The Timeslips Sage

Timeslips 2017 FAQ

Following our recent article on the upcoming new release of Timeslips, our clients have had many questions on what the future is likely to hold. Here is a summary of those questions:

Q         Why is Sage changing the Timeslips database?

A          Anyone who has used Timeslips for a while knows that the present Paradox database, running on the Borland Database Engine, has been in place for nearly 20 years. After a rocky beginning, Timeslips databases have undergone a lot of improvements in stability, efficiency, and performance, but we still find that we have to repair our clients’ databases much more often than we would like. Our clients have been frustrated that their Timeslips databases seem so susceptible to the slightest hiccup in their networks. Why not devote those resources to training or making better use of the many Timeslips features and reports instead of repairing data? Moving to Timeslips 2017 (and its Firebird SQL platform) is expected to provide much greater stability, data integrity, and performance. This is confirmed by our clients who have already switched to Timeslips Premium over the past year. Timeslips Premium has operated on the Firebird SQL platform since its release in 2016.

Q      Will Timeslips 2017 cost more?

A      Timeslips 2017 (numbered versions refer to the perpetual-license edition), at present, is priced the same as version 2016. The first license price is higher than that of additional licenses; the actual price depends on

  • whether it is a new installation,
  • an upgrade from a supported version,
  • or an upgrade from an unsupported version.

Timeslips Premium is billed as a monthly or annual per-user subscription. There are different levels depending on the add-ons and support included.

Q     If we adopt the new Timeslips, what new features will we have?

A     Timeslips 2017 will offer, in addition to all of the features of previous versions, the following:

  • Added speed and functionality for the Billing Assistant, including a new “at a glance” view
  • Support for a greater number of users without compromising data integrity or performance
  • Redesigned Accounts Receivable entry and listing screens
  • A new look and feel for client budgets
  • Generally faster processing

Timeslips Premium offers all of the above plus:

  • Quick Bill functions, designed for your clients who pay while they are in your office
  • The ability to include Client Calculated Fields (like spreadsheet formulas) on bills
  • Ongoing enhancements delivered automatically as updates (which are included in the subscription price) are released

Q     Is Timeslips Premium a cloud-based program?

A     No, the Premium program must be installed as on-premise software. Sage Timeslips eCenter subscriptions are still available for Internet-based time and expense entry, for both Timeslips 2017 and Timeslips Premium.

Q     So if we go with Premium, we will pay a lot for a subscription and get only 2 additional features?

A     No, there’s more. Subscriptions include all updates, new features, and service releases during the term of your subscription, without having to purchase any new versions. Sage BusinessCare support is also included.

Q    What happens if we sign up for Premium and later decide to unsubscribe?

A    You can purchase on-premise licenses for the current “numbered” version if you decide to discontinue using Timeslips Premium. Otherwise, your database will become read-only and you will not be able to update your billing data. There are no refunds for unused subscription time.

Q     Are older versions of Timeslips still supported?

A     It depends on the version. Versions 2016 and 2015 are still supported. Sage will discontinue support for Timeslips 2014 on July 31, 2016. Versions older than Timeslips 2014 are not supported by Sage at all (though Crosspointe still supports all Timeslips versions, within the limitations set by Sage).

Q     What does it mean for me if Sage discontinues support for my version of the software?

A       In addition to not accepting calls to Tech Support (even if the call is placed through a Certified Consultant), Sage does not sell additional licenses or add-ons (such as the Electronic Billing interface) for unsupported versions. Also, Sage Timeslips eCenter accounts will stop working once support for the underlying version of Timeslips is discontinued.

Q       What if I don’t upgrade now? Can I stick with my current version of Timeslips?

A        Technically, yes, within the limitations noted above. Sage has made it clear, however, that – eventually – the perpetual-license model will be phased out. At that point, anyone needing to upgrade will be required to subscribe to Timeslips Premium.

Q       How do I purchase Timeslips 2017 or Premium?

A       We are Certified Consultants authorized by Sage Software to sell and support the Timeslips product line. As such we are licensed to sell all versions of Timeslips. We can often obtain licenses for clients at a lower price than Sage will sell to end users when ordered directly from Sage. Give us a call at 610-941-2116 to discuss pricing.

Q        Since this is a new database format, will third-party programs work with it?

 A     As of 6/20/2016, here are the third-party links that will work with Timeslips 2017 and Timeslips Premium –
·         QuickBooks
·         Sage 50 Accounting
·         Timeslips E-Center
·         Amicus Premium (with Timeslips Premium only at this time)

Q      If I don’t see my program listed, does that mean the link to my program isn’t there?

 A      Links with other programs are the result of collaboration between the programmers at Sage Timeslips and third party software manufacturers.  If you do not see your program listed, the link for the new database format may still be under development.  We expect releases to come soon and will keep our clients informed of their release.  Please call us to discuss options.

Have additional Timeslips questions? The Sages at TriStar Data Systems have supported and offered training on the Timeslips product line since its inception over 25 years ago. That’s before Google was even a gleam in Sergey Brin’s eye. Test us by calling us at 610-941-2116, or email us at info@tristardatasystems.com.

Posted in Features, Technical Tagged with: , , ,

Adios Timeslips BDE, Hello Timeslips Firebird SQL

Timeslips_BDE_RetirementAfter well over 20 years using the venerable, but outdated, Borland Database Engine (BDE) as the database behind Timeslips, Sage Software is finally retiring that old workhorse. Starting with the 2017 Edition of Timeslips, the underlying database handler for all Timeslips data will be Firebird SQL, a more modern, more powerful, more flexible tool for managing large sets of data in a multi-user environment.

A Firebird SQL version of Timeslips was actually introduced, as Timeslips Premium, in 2016. The Premium Edition was sold only on a subscription basis, however, and failure to renew the subscription meant immediate loss of access to the Timeslips data. Needless to say, and what seemed obvious to everyone except Sage management, this restriction on licensing severely depressed subscription sales.

Timeslips Firebird SQL launchTo their credit, Sage management recognized the flaw in their logic, so effective with the 2017 product Sage will sell both a subscription-based Premium Edition and a “perpetual license” Firebird edition. The two products will differ slightly in feature sets, and Premium subscribers will have access to all new releases as soon as they become available from Sage, with no additional purchase required, while Timeslips “Regular” edition purchasers will need to purchase upgrades as they are released. We think both approaches have merit, and we think that giving customers a choice is absolutely the best approach for everyone.

Sage will continue to support older versions of the BDE edition of Timeslips according to their stated obsolescence policy. Support for Timeslips 2014 will be discontinued as of July 31, 2016, and support for the 2015 and 2016 BDE editions will become unsupported in July 2017 and 2018, respectively. Until a version become obsolete additional licenses of the BDE version owned by the user will still be available for purchase.

Firebird SQL is a fully ODBC-compliant database that uses standard SQL (Structured Query Language) commands to execute many of its functions. Unlike the Borland engine, it is capable of efficiently handling large volumes of data without noticeable performance degradation, and processes commands across a network much more reliably than the Borland product ever could.

At this writing it appears that the Timeslips Firebird Regular Edition license will be priced the same as the now-discontinued Timeslips BDE product ($699 for an initial new license and $400 for each additional license, with upgrade discounts available based on the prior Timeslips version). We expect to see the new Timeslips Firebird product ship before the end of July 2016.

This development marks an exciting turning point in the history of Timeslips, which has had an incredibly large and devoted following of users for many years, but has been seriously in need of “freshening up” for some time.  If Sage can hold onto its large user base and move most of them to this new platform, the product should have a long and fruitful life for many years to come.

We will put the new product through its paces as soon as a copy becomes available to us for testing, and will report back on its strengths and weaknesses as we uncover them. At the moment we believe that all current Timeslips users should seriously consider purchasing this upgrade when it becomes available.

Have questions about Timeslips, databases, or billing systems in general? Get in touch with one of the Timeslips Sages at TriStar Data Systems. Email us at info@tristardatasystems.com, or call us at 610-941-2116.

 

Posted in Billing Tagged with: , ,

Sight for Sore Eyes

Many of today’s newer monitors have very high resolution settings, optimized for HD video, which is not really necessary for basic office use.  As a result, users with less than perfect eyesight tend to change some video settings to make things more visible.  Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on the performance of Timeslips.

You really have only two options when it comes to changing your display settings, either increase the text size or lower your screen resolution.

  • Increase the text sizeScreen resolution options
    • Right click on your desktop and choose Screen Resolution
    • Then click “Make text and other items larger or smaller”
      You’ll see choices for
      Smaller – 100%
      Medium – 125%
      Larger – 150%

This seems to be the option most people choose, but that choice has a greater negative impact on Timeslips.  The “Larger” setting definitely causes problems with Timeslips displays and printing. The text on some screens can get “squished”, and reports may print with very small text.   You can sometimes get away with the “Medium” setting, but Timeslips functions best with the Smaller – 100% setting.

You’ll need to re-boot your computer after changing this setting.

  • display-2Lower your screen resolution, making everything bigger but less defined.
    • Right click on your desktop and choose Screen Resolution.
    • Click the Resolution dropdown menu, then pull the slider bar down one or two settings and try it out.

This change does not seem to have any negative impact on printing, but you won’t be able to fit as much on the screen at once.  Changing this setting does not require a re-boot, so you can flip between settings pretty quickly until you find just the right fit.

You may need to experiment until you get to a setting that works best for your eyes, for Timeslips, and for all of your other applications.

Posted in Uncategorized

Capturing Time on the Run

In our “mobile” society, being able to keep track of everything you do while “on the go” has become increasingly important. This is especially true for mobile professionals who need to bill for – or at least accurately track – all of their professional time. Various “remote entry” products and tools have been around for a while, but typically require some form of “export/import” routines to get the “mobile” data into the Timeslips billing system, which can prove daunting when everything doesn’t go completely smoothly (does it ever?).

We have recently become acquainted with a clever little product which seems to take most of the “heavy lifting” out of mobile time tracking, and runs right from your smartphone (Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, etc.). WorkTRAKR, from Proximiti Communications, installs right on your phone and runs in the background, waiting for you to make a call, send an email, or schedule an appointment. When you do so, you can choose to be prompted for a billing code, and the transaction is then automatically loaded onto a secure server at Proximiti, from where it can be quickly and easily merged into your Timeslips billing system, typically with a single click from the website portal.

The app runs not only on smartphones, but right on your desktop or laptop, as well, capturing information from Outlook, office copiers, landline phones, etc. – any tool you use for communication (except a typewriter!) is fair game to be integrated for time and expense capturing purposes to bill from Timeslips. The application is sold as a service, allowing the user to “tailor” what communications applications are to be integrated, and is priced accordingly.  A basic subscription for smartphone-only integration can be as inexpensive as $25.00 per month.

There is a link on our website from which you can explore the various pricing options, receive a ready-made quote for the services you elect to purchase, and even try out the service for 30 days at no cost. Click here if you are interested in taking WorkTRAKR for a test drive.

Posted in Billing, Time Tracking

Timeslips 2011 – First Look

Sage Timeslips 2011 was previewed today at the Sage Insights Conference, and the finalproduct  release dates were announced. Product shipments will begin to customers on June 18, 2010. It was noted at the conference that this is the 25th anniversary of the Timeslips product, quite an achievement in the turbulent world of technology.

This year’s release focuses on four product areas:

  1. Performance improvements, especially in the bill approval process
  2. “de-infestation”, a rather curious term which essentially means that a lot of the “third party” subroutines which have been part of the code base for years have been removed (e.g., the calendar picklist function, graphing, etc.). These changes  will be generally transparent to users, but should lead to performance improvements, and will  pave the way for a more comprehensive re-work of the product to prepare for the emerging 64-bit operating system platforms. The current version will presently run in the “x86” area of a 64-bit server.
  3. Reporting and Billing Engine enhancements, including the addition of more custom fields, additional custom calculations, and overall performance improvements in billing and reporting
  4. New features based on customer surveys and the development “backlog” from previous editions that never made it to the final release.

Some of the more interesting (and requested) new features include the following:

  • Beefed-up slip entry restrictions – where in the past clients could be put on “restriction” so that a warning was generated if charges were entered against that client record, the restriction can now actually prevent the charge from being processed at all (based on user security);
  • Editing of slip descriptions can now be made from the box on the lower left side of the slip listing window, a marked improvement in user workflow;
  • Custom fields for clients, timekeepers, and activities have been increased from 30 per area to 90; these custom fields can be further organized into “types”, and will be displayed on sub-tabs opening from the “Custom” tab on the “master” record. This should open up many new possibilities for integrating data from external applications into the billing system, to be used for reporting filters and sorts;
  • PDF-generated invoices can now be assigned a unique naming scheme based on “tokens” supplemented by user-entered text (e.g., CustNo+date+invoice#)
  • Cash receipts entries can now have a payment “type” (e.g., cash, check, VISA, MC, etc.) associated with the payment, and the user can custom define payment types
  • Timeslips will now allow processing of electronic payments, via the new Sage Payments Solutions service; credit card transactions can be processed directly from the cash receipts screen;
  • New workstation-level configuration settings will permit a user to disable various external “links” (e.g., to TalPro, Outlook, etc.) eliminating the annoying alert message that appears when the user logs in and does not have the external application running

All in all, Sage Timeslips 2011 appears to be a worthwhile product upgrade, which should both add stability and performance enhancements to the product while also introducing some interesting new functionality and configuration opportunities.

Posted in Features

Licensed To Bill

Several clients have recently asked me about how the Timeslips licensing works so it seems like a good topic to discuss here.  I will try to explain it as simply and clearly as possible so you can figure out how many licenses you may need as we move into upgrade season.

I like to think of Timeslips licenses like books in a library.  The first time you open Timeslips on your computer is like checking the book out of the library.  Even if you close the book/program you still have it in your possession and no one else can read the book while you have it out, so that license is considered “In Use.”  You can open and close the book/program as many times as you like but that license is yours until you return it to the library – or clear it using the Station Administrator.

The Station Administrator is a separate application that allows you to view how the licenses are being distributed.  You can access Station Administrator from within Timeslips via the Special menu, or from outside of Timeslips via the Timeslips program group on your Windows start menu.

When you open Station Administrator the first screen you see will show you the location of the Timeslips database and any users that are currently logged into that database.  These are the people that are currently reading their books.

Click the Options menu and choose Licenses In Use to see how the licenses are being distributed – who has the books out from the library, whether they are currently reading them or not.  You will see the name of the computer that each license is being used on as well as the Windows User ID.  This is a good reason to give your computers descriptive names and make sure each of your users have a unique Windows login.  If two people share the same computer, but use two different Windows logins, they will use two Timeslips licenses.

There is also a column for Session Type, which identifies whether the user is working via a remote Terminal Services connection.  Unlike local licenses, Terminal Services session licenses are released when the user exits Timeslips.

If no one is currently logged into Timeslips (no one is listed on the first Station Administrator screen), you can clear any or all of the licenses in use, making them available on a first come, first served basis.

In the lower right corner of the Licenses In Use screen you can also see how many licenses you have purchased, how many are in use and how many are available.

You may also notice two radio buttons at the top of this screen labeled Full Licenses and API Licenses.  API licenses are licenses used by other programs that connect to Timeslips, such as Time Matters, Outlook, Amicus, PC Law, Peachtree and Quickbooks.  Timeslips provides 100 API licenses.

All of this licensing information is stored in a file on the server called Timeslip.cfg.  Some people make the mistake of using the CD to install Timeslips on each computer and this puts a separate Timeslips.cfg file on each computer.  Two computers cannot access the same Timeslips database if they are using different Timeslip.cfg files.  The second person that tries to log in will get an error message.

If you do install from the CD, you can tell Timeslips to use the configuration file on the server by using the Station Administrator.  In Station Administrator, click the Options menu and choose Change Install Path.  This will then allow you to browse to the Timeslip.cfg file located on the server.  You should then delete the Timeslip.cfg file on your C drive.

When you use the Setup.exe file in the LoclInst folder on the server to install Timeslips on workstations, each computer automatically uses the Timeslip.cfg file on the server.

Still have questions about Timeslips licensing?  Need to order additional licenses?  Contact one of the experts at TriStar Data Systems.

Timeslips 2011 will be released early this summer.  You can save up to $320 if you pre-order before May 28th.

Posted in Features, Technical