I love June. School's out. Flowers are blooming. I can walk the dogs any time during the day and I don't get sweaty. It's awesome.
But you know what else makes it awesome?
Major improvements to TroopTrack's texting feature!
Until now, TroopTrack text messages have been one way communications. This is nice for getting messages out quickly, but it doesn't work great if you want to have a conversation. Now, every text message sent using Communicate -> Send a Text Message has a link that recipients can use to reply to the message.
I've made two other improvements to go with this. Every text message now includes the name of the sender in the message, as well as the name of the list it was sent to.
I hope you like this feature. Please let us know by commenting on the TroopTrack community page linked below!
Have a great weekend,
P.S. You might be wondering why you can't just reply to text messages and have that work. The reason is because we use an email-to-text feature that lets us send texts for free. If we were to use actual SMS, we would have to pay for those text messages, and sending texts from software is still pretty expensive. Hopefully that will change in the future.Permalink
Hello TroopTrack Friends,
This morning we released a few changes that may interest you.
First, we added a "Remember Me" checkbox to log in. If you're on a private computer, you can check this box and you won't have to log in again for 90 days. Don't check this box if you're on a shared computer!
Second, we fixed a problem many of you have mentioned. Have you ever spent a long time writing the perfect email in TroopTrack, or making a complicated custom award, only to hit save and be redirected to the login page?
Yeah, me too. That stinks.
Well, it's fixed! The inactivity timeout now counts typing on your keyboard as activity, so it will prevent you from being automatically when you are in a long-running activity.
Finally, we did some work on custom domains to make them more stable, including more monitoring and automatic restarting the proxy server if it fails. We also added better logging so we can understand the root cause when it crashes.
Have a great long weekend!
We've recently had an influx of new customers, which has resulted in a new round of feedback about TroopTrack. One of the common complaints was that the newsletter didn't work well on phones and was unattractive.
So I redesigned the newsletter template. I didn't make any changes to the content yet - I just ported it to a template that looks much better on a mobile phone. I'd like to take some time to collect feedback on how to make the newsletter content better next - in an upcoming product update I'll include a survey to collect feedback about the newsletter.
In the meantime, please check out the new format!
Today we released two improvements to recording attendance. These are minor changes, but they should help with the attendance flow, especially for large groups.
First, we changed the way "check all" interacts with the filter. If you filter the attendance page to a patrol or role, and then use "check all", it will only check members of the groups that are visible in the current filter.
Second, we have sorted the attendance records by last name.
I'm still working on re-designing the newsletter. It's taking a lot of effort, so please bear with me.
Have a great week,
Are you using google analytics to monitor activity on your TroopTrack site? If so, you might be aware that Universal Analytics (also known as GA3) is going to be retired in July. To upgrade to GA4, just go to the Webmaster Settings page and hit the "Upgrade to GA4" button, then provide your Google Measurement ID.
What's coming up next? Newsletter. I am redesigning the newsletter template to work better on all devices. This is a fairly big effort and requires a lot of testing, so it may be a few weeks.
Have a great week!
This morning we released new branding features. With them, you can customize the logo, favicon, tab title, and footer of your TroopTrack powered web site, like this:
Not shown in this screenshot is the new "slim" footer option. If you select this option, instead of the large TroopTrack footer you are used to, you will get a tiny one liner that is barely noticeable.
I'm planning on adding the ability to add your own footer image in the near future.
I hope you like this improvement. Thank you to the many users who asked for this great feature!
Today we released an improvement a lot of people have been asking for lately - easier assignment of users to patrols/dens! As of this moment, if you go to Manage -> Patrols (or Dens or Troops or Groups, etc) there is a new "List View" option.
If you click that, you will get a view that looks like this:
The table is sortable and searchable, and all you have to do to change an adult's subunit is check the box (adults can be in more than one subunit). To change a youth's just pick a subunit from the list. Your changes are saved automatically and will be reflected immediately.
I hope you like this feature! Thank you to the various users who suggested it!
Have a great week,
This evening we released a number of bug fixes, including:
Also, in case you missed it, we recently added support for custom domains. You can learn more about it by clicking Support -> Custom Domain Settings.
Finally, I updated the gallery view of photo albums so you can see the labels added to each photo by our photo analyzer. In pictures that only have one "face", you can now tag the person in that photo and then view all photos of that person. You can then filter those photos by labels, which means it's now possible to do things like "find all photos of Johnny with a horse".
I hope you like this update.
Have you ever wanted to use your own domain name for your TroopTrack site? Now you can! If you have the manage troop settings privilege, just go to Support -> Custom Domain Settings to get started.
There is a $25 setup fee to offset the cost of acquiring a SSL certificate and updating our server configurations.
Have a great week!
This morning we released four new importers for customers transitioning from SOAR online. You can access them by going to Support -> SOAR Database Importers if you are a BSA Unit. Other units will not see this change. Once you use these importers, you will have all your members, events, and patrols/dens configured.
We will add more importers throughout the week.
We are investigating adding support for custom domains. Please take a moment and fill out this brief survey to help us understand how it will impact our users.
Hello TroopTrack users.
Thank you for your continued patronage. We have spent the last few months upgrading infrastructure so that we are always able to provide a secure, reliable place for you to manage your units. You may have heard of the recent sudden collapse of the SoarOL scouting application, so I want to take a moment to tell you we are not at risk of similar problems. Our infrastructure is modern, constantly monitored and updated, and professionally managed.
We have also spent a lot of timing fixing bugs some of you have experienced. Bugs we have fixed include:
Over the years I have received a number of inquiries about having a unit store where you can sell shirts, stickers, etc. As we near the end of our current infrastructure upgrade project I am contemplating what to pursue next and a unit store is on my mind. Please take a few moments to complete this short survey and help us understand whether a unit store would be valuable.Permalink
Hello TroopTrack Friends,
This morning we fixed a number of problems and added a new feature. Here's the list:
Thank you for everyone who has notified us about these problems via the community forums. We appreciate all you do.
Are you looking for new and innovative ways to raise funds for your troop? Well, we have some exciting news for you! We are currently in the process of developing a revolutionary new fundraising product, and we want you to be a part of it.
Our new product is designed to make fundraising for your troop easier and more efficient than ever before. With this product, you will be able to:
We believe that this new product has the potential to revolutionize the way that troops raise funds, and we want you to be a part of that revolution. That’s why we’re inviting TroopTrack customers to participate in our beta program for this new product.
As a beta tester, you will have the opportunity to:
In the first round of feedback, we will be demoing a virtual prototype to get feedback from our beta group. This will consist of a one-hour meeting where we will explain the concept, show you an early design of the product, and absorb your reactions.
If you’re interested in participating in our beta program, please fill out this brief survey.
We can’t wait to see the impact that this new product will have on your troop’s fundraising efforts, and we’re excited to have you be a part of it. Thank you for your continued support of TroopTrack, and we look forward to working with you on this exciting new venture.
This phase of the beta is now full. As we get further along we will provide more opportunities to be involved in the beta.Permalink
When I started TroopTrack in 2008, I was determined to build “the best scouting software on the planet”. Over the years, the word “best” for this little company has come to mean a number of different thing that we have strived for, including
Best feature set
Best user experience
Best customer service
We’ve strived to be all of those things over the years, and that effort paid off. From 2008 to 2019, TroopTrack grew every year. We had resources to hire support staff, including me. For a while, TroopTrack was my full-time job.
And then the storm began. Boy Scouts of America took some hard hits - they lost critical affiliations, piled up enormous legal bills, and faced new competition from splinter groups unhappy with BSA’s trajectory. Their membership began to drop.
On top of this, TroopTrack began facing increasing competition from the various national organizations to whose members we provide software. BSA, AHG, and Trail Life USA all adopted national solutions to compete with TroopTrack.
As if that wasn’t enough, 2020 happened. Covid-19 took a heavy toll on scouting. Active membership in scouting declined significantly. Troops, packs, clubs, and crews closed down all over the US and haven’t re-opened.
For the first time in its history, TroopTrack subscriptions have trended down. As a result, revenues have gone down, and we’ve had to scale back. When our long-time support staff member, David Keener, found a position that aligned better with his career interests, we were faced with a tough decision - start the search for a replacement we might not be able to afford if this trend continues, or scale back customer support until the situation improves.
We believe the situation will improve. National organizations tend to see software solutions as one-time investments, whereas we see the need for constant improvement. We don’t make a lot of fanfare about it, but we release improvements to TroopTrack every month. It will take some time, but the cycle we’ve seen in the past will continue - national solutions will age poorly, scouters will become frustrated, and subscriptions will grow again.
We are well-positioned to weather the storm. TroopTrack is a small company, but it’s been reasonably well-managed over the years. It is debt-free and will continue to be so. Tyler and I do not rely on TroopTrack to support our families and as a result are able to take minimal salaries. But we do have to make a choice - we cannot currently afford to both provide full-time customer support as we have in the past and continue making improvements to the TroopTrack product.
We have to choose between the two, and for now we’ve chosen to keep improving the product. We will provide as much customer support as we can, but given we both have full-time obligations that support is going to be in fits and spurts.
Thankfully, we have a robust community that can help with questions and best practices. Aaron Storey, a long-time TroopTrack user, has been especially helpful in the community forums. We love and appreciate him.
We have also been automating routine support tasks. Roster and achievement imports were automated last week, and transfers will be automated soon. As we identify other common questions and requests, we will endeavor to automate and document them.
In the meantime we are also exploring other ways to increase TroopTrack revenue. Options we’ve discussed include:
Raising our base price or switching to a per-user model
Charging extra for support by adding a “premium” subscription
Adding a modest amount of targeted advertising to our platform
We would like to give advertising a trial run, starting sometime between now and the end of January. If the revenue from advertising is sufficient and we start trending toward growth again, we will hire a support staff person to replace the wonderful David Keener.
Tyler and I appreciate your support and patience. Our customers have been our best marketers, and we desperately want to continue delivering a product you love that allows you to spend more time with kids and less time pounding keyboards. Thank you for being a TroopTrack customer.
As most of you know, our long-time support associate David Keener recently moved on to a new position as he pursues a career in marketing. We have struggled to replace him - it's a tough market right now and we are a very small company.
As a result, @Tyler and I have been doing customer support, and we aren't very good at it. Response times are long right now and we are struggling to catch up.
One thing we have learned since Keener's departure: the vast majority of support requests are imports and transfers. I recently did fifty imports and a dozen transfers. It took me several hours, but it got the programmer in me thinking. Why are we doing these manually? It creates work for me, and a delay for you.
So I gathered the development team, and we embarked on automating them. Imports are now automated and the results should be instantaneous. Transfers are in the process of being automated. The first version will be for outbound transfer requests - a person with the "Manage Members" privilege will be able to start a transfer of members to another unit, but that transfer will not be complete until someone from the other unit accepts them.
I think it will take another two-three weeks to finish that transfer feature. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the automated imports.