Earlier versions

HelpMaster v15 and earlier

v15.6.3 - June 2015

v15 is a major release of HelpMaster.  We have put in some big new features, extended the capabilities of the workflow, added some popular requests, and given HelpMaster a new look and feel.   Additionally, there are a lot of under-the-hood improvements and diagnostic information that will be useful for tracking performance, stability and custom development.

This is the best HelpMaster yet!

A new look and feel!

The first thing you will notice about version 15 is that HelpMaster has a new look!  All of the graphics have been updated to the modern “flat” look and feel.  A consistent style, colour palate, and imagery gives HelpMaster a refresh and slick look and feel.   We have also replaced some older controls to give a modern feel and improve performance.

logon screen

Updated toolbar layout, including new buttons and functionality

The main ribbon toolbar has been updated with a new layout and some additional functionality.  The menu structure and grouping of buttons and functionalty has been updated to make HelpMaster more intuitive, modern and fresh.

toolbar flaticons

When logging a new job, the toolbar now supports several new options for quickly selecting the right job template.  This includes drop-down lists for your subscribed templates, all templates and recently used templates.

Templategroupings

Action screen now include the time on the front tab as well as a quick reminder function

By popular demand.  The Action screen can now display the time details on the front tab of the screen, and each action template can be set to force the user to input the time.  This is very useful for those who require each action, or certain types of actions to have the time entered along with the details.  Additionally, there is now a quick-set reminder function built right into the action screen.  Great for when you are updating a job and also want to set a reminder.

Action ScreenImprovements

Improved alerts system

HelpMaster has a new alert system.

Now all entities (Jobs, Clients, Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base articles) can have an unlimited number of alerts associated with them.  This is very handy for drawing attention to the entity when required.

Alerts

Each alert can be configured to be displayed in a different way, and have a different set of properties depending on what it is.  Choose from popup - in your-face alerts, or more passive alerts.  Mix and match according to the entity and the nature of the alert.

  • Cascading alerts
  • Alert types
  • Triggers alerts
  • Multiple alerts
  • HTML alerts

stacked alerts

Read more about the new alert system.

Automation triggers for custom entity events

A new major feature!

triggered event knowledge base review date kcs

Have you ever wanted to be able to log a job when an asset has reached its Service-due date, or log a job when a custom date field on a client, or site matches a date?  Perhaps you have wanted to flag a Knowledge Base article when it has reached it review date?

Well now you can do that and much more.  The new entity triggers allow you to create profiles that will log jobs, create alerts and perform database operations when certain conditions in your HelpMaster configuration/data are matched.  Think of this feature like the Priority Manager, but for Clients, Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base, and Jobs.

This is perfect for creating workflow/jobs for client support, asset management and facilities management.  This new feature utilizes the new alerts feature, to really give your automated triggers some power and impact.

Read more about the new Triggered Events feature

Workflow Templates

Workflow diagrams have now been isolated into their own separate template type.  Previously, the workflow designer was only available via the Job Templates.  Now there is a new template type dedicated to just Workflow.  This makes the management of workflows much easier, and allows greater levels of control, isolation, security and better integration into other parts of HelpMaster. 

workflow templates

We have a lot of big features coming up for the workflow system of HelpMaster, so now is a great time to start utilizing this feature, check it out if you have not done so already.  Read more about Workflow templates.

Improved Job Finder

By popular demand!  The Job Finder can now search on Actions that have been performed against a job.  This allows a greater level of searching, filtering and reporting.  Also, due to the fact that the Job Finder is a key component of the powerful Priority Manager, the ability to search on actions opens up a whole new range of workflow automation possibilities.

job finder action search

Email Manager Log and Diagnostic information

The Email Manager continues to improve in both functionality and management.  We have added a lot of additional diagnostic information to the event logs which will really help with administration, and being able to see what the Email Manager is actually doing.

New information includes processing time, email count, email size and total timing.

Use this information to fine-tune your email processing and optimize your profiles.

email processing diagnostic information

Email Manager Performance

The performance of the Email Manager is now much faster.  The Email Manager now uses a caching mechanism to remember email and filters.  This results in much faster processing times.  This also assists in memory management and download limitations.

Create a new client from Email Manager Parsers

The Email Manager now contains new client-based parser destination fields.  This allows you to extract details from an email, and then use those values to create a new client, and then use that new client to log a new job based on the email.  This is a great new feature for those using HelpMaster for CRM style configurations.

New category fields for the Email Manager and Priority Manager

Do you have a lot of Email Manager, or Priority Manager profiles that you wish you could organize better? 

Now you can classify them with codes of your choice and filter them according to their type.  If you use this powerful part of HelpMaster, then you are going to love this simple enhancement.

Automation classification codes

New category fields for Job Templates and Action Templates

New category fields are now also available for Job and Action templates.  This will assist with searching, classifying and workflow.  Add the new “Category” fields to your Field Chooser to make searching easier.

More fields, including usage statistics for field chooser for Templates

The Field Chooser for Job Templates, Action Templates and Email Templates now include columns that help you see how often the template is being used, when it was last used and more.  This information can be used to optimize and re-configure HelpMaster.

Improved SQL options for the System Administrator

System administrators can now view the results of SQL from the Database tab of HelpMaster.  Additional security options are also available to prevent unauthorized use of direct SQL for any feature of HelpMaster that supports this.  All system codes now also display their unique database ID in the system codes screen.  This assists with custom reporting, database development and API integration.

Re-designed Staff management + Removal of “Staff Manager” screen.

The process of creating or updating a staff member is not much more intuitive and simplified.  The old “Staff Manager” screen has been removed, and the Client screen and a re-worked Skillgroup screen now control how staff and skillgroups are setup and configured.  This offers a much cleaner way of managing staff and their associated skillgroup assignments and permissions.

staff management

Action Summary and Job Status code context filtering

Action summary codes and Job Status codes can now be filtered / hidden according to their context and use.  This makes it easier when working with jobs, actions and workflow.

Automatic Assignment Algorithms

Action templates now support auto-assign algorithms! 

  Choose from the following auto-assignment types:

  • Round-robin (each staff member within a skillgroups is assigned a job on a rotating basis)
  • Lowest job count (the staff member with the lowest job count is assigned the job)
  • Closest geographically (the staff member that is physically closest to the job is assigned the job)
  • Custom stored procedure (make your own assignment algorithm using SQL)
  • Random! For fun!?

auto assign helpdesk jobs

More algorithms to come in future releases.

Auto-assignment can be used by all HelpMaster modules, including the web, Email Manager, Priority Manager and the desktop.

“Add me” button for quick job/client linking

A small, quick speed improvement. 

When logging a new job, or updating an existing job, there is now a new “Add me” button/menu.  Using this will add you (the person logged onto HelpMaster) to the list of linked clients.

add me

Email Template filtering and context

Do you have a lot of email templates?  You probably do, and the problem up until now was that all of them would appear in the Action screen email section, regardless of what type of recipient they were designed for.

That has now changed.

Now email templates can been classified and configured to only appear in the contextually correct part of the Action screen.

email template context

New Script object for job workflow

Workflow now supports scripting.  Currently the only script type is SQL, however further scripting types, including Powershell will be introduced in future releases of HelpMaster.

Asset cloning

By popular demand!  Right-click on any Asset from the search list, and select “Clone” from the pop-up menu.  A new asset screen will appear with all of the details populated/copied from the original.  Give it a new name and save.

asset cloning

Improved Theme builder

The Theme Builder utility has been improved to include more options for colours, styles and controls.  Additionally, there is now a button right next to the theme selector on the user preference screen that will open the Theme Builder.  If you've never tried the theme builder before, or if you are looking for a new style to suit your HelpMastering, check it out.

theme builder

Miscellaneous fixes, enhancements and updates.

Many minor issues have also been fixed.  We've also updated some of the third-party controls that HelpMaster uses.  These should deliver better stability and performance.

We have also improved the behaviour of splitter bars, form re-sizing, control layout and other minor UI issues.

What’s new for HelpMaster v14

v14.7.25 - Released July 2014

This latest release of HelpMaster offers some new features, many enhancements to existing features, as well as general bugfixes, performance improvements and upgrades components.  Below is a list of some of the highlights.

Virtual issues

Is your issue hierarchy out of control?  Need to bring some order back to the structure.  “Virtual issues” is an exciting new concept that allows system administrators to create groupings of issues, and then link the group to the end-point of an existing issue node. 

Template information dockable panel in job screen

A new dockable panel on the job screen displays informaiton about the template being used.  This is useful for training purposes, and general information about the template. 

Email Manager improvements and security update

The Email Manager continues to improves for additional functionality, stability and security. 

  • Updates to existing jobs now have a better text-extraction algorithm to automatically extract just the reply portion of an email.  Previous extraction methods still exist as options.
  • The Email Parsers have been updated for better client searching via email addresses
  • The "Update Existing Job" profiles have had a security re-work, with better options for controlled who can update a job.  By default, the Email Manager will only process email updates from clients that are linked to a job, or are a HelpMaster “staff” member.

Priority Manager action for Skillgroup Supervisor

The Priority Manager now has a new option for emailling the skillgroup supervisor

Skillgroups now have email configuration for unassisnged jobs

Skillgroups now have the option to specify how email is handled whenever a job is assigned to the unassigned queue of a skillgroup.  Skillgroups can now have an email address associated with them.

 

Attachment preview

Attachments can now be displayed and previewed directly from the Explorer screen, or action log.  Simply select a job, then hover over the attachment icon to display the attachments.

Multi-language version

HelpMaster now has the ability to dsiplay in other languages.  This is the initial phase of a larger language feature.  Currently, the only language pack available is English.  Future releases will offer additional languages. 

Improved Screen capture for images

The screen capture now has a dedicated button on the Attachments tab of entities, and the process of capturing a graphic has been significantly improved.

Performance improvements

The job and action screens should now appear up to 50% faster than before.  Attachment loading/preview is now performed “just in time”, to reduce the initial overhead of loading any screen with the Attachments tab.

Miscellaneous fixes, updated references and 3rd party components

Several fixes and improvements have made made.

v14.1.1 - Released January 2014

v14 is another major release of HelpMaster that has many new features, a lot of improvements to existing features, and a lot of bug-fixes and performance improvements.  In short, v14 is a terrific update, especially to those who make good use of the Email Manager, Active Directory, and email.  Here is a review of some of the major things to look out for.

CC and BCC other clients from the Action screen

Emailing from the Action screen now support CC and BCC for other clients that are linked to the job.  This makes it much easier to keep all linked personnel up to date with job updates.

Client picture/avatar can now sync with Active Directory

In addition to supporting www.gravatar.com, client pictures can now be synchronized with Active Directory and is available as a field mapping in the Active Directory module.  HelpMaster users with sufficient privileges can also upload a client picture into Active Directory. See Also client picture or gravatar

New email support for internet email / SMTP / IMAP etc

The entire email foundation of HelpMaster has been re-written to provide even greater levels of email control, security and flexibility.  HelpMaster administrators can now configure individual email accounts that can be used by staff members, and whenever an email is sent, you now have the option to specify which account to use.  These accounts can then be linked to email templates, automation profiles etc. IMAP/POP support has been greatly improved with complete log-in access properties.

Improved email preview and composition from the action screen

When emailing from the Action screen, the previews can now be cancelled and the original action modified before sending again.  When multiple emails are sent, the preview screen will display each job/email, and give more details about the recipients and the context of the email.

Improved and updated Quick Launch feature

One of the oldest features of HelpMaster gets an update.  The Quick Launch screen now has more options, better website/URL support, application parameters/arguments, as well as a dedicated button on the toolbar.

Updated text control and spell checker

The HTML/rich text control has been upgraded to provide better support for previewing for .pdf, HTML support (including better table support), Microsoft Word document import and preview.  The new text control also contains a completely new spell checking control.  This spell checking is very fast, support multiple dictionaries and languages, and underlines misspelt words.   The new dictionary does not have a dependency on Microsoft Word.

Auto save for all major textboxes

Have you ever typed a lot of text, only to have an application or computer crash, and you lose your work! It’s frustrating!!  Never again.  HelpMaster will now automatically save text content on a regular basis and recover this text in the event of a application hang, or crash.  This applies to jobs, actions, templates and knowledge base articles.

Job feedback improvements for usability, searching and reporting

The job feedback system has been improved.  Enhancements include better searching, reporting and administration.  Also, you can now configure HelpMaster to send a feedback survey link at any stage within the job lifecycle.  This means that you can survey your clients for every action you take - each update.  This will help your team to better understand your clients.

Quick-pick for email tags

Email template tags are now easier to insert into email templates.  Simply start typing the start of the tag with the characters “«”, and HelpMaster will display a quick-pick list of available email tags for you to use.

Email Manager updates

The Email Manager has had extensive updates and improvements.  The Email Manager is now more powerful and flexible than ever before.  If you make good use of the Email Manager, you're going to love these updates.  We have improved the functionality, added a lot of power to the parsers, and greatly improved the stability and performance of the service.

New Mailbox Flow visualizer

A new feature is the Mailbox Flow visualizer for the Email Manager.  If you have a lot of Email Manager profiles, you're going to love this.  It displays the email acocunt/folder, and then the profiles that are operating on those scan folders.  It is a great way to “see” what is going on.  Furthermore, the Mailbox Flow will indicate which profiles have issues, and give suggestions on how to improve them for better processing logic.

Better filter control and order preference

It is now possible to order individual filters per branch within the filter processing logic.  This is good news if you have complex filtering, or have very specific requirements for your filtering logic.  Simply right-click on a filter and select “Prioritize filter in current branch level”

Move email

If the email manager profile moves an email, you now have the option to send an email to selected recipients as part of the move.  This can assist with workflow and notification in these scenarios.

New Email parsers

The email parsers have been extended to support SQL scripting, string building, attachment parsing, and can now update more fields within the job, as well as action details such as Assignment, Status, Priority etc.  Email Manager parsers can now scan text-based attachments.  This is great if you need to scan and parse information from log files, network monitoring tools, or other email attachment-based information.

A new “String builder” section of the parsers allow you to build up text block that can be used in job and action information.

A new “Script” section allows you to execute custom SQL against your HelpMaster database.  Use this to look up values based on parser variable that can then be used to update details about the job/action.

New processing options

A new “Post script” action allows you to execute custom SQL against your HelpMaster database after an email has been sucessully processed and the job and/or action has completed.

New closed job options

The email manager now has additional global options to handle what happens when an email is processed for a closed job.  Administrators can choose how HelpMaster handles this common scenario.

The helpfile has also been updated to include more detailed information about designing Email Manager profiles.  Check out the new section on the Email Manager patterns.…more to come.

Professional Title tag

A new checkbox against the Title for client names allows you to specify whether the title is a professional title or not.  This is used in conjunction with 2 new email template tags:

<<Client_ProfessionalTitle_or_Firstname>>

<<Client_ProfessionalTitle_or_FirstnameLastName>>

When used in an email, these tags will be replaced with the Title of the client followed by their surname (if “Is professional title” is checked), or just their Firstname/Lastname as appropriate if they do not have a professional title.  

Multiple coloured flags for jobs

Jobs can now be flagged with 6 different coloured flags.  Previously only one flag was available.  Additionally, the Job Finder now supports flag searching, and each Email Manager profile can flag a job whenever an update occurs.

flag job

Help file

The helpfile has been updated for more content, screen shots, more information, much better hyperlinking and “See Also” links as well as better “why” content, rather than just “how”.  The index and searching has also been improved.  It is a work in progress - tell us what you would like to see in the helpfile.  We have also updated the HelpMaster configuration guide, the evaluation guide and other training courseware and materials.

Check out the new section on the Email Manager paterns.…more to come.

Miscellaneous fixes, enhancements and updates.

Many minor issues have also been fixed.  We've also updated some of the third-party controls that HelpMaster uses.  These should deliver better stability and performance.

What’s new for HelpMaster v13?

v13 - Released March 2013

Another major release packed full of new and exciting features and options to give you more control and insight into your business operations.  Many of these new features and improvements have been a direct result of feedback and user support.

New graphic for logon screen

A new year, a new version, a new look.  Tell us what you think!

HelpMaster logon

Improved performance and speed

The overall performance of HelpMaster has been improved to provide a quicker interface and faster response times.  Both the HelpMaster code and the database structure has been improved to facilitate this.  Future versions of HelpMaster will continue to optimize and improve performance.

More automatic Client ID Generation options

New “Prefix” and “Suffix” fields allow even more flexibility to the automatic client ID generation options.  For the ultimate in flexibility, use the database stored procedure option and create your own.

automatic client id generation

Dockable tool windows

A brand-new concept and visual architecture for HelpMaster.  Certain screens (like the new Notification (see below) screen can be docked to the side of the main HelpMaster window.  Multiple dockable screen can be layered on each other to create a “tabbed” interface.  Very cool.   The HelpMaster Add-In architecture can now take advantage of the new dockable tool window layout.  Create your own HelpMaster Add-Ins and host them within the dockable regions of HelpMaster Desktop.  Multiple add-ins can be added to the same dockable region to give a tiling effect.

Notification side - menu

A new Notification screen gives you easy access to system events and messages that have been posted to the new message board (see below).  This new notification screen makes it easy to keep track on what's going on and enhances team collaboration within your business.  Watch this feature - it is going to grow!

 

Context Panel

A new context panel is now available as a dockable window.  This panel will populate with details about the main entity that you are looking at.  For example, if you are looking at a job, the context panel will populate with details about the primary client, their site, their contact details etc.

If you are adding an action to a job (updating a job), the context panel will display details about the job details, the last action etc.

This context panel can be docked, floated, pinned, or tabbed to other dockable panels.

Message Board overhaul

The Message Board has received a long overdue overhaul.  Messages are now available in HTML (hyperlinks, images, markup etc) and feature comments, administrative access controls, categories and notification.  This is just phase 1 of the new messaging and collaboration tools that we have planned for future releases of HelpMaster.

Image recognition system for Email Manager

Does your attachments folder contain a lot of image duplicates - perhaps added by the Email Manager or similar?  All images added to the Attachments tab of any entity are now scanned and indexed for greater processing control.  The Email Manager can now use this information to automically exclude images of a certain type (email footers, signature images etc).

Template statistics

HelpMaster now keeps better track of how templates are used within your business.  Each time a template is used, the Job, Action, or Email that was created displays information about how it was created.  Furthermore, each template types now displays more statistics and meta-data about usage patterns, updates and history.  This information will help HelpMaster administrators to keep your HelpMaster configuration clean and neat, and give powerful insight into what is working, and what is not.

Template Dependencies

Understanding the linking and dependencies of templates was always a bit of a challenge.  No more!  Each template type now contains a new “Dependencies” tab that will clearly show they are linked and being used by other template and features within HelpMaster.

 

Job statistics + new notes field

Individual jobs now have new statistics and meta-data that will reveal how the job was logged (what product, what template etc), as well as a new “Notes” field.  This new field is simply a text box that you can store any plain text into.  Use it to store notes, replies, progess notes, or half-finished action updates.

Workflow

Another major new feature that will continue to develop with future releases of HelpMaster.  Workflow allows the business to create a dedicated workflow for each job type / template type.  Workflow is simply a series of Action Templates that are linked together and may branch into new streams via a “Decision” point.  A great improvement/compliment to the “Actions to Do” feature.  

 

Job Survey feedback

Jobs now display the individual feedback and ratings that have been recorded by the end-user.  Similar to the knowledge base feedback system, the job survey allows you to survey and capture user feedback about the job.

Updated and new reports

Several new reports exist that will give greater insight into Knowledge Base ranking and utilization.  Knowledge Base and KCS (www.knowledge-centered-support.com) will be an on-going feature of all future HelpMaster development.

Administrator SQL option

The Administration database tab now contains a field for executing SQL directly against the HelpMaster database.  This is a very handy option for tech support, or for Administrators that need to execute SQL without having to use SQL Server Mangaement studio, or who do not have the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard Installed.  Use with caution!

Email Manager CC clients exclusions

A subtle, but important enhancement.  If an Email Manager profile is configured to add people in a CC list to the job, it will first check the new exclusion list.  If that email address matches, they will not be added to the job.  This is useful when clients CC the helpdesk, the support account, or another other email account/inbox that the Email Manager is scanning and processing, potentially stopping cyclical loops. 

An improved web configuration manager

We have re-written the web configuration manager to be more useable, friendly and easier to use.  The new wizard-style approach allows easy installation, editing and upgrading of the HelpMaster Web Portal.

General improvements to the Web Portal

Continuing improvements to the Web Portal have been made.   Updating a job via the client web now appears in a pop-up window.

TeamViewer quick support options

PRD Software now use TeamViewer for all remote support and presentation needs.  From this release onwards, HelpMaster will ship with our custom HelpMaster TeamViewer support and presentations modules.  Find them in the Windows start menu, or from the HelpMaster Help > Support Functions menu.

Miscellaneous improvements, bugfixes and enhancements

As usual, we have also identified and fixed many minor issues and bugs (see full version history for details), as well as improved the stability and error-reporting capabilities of the entire HelpMaster suite.  Other minor improvements/touches like CTRL+A for lists to select all, export to CSV from the Explorer, smoother list scrolling etc

  

#What’s new for HelpMaster v12?

v12.8.23  - Released 23rd August 2012

Custom Job queues

Custom job queues appear in the Explorer screen.  Create as many queues as you want, and then simply drag/copy as many jobs into the queue as you want.  It will stay there until you remove it.  This is a great feature if you have a busy job queue and you want to priorize, re-order or filter.

       

Desktop                                                                            Web

Email processing improvements

The Email Manager and all email related processing such as drag ‘n drop have been improved and extended.  Previously some email could not be processed, or when they were, the text in HelpMaster was double-spaced.  This has now been fixed and improved.  Furthermore, you can now also drag individual email attachments into HelpMaster as attachments.

Web log job, client searching and selecting

The job logging process for the Web Portal has been improved.  Searching for clients is now similar to the way the Desktop edition works, with a filtered list being displayed as the user types the client ID.

Web navigation, charts and other minor improvements

The Web Portal now supports a collapsable navigate bar on the left-hand side.  The charts on the home page have been improved, and a lot of small formatting and “ajaxification” of the Web Portal have been developed.

Miscellaneous small fixes, enhancements and improvements

As always, we improved the stability of the product by addressing reported issues, as well as made minor improvements to overall functionality and ease of use.  The “Filter” tab is now replaced with a “Filter” text box.  Much easier.

 

...and you can now log a new job directly from a Client, Site or Asset.

v12.6.22 - Released 22nd June 2012

Recurring Jobs

The recurring events feature is a service-based automation (similar to Priority Manager, Email Manager etc), that will log a new job based on a schedule.  This is perfect if you have regular jobs that you always do.  Great for facilities maintenance, regulatory compliance, system checks and anything else that just needs to be done on a recurring schedule.  Create a new Recurring Profile, give it a name, set the frequency and then pick a job template - done!

v12.4.24 - Released 24th April 2012

HelpMaster v12 is another major release that features new functionality, improved functionality and overal stabilization.  For this release we have concentrated on providing multi-timezone capabilities as well as improvements in the knowledge base feedback system, and re-writing the internal Active Directory code.  As always, there are a lot of other minor improvements and fixes. 

Here are some of the highlights.

Multi-timezone aware

HelpMaster now supports multiple timezones.  This is great if you have a distributed team working across different timezones, countries or daylight-savings regions.  HelpMaster will now display all date information in the local timezone (your timezone), but also allow you to see the original timezone that was used.  

Site and client timezones and business operating hours is more accessible and visible.

business operating hours for helpdesk

 

Please note!

This feature changes the way date data is stored in the HelpMaster database.  If you currently use customized reports, or have implemented custom integrations via the HelpMaster API, AddIn manager or other custom development work, please read this important information.

Knowledge base

The knowledge base now has a feedback and rating system.  This is our first phase in the on-going development to align HelpMaster with the principles and concepts of Knowledge Centered Support.  

System administrators can now create a custom knowledge base feedback form/survey  that can be used by people viewing knowledge base content.  The results from this feedback can be used to improve, update and deliver superior knowledge content to your customers, staff and users.  Using a world-first weighted feedback and ranking system, HelpMaster will allow knowledge authors, curators and administrators the ability to pinpoint exactly what and how corporate knowledge is being received by the end-user.   

 

Each article now contains a lot of information about it’s content and user feedback.

knowledge base feedback and survey  

Each Knowledge Base article can now be ranked according to user feedback, using the unique feedback weighting score that system administrators can assign to each feedback option.  This is in addition to the charts and visual histograms can be viewed for each article.

Search relevancy is also captured, stored and utilized so that knowledge authors can improve and create knowledge content.  

This information is collected and stored to allow knowledge base authors and system administrators the ability to see what people are searching for, and whether they are getting the right results.

kcs knowledge base searchability

 

We have also improved the statistics for a range of knowledge base metrics.

Active Directory

The Active Directory module has also been totally re-written to provide better performance, less administration and more flexibility.  HelpMaster now accesses the Active Direcory directly via native Microsoft .Net code rather than via the OLE SQL Server method that was previously used.  This means less configuration, better flexibility and makes it a lot easier to update in the future - We have got some great plans for this module - stay tuned..

In the meantime, here is what’s new with the Active Directory module

  • Totally re-written Active Directory access functionality
  • Flexible field mappings.  Map site, location, department to the HelpMaster site field.
  • Better event logging an diagnostic capabilities

active directory mappings

Priority Manager

The Priority Manager now has a decicated “Action” screen that allows you to set the “To be completed by” date for any job within the system.  This new feature is great if you need to automatically set the completion date for a job based on pre-defined triggers, people, companies or other factors.

Once a job has a “To be completed by” date, you can easily build other workflow automations for escalation, SLA and reporting.  Use this date field as the basis for reporting, KPIs, escalaitons, automations and updates.

Searching improvements

Following on the back of the v11 release, HelpMaster continues to make searching for the different entites easier.  Custom data is now searchable in the quick-search textboxes.  The full-text searching capabilities of SQL Server have been improved and the rating and ranking system of the new knowledge base improvements make it even easier to find what you are looking for.

Spell check for knowledge base searches that return no results

Performance

After upgrading to this version of HelpMaster, everything should run faster.  The Explorer screen, viewing jobs, running reports - everything!  The database upgrade will improve the indexing and overall performance of the Microsoft SQL Server database that stores all of the HelpMaster data.

In addition to these database improvements, the Web Portal has also been improved to use better controls, better HTML design and optimized code.  The web should now render better on a wider range of browsers, and give better response time.

New reports

Several new reports are available in this release of HelpMaster.  The Timeline reports have been improved to include markers to indicate trends in helpdesk statistics and data.  Reports should also run faster due to improvements in the database architecture (see below)

Web Portal

The Web Portal continues to evolve and become more useable, more stable and more functional.  There have been many minor changes to improve compatibility between browsers, as well as small touches like context-sensitive right-click popup menus, persistent list and grid settings for columns, improved styling, social connectors for Knowledge Base.  

social itsm  

Stability

As always, every release of HelpMaster includes a number of minor improvements, bug-fixes and overall changes to improve the overall performance, stability and look and feel of the application.  For full details about the fixes in this version, please refer to the detailed version history.  Thank you to everyone who has reported an issue, or who has suggested an improvement.  We log them all, and we do get around to them.

Installation and compatibility

The HelpMaster installation process has also been refined for better installation for IIS and the web module.  We have improved the behaviour and compatibility of HelpMaster with Microsoft Terminal Services and other terminal/remote emulations.

We have made adjustments to the theming engine so that the gradients displayed in HelpMaster can be controled via different themes.  This allows for a better remote/terminal session experience.

Better sample applications / example code for the API and plug-in manager

For developers and system integrators who use the HelpMaster API to integrate and/or create HelpMaster plug-ins, we updated the sample code project to give greater insight into what is possible with the API and Plug-in architecture. 

What’s new for HelpMaster v11?

HelpMaster v11 is a major feature release that incorporates many new features.  Read below for a list of the major changes.  In addition to these, you will find many small improvements, enhancements and refinements across the entire HelpMaster suite.  As usual, we have also invested significant time and energy into re-engineering the underlying code and technology to make it easier to pave the way forward for greater software advancement.

New Ribbon control

In addition to the existing toolbar control, users now have the option to use a new “Ribbon” bar to navigate around HelpMaster.  The ribbon controls offers a new look and feel to HelpMaster, along with a more streamlined way of getting things done.  We have updated a few of the icons, and tried to organize similar features and options together.  Let us know what you think.

Logging a job - better support for finding clients and sites

Ever wish you could just log a job for a site instead of a client?  Well, now you can.…almost.

The search functionality when logging a job has been greatly improved.  Now you can type the name of a client, a site, or details about the client or site (email, phone, etc) and HelpMaster will display a list that matches your criteria.  If a site is selected, a list of clients that are linked to that site are displayed, with the primary client appearing at the top of the list.  HelpMaster will always log a job with a client, but this new way of searching for and selecting clients will make it much easier to those focus on sites rather than clients.

It is now possible to search for clients / site using different search fields, including custom text fields.  Individual users of HelpMaster can configure which fields in the client or site should be searched.  This is achieved via the user preferences screen.

 

Billing and Invoicing

By popular request, billing and invoicing is a new major feature for v11.   The action screen has had a major upgrade and now each action can be marked as “Is billable”.  HelpMaster always supported the concept of time and cost for an action, but now you can go a step further.  With the new “Billing Templates”, you can create any number of billing templates that can be used when adding an action to a job.    See this discussion post to see the evolution of this new feature.

“Stop the clock” functionality for job status

Also by popular request.  Each job status now has the ability to “stop the clock” for a job.  This is perfect for service level agreements and determining the age of job in business time.  Stopping the clock refers to the business hours (operational hours) that a job is active for.   With this new feature, now you can nominate any number of job status codes that will “stop the clock”.

Whenever the job is set to one of these job statuses, the time calculation for the age of the job takes into consideration the time the job is open for each of the job status durations.  This makes it great to determine how service level agreements are going.  See the “Working hours time line vizualizer” below.

Working hours time line visualizer

A new time-line visualizer allows you to see how a job has progressed.  The visualizer displays the job assignments, the times when the clock was stopped or running, as well as the status of the job.

Job screen status bar

Simple, but effective.  The job screen now contains a status bar at the bottom of the screen to display important information about that job.  Job status, assignment and age of job are just some of the fields easily viewable on the new status bar.

Have you ever been working on a job and wanted to do a quick helpdesk history search for the client, site, or asset that is linked to the job you are working on?  Well now you can.  The job screen now has a new quick search feature for displaying helpdesk history.

New Email Manager filtering mechanism

The Email Manager filter mechanism has been re-written with a new visual user interface.  This new interface allows complex filtering rules to be applied to each Email Manager profile.  Filters can now be applied to the “From” address, and instead of just “does include” and “does not include” filtering, advanced users can also use regular expressions to build filtering logic.  Filters can be copied and pasted into other profiles.

A new “test” mode can also be used to test the filtering of each profile.  This will really help you design the best possible filtering for this powerful module of HelpMaster.

New reports

Every report has been updated.  New reports have been added.  The database reporting views have all been updated for easier custom reporting.  Reports are quicker, more informative, more flexible and many offer a new parameter-based approach to deliver dynamic and flexible reporting.  

Many reports now have additional, dynamic filtering options built in to them.  This allows for even more helpdesk data analysis.

Updated Web Portal controls

The entire Web Portal has been updated.  We have ditched some of the older controls we were using and replaced them with industry-leading Telerik web controls.  The result is a faster, slicker, better looking web portal that allows you to use HelpMaster via the web more easily.  Upgrading to these new controls is just phase 1 of our web improvement strategy.  There is alot more to come.

web helpdesk

Updated desktop / Windows controls

Many of the controls and coding libraries we are using for the desktop edition of HelpMaster have also been replaced and improved.   This means a better user interface, a more consistent way of dealing with data and better performance all around.  HelpMaster v11 now uses the Microsoft .net 3.5 framework.

New “plug-in” architechture

Another one for the developers and system integrators.…and it’s a beauty!  In addition to the already powerful API, HelpMaster now has the ability to load and execute code that you write and have the user interface integrated right inside any of the entity screens within HelpMaster.

This is great news for system integrators and for the flexibility and interoperability of HelpMaster.  The add-in interface gives a very tight integration between other software systems that you may be using in your environment.

Example custom integrations available.

A new logo for PRD Software

...because the old one was getting a bit old.  

What’s new for HelpMaster v10?

HelpMaster v10 is a major feature release that incorporates many new features.  Read below for a list of the major changes.  In addition to these, you'll find many small improvements, enhancements and refinements across the entire HelpMaster suite.

Windows 7 compatible

HelpMaster 10 is Microsoft Windows 7 compatible.  This means HelpMaster installs and uninstalls according to best-practice.  It also means that it will respond to various Windows 7 system messages in a correct and timely manner.  To achieve this certification, HelpMaster had to be developed and tested against a set of Microsoft standards.

For further information about the Microsoft Windows 7 logo certification process, please refer to http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd203105.aspx

Installer

The HelpMaster installer now contains better support for installing SQL Server Express 2008 R2 for the evaluation edition.  It has also been updated to use the latest components and core system files.

Database and Reports Wizard

New blank and sample databases are available. 

The sample database contain better evaluation data, and a wider range of examples for specific HelpMaster features.

The blank database isn’t so blank anymore.  It contains a basic set of templates to cover Email Response Management, Web Portal configuration, Priority Manager profiles, Active Directory profiles and a basic configuration to get you started and configured quickly and easily.

Desktop Edition

The job screen now contains a new 1-line text box for a job summary, as well as a re-arranged layout, new tabs and more

The job finder screen has been updated to include the new summary field, as well as integrating the full text search on the main tab

The job screen has been re-arranged to provide better visual layout for the action log

The attachments handling has been re-written and improved.  Now each entity will have a separate “Attachments” tab where file attachments can be viewed.  Includes full 2-way drag ‘n drop capabilities as well as a preview screen for graphic files.

The client screen for both desktop and web now displays a graphic for visual client identification.  This is the “photograph” image as per the previous “attachments” menu.  The client graphic / avatar can be displayed in the new-look action log

These settings can be updated via a new set of personal settings

Template drop-down boxes auto-refresh when a new template is made, or updated.

Updated themes for more colour flexibility

Many small updates and user interface tweaks

Outlook integration for tasks

HelpMaster reminders can now by synchronized with Microsoft Outlook.  

 

Email Manager

A new email parsing engine is now included as one of the actions that an Email Manager profile can do.  Using this new action, you can scan the contents of an email for specific words or patterns and then extract specific text that can be stored in a variable and later used to update a job.  Very powerful email management.

Better log management.  Specify limits to how large the log will grow.  Includes auto truncate.

A new Email Manager application that will run the Email Manager service if connecting to POP/IMAP or other email sources.

Priority Manager

Better log management.  Specify limits to how large the log will grow.  Includes auto truncate.

A new Priority Manager application that will run the Priority Manager service if connecting to POP/IMAP or other email sources.

Web Portal

The staff Web Portal design has been improved for greater readability

Better charts for the staff welcome screen

The knowledge base detail screen has been improved for client feedback

Knowledge base articles that are linked to web-enabled job templates will be presented to the user when they select the job template

A simplified and improved configuration screen

New email tags to support hyperlinked job numbers.   Clicking will take you to the HelpMaster Web Portal and open the job.

Job Action buttons on job details page and Job action context menu from the home page

Added facility to remove attachments from the attachments list (previously this was not possible from the Web Portal)

Interactive charts with hotspots linked to explorer or job finder pages

Improved job preview from the explorer and job finder pages with expand/collapse action log and splitter panes and job summary

Redesigned the login page and the home page with cleaner look

Added a timer control on the log job page and improved the time calculation for actioning jobs

Miscellaneous minor improvements and bugs fixed

A new custom email-log job screen has been included.  This is a very powerful feature that allows you to create your own web-based job logging screen

More themes + theme maker

There are more colour themes to choose from, as well as a theme maker so you can make your own 

Documentation, training, evaluation guides

Almost all of the HelpMaster documentation has been updated to include more relevant information.  Our new training courses include more in-depth, practical exercises and insights into getting the most out of your HelpMaster investment.