Executive Summary

Bulletin are overhauling the 'Address Book' functionality in Bulletin Messenger with the release of version 26.1 (3rd Quarter 2016), with a focus on simplicity and flexibility. The first small steps will appear in release 25.1 (August 22nd).

In release 26.1 (3rd Quarter 2016) the term 'Address Book' will be removed from Messenger. We will only have Groups, and, for those requiring access controls, Security Groups.

Your existing 'Address Books' will be migrated to 'Security Groups'.

Expanded Contact Import and Export functionality will be available, but existing import behaviour will remain for those who wish to continue to use it.

Groups will now be able to include Users. Access to Contacts can now be granted to Groups of Users, not just individuals.


Why Does Anything Need To Change?

Currently Messenger has the ability to gather your Contacts into collections, and message those Contacts individually, or collectively in both 'Address Books' and 'Groups', but the distinction between an Address Book and a Group is unclear, and for most users, irrelevant.

Contacts are uploaded into 'Address Books', but it's not really possible to send to an entire Address Book, so Contacts have to be placed into Groups for bulk sends.

Address Books have permissions associated with them, but Groups do not. Some of our customers care about permissions a great deal, and others, not at all. Customers with simpler needs shouldn't have to deal with the complexity of security until they want it.

Contacts can be copied from Address Book to Address Book, but Bulletin Messenger Customers are often confused about the impact of Address Book permissions. If the contact is edited in one Address Book, do they also change in the other? (FYI, the answer is 'maybe').

When importing Contacts, our Customers are forced to upload 'Address Books', whether they have a security focus or not, and so must deal with 'syncing' Contacts across Address Books and dealing with permissions.

Importing has been a problem because the import process completely replaced all Contacts in an Address Book, so it was relatively easy to destroy an Address Book. There was no way to just add to an existing Address Book, nor any way to just update a few Contacts within an Address Book. Unless you were careful, you almost certainly lost any Groups that had been defined in the Address Book, yet Customers cannot upload a Group without also uploading an Address Book.

While many of our Customer hate Address Book import, many Bulletin Staff hate it just as much.


What Changes in 25.1?


25.1 includes major 'under the hood' changes to Address Books that mostly won't be seen until 26.1 releases. That said, there are some relatively minor changes that will be visible in 25.1.

Permissions

We've made one small change to the User maintenance page. When defining access to Address Books we've replaced the fiddly Read/Write checkboxes with words. In the example below the User can view, but not edit, the first two Address Books, has explicitly been granted no access to 'Concert Alerts', yet can edit, and view, 'Facebook Contacts'.


Possible Address Book/Group Name Changes

In 25.1 Address Books are, secretly, being converted into Groups for 26.1 there's a theoretical chance that a 'name collision' could occur if you have an Address Book and a Group with the same name, or if you have reused the same Group name in multiple Address Books.


For example, given the following Address Books and Groups pre-25.1:

Address Book
Group 
USA 
Athens
USA 
Los Angeles
Greece 
Athens
Greece 
Thessaloniki 
Monaco 
Monaco 


Groups will be renamed in 25.1 like so:

Address Book
Group 
USA 
Athens - USA
USA 
Los Angeles
Greece 
Athens - Greece
Greece 
Thessaloniki 
Monaco 
Monaco - Monaco


Then in 26.1, Address Books will appear as Groups, so:

Group

Athens - USA
Athens - Greece 
Greece 
Los Angeles
Monaco 
Monaco - Monaco
Thessaloniki 
USA


Address Book Import Behaviour

Address Book Import previously attempted to update existing Contact information via 'aliases', which was an optional field that nobody ever provided in the import file, so our import code made-up aliases itself based on email addresses, that was rarely provided, and the contact's name.

Previously we would not allow you to import two contacts with the same name, which was relatively common with names like Mike Smith, but we would allow you to import two contacts with the same phone number, which was only useful if you have contacts who share a cell phone.

We have changed the default import behaviour to be now accept duplicate names, but not accept duplicate numbers. We can change this behaviour for individual Customers at their request.


Auto-completion

The auto-completion functionality on the Compose page has changed slightly. All customers will now see Users appear in the auto-completer, not just Contacts and Groups. In earlier versions a small number of customers had Users excluded from the auto-completer, but this is no longer optional.


Performance

The underlying data structures used to store Contact information are far more efficient than our legacy system. Imports and Bulk sends will perform better than before.


What Changes in 26.1?


Starting in 26.1 we're making bigger changes to Messenger.


New-look UI

We've updated the User-Interface to be cleaner, make better use of space, and changed the menu structure to be more logical.

'Address Book' Is Gone

We've removed the term 'Address Book'. There is no 'Address Book' menu item. Your existing Address Books now appear as 'Groups', although when you edit them you have all the functionality that was unique to Address Books, such as the ability to control access permissions. We call such groups 'Security Groups'.

The 'Address Book Admin' role has been renamed 'Security Group Admin'. 

What's New?

Here are some of the new features in 26.1.


Groups Are More Flexible

Previously, Groups could only contain Contacts. From version 26.1 Groups will also be able to contain Users, as well as other Groups.


Send To A Group Of Users

A common request has been the ability to put Users into Groups, so Customers can send a message to, for example, their Marketing Dept. Now you can do exactly that.

In a future release you will also be able to create Group Chats using these Groups.


Grant Access To Entire Groups

Previously when granting access to 'Address Books' Customers had to pick and choose permissions individually for each Address Book and User.

Now, if you have some Contacts that you want to restrict access to, you can create a Security Group called 'Secret Contacts' and then grant the 'Marketing Dept' Group the 'Viewer' permission. Now any User in the 'Marketing Dept' group can send to 'Secret Contacts', including new Users subsequently added to the Marketing Dept.


Groups Can Contain Other Groups

Customers can now place Groups in other Groups. Imagine your Company's branches have created Groups 'England', 'Scotland', 'Wales' and 'Northern Ireland'. You can now create a new Group called 'United Kingdom', add the four groups to it, a message sent to 'United Kingdom' will be sent to all Contacts in the component Groups.


Simplicity

Despite all the talk of Permissions and Security Groups in the previous paragraphs, this information will not be visible to Standard Users of Bulletin Messenger. Only Users with the 'Security Group Admin' Role will see this information. New Customers will only have to deal with Security Groups if they actively decide to.


Contact Import

In addition to the current 'Full Replacement' import, we are also adding the ability to perform a 'Merge' import; allowing partial updates to Group membership, including the ability to remove Contacts, or update a Contact without destroying ancillary data such as email address or 'notes'.

The 'Merge' import requires the use of additional columns, including, but not limited to, a 'public identifier' that you can provide to uniquely identify your contact. This may be a customer number, for example.

The legacy 'Address Book Import' format will be retained for backwards compatibility, but we are also providing a more flexible Import format that we would strongly encourage you to make use of.

 

Address Book Opt-In Changes

In 26.1 we are beginning to introduce more flexible processing of inbound messages.

The first beneficiary of this is the Address Book Opt-In functionality that is available for customers with their own short codes or dedicated numbers. The definition of these rules is moving from the old 'Address Book' page (which no longer exists, remember, it's now just a 'Group') to its own 'Keyword Management' page.

We will make it easy to access this 'Keyword Management' from the associated Group.