Connect 2006 Starts This Weekend

EFI’s Connect 2006 starts this weekend and I wish could be there to see the latest offerings from PrintSmith and a sneak peek at 7.3. If you have never been to a conference it is well worth it just because of the of the other users you meet and the ideas that you can “borrow”.

On top of that, you get to meet the staff and learn one on one if you want. If you haven’t sent at least one person from your staff since the release of 7.0, then I would highly recommend that you do so.

My 2006 Top Ten Wish List (Ok, Top 54)

It is that time of year again (EFI’s Connect is almost upon us) and I have put together my 4th Annual Wish List of features for PrintSmith. First, I would like to review my list from last year.

My 2005 list had 55 items on it and with the release of 7.2 I was able to eliminate 9 items from my list!! 7.2 is loaded with new features and many of those weren’t on my list. For example, the Estimator’s Checklist and the Delivery Ticket Manager were not on my list, but they were items I had tried to create in Report Writer. A giant kudos to PrintSmith for a great release.

On to my Wish List for 2006. (Scroll down to see the Top 10 and a link to the full list)

This year, I have a total of 54 items, which tends to grow as move closer to the next release. I added 8 more items to the list since the release of 7.2. Obviously, it is very difficult to keep up with the demand for new features!

However, the bad/sad news is that there are still 12 features on my list that Printer’s Plan (chief competitor of PrintSmith) has that PrintSmith does not. Unfortunately, most of those 12 features have been on my list for over 3 years and I haven’t even looked at the latest version of Printer’s Plan in depth.

So, you are probably wondering if you could see the list, well here it is!
Click here for my full 2006 PrintSmith Wish List

For those of you not interested in 54 items here is the Top Ten (11) version:
1 Tracker: Add a way to make it a Scheduler
2 Port Speed: Need a way to keep workstations from “dropping” off
3 Pending List: Add a button for “Release to Production” And Un-Release
4 Tracker: Add button for “Release to Production” to Pending List And Un-Release
5 Report Manager: Add a “Search” or “Find” capability to find reports by name
6 Web Ref #: Need a web job # for 3rd Party programs (like Printer’s Plan)
7 Shipping Address: Add drop down menus for Invoice Addresses
8 Email Control: More control over the email feature (like Printer’s Plan)
9 List Price Schedules: When you Change Prices add ability to Round Pricing
10 List Price Schedules: Change Prices by Selected lists instead of All lists
11 E-Commerce: Like WebsitesForPrinters and KeyCustomers (by Printer’s Plan)

Number eleven really should be number one, but I have been whining about that for 3 years now. And, if you look closely, number 3 and number 4 are the same. Let’s just say it is a pet peeve of mine.

I would love for you to send me (or PrintSmith) your Top Ten list. It will only help make the product better.

Stock Order Database Now Includes Vendor

For those of you that like to use the Stock Order feature (or have been putting it off!!) version 7.2 makes it easier now that the vendor name is visible in this window. (Go to Reports > Stock Order)

This feature allows you to sort you orders by vendor and see those orders who are missing a vendor. Why would an order be missing a vendor? If you use the Special Order stock method and simply fill in the info in the Job Window only, you will not get a vendor assigned. All you need to do to add a stock “on the fly” is to click on the Special Order button and fill out the stock definition window that pops up. Again, if you skip that step, you will need to assign a vendor later.

Personally, I like to just go ahead and create a stock definition for every stock unless I know it will only be used once. If you use the Special Order button, you can convert that stock into a regular stock just by moving it into one of your regular stock groups.

Update on 3rd Party Web Integration

Just a quick update: Ron Teller posted a message that PrintSmith is NOT blocked from integratng with a 3rd party e-commerce solution. This is good news. In addition, he said that the costs could be as high as $100K, which relly isn’t that high if you could get one of the big 3 to take it on.

Here is his post:

“We have in the past done custom integrations to PrintSmith for large customers. These have been proprietary to the client as well as confidential so we can not comment on any specifics. In all cases there was custom development and an ongoing fee to support this integration. The cost of building and supporting this integration is significant, often running over $100k. We have seen very little use of this up till now in the couple of cases where it was deployed. If any clients are interested in sponsoring the integration, they should contact us. But once again, they should be prepared for a significant expense and many months of development and testing. If anyone does wish to proceed, email Chuck Gehman at”

Interesting choice of words “If anyONE wishes to proceed…..”

Like just one company would pursue this, but a group of companies would! Here are few groups that I can think of: WebsitesForPrinters, Printers Presence, MyOrderDesk, franchises, etc.

Update on Updating the Pricing Folder

Last week I wrote about forcing the Pricing Update to the workstations on the next login which works very well. Today I had a chance to test the ability to do it “Immediately”.

By selecting immediately, you are simply forcing everyone off PrintSmith (like you do in a closeout) and then they are forced to log back in which then forces them to update the pricing folder. So, in essence, both choices do the same thing, the difference is in when the workstation gets updated.

Unless you are in a big hurry or have an emergency, stick with updating on the next login.

3rd Party Web Integration with PrintSmith?

Wouldn’t it be great to have PrintSmith integrated with your 3rd party E-Commerce website? If you are using one of the big 3 (WebsitesForPrinters, MyOrderDesk, or PrinterPresence) this would be a dream come true! I have been asking for this ability for 3 Years and I found out today that it is a reality. Unfortunately, it is a reality only for members of 2 Franchises.

Why can’t anyone else have it? I’ll let Ron Teller from PrintSmith answer that one.

“Two of our corporate accounts have asked us to integrate PrintSmith with their ecommerce systems. One is a home grown system and one is a third party. Each party paid us a great deal of money to get these integrations and had the stipulation that it would be an exclusive to their stores, therefore it is not available to non-franchised printing companies.”
-Ron Teller, PrintSmith Forum April 17, 2006

Which causes me to ask, who from EFI would sign that deal? Knowing the failures of Site and the mass exodus of those that tried it (like me) why would EFI “handcuff” themselves to a deal like that?

Think about it, how many independent shops have WebsitesForPrinters, MyOrderDesk, or PrinterPresence? I have heard that between the 3 solutions that there are at least 2,500 shops. How many of those use PrintSmith? I have heard that PrintSmith has about 25-35% of the market which would be around 600 shops. How many of those would be willing to pay $5K for integration? Over 100 shops tried Site, I’m sure at least 100-200 would be willing to pay $5K. That is $500,000.00 minimum!!! Did the Franchises pay that much?

I haven’t even mentioned monthly fees!! There’s another $100,000.00 a year, easy.

Here’s the sad part. Now we know they can do it, but they won’t do it for us.
I can’t believe they admitted this publicly…….

Deleting Multiple Stocks

The topic of deleting multiple stock definitions at the same time came up on the PrintSmith Forum yesterday and I wanted to warn everyone that this is something that should be rare. Why? Because the stocks are linked to your jobs from history and if you delete the stock then you have to assign a new one.

An alternative to deleting the stock would be to assign it an expiration date of yesterday and move it to a Stock Group called Expired or Discontinued. (You may even want to add the word Discontinued to the description.) PrintSmith will then give you a warning message that the stock price has expired. You can then use the stock filters to find your regular stocks quickly.

If you want to try it, please read the Release Notes for 7.2 on page 23. It doesn’t work the way you might think it would.

Also, be patient, I had to restart my computer to get it to work. Windows, gotta love it!

Updating the Price Folder No Longer a Pain!!

One of my favorite new features in 7.2.x is the ability to “Push” the prices to the workstations. For now, I have been forcing the new pricing to the workstations “on the next Login”. PrintSmith gives you two options for pushing the prices:

The first option is the one I am using and it works great, although my co-workers thought it was a bug the first time they saw it. After you have changed your pricing, go to the Pricing menu and select Workstation Maintenance. A new window will appear called WS Maintenance. Select the choice that says “On Next Login” and then click the button that says “Push to Force Pricing Update.” The next time someone logs in at a workstation they will get a message that forces the prices to be updated.

If you want this to happen immediately, choose the “Immediately” radio button. I don’t recommend this because it may clog your network to have everyone updating the price folder at the same time. (Plus, I haven’t tried it, nor do I want to.) Good Friday is almost here, I may try it then when half the shop is gone.

7.2.1 Bug Update on Report Writer

Good news and bad news for Report Writer fans for the 7.2.1 updater

Good News:
The Job Ticket bug has been fixed! The problem was with the legal size job ticket printing on 2 or 3 pages when it should only print on one.

Bad News:
There are still at least 2 bugs with the printing of reports that I have found so far. First, If you preview a report that is landscape and then try to print from the preview it comes out Portrait. Second, there are still miscellaneous marks between the lines on some of the reports. I have reported both of these to service, but I haven’t heard back.

I’ll keep you posted on anything else as I discover it. I suspect that there will be a 7.2.2 updater very soon because of the bug with the Label Formats being eliminated. Send me an email if you want some more advice about upgrading.

All in all, the benefits gained by upgrading far outweigh the inconviences. If you are going to Connect in Las Vegas, I would highly encourage you to get familiar with 7.2.x BEFORE you go.

7.2.1 Bug Alert: Label Formats Lost

Just a little FYI for those of you about to load the 7.2.1. updater. The Label Formats will be lost which may or may not be big deal for you. They are primarily used for Carton Labels and mailing labels. We are on windows (not sure about the Mac) and we lost 11 Label Formats. We only used about 4 so it isn’t tragic, just a pain.

Here is what I did to recover them:
I had loaded our prices onto a demo version and I was able to view them and print them out so I could re-enter them manually. I have not heard whether PrintSmith will have a solution for recovering them. At this point I will probably just re-enter them manually. Stay tuned.

Nonetheless, BEFORE you upgrade print out your Label Formats. To print them, I just used the print screen button on my keyboard and pasted the graphic into a program like Pagemaker or Publisher.