Google Sign Up and Login Added to LiveBinders

January 9, 2017

LiveBinders now supports Google sign up and login. For those of you who have students with Google accounts, this will be a real time-saver in getting them started with LiveBinders.

You can link an existing LiveBinders account to your Google email address or create a new LiveBinders account with your Google email address.

g-signup

g-login


LiveBinders for Business: The Future of the Paperless Office

December 14, 2016

MOS Office Furniture, Inc., marks the last hurdle for going totally paperless

MOS Office Furniture, Inc., together with parent company Martin Office Supplies, Inc., has provided office supplies and furniture to customers from large government agencies to consumers since the 1980s. The company operates a storefront in Granbury, Texas, but its main business for the last fifteen years has been large furniture projects for large institutions, including schools and universities. Cody Martin, co-founder of MOS Office Furniture, was introduced to  the furniture business by his father and, along with his business partner Russ Wood, found success for his own firm with a visionary early adoption of internet marketing. As a longtime vendor of  office supplies and furniture to schools and government agencies, MOS Office Furniture understood the needs of traditional institutions to present communication materials in easy to manage formats, and adopt digital communications that mirror paper communications.

In keeping with the business’ family story, MOS Office Furniture was introduced to LiveBinders by Wood’s daughter, a school librarian. MOS found that LiveBinders (Livebinders.com), which mirrors the functionality of a ring binder and is widely used in education, is a great fit for its catalog distribution and communication needs for projects with government and education institutions.

How a traditional office supplier goes digital

MOS’s long history as an office supply distributor, in conjunction with its own shift to a truly paperless office, put the company in an uncommon position of needing to identify the most effective ways hardcopy-reliant organizations can make the shift to all-digital content. Like most businesses, MOS used to handle most digital communication over email, but quickly ran into the medium’s many limitations. Sending single versions of simple PDF documents is easy over email, but MOS’s catalogs that include large PDF documents and a need for strict version control for drawing and product information updates outpaced email’s functionality and created serious version control headaches.

Cloud solutions like DropBox and Google Docs were useful for pointing customers to large files, but MOS found that while the use of these services made file access easier, they were not able to address the underlying challenge of organization. A sea of Google Docs and DropBox links added a new layer of complexity on top of email’s own limitations. MOS was able to see that email and cloud services were not able to fully replace hard copy materials yet, particularly for the government and education organizations that comprised the bulk of the company’s customer base.

All of these issues were compounded by the size of projects MOS worked with. While more traditional digital content platforms might meet the needs of smaller projects consisting of a few furniture pieces, the aforementioned issues could become quite cumbersome as MOS met the furnishing needs of large facilities and organizations.

LiveBinders marries organization and cloud storage

When Russ Wood’s daughter, a school librarian, introduced them to LiveBinders–a platform increasingly familiar to educators as a way to organize and easily share course materials–they instantly recognized the benefits it posed for their business.

“The word was that LiveBinders is used a lot in education,” says Cody Martin. “Our company does a lot of business with education, so we payed attention. It occurred to me that we could use this in our furniture business; it really is a digital equivalent of a ring binder.”

Martin found that the same features that made the binder-based organizational structure of LiveBinders effective for teachers would also work for conveying product information to his customers. “Some of the folks we work with are tech adept and some are not,” he says. “They can use email and spreadsheets, but are they really adept with cloud-based applications? Probably not.”

According to Martin, livebinders catalogs offered a level of easy functionality that allows customers at all technical levels to effortlessly navigate their content. Most customers, he says, don’t have to think about navigating the platform, they just dive into it–it’s that intuitive.

LiveBinders allowed MOS to cut through the version control challenges of email without requiring customers to navigate a tangle of cloud storage locations like Google Docs and Dropbox links. LiveBinders gave MOS the ability to present a diversity of materials, like text, drawings, blueprints, links, and spreadsheets in a single easy-to-access format which could be consistently kept up to date. “If a drawing changes you can go in and delete the old drawing and put the new one in there. If you use email you’ve got six versions of the same thing floating around.With a LiveBinder you can make sure the most fresh iteration is in the binder and you know everyone is looking at the right thing.”

A vision for LiveBinders in business

MOS’s insider’s view into the evolving office supplies landscape has led the company to identify an unaddressed niche in business that LiveBinders is poised to fill. “What’s happening in the office products industry is that anything that has to do with a piece of paper is now in secular decline,” says Martin. “We’re seeing the convergence of smart phones, tablets, cheap cloud storage and wireless. If you’ve got an iPad you’ve got the equivalent of six thousand ring binders at your fingertips. The problem is that the transitional period will still take years; that’s why people should pay attention to LiveBinders. It’s how you replace a ring binder.”


The State Bar of Georgia’s Museum of Law Goes Digital With LiveBinders

November 15, 2016

Since 2008, Deborah Craytor of the State Bar of Georgia had nurtured an ambition to extend the Bar’s educational programs beyond the physical bounds of the Museum of Law in Atlanta. The Bar had run the museum and hosted educational programs like the Journey Through Justice, which gives more than 10,000 Georgia schoolchildren the opportunity to learn about the law every year. The program includes law lessons, mock trials and tours of the museum. It has been a success, but the Bar found that the program’s popularity had led it to outgrow the capacity of the field trip and physical museum in Atlanta, leading the organization to pursue virtual alternatives for delivering the same information.

Using the LiveBinders platform (www.livebinders.com), the State Bar of Georgia was able to create digital resources that are easily shared on the Web with teachers, giving students throughout Georgia exposure to lessons on the law.

Taking the Journey Through Justice Beyond Atlanta

According to Deborah Craytor, the geography of Georgia has made it difficult to expose students outside Atlanta, and particularly in rural South Georgia, to the educational resources and programs offered by the Bar’s Law-Related Education (“LRE”) Program. Says Craytor, “We’re in Atlanta, where the largest concentration of lawyers in the state is. Lawyers and members of the public outside Atlanta sometimes feel like we don’t pay as much attention to them as we could. Reaching out with a digital version of our Museum of Law resources is a great way to help bridge that gap.”

When the Bar began to build the Virtual Museum of Law–which officially launched on June 3rd, 2016–inclusion of online resources for teachers was an essential part of the project, but the system had to be both readily adaptable and under the control of the museum_headerteachers and the staff of the LRE Program. Says Craytor, “We want to have this information online and available to everyone, but we want to give teachers control; you don’t want students having access to the same materials so they run across all the answers! Also, we wanted to make sure that we’re interacting with teachers and gathering their input, not just putting a bunch of information out on the Web.”

LiveBinders & the Virtual Museum of Law

Craytor had been introduced to LiveBinders before the Bar created the Virtual Museum of Law, and when the need to securely share resources on the Web became an integral part of that project, she recognized LiveBinders as a natural fit. The platform could be easily integrated within the format of the Virtual Museum, and conform to the access and organization requirements of teachers and the Bar. LiveBinders allowed the Bar to create a multi-level experience for the Virtual Museum of Law that includes a public site, videos and quizzes for students, and lesson plans and other curriculum materials accessible only to teachers. LiveBinders is already a popular tool among teachers, due in no small part to its functionality, which brings the simplicity of using a three-ring binder to the digital world. According to Craytor, educators have found accessing LRE Program resources through LiveBinders to be straightforward, and an enormous improvement on the ad-hoc system previously in place. Says Craytor, “Before we started using LiveBinders, a teacher would call or email me and say ‘I’m getting ready to teach about juvenile justice, what can you send me?’ We’d look through our resources and email or mail them, which was incredibly labor-intensive. Now I can just keep the LiveBinders updated and teachers can access them any time they want.”

Staying Current on the Law

Sending lesson information as a digital LiveBinder also allows teachers to automatically receive the most up-to-date information on the law, which can change frequently. Before LiveBinders, when information was sent to a teacher, there was no way for teachers to know if their materials were out of date other than to check in with the Bar.

According to Craytor, the combination of Web access, version control and seamless updating of information, including a binder-like organizational format teachers are used students_2to, exemplifies how LiveBinders is ideal for digital sharing. “The LiveBinders approach to organizing information is consistent with a trend in the digital world of leveraging curated collections. There is so much information on the Web that more and more organizations are trying to assemble collections rather than force people to look all over the internet for something. LiveBinders gives people a one-stop shop consistent with the direction the Web is going in general,” she says.

Paper-Attached Industries Can Embrace Digital

The legal world, like the world of education, is one steeped in the use of paper for most resources and documents. Organizations like the State Bar of Georgia have found that in addition to making communication and sharing information easier for programs like the LRE Program and its Virtual Museum of Law, the paper-document-mirroring nature of LiveBinders makes it easy for professionals like teachers and lawyers to reap the benefits of digital communications.

For Craytor personally, the platform has offered a way to go digital without compromising the organization and control of paper documents. She says, “Giving up my paper was a really hard thing to do. Intellectually I recognized the advantage of LiveBinders, but emotionally, I was tied to paper. However, we’ve found it incredibly useful and adaptable to our work, and now we’re moving as much as we can to LiveBinders.”

 


Export a Table of Contents

November 10, 2016

We have had the request from several customers to show table of contents for their binder on their website or blog. That feature is now available under Share > Embed.

Share menu showing embed code for Table of Contents

Here is an example:

Fun additions to your binder Table of Contents


Image Resizing

October 30, 2016

When you upload very large images, instead of showing a horizontal scrollbar in the binder, you will now see your image fitting perfectly inside the binder. So no matter what device you’re on, whether it’s a phone, a widescreen, or a tablet the images will resize so that your binder will always look just right!


Create a Custom LiveBinders Widget

October 30, 2016

You have always been able to embed a LiveBinders shelf on your website, but now you can customize that embed code and decide the width and height of the shelf, the sort order, and the size of the binder icons. This feature will generate two types of embed codes, one for regular sites and one for Google sites.

Enjoy showing your binders off on your blog or website in just the way you want them to be seen.

embed_mini_shelf


LiveBinders Outage

September 2, 2016

Sincere Apologies for LiveBinders Outage

This week was hard for us.  We always pride ourselves on giving you quality customer support – placing primary importance on protecting your data and delivering a highly available service. We are very sorry that we needed to take downtime due to a failure in our Amazon infrastructure.  We understand the bind that this put many of you in.

Without getting into too much technical detail, on Monday evening our storage server had a hardware failure which caused it to hang intermittently. We had to replace that server and update our software to accommodate this change.  Our site was back up and running within 12 hours but with the Uploading files turned off.  We turned File Uploading back on after it was proven to work effectively.

Our site was down almost 12 hours and our uploading capability was down another 18 hours. Because our downtime message was being cached, many of you may have thought our down time was longer.  We will improve the way we notify everyone so this doesn’t happen again.

The good news is that our storage and uploaded files were safe and secure. With the new improvements, we expect to continue our long standing track record of delivering a highly available service.

As always, please feel free to contact me (Tina) by phone (650-434-2026) or email me (tina@livebinders.com) if you would like more information or to share your frustration and concerns.

On behalf of our company,  I hope that you will accept our sincere apologies for this outage. We will continue to do everything we can to restore your trust.

Sincerely,

Tina and Barbara
CoFounders