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.

Introducing the Workspaces Gallery View

16 Sep

One of the most popular features we’ve introduced is the Gallery View of files and wiki pages.  This thumbnail view complements the standard list view of files, and makes it easy for you to visually pick out the files you’re looking for.

However, files within a workspace aren’t the only list that could benefit from a Gallery View.  Over time, we’ll be adding visual Gallery Views to other parts of PBworks.  We’ve just taken the first step in that process by introducing the Workspaces Gallery View.

The Workspaces Gallery View lets you switch the Workspaces tab from a list view to a visual grid.  To make the switch, just click the Gallery icon next to the “New” button.  The visual grid uses the workspace logos you’ve uploaded; in cases where you haven’t uploaded a logo, one of the default textures will be displayed.  To upload a new workspace logo, go to the Settings tab and click on “Branding”:
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/27482896/Branding

Clicking on a workspace logo (or texture) takes you to that workspace.  To bring up a workspace card, mouse over the name of that workspace.

Like the Gallery View of files, the Workspaces Gallery View is a “sticky” setting–once you switch the Workspaces tab to the gallery view mode, it will stay switched until you switch it back.  Whether you’re viewing the Workspaces tab in list view or gallery view, the number of workspaces shown per screen remains the same.

To learn more about the Workspaces Gallery View, visit our user manual:
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/42027946/Workspace%20Listing

“Talk To The Software”

23 Aug

Sometimes, the best salesperson is an error message.

One question that often arises for SaaS companies that sell to the enterprise is whether they should funnel customers through salespeople, or offer a self-service product.

Usually, the partisans of the two sides are like opposing factions in a holy war.  The Church of Sales insists that human salespeople are better at selling software than any order form, because they can understand the customer’s needs and help them find the right (and more expensive) solution.  Meanwhile, the Self-Servicists argue that buyers hate salespeople, whom they consider a waste of time, and that anything that comes between the buyer and an order button is a waste of time.

Both sides have a good point; salespeople are critical for consultative sales, and it’s a rare company that will sign off on a 6- or even 5-digit purchase without talking to a human being.  On the other hand, many buyers screen any phone calls they receive from vendors, and view negotiations as about as pleasant as a dentist appointment.

Our experience at PBworks is that you need to try to leverage the best of both worlds.  Ultimately, we’re agnostics who combine self-service and sales in an ecumenical strategy that I call, “Talk to the Software.”

Here’s the secret: Your goal should be to play “Good Cop, Bad Cop” with your salespeople playing “Good Cop” and your software playing “Bad Cop.”

Once upon a time, we were members of the Church of Sales; we wanted to learn as much as possible from every deal, so every communication went through our Sales team.  The problem was, this put our salespeople in the position of being the bad guys.  Customer over their storage limit?  Have Sales call them.  Customer needs to buy more user licenses?  Have Sales call them.

The net result is that customers start avoiding your Sales team.  When we became agnostics, we turned enforcement over to the software.  Now our software plays “Bad Cop” and blocks users who violate their licenses, leaving it to our sales team to play “Good Cop” and help them get back in compliance.  Our Sales team has better, more productive conversations, and because they don’t have to act as enforcers, they also have more time to find expansion opportunities.

Don’t make your salespeople play Terminator–let the tireless, ruthless servers in your datacenter handle your dirty work.

Coming August 26: Updated Naming for Roles and Permissions

20 Aug

Here at PBworks, our powerful and flexible system of custom security and user permissions is one of the key capabilities that makes our collaboration suite enterprise-grade.  When you’re a PBworks customer, you have the ability to specify exactly who should be to do what and where.

The downside of this highly granular security has been a certain level of confusion about terminology.  When someone says that they’re an admin, does that mean they are a Network Admin or a Workspace Admin? (depends)  Can you grant a Page-Level Only user access to a particular folder? (yes)

Because more and more organizations are using PBworks more intensively, we’ve decided to update the names we use for roles and permissions to eliminate the confusion.  For example, rather than wondering about the difference between a Network Admin and a Workspace Admin, you’ll be able to distinguish between a PBworks Admin and a Workspace Moderator.

Starting on the evening of Monday, August 26, these changes will be reflected throughout PBworks, including dialog boxes, menu items, and even tab names.  For example, the current “Everyone” tab on your network will be renamed “Users,” and the current “People” tab on your workspaces will be renamed “Members.”

(If you’re an advanced user, and you’ve already modified these tab names, don’t worry, we won’t overwrite your changes)

For a complete list of changes please visit our user manual:
https://docs.pbworks.com/w/page/68348268/Terminology%20Change

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