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December 2020 - Posts

2020 has been a challenging year with the onset of COVID-19. Schools ended abruptly and when they did return, there were still a lot of unknowns and new processes being put in place. This year we have seen a shift towards online learning in many of our customers. This not only means more emails and files to scan, but also, more emails and files being sent later at night and on weekends.

On the SafeMail side, we have seen extraordinary changes in the volume of items and the types of items that we are monitoring to keep our children safe. Compared to the 2019 back to school season, we have seen an approximately 275% increase in the amount of emails and files to be scanned due to the increased focus in online learning. This significant increase necessitated our efforts to be dedicated to performance, scalability, and reliability.

Back to School Year over Year Graph

In this most recent release, we have made some performance improvements to manage the increased volume in 2020. Some of these fixes include faster performance on our servers and improving our services so that existing files will only need to be scanned and processed through our filters again if they have been modified since the last scan. Newly added files are not affected by this improvement and continue to be scanned and processed through our filters.

Posted by trevor.mackay  On Dec 15, 2020 at 9:50 AM

On December 11, a forms enhancement for Communicate was released. Tracked forms can now display a list of missing responses of a form. In the prior version of Forms, when you clicked on Form responses, you could only see the responses received and you had no easy way to determine who hadn't responded to your form yet.

In this new Forms update, you will be able to see the response rate as well as the individuals who have yet to respond to your form. This enables you to do things like track who is healthy, who is unwell with COVID-like symptoms, and those unwell but not related with COVID. The forms enhancement does come with a few caveats and suggestions to get the most out of your Forms module.

Tracking respondents and non-respondents in forms

The Forms module will now be able to show you the rate of responses and a list of non-respondents after you send out a form. You will be able to see this data in the tabular views of the form responses. In both the individual and tabular views of the form responses screen, you will see the following default columns of information:

  • Organization: This is the organization or the school of the recipient's associated dependent according to the data upload to SchoolMessenger Communicate.
  • UniqueID: This is the unique ID of the recipient’s associated dependent that was included in the data upload to SchoolMessenger Communicate.
  • First Name: This is the first name of the recipient’s associated dependent. It is tied to the UniqueID in the data uploaded to SchoolMessenger Communicate.
  • Last Name: This is the last name of the recipient’s associated dependent. It is tied to the UniqueID in the data uploaded to SchoolMessenger Communicate.

screenshot forms response

You can also export a list of non-respondents to a CSV file. The exported CSV file can then be uploaded as your recipient list for a reminder broadcast for non-respondents to complete the form.

screenshot forms response download

Setting up forms to display non-respondents

To show the rate of response, enable Only allow one submission per user in the form template options prior to sending the form out in a broadcast. This will limit the number of responses for the listed dependent to the first response and prevent subsequent conflicting submissions.

To show the list of non-respondents, enable Track recipient submissions in the form template options prior to sending the form out in a broadcast. If you have an existing form with pre-existing responses and you would like to start tracking recipient submissions, please don't enable on the existing form, but create a new form and track enable this option in the new form.
screenshot form options

Form size limits

We generally recommend limiting your forms for several reasons. Trends show that large forms with many questions have lower response rates than forms with fewer questions. To encourage high participation rate, we recommend keeping your questions short and limiting the number of questions in a form. Forms with about 8 questions or less generally provide enough information needed without overwhelming the form recipients.

Forms with fewer questions and recipients are also easier to sort through and see the responses than forms with many questions or recipients. Smaller forms with more limited recipients enable you to quickly see and sort through form responses without having to spend a long-time filtering and sorting large results. Forms with about 10,000 recipients mark the point where, even after sorting and filtering results, deciphering the form responses starts to get tedious.

Finally, large forms will take more time to load in the web UI and increase time to download as a CSV. Smaller and more targeted forms will make allow you to view the form responses faster. If you have a large district, we recommend breaking the form out to multiple forms, each form targeting a specific location. This will help limit your form responses to be more manageable and when sorting through the responses, you are not overwhelmed.

For more information, you can download the full user guide available on Resource Central, under the Communicate Guides page.

Posted by Matthew.Wei  On Dec 14, 2020 at 11:13 AM

We have released version 4.29 of our Custom Mobile App. The release includes numerous bugfixes and adds support for iOS 14. Apple requires that all new iOS app and updates to existing iOS apps must target iOS 14 by March 2021 in order to be published to the Apple App Store. 

iOS 14 Support Resolves Status Bar Issues and Allows for Future Application Builds

Users on iOS 14 were experiencing issues with the device status bar overlapping with the top of their mobile app. The 4.29 release resolves these issues and adds support for some updated code libraries. These library updates will be required for new and and updated iOS builds, starting in March of 2021. 


The 4.29 release also included various fixes for a number of bugs, including an issue where CSV imports were failing if the CSV file contained special characters. 

Important: If you have not yet created developer accounts, you will need to do so in order for your application to be rebuilt. For information on setting up your accounts, click here. The iOS and Google Play stores require each client to have a developer account in order to deploy new versions of your application into their stores. 


Posted by trevor.mackay  On Dec 11, 2020 at 10:54 AM