Automated Amazon S3 Backup Is Going Premium

2 Jul

As of July 3, 2014, the automated Amazon S3 backup will become a premium feature.  This means that it will be a separate add-on line item in your PBworks paid subscription.

Don’t worry, if you are currently using this feature to back up your PBworks network to your corporate S3 account, we will grandfather in a free license to this feature through the end of your current paid subscription.

Security Announcement: PBworks is safe from “Heartbleed”

10 Apr

As you may have heard, many websites and services have a major security issue named “Heartbleed”

The short answer is that your information is safe, PBworks is not affected, and you do not need to take any actions (e.g. changing passwords).

If you are interested in the details, you can read on.

A major security bug, nicknamed  “Heartbleed” was reported in the OpenSSL security cipher suite.   OpenSSL is an open source library used by over 3/4ths of all web services, and it is used to protect the privacy of data transmitted over the internet.

Actions PBworks has taken

Within hours of the report of the bug, we performed a security vulnerability assessment of our system, and found that the version of OpenSSL used by our system is not vulnerable to this exploit.

What do you need to do?

At this time, you do not need to take any action.   Your login, data, and passwords are safe, and have not been compromised.

What PBworks will continue to do

We believe that the security and integrity of your data is of the highest priority.   We are taking further precautions to make sure that your data is safe on our service.  We have also updated all our systems with the latest available security patches to the software and operating systems, and will continue to perform daily security audits.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact Support or your account representative.

Introducing Network-wide Page and File Types

8 Apr

One of the long-standing features of PBworks is the ability to create page (and file) templates simply by tagging .  These templates allow you to standardize the content on a workspace.  For example, you can create a “Meeting Note” template that you can use whenever you set up a new meeting, rather than having to start with a blank page.

As we’ve added more capabilities, like page and file properties, we’ve extended the template system to incorporate them as well.  For example, if a file template includes the property “Status,” with the possible choices “Active” and “Inactive,” uploading a new file with that template lets you specify the status at upload, and to change it later.

But despite these additions, the fact that templates were attached to individual workspaces rather than network-wide had a number of drawbacks.  For example, any time you wanted to use a template on a new workspace, you would have to set it up manually.  And even if you took advantage of our workspace types and templates to include a “Meeting Note” template on each new workspace, if you wanted to make any changes to that template, you would have to circle back and change every single workspace that had been created.

Nor could you search all meeting notes across all workspaces–the pages that were created from a template didn’t maintain any relationship with that template.

That’s why we just introduced Network-wide Page and File Types.  These new types, which can be created by going to the new “Types” menu within the “Admin” panel, address the drawbacks of the old workspace-level templates.  Creating a single network-wide “Meeting Note” type now allows you to create new meeting notes on any workspace.  And the single network-wide type allows you to change the parameters of any future meeting notes in one place, rather than requiring you to make changes workspace by workspace.

Finally, Network-wide Page and File Types are first class elements of the product; they are labeled on screen, and you can even use the search box to search a single type.  An advertising agency, for example, can create a network-wide “Case Study” file type, then search just case studies to find a match more quickly and easily.

If you’ve been a heavy user of the old workspace page and file templates, don’t worry, they’re not going away immediately.  For the next two months, until Saturday, June 7, your existing workspace page and file templates will continue to work just like they always have.  This should give you plenty of time to experiment with the new Network-wide Page and File Types, and to replace your existing templates.

To help you get up to speed on this new feature, we’re offering a free “Network-wide Types How-to Webinar” on Tuesday, April 15:

PBworks: Network-wide Types How-to Webinar
10 AM Pacific/1 PM Eastern/17:00 UTC/18:00 BST
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/700479086

We’ll walk you, step-by-step, through the process of using these types, and give you a chance to ask your own questions.

Introducing New Property Types

18 Dec

One of the unique features of PBworks is the ability to combine structured and unstructured information.  A typical workspace contains a lot of unstructured information (wiki pages and files), but both the workspace and specific items of content can be associated with structured information (properties).

PBworks properties can take the form of a drop-down list, text field, integer, date, or PBworks user.  But while these properties cover a wide range of applications, we’ve heard consistent requests for more specific property types.  That’s why we just launched five new property types.

1. Currency
2. Decimal
3. URL
4. Email
5. Workspace Type

Here’s how they work:

1. Currency

Now you can specify the exact dollars and cents, rather than being limited to integer values.  We also add in American-style commas for large numbers to make them easier to read (i.e. $1,000,000.00 versus $1000000.00).

2. Decimal

The decimal property, like currency, lets you go beyond integer values.

3. URL

When you use the URL property, PBworks makes the property a clickable link, rather than requiring users to cut and paste a URL into a web browser address bar.

4. Email

When you use the email property, PBworks makes the property a “mailto” link, rather than requiring users to cut and paste an email address into their email client.

5. Workspace Type

This special property allows you to specify a relationship between individual workspaces and workspace types.  For example, an agency customer might have a “Client” type and a “Project” type.  A project manager could use the workspace type property to specify that the “Hilton Kuala Lumpur” project workspace should be linked to the “Hilton Hotels” client workspace.  The property is clickable, so it’s easy to jump from the project to the related client and vice versa.

These new workspace properties are available immediate to all users (paid and free).  If you’d like to get a refresher course on how to use Properties, we’re holding a free “How To Use PBworks Properties” webinar at 10 AM Pacific (1 PM Eastern, 18:00 GMT) on Tuesday, January 14, 2014:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/458459110

PBworks Phasing Out IE8 Support Starting 1/31/2014

22 Oct

In March 2009, Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer 8.  At the time, the browser was state of the art.  Today, over 4.5 years later, IE8 is looking dated, and the usage numbers reflect it.

In the broad market, IE8 now has less than 10% market share, and we see a similar proportion in our own statistics.  Meanwhile, Google Apps dropped support for IE8 in November of *2012* and Google Analytics is dropping support by the end of 2013.

Therefore, we plan to end official support for PBworks on IE8 on January 31, 2014 (we’re giving you an extra month in comparison to Google).  This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to use IE8 to access the service, but it does mean that we will stop testing to ensure full compatibility.  This will enable us to maintain and improve the service more efficiently.

If corporate policy requires you to use IE8, please contact your PBworks account representative.

Introducing Search Improvements

15 Oct

Search has long been one of the most popular and powerful features of PBworks.  Our search engine allows you to search through your entire network, including the text within the files you upload.  You also have the opportunity to “facet” your search results (for example, you can filter the search results so that they only show files where you uploaded the most recent version).  The goal is to make it as easy as possible to find what you’re looking for.

Given the strength of our search engine, we’ve discovered that the way to make it even better is to eliminate the need to even complete a search.

While we’ve long had an autocomplete feature, which brings up potential matches as you type in our search box, it was a simple autocomplete, which provided a single list of potential matches.  You can see an example of a simple autocomplete at Google–just type in “What should I do” and Google will quickly offer you options like “What should I do with my life” and “What should I do tonight” (Answer: Invite more users to your PBworks network).

We’ve now launched a greatly improved autocomplete that takes into account the nature of the content you store in PBworks.  As you type into the search box, PBworks brings up a miniature search results page, with the results categorized by the “type” of object that matches.  The basic object types in PBworks are: Files, Pages, Folders, Tasks, Task Lists, Workspaces, Collections, Users, and Reports.  You can always complete the search, which will bring up a lot more results (the autocomplete only finds up to five *exact* matches per object type).

If you know in advance that you’re looking for a particular object type, for example, a file, you can click the dropdown next to the search box and filter the autocomplete to a single object type.  PBworks will return a full list of exact matches (or at least as many as will fit on your screen), and if you want to see all the matches, you can still complete the search and the resulting search results page will automatically be filtered by type.

As your PBworks network fills with content and documents, search becomes more and more critical.  With the latest improvements, PBworks now offers the best search engine in the market, allowing you to find whatever your looking for more quickly and easily.

These search improvements are a free enhancement, and have automatically been activated for all our business customers and freemium networks.

What do you do when a giant encroaches on your territory?

18 Sep

This week, Box held its annual conference, BoxWorks 13.  The online storage leader made two big announcements about products it intends to launch in 2014.

Box Notes are editable web pages, which users can write, edit, comment on, and embed content within.  Sound familiar?

Box also announced that it will be adding metadata to files, so that users can attach structured data to those files.  Again, sound familiar?

Both of these 2014 initiatives are available to PBworks users today.  In fact, they’re even part of our free business product.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen giants encroach on our territory.  Back in 2008, Google unveiled Google Sites, their free wiki product, aimed squarely at the wiki hosting market, and companies like PBwiki (which was our old corporate name).

So what do you do if you’re a startup that’s facing a challenge from a giant company that has millions or even billions of dollars to spend?

The answer is to play to your strengths, and keep innovating.

In 2008, we shifted from simple hosted wikis to a broader collaboration suite.  Today, we have the broadest suite on the market, with project management, file sharing, management reporting, and social, in addition to wiki-style collaboration.  As a result, we can deliver an integrated solution that our key customers use to make thousands or tens of thousands of employees worldwide more productive.

Meanwhile, we host more wikis than ever.  The attention Google brought to the market helped generate more interest than before.

We introduced file and page properties (asset-level metadata) earlier this year.  Since then, we’ve released our reporting tools, as well as a visual approach to managing workspaces.

By the time 2014 rolls around, we’ll have released several more key features that are pushing the boundaries of the collaboration space.

Giants are powerful, but their size slows them down.  When they encroach, use your nimbleness to keep innovating.

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