that there is a new 3mail waiting for attention. You can set enable these notifications in your webclient or 3mail preferences.

Other tasty bits and pieces

  • Reply all and forward options now available for all emails.
  • Easily print messages using the printer icon on each message.