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Quick way to enter dates - now available for user testing.

News posted by Roey Izhaki 5 years ago

Many of you have requested a quicker way to enter dates. We see such improvement as key to delivering our motto "together we save time".

We have just deployed an experimental feature allowing you to do this. This feature is off by default; see below how to enable it.

But there are a few important notes first:

Start slow, live fast

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe" - Abraham Lincoln.

Between two candidate solutions, we decided to start with the one that:

  • Is less intuitive
  • Takes more time to learn
  • Involves more constraints
  • Takes longer to implement

This seemingly ludicrous decision was taken by myself.

The rationale behind it is simple:

  • Our expert (frequent/daily) users enter many dates whilst using the app.
  • We opted for the method that allow the quickest entry possible, once learnt.
  • This is based on the maxim that expert users are usually happy to spend a bit time learning so to gain more time later (whereas new users simply don't want to spend any time learning).

So, in the tradeoff between short-term and long-term usage, we decided to optimise on the latter.

But this still doesn't mean this solution is optimal, that's why we role it out for your impression - we may still provide the other method (which is more straight forward, but slower). We may only offer this method as an opt-in basis (like it is at the moment).

One example for this is the decision to have year entry using two digits - saving the user typing what is nearly always 20 (eg, in 2014). We have decided to keep it this way despite noticing in user testing that users type the leading 20 out of habit.

So, please allow yourself some time to get used to this new feature before providing feedback - we expect everyone to find it hard to use at the beginning.

Caveats

  • We are yet to implement the contextual help that should pop whilst you interact with the field. For time being, the instructions are below.
  • Integrating this in all date fields would have taken us some time - so it was only integrated it were it was quick to do so. ie, even when enabled some date fields still use the old method. Invoices is one place where it was integrate.
  • We did as much testing as we could, but there might be some issues.

How to enable

This feature is off by default.

To enable it, go to Settings > User setting and then tick Fast entry date fields under experimental features, then click Save.

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Manual

The field is subdivided to 3 partials:

  • Day
  • Month
  • Year

The field automatically move you to the next, when it makes sense to do so (so entering 9 while on the day partial, automatically moves to the month field):

file

Regardless of the partial, the following keys apply:

file

Day

Hitting 4... 9 will auto-move to the month partial.

Month

Hitting 2... 9 will auto-move to the year partial.

Following special keys apply:

file

Year

The year cutoff year is 10 years from today's year. So:

  • Typing 20 will result in 2020
  • Typing 27 will result in 1927

Other keys

  • You can use the Delete or Backspace keys to delete the value from the field

Known issues

  • If two date fields are one after the other (eg, date/due), when auto-moved from the first to the second, the date picker blinks.

43 Replies

So far so good Roey, very impressed. I always automatically add a 0 before a single digit date when typing by default so about the only thing I need to remember now is to use 15 instead of 2015 - shouldn't be difficult (I know I could do it without the 0 but it's probably quicker to type the zero then try to remember not to!)

Great work guys!

Does this help the request by many that would prefer to see a MM/DD/YY format? Has that been implemented yet?

Hi Ashlee,

Could you let us know why MM/DD/YY is preferred?

We could quite easily provide a toggle feature whereby all date entries using the new component are MM/DD/YY. I assume this will be a global user setting (meaning for all businesses on all date fields). Is this how you envisioned it?

Thanks, Roey

Seems a little overkill. With a number keypad (even on mobile), you can enter a six digit date (e.g. 010115) about as faster than you can type 1 > 1 > 15. Remembering when it'll skip on a 9, but not on a 2 is going to take a bit to learn.

So grateful for the idea, but given there are some basic features that have been on the development list for up to 3 years (not done as 'not enough time') this doesn't seem like the most efficient solution to the problem. There is at least one date entry place for example where you can't type 01/01/15 and it correct it to 01/01/2015 - feel like priorities our out slightly!

Hey Roey,

MM/DD/YY would be great for us USA users. Thank you!

One problem, it doesn't take into account the 'customer' default lead time for invoices. In other words, the auto allocation of the due date based on the date entered using your shorthand, is still very clunky and sometimes comes up with some crazy stuff. I then have to click the speed date I just added and click the calendar to get it to assign the correct due date.

I see what you mean - so when creating a new invoice with quick dates enabled the system does not update the due date automatically any more unless you actually select the date from the calendar. I have raised this as a problem for our tech team to investigate and resolve. I will update you as soon as there is a fix.

Hi Simon,

Great news, we have deployed the fix for the due date not automatically updating when using the quick date entry fields.

Enjoy :)

This was buggy for me this morn. I was trying to create a bill but kept getting an error msg, switched the feature off quickly then it was fine.

It's very nearly there!! I see it wants to do it but the reality is this:

file

Sorry about this Kevin, I will get a developer to look at the Bill page as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience,

Hemi

I'm now getting the same problem as Kevin as well.

It looks like Customer invoices that use the standard 14day lead time don't work at all, even if they look correct. Whereas the Customer invoices that have been customised to a certain lead time just go back in time 100 years.

Having taken a look at this, it's to do with a JavaScript "Y2K" issue. The browser scripting was deciding that "15" does not refer to the year "2015" but the year "1915". Which is technically not wrong, but it's also not the year that we're interested in!

A fix has been written and should sort this problem out when it goes live early next week. Thanks again for bringing it to our attention!

-- David.

Thanks David.

@KevinDoran High Five!

This is still broken guys! I guess I"ll have to disable that function in order to put in any invoices at all.

I can no longer reproduce this issue since the fix that went live yesterday.

If you're still having problems, you might need to clear your browser cache in order to see the fix. Using Chrome in Windows, press F12 to open the inspector and then right click on the refresh button, then "Empty Cache and Hard Reload". Hard refresh

On other browsers, you just need to use Ctrl + F5 (or Cmd + Shift + R on a Mac) to achieve this.

If this does not work, then would you be able to tell us which Browser and Operating System you're having problems with?

Cheers,

-- David.

I've turned it off for a couple of weeks whilst poolside as it doesn't work very well on mobiles ;-)

Please can someone unsubscribe me from notifications on this thread? It seems as if once you comment/follow something, you are doomed in to getting updates on it for all eternity!

There really should be an unfollow button.

Hi David,

Tried the CMD - SHFT - R but still having the problem:

Using Chrome (44.0.2403.155) on Mac on IMAC with OS 10.10.4

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@James - I've manually unsubscribed you from this thread - don't reply to thank me, otherwise you'll be subscribed to it again.

@Simon - I can't see how it has managed to select 2001 from 2015, so I'm going to do some investigating and find out how and why.

-- David.

Just googled a lot of different ways to reset the cache and it turns out its just press SHIFT while hitting the Chrome refresh button.

All sorted and working now. thank you.

Thanks for letting us know Simon. Glad to hear that it is working for you now!

-- David.

Hi guys.... it's still playing up.

Will do some more experiments to see what and when it triggers. More info coming.

Hi Simon :)

Thanks for letting us know, we'd love to hear the specifics it'll make it easier to fix. We really want to get this feature polished so we can release it as standard to all users so your help is greatly appreciated.

One thing i'll quickly add:

When tabbing through from box to box it automatically enters a date if you tab through a date box - that can be quite dangerous at times, especially if you've got accrual dates switched on for instance or you're doing payroll.

Still happening guys!

It seems to be linked to suppliers who have specific / customised 'credit terms' set up in their profiles.

Occasionally it will appear to work under a normal 14 day lead time but then it won't save and claims the due date is in the past. I then have to click on the date with the mouse, open the calendar and manually select a date that is different from the highlighted green date.

I've still got it off for the time being which is a shame. I think this needs looking at before using it again:

"When tabbing through from box to box it automatically enters a date if you tab through a date box - that can be quite dangerous at times, especially if you've got accrual dates switched on for instance or you're doing payroll."

Hi Simon,

I am sorry to hear this has happened again, I have referred this to the developers who will look into the issue.

On another note, I noticed in your video that you have a lot of bookmarks for Clear Books in the bookmark bar. Now you're using Minimaal Nav, I wanted to show you how you can have these bookmarks saved in Clear Books, which would help clear up your bookmark bar! Here is a short video demonstrating adding bookmarks in Clear Books: http://sendvid.com/ixlntbfk I hope this helps :)

Thank you for your patience, Hemi

After a hectic summer, I'm finally getting around to paying attention to the ClearBooks forums. I really like the concept of the new date picker, and 'opted in' when it was first announced. Making a system quick to use for more 'advanced' users is important.

However, I have to say the experience isn't great. On numerous occasions (and not one where I can work out the pattern), it doesn't auto-advance from day to month. Also, today I happened to use the date picker, and that just plain didn't work: it kept on reverting to today's date, despite clicking the 11th (today's the 17th).

I also agree with Simon Baring from about six months ago: the due date doesn't seem to adjust correctly when changing the invoice date.

I also agree with James Hyde (from 7 months ago) that the auto advance on certain numbers seems overkill: why not just always use two-digit numbers? Keep it simple... but make it work! I've just tried changing an invoice date to the 10th (so, 17 is auto-highlighted, type 1 then 0 and the day part stays highlighted?!?! Typing 1 then 0 again sometimes auto-moves to the month, sometimes doesn't).

Not ready for prime-time yet, I think.

And clearly something isn't right behind the scenes:

file

...and an example of it not working:

I don't think my customer will be able to make that due date... !!!

Hi Team Clearbooks!

While this was working pretty well for me up till Xmas.... now we've hit 2016 it has gone completely haywire. If I'm entering an invoice date in 2016 then it automatically sets the due date to 2017. If I'm in 2015 then it sets the due date to 2016 and occastionally 2001 again.

Let me know if you want some videos...

Simon

Hi Simon,

I have just tested this and I can reproduce the issue. I will raise it as a bug with our Development Team.

Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Hi guys... any luck with this?

It is so great to have the quick date entry but the bugs are SOOOOO annoying and I've been crying about the same story for 8 MONTHS!!

This is still driving me nuts. Now doing some really weird other stuff as well.

It's still so much quicker I don't want to turn it off...

Any progress getting this fixed guys?

Hi Simon,

This issue is still being investigated by the development team, but we currently have a limited resource available at the moment and as such the work on this particular problem is on hold temporarily. The main focus by the team right now, is on the priority works being carried out on improving the overall speed and performance of the system as a whole. Once that has been completed, I believe it will be one of the issues that will be looked at by the product team. But I will keep you posted of any progress. If you could provide further information on the other problems you mentioned that you're experiencing with it, that would be really helpful. I can then add it to the issue already raised.

I'm sorry I couldn't give better news. If you need anything else, please do let us know.

Have a lovely Easter.

All the best,

Natasha

No problem Natasha... sorry I'm being a bit dramatic. Been working late recently and the bugs just get you more when you're tired I guess :)

Will write more next week.

Happy Easter to you all too!

Hi Simon,

No need to apologise at all, I completely understand your frustrations. I'll be keeping tabs on it and will follow up with the development team once the current improvement works have finished.

Enjoy your weekend :-)

Kind Regards,

Natasha

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