Version 5.1 Release Preview
It seems like no time at all since we were finalising the Version 5 update for release, and yet here we are in April and 4 months have passed already. With the turn of the new year, and all the effort that went into the V5 update at the end of last year, our plan was to transition to a slightly more frequent release schedule, with a mantra of little and often - so smaller, but more frequent updates. But as with all the best New Year's Resolutions, we've completely ignored it and once again, the requests from you our users and our own ideas have taken over, and here we find ourselves with another big release on our hands!
The aim with V5.1 was to consolidate and improve on the work we started in 5.0, and we've got some fantastic developments coming up in that we certainly think are worth waiting for, and we hope you do too. WHMCS V5.0 saw the introduction of a brand new client area design, admin homepage widgets, an email marketer, and many other improvements. But as ever, we could think of, and you guys could suggest, ideas far quicker than we could actually implement them, and so V5.0 was just the start. Rather than just sticking to the areas that look nice in screenshots, I thought I'd begin by giving you an overview of a selection of the core new functionality that has been introduced, which after all is the real stuff that makes a difference to your daily use of WHMCS as a complete management system for your business.
- Admin Order Process - A re-vamped admin order process now provides a real-time summary of the items and total due based on current selections, along with additional functionality allowing you to create promotional discount codes "on the fly" during an order, and support for completing any domain registration TLD specific requirements prior to submission
- Order Handling - New functionality for order handling includes the ability for admins to make notes directly on orders, and define custom statuses that can be used for tracking order progress more efficiently for more complex product offerings that don't simply go directly from Pending to Active states
- Clients - Client Notes can now be defined as "Important", and doing so makes those important notes show up whenever you view the clients summary page, an order placed by them, or a ticket submitted from them, so that if there's something staff dealing with the customer needs to know, they will. Also on a client theme is the introduction of optional profile fields, whereby you can choose exactly which of the core fields are required at customer signup.
- Custom Invoices - A small tweak, but important nonetheless, is that custom created invoices will now default to being due x days in the future, using the same period as your invoice in advance days setting, to avoid that extra step in most cases of moving the due date for a manual raised invoice out to a future date
- Credits/Prefunding - Enhanced Logging will now record not just additions of credit, but also when and where those credits are used/applied to, providing a more complete overview of credit history
- Product/Promo Management - If like us you've been using WHMCS for a few years, over time your products and promotions list tends to grow, and in doing so it can become harder to manage. So in 5.1, we've added a new "retired" option to products that allows a product to be hidden from admin side lists. And similarly with the promotions management, status filters and pagination has been added.
- Support Ticket Management - Easier access to ticket list filter options directly from the sidebar, direct ajaxified access to a users past ticket history, and optimized performance for clients with lots of products
- New Reports - A revamped reports section now combines textual based reports with graphs and charts where appropriate to help make the data from them easier to interpret, and sees the introduction of a number of new reports to provide further in-depth analysis of your client base. And these new charts have also found their way into the admin homepage widgets - more about that below.
But we can't have it all text now can we So here's a couple of screenshots...
Admin Homepage Design Tweaks
In the last release, we introduced widgets to the admin homepage, which introduced the ability for staff to customise the layout of their dashboard exactly as they wanted, as well as making it far easier for admins to control exactly what their staff are permitted to see. And in 5.1, we've brought back by popular demand the "Attention Items" bar which tells you at a glance how many tickets are waiting, cancellations pending, to-do items due, etc... And we've also converted more of the previously text based informational widgets into graphs and charts with an aim to make the admin dashboard provide a clearer & more concise overview of the system as a whole.
You might also notice in the above screenshot some tweaks and updates to the default "Blend" admin theme that will also be a part of the 5.1 update.
Brand New Calendar with New Functionality
WHMCS has always had a calendar in it that allowed you to visualise when products/services were due, monitor to-do items, and create and track custom events. The idea behind it is to provide a centralised scheduling solution for your business. But it had been some time since it received any attention, and didn't scale well as soon as you had more than a handful of products due on any one day, and so for 5.1, the calendar has now been updated with a new look, and new features including support for showing/hiding specific types of calendar entries, week and day views, events spanning multiple days, announcement and network issues integration, in-line editing & event creation, and integration hooks for developers to utilise to extend it even further.
The project management addon (available separately) already makes use of these hooks for displaying projects and tasks due dates on the calendar.
So we hope you'll agree that this update is worth waiting for just a little bit longer. We're still hard at work polishing off a number of the features mentioned here in this preview, and a few more that we aren't going to reveal just yet! But as soon as we've completed what we set out to do, and are confident it's all running well from in house testing (by the way, we're already running 5.1 ourselves for some very early pre-release testing) then we'll be announcing a beta release, with the stable following a few weeks after that.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate George Vardikos from Greece, who was chosen at random as the winner of our iPad 3 Prize Draw Giveaway last month. The iPad is on the way to him and we hope he will enjoy using it. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey for us. It has provided us with some very valuable insights into what you want and expect from WHMCS in the future.