The CoachAccountable Blog

What's new with the CA platform, tutorials on using it, and customer spotlights.

Archive for February, 2018

Direct Sync with your Google Calendar

CoachAccountable has long supported syncing with your Google (and iCal, and Outlook) Calendar by way of 2-way subscribing to calendar data feeds.  This works according to a simple, two-part mechanism:

  1. CoachAccountable publishes a data feed of your appointments which your calendar can subscribe to, allowing those appointments to appear alongside your regular calendar events.
  2. CoachAccountable can subscribe to a data feed of your calendar events for the sake of knowing when you’re busy to prevent double bookings.

It’s a good system, but suffers from two drawbacks:

  1. Calendar systems can be lax about pulling appointment data from CoachAccountable.  Though the data as offered by CA is always up to date, there can be a lag in how long it takes your calendar to pull over whatever’s new.  Google Calendar in particular is a bit notorious for updating from such data feeds only once every 24 hours.
  2. Having your CoachAccountable appointments present as a separate calendar collection of events is often not nearly as nice as having those events posted directly into your primary calendar collection of events.  Other scheduling systems might know when you’re busy based on your primary calendar, but that might not include a separate calendar collection without subscribing to THAT one, too (if even possible).

To overcome these drawbacks I’m happy to report that CoachAccountable now supports a direct integration for syncing with your Google Calendar.

Let’s see how it works!

You’ll find the place to set this up under Settings >> Appointment Config >> Calendar Sync.

Note that this is only available for accounts that are on Version 3.  If you don’t see the Calendar Sync item that means your account is still on Version 2.  If you own the account, you can switch it over to 3 from the top right user menu >> My Account >> Version.

This green button is very chipper, but when you see how painless the process is you’ll understand why.

Clicking the button to go sync with Google brings you to a simple process to authorize CA to manage your calendar, assuming you’re already logged in to your Google account:

The question is: do you trust CoachAccountable? Promise there’s nothing shady about CA having access–strictly professional, yo.

Assuming you click “Allow”, you’ll be whisked back to your CoachAccountable account and given the options by which to configure this synchronization:

Just a few choices here and you’re done, where to publish to (if at all), and where to read from.

If you want (and you probably do!), CA will publish your appointments to the calendar of your choice.  Pick one and they’ll magically appear there within seconds.

Choosing which calendars CA should read from tells CA where to look in order to accurately determine when you’re available and when you’re busy.  You might want to skip certain calendars.  For example my wife and I share a calendar of events, but I don’t need to have my availability blocked when she puts on there, say, a day visit with the kids to Grandma’s house (on the contrary, I generally have more free time then! :).

And that’s it!  Once set, CA will post new appointments (and updates made to them, including cancellations performed by your clients) to your calendar as they arise, with lag time measured in seconds rather than hours.  Similarly, when CA has direct read access to your calendars the process of keeping up to date in order to provide accurate availability options is nearly instantaneous, rather than taking up to 5-10 seconds to pull all the data over with the data feed approach.

Speaking of which, once you’ve setup CA to sync directly with your Google Calendar, you should delete any calendar feeds that you’ve set CA to pull from that are now redundant (as found under your Availability Exceptions):

Yep, we’re sure. We’ve got a better way now to keep abreast of calendar availability.

How about for my clients?

Your clients can similarly setup a direct sync with THEIR Google Calendar.  They won’t have to pick which calendars CA should read of theirs (because that’s not relevant on their side of the equation), BUT they too can have their appointments with you set via CoachAccountable appear right in their calendar.  Nice!

Let them know they can set this up.  They’ll find the place to do this under their My Account page:

Every bit as easy for them as it was for you. More so, even.

What if I don’t use Google Calendar?

The old system of subscribing to calendar data feeds remains intact, and is, as it has been for years, a fine 80% solution.  If you use Apple iCal or Microsoft Outlook, I may in the future build more direct API-based integrations with those, too.

For what it’s worth though, sync’ing between those systems and Google Calendar is a well worn path.  So you might setup a Google Calendar account, sync your other calendar with that, and THEN sync CoachAccountable with that Google Calendar to more or less have Google serve as an intermediary to sync with your calendar system of choice.  Yay, technology!


And that’s it!  If you’ve had troubles with appointment scheduling in CA because the data feed approach didn’t play nicely with other scheduling systems, the direct calendar sync approach should be the perfect fix for you.  Enjoy!

Beautiful Branding: How to Make a White Logo

One of the beautiful things about Version 3 of CoachAccountable is that you now get White Labeling for free.

What’s white labeling? It’s your way to make your CoachAccountable account look more like your own, for you and your clients: your color scheme, your logo, your name.

If you haven’t yet set up your account to be white labeled as your own, you’ll find the place to do so in Settings >> System >> Branding.

One of the places to customize is with your company’s logo. Most logos as designed are best suited to be mounted on a white background, which makes sense: it’s the sort of thing of having it on the top of branded stationary or in the signature of an email.

CoachAccountable V3 goes for a more minimalist and flat look: the top bar is a vibrant, solid color, with white icons and other features placed on it for a nice contrast and clean aesthetic:

Kinda sharp, right? Ooh, but to make it more your own! Let’s see how it’s done…

It’s likely that you’ve got a logo, but unlikely that it done in this style: a white shape that nicely mattes onto a solid background color.  Recently I noticed that CA customer Rebecca Licalsi (of Licalsi Coaching) had such a logo set to show in the header like that.  Here’s what it looks like:

Made to be matted on white!

Looks sharp, right?  It helps that we have it matted on white.  When we set this logo to be the White Logo (and pick a nice purple to go with it) within CA we get this:

The white rectangle dropped into this boldly colored area looks a little… abrupt.

As you can see this isn’t ideal: plopping a big white rectangle into the middle of this space kinda breaks with the surrounding aesthetic.  A better, more congruent logo would be one that follows the lead of the other elements in this space: a crisp, white shape that mattes nicely on our vibrant background color.

So let’s make one of those!  No need to hire your designer to make you a whole new logo, from the one you already have you can transform it into a white version with just a few steps.

Using Rebecca’s logo as an example, let’s show you how this is done in Photoshop (and if you don’t have that handy, we’ve got instructions to do it via the free, web-based alternative to Photoshop called Pixlr):

Making a White Logo in Photoshop

Our first step is to clear out the white background (which causes that abrupt white rectangle) and make it instead transparent (so that it will sit nicely on top of any matting color you choose).  To do this, first choose white as your main active chosen color, and then go to Select >> Color Range…

Select all the white in the image with the Color Range selection tool.

Because you’ve got white as your chosen color, the default Select option “Sampled colors” will select all the white in you image.  Fuzziness 85 seems to reliably get the right amount around the edges, but you can adjust that up or down to more or less aggressively pick the white and near white pixels:

The white parts in the selection preview image are what we’re selecting (and ultimately removing).

Once you’ve selected all the white pixels, clear them away by using the eraser, leaving you with a nice transparent background:

A big fat eraser makes this easier.

Now that the background is cleared out, let’s make our logo shape be as tightly cropped as possible (because there’s no need to keep those pixels on all the edges which were providing padding).  Do this by selecting all (Ctrl-A), copying (Ctrl-C), making a new image (Ctrl-N), and pasting what you selected into that new image (Ctrl-V).  This will have the effect of shedding off all rows and columns that were completely empty, giving you the tightest possible crop without losing anything of the image.

Now the real magic: to turn our colored shape into a flat, white only shape.  Do this by right clicking on the one layer of the image and selecting “Blending options…”:

Blending options are so cool.

Here we just pick “Color overlay” and be certain that white (#FFFFFF) is the color we are over laying:

Click okay and we’re done!

And there we have it:

Not much to look at now, but…

A crisp white shape, layered on a fully transparent background.  It’s hard to read against that white and grey checkerboard, but our vibrant background color choice will give much more favorable contrast.  Save it as a PNG file and it’ll be ready to set as your White Logo.

 

Making a White Logo in Pixlr

  1. Open your logo file in Pixlr.
  2. Select the background color range (in Rebecca’s case, it’s white). Select the Wand tool, then click on the background area. Make sure the “Anti-Alias” box is checked at the top, but “Contiguous” is NOT checked.
  3. Erase that selection. Just press Delete.
  4. Deselect that area with Ctrl+D or Command+D.
  5. Go to Adjustment >> Color lookup. Click the color box (it will default to black) and select white. Make sure it’s completely white (as in the bottom scroll bar is at 100%).

Pixlr Color Selector
Your logo is now white! However, it can be a bit hard to check your work, since it’s white on top of a transparent background. To see it (optional), add a new layer. Use the paint bucket to paint the new layer black. Drag that layer below your logo’s layer, and you’ll now see the white on top of black. You can use the eraser tool here to get rid of any white spots that may be hanging out.

And voila! Your white logo is ready.


And that’s all there is to it.  We started here:

and we end here:

The end result is a branded system that looks sharper and much more consistent with the more modern, flat design of CA.  Not bad for 2 minutes of work.

If this process looks at all intimidating, no worries!  Because here’s the deal: I’m all for you to feel completely at home within your CA account, and I want CA to make your coaching look as clean and professional as possible, to both you and your clients.

As such we’ll be happy to do it for you.  Just send your logo in whatever format you’ve got it (preferably high quality, high res, but we’ll roll with what ever!) to support@coachaccountable.com and we’ll cook up (and put into place) a white logo for you.

A big thanks to Rebecca for letting us share this process using her logo!