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LibraryH3lp Blog

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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Major Update to Sharing Tool: Screencasts & Slideshows

Sunday, June 9, 2019

We've released a major update to the Sharing Tool which includes a completely new way to share! Originally, you could send screenshots to the guest, and invite the guest to share their screen with you. Those original features remain (with a few neat upgrades), but now, you can also record your own screen to create silent screencasts which can then be transformed into simple, annotated slideshows.

Plus all of this sharing goodness is available within AND outside the context of a chat. If you use the LibraryH3lp 3mail module, you'll find that we've integrated snapshots so you can use the drawing tools to annotate images you’d like to insert into email drafts. And beyond LibraryH3lp, you can use snapshots, screencasts, and slideshows as standalone tools in your daily workflow for doing things like creating content for documentation, tutorials, and guides.

The technical requirements remain the same: You do not need to download or install anything and neither does your guest during a chat. Everything runs in the web browser, no extensions, downloads, plugins, or non-standard settings needed.

Before we dive in and instead of sticking this at the end of our post because it is important to us, we'd like to ask that you let us know what you think after giving things a whirl? We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for improvement.

Now without further ado, here's a video overview of the updates and additional details are below.

Screencasts and Slideshows Overview

Screencasts are silent recordings of your own screen.  You can save and share the raw recording as a webm video. Or you can create and share a simple slideshow by selecting and optionally annotating frames from your recording to further emphasize the steps you're illustrating. Slideshows are saved as animated GIFs.

One potential issue you'll run into with screencasts is that support for webm, although pretty good across devices, is not universal. On the other hand, slideshows WILL work everywhere and on ANY device, regardless of its ability to play various kinds of true movie files.

Creating a Screencast

You can create a silent screencast during a chat or via direct link (by regional server):

To begin, you’ll start recording your screen. Your web browser will prompt you about what you want to “share” with the recording tool. If you are working within a chat, you probably want to avoid including the webclient’s screen, so you might want to only capture an individual browser tab.

Screencast screen prior to starting your recording
Then, you move through the steps you want to illustrate, and return to the sharing tool to stop your recording. You’ll have a movie player built in, and you can watch what you've captured and send it to the guest, save it to a local file, etc... This will generate a webm file, which many devices will play.

Screencast screen after recording is finished and showing built-in movie player

Creating a Slideshow from Your Screencast

Click the “Create Slideshow” button after you've recorded your screencast to begin selecting individual frames from your movie to compose a slideshow.

In the slideshow editor, there's a green slider along the track that you can use to navigate through frames.  Once you've found a frame you'd like to capture as a slide, click the "Add Slide" button. Slides can be annotated with editing tools (just like snapshots).

Slideshow editor with one annotated slide

You can do things like select nearly the same frame twice, and annotate the second one, in order to help draw the eye to the desired content.

After you've created all the slides you want, you are ready to send your slideshow to the guest, save it to a local file, etc... This will generate an animated GIF file.

There are a few settings you twiddle before saving your slideshow:
  • The time (in seconds) each slide will be displayed before moving to the next slide.
  • The color quality for the GIF. Lower quality renders the GIF file more quickly, but color conversions may not always be true. 
  • By default, a replay slide is included at the end of a slideshow. Since this is an animated GIF file, no movie player is required on the part of the viewer. If you’re sending one of these during a chat, the guest will view it in its own tab, and this replay slide at the end will help them understand that they can reload that tab to watch your slideshow again. However, if you are creating an animated GIF for use in elsewhere such as in a tutorial, you may not want that replay slide included.

Screencasting Limitations

We would love to tell you that screensharing, screencasts, and slideshows work in any web browser. But we simply cannot do that yet reliably given the current state of web browser technology.

Right now, you have to use Chrome 72+ or Firefox.

Edge should work once it becomes Chromium-compatible.

Safari might eventually work. Someday.

And sorry but Internet Explorer 11 will never work. As Dr. McCoy would say, "He's dead, Jim."

But there is a bit of good news!  Snapshots WILL work in any browser, including Internet Explorer 11.  And speaking of snapshots...

Updates to Snapshots

The functionality of snapshots remains largely unchanged, though there has been a little bit of reorganization.  Here's a rundown of new features:

  • Resize snapshots in pixels or by percentage.
  • The drawing tools are now located on the right side of the window and auto-collapse to give maximum screen real estate to the image being edited. But you can expand them if needed.
  • Two new color choices for drawing tools: blue and green

Snapshot editor with drawing tools collapsed

Snapshots now have a direct link (by regional server) which you can use outside the context of a chat or 3mail:

Updates to Categories and 3mail

Sunday, June 9, 2019
We've just released a number of improvements for chat category management and one for 3mail.  Here's the rundown:


  • We've added a category selector to advanced search in Chat History so you can easily see and select any and all of your chat categories.
  • Nested categories can now be easily searched in Chat History.
  • Fixed bug in moving categories with nested children within the hierarchy. Now the category and its children move as a unit.


  • Multiple attachments can be added to drafts simultaneously instead of one at a time.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Updates to categories and 3mail

Saturday, April 27, 2019
Hi all!  Just a couple quick updates we wanted to let you know about...

Nested categories

Recently, we introduced a new feature called categories which allows you to tag your chats with topical categories for all kinds of meta-analysis.  We've expanded the notion of categories to optionally include hierarchy.  You can nest your categories within other categories to build structure into your meta-analysis and/or to help organize categories when multiple departments might share the same account.

Nesting "printing" under an existing "info-commons" category.

Showing all tags that start with "info-commons*" using the asterisk * wild card.

Inline images in 3mail

We've also added a new feature to 3mail -- sending inline images.  Previously, you could include images in emails as attachments, but now you can also elect to include an image in the body of your email message.  You can use the image button in the 3mail editor, Ctrl-v, or drag and drop to insert an image.

Inline image screenshot in 3mail

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Categorize Your Chats

Sunday, March 31, 2019
LibraryH3lp has offered tag for follow-up pretty much since the beginning. But now we've expanded the notion of tagging chats beyond follow-up by introducing categories. Yes! Now, you can tag your your chats with topical categories for all kinds of meta-analysis. Here is the basic lay of the land:

  • Nothing looks much different until at least one category exists in your account.  Before there are any custom categories defined, tagging chats for later follow-up will continue to function as usual.  
  • Administrators can create categories with which operators can tag chats.  
  • Administrators can set things up so that operators are reminded to categorize the chats when they close the chat in the webclient.
  • When at least one category exists, operators can tag chats with the available category or categories in addition to the usual "Tag for Follow-up."

We plan to roll out this new feature to all servers in the next week or two.  As as 10 April 2019, categories are only available on our Canada, Europe, and Singapore regional servers.  As of 27 April 2019, categories are available on all servers.

Setting up and managing categories (administrators only)

Administrators can create, edit, and delete categories in the dashboard, Chat History page, or in the webclient for staffing.  The management functions appear in the "Manage Categories" in the tagging dialog.

Administrators can also enable a reminder to all operators to tag chats when the operator ends the chat in the webclient.
Managing Categories as an administrator
Update 27 April 2019: Categories also support hierarchies so you can nest a category under another category.  Read our more recent blog post for details.

Tagging chats with categories (any operator)

Once an account admin has created at least one category, operators can categorize chats anywhere they have been able to use the original tag for follow-up option.  This means categories are available for operators to use in:
  1. the webclient for staffing in active chats;
    Tag chat in webclient for staffing
  2. the webclient or dashboard, in the Chat History area;
    Tag individual chat in bottom pane of Chat History
  3. the chat management page used by those folks staff in a separate software client like Pidgin or Adium.
    Tag chat in chat management page (for folks not using webclient for staffing)
When any of those "tag chat" buttons are used and if there are categories defined, operators will get a chance to tag the chat with one or more categories, plus follow-up if desired.
Tagging a chat with categories

Show me my tags

The tags for each chat will show up in the Tags column of the Chat History table. If the Tags column is hidden (which was the old default since not everyone uses tag for follow-up) and any of the chats displayed in the table have tags, you'll be asked if you'd like to reveal the Tags column in the table.

Chats tagged with categories in Chat History table

Search by tags

Tags and categories are incorporated into our powerful Chat History search interface.  You can use the Advanced search form to create your search, or you can use the simple field labels and type the search out, power searcher style.

Searching over the last week for chats tagged with either "access" or "research".

Here are some examples:

range:week tag:follow-up
Find chats over the last week tagged "follow-up".

tag:(follow-up,access) range:year
Find chats over the last year tagged either follow-up or access.

And you can combine other fields, use wildcards where supported, and use negation.

tag:*a* queue:*lib* from:2019-02-11 to:2019-03-31 queue:!*arch* operator:ref*
Find chats over that date range where there is a tag including the letter "a" by operators where the username starts with "ref" on queues including "lib" anywhere in the name, but excluding queues with "arch" anywhere in the name.

Note: tags are case-sensitive for searching.  

Categorizing in bulk! 

Additionally, Chat History has a new, special button above the table for tagging multiple selected chats simultaneously.  For example, you might use transcript keyword search to locate a group of chats and then tag them all at once.

Tag chats button in Chat History
The bulk tagging dialog is a bit fancier if multiple chats are getting tagged because in such situations users will need to specify which tags are to be added to the selected chats and which tags should be removed from the selected chats (if a selected chat happens to have that tag).

Tagging multiple chats at a time in Chat History


Give categories and tagging a whirl and let us know what you think?  We'd love to hear feedback, including any specific ideas you have for improvement!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Updates to Chat History and 3mail (now with Message Templates!)

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Here's the rundown of the latest round of improvements now live on all LibraryH3lp regions.

Chat History

Improved sorting: When you sort the table by multiple columns, the sort order of each column is included in the header as a parenthetical number.  Sorting precedence starts at 1 and goes up from there for each additional sorted column.  Click the parenthetical number to change the sorting precedence.

Chat History sorted by Operator, then Duration

Resetting Searches: You can slice and dice chat searches every which way.  When you're done exercising those keen ninja search skills, there's a reset button available to get you back to the default view of the latest week's worth of chats.  Previously, this button cleared out search completely, which meant you would see all chats for all time which, in retrospect, was a bit much.

Search reset button circled in red

Refreshing the table:  To see any new chats started since the Chat History page was loaded in your browser, there's a refresh button just above the table.  We fixed a bug that sometimes created an unnecessary next page of results. 

Tag column: Did you know there was a Tags column available in the table?  It is hidden by default since not everyone uses Tag for Follow-up.  But if you and your colleagues do use Tag for Follow-up and if the Tags column is visible, then you'll see "follow-up" for any chat shown in the table that were tagged for follow-up.  We've added a reminder to the Chat History page that asks if you'd like to reveal the Tags column when it detects there are chats tagged for follow-up and the Tags column is hidden.


NEW! Message Templates: Store commonly used bits of text as templates on a mailbox within the mailbox settings.  These message templates can easily be inserted into an email draft to save you some (possibly lots!) of typing.

Auto-responder (vacation): Fixed bug which made editing your auto-responder reply vexing.

Bulk Move/Spam/Tag/Trash actions: Fixed bug where the email listing could get out of sync when some actions were performed on all emails shown.

CC Recipients: If present, the cc recipients for an email will be shown when viewing an email.  Previously, you had to click the info icon for an email to see any cc recipients.

Mailbox Reply-To: A custom reply-to email address for your mailbox can be added in the Queues Management page of the admin dashboard.  A reply-to address should be an established, institutional email address that forwards its email to 3mail.

Double-check emails to self: If you try to send an email to your 3mail mailbox from your 3mail mailbox, you'll see a prompt that lets you know this is the case, just in case emailing yourself wasn't your actual intent.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Important update for LibraryH3p API users

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
LibraryH3lp is unique in many ways, and one of the things we have always done differently is to have an API-driven design.  Because we have actual APIs and use those APIs to create everything you see in LibraryH3lp, you can script, integrate, and automate anything you might want to do with any of our products.

The flip-side of this is we have to work continuously to keep that API secure in the wild-west of the Internet and we plan to put in place further API protections in the near future as part of ongoing security efforts.  Unfortunately this is a breaking change to our API, but it is not a breaking change to our SDK.  

Python SDK users need to update to version 0.2.0 using pip 
If you have put in-place LibraryH3lp automation using the SDK, all you need to do to keep your code working with our API changes is to update to the latest SDK.

Here's how: pip install lh3api -U

Custom scripts using cURL, PHP, or other?
If you use the LibraryH3lp API for automation but not the LibraryH3lp Python SDK, then you'll need to amend your requests to include X-Api-Version as part of the request header.  That's it!

None of this sounds familiar?
Don't worry, only users that have specifically written custom code using our APIs need to make any changes.  And if you are simply using our presence API to check for the status of your queues or users, no changes are needed.

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.