Please note: PBBooking has been discontinued.
As of February 2018 we made the decision to discontinue PBBooking. Joomla extensions proved to be a non viable business model and I needed to take work elsewhere to pay bills. Support will be provided to users with current subscriptions until the end of those subscriptions.
There are no plans to support Joomla versions beyond Joomla 3.8.
Just a quick update for everyone this week on development for the v4 release.
Firstly, the manage diaries and the front end management module have been merged together. The back end manage diaries function will now be provided by the old Front End Management module which has now been moved into the administrator section of the site.
For subscribers the Front End Management Module will still be available, it will now just be a wrapper around the administrator module.
This means that ALL diary management functions will now be available through both front end and back end. The module will function identically on both sections of the site allowing you to create, delete, and update events through either back or front end. This includes creating recurring events; this was previously only available through the back end.
Consolidating the code between the front and back end diary management now means I can write dairy management features once and have them available whether you prefer to use the back end OR front end.
The first small, but significant, improvement is a proper bootstrap popover on events in the diary.
Welcome to the July update from Hot Chilli Software.
I’ve been steadily working away on development of PBBooking version 4 and I’m pleased to say development is coming along nicely. At this stage I am hoping to have an early release out for new users late July or early August with a 4.1 shortly after that. The 4.1 release will include migration scripts from PBBooking version 3.
The biggest changes implemented to date include:
The new ajax based, modern, view (you can check a bit more out about it here: Hot Chilli Software: June Update)
Improvements to the way cron jobs are handled to automajically add your cron jobs to a linked EasyCron account. (read more about it here:Streamlining the Cron Setup in v4)
Decoupling the recurring events logic into a plugin and creating a modular way of adding plugins to enhance the functionality. (check our more here: PBBooking v4 Development Update – Modularising Recurring Appointments)
If you build sites for clients you’ll really like point 3. The goal of decoupling a lot of the non-core logic is to make it easier to add client specific functions and change workflows without having to hack PBBooking files that are overwritten on updates.
One of my main goals with the v4 release of PBBooking was to make all non-core functionality modular. Rather than being tightly coupled to the core code I wanted to take advantage of Joomla modules and plugins for additional booking functionality. This would allow users to:
- turn on / off additional functionality through the plugin manager
- allow other developers (and myself) to quickly and easily build in additional components.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been mapping out how this could be accomplished and have started implementing this for recurring appointments.
For example in v4 the recurring event fields will be provided via a plugin and each view will control how they are rendered and displayed.
Each plugin will be able to inject logic into the booking process either modifying the booking data before it is saved, after it is saved or injecting additional fields and choices.
My aim is to use this to create additional plugins that offer enhanced functionality such as:
- Recurring appointments booked by front end users (if allowed)
- Add additional options to service booking that can increase the duration, and price, of the service. For example a massage therapist may choose to add an option to book dry needling, chinese cupping to a standard treatment
- When using group resources book multiple people into one booking slot at the same time.
These have all been common feature requests that are at present not possible in the v3 products but will become possible with the new changes.
All additional plugins will be available to subscribers or available as stand alone purchase for users on the free version.
There are two cron jobs used in PBBooking. The first to sync to google calendar and the second to send scheduled reminders and testimonials.
The results of a recent survey of PBBooking users revealed something that I had sort of already suspected from my ticketing system -- configuring cron jobs was a pain in the backside!
Between hosts that restricted the frequency of cron jobs, didn't support loop back requests or, flat out just didn't offer a cron service there was a steady flow of support requests for advice.
The dilemma that I had was cron was the only way to guarantee tasks happened. While a number of Joomla plugins allow scheduled tasks these are all tied to page refresh. On a low traffic site, say a local beauty therapist site, this could mean that your calendar could get quite out of date, or reminders might not get sent. Neither a really good situation!
I'm really exited to say that for v4 I have just finished coding automated setup of cron jobs! This uses the <a href="https://www.easycron.com/?ref=83308">EasyCron</a> service so it's not dependent on your host. EasyCron offers a really sweet api to allow developers to programmatically add and view the status of scheduled tasks.
So from v4 PBBooking will have a new section to the dashboard allowing you to click a button and create the needed cron jobs on the EasyCron service.
Firstly I'd like to say a big thank you to all those people who completed my short survey. I discovered a lot during this process. Some things I already knew, some things I didn't, but most are in current development for the v4 release.
Three things that came out clearly were that:
Firstly, The front end views need to be modernised. They really haven't been redesigned much in the last two or three years and it shows.
I'm happy to say that a new front end view is being developed at the moment. I've attached a screenshot below. The new interface will be, responsive, and single page.
Secondly, the current cron job configurations for Google calendar integration, surveys, and reminders, is a right royal pain the bum (there I said it!). It's one of the major sources of support tickets.
I'm looking at solutions to fix this in the v4 release. It will still need a cron job as it is the only way to GUARANTEE that something like a calendar sync occurs. There are some plugins that let you tie into a page refresh but on low traffic sites these will lead to out of date booking details.
I have been investigating the EasyCron service which has an API that will allow all needed cron jobs to be automatically created from the back end of PBBooking at the press of a button rather than needing to worry about which urls and command lines.
I haven't finalised this but stay turned for more details as development progresses.
Finally, one of the most common requests has been to enable a more streamlined booking process for single service, and single calendar installations. This will be addressed in the version 4 release and more details will be available as development progresses.
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