Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Loading a partial with a Javascript Helper in Ruby on Rails

Sometimes, you have content that you want reloaded whenever someone goes to a page - even if they hit the 'Back' button. I had a drop down that I was using for navigation on Placeforce, and I wanted it to update even if they hit back. The drop down was your standard select tag, with a simple onchange event that would navigate the user to another page.

When you hit back, the select was still where it was left. This is good for forms, but not good in this case.

Here's a simple rails example to help you out:

<%= update_page_tag { |page|
page[:content_div].replace_html( ... )
} %>

The "..." (or whatever html your generating) is what you're using now. Just wrap that with the update_page_tag { |page| page[:content_div].replace_html(...) }

Simple, took just a few minutes. I wasn't familiar with 'update_page_tag', so thought I'd share.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Placeforce was officially launched

It's been 6 months of development, and is finally released. I just added a tour to explain how placeforce works, and added links to sign-up, use a credit card, and get a free trial.

It's been a very interesting 6 months.

Back in November 2009, when we started, we had plans to release by February (3 months). We were targeting the Property Management industry, and trying to create a tool that Property Managers could use to allow their managers, building owners, and vendors to communicate and manage tasks and recurring maintenance. It was an ambitious project, but as we started to get feedback in January and February, we realized the vendor (the Window Cleaner, Plumber, Inspector, Electrician, etc) had a very clear need that we could solve first. Even for Property Management companies, they usually had a service department to handle handy-man projects, cleaning, etc. It changed our focus a little bit, for now.

We realized the tools that were being used by this group were completely substandard, and tended to focus around just one part of the task - Outlook or Google Calendar for scheduling, Appointment-plus sometimes, Quickbooks for billing, lots of rigged-together MSExcel solutions etc. Nothing, usually, for collecting or storing leads. Lots of paper laying around the office. Just a hodge-podge of tools and the owners of these companies were desperate for a solution. This also allowed us to simplify our story and focus on features that provide clear value.We decided to concentrate on two things -
  1. Getting new customers
  2. Servicing those customers
Placeforce centers around scheduling tasks for properties - this includes photos, maps, documents, geo-location, etc. Having a easy access to property information can greatly improve the efficiency of your business - take a look at an article my brother, Eric recently posted on our blog - Three Keys to Managing Better with Property Information. Placeforce has potential for a strong mobile component, as well (coming soon, hopefully). And, unlike other tools out there, we did not build a generic tool for any industry, we're specific to property-based service companies. This narrows our potential customer pool, but allows us to really focus on what our true customers need.