Cyclos 3.5 announcement

The Cyclos 3.0 version is now stable with the release version 3.0.9. We will keep on supporting and debugging Cyclos 3.0 and meanwhile we are working on the coming ‘mile stone’ release with the version number Cyclos 3.5
Our approach will be to release mayor (milestone) releases every 4 to 6 months and intermediate updates for fixes. The intermediate updates will not contain new functions, database changes and translation keys. All mayor releases will support the automatic update function for database fields and translation keys.

Cyclos 3.5 beta version is planned for September 2008 and will contain the following new functions and improvements.

New features

Scheduled payments (installments)
With this function a member can create scheduled payments to members or system accounts. It can be a single scheduled payment, multiple payments or recurrent (period) payments. The payments will be done automatically at the specified dates.
A member that sends an invoice to another member will be able (when he has the permissions) to specify if the payment can be made at a scheduled (future) date or multiple payment dates. Once the receiving member accepts the invoice the scheduled payments will appear in his scheduled payment list (and charged at the dates specified by the member that has send the invoice)

Operator function and POSweb
A member (with permissions) can create operators. These can be seen as ‘sub members’ that can perform certain member actions like payments in the same web environment as the member self. The member has control about its operators and can retreive reports on the payments done per operator. Operators can also been given access to access the POSweb (point of sale) interface. This is a simple 'paydesk' interface that allows operators at shops to login and receive payments from consumers. The consumer will have to validate the payment by typing his/her password (which could be done at a numeric USB keypad attached to the paydesk computer). When a payment is done the operator can print a receipt. All POSweb operations can be done using the Function keyboard keys what means that a mouse is not needed. A member (shop) can personalize the POSweb page by customizing a header and footer page (e.g. upload a logo and writing some text).
Operators can also be allowed to both receive and make payments from the POSweb interface. This option can be used for the selling and redeeming of vouchers (scrip).

Quick payment page
Cyclos 3.5 has a very simple 'quick payment page' that allows users to login and perfrom a payment. This page can be integrated with other sites.

Import function for members and advertisements
From version 3.5 beta3 Cycos includes an import funcion for members and advertisements. It is possible to import a member list with CSV format. This list can contain profile fields (fixed and custom fields), remarks/observations, credit limit and initial credit (either positive and negative). The import function works in three steps, import – simulation & control – Discard or process.
The advertisement imports will import the category as well (and will create the category if it does not exist)

Authorized payments
This function will allow to define specific transactions types as ‘authorized’ what means that when the payment is done by a member it will stay in the  'waiting for authorization' status until the payment is authorized. There are various possible levels of authorization (acording to the configuration); authorization by the reciever of the payment, by payer self after reciever authorization, by the broker of the paying member or by an administrator. The authorizer will be notified and can authorize (activate) the payment. The involved member/broker/admin will always receive a notification when the payment is done or a authorization status change. There can be more than one authorization level, that means that various persons that need to authorize with (possibly) different criteria. The amount of the transaction can be blocked until the authorizer approves or disapproves the payment. Both member and authorizer (broker or admin) will have access to a list with pending payments that need authorization.
It is also possible to define if an payment always need authorization or only if a max amount per period (day, week, month) is surpassed and it is possible to set a default expiry time and default action for that time (cancel, accept, deny). If an authorization payment generates other payments (e.g. a loan with loan repayments, taxes and fees etc) the whole group of payments can authorized as a whole (and the total amount blocked/reserved until authorization)

Member records, extended remarks
We extended the remarks funcion to a more generic function called 'member records'. Apart from the remarks it is now possible to add other records (input pages) to member profiles. The administration can make predefined records (templates) using custom fields and assign them to one or more member groups. This way an admin or broker can add one or more records to a member profile. The member record function can be used to add information about members in a structured way and be able to search for records (e.g. current remarks, credit analises etc)

Because of the new custom fields option it is now possible to specify remarks 'categories'. With this new function it is possible to track remarks as in call center software. The categories can be for example 'problem reporting', 'account changes' etc.
There is a general search for records per 'record type' by admin and broker. So in case of the remarks an extra menu item will show up in the administration menu with a search for remarks. This search page can have various search options like the member, admin/broker, date period, text, category (custom field)

Conciliation (bookkeeping) module
This function allows to mirror ‘external accounts’ like bank accounts or accounts from other currency systems in a Cyclos system. The imported transactions from the external account can be configured to generate specific types of (Cyclos) transactions.
The conciliation function will be typically used for the conciliation of external (backing) in conventional money and the balances and transactions in internal (Cyclos) units.

Quick access window
In the entry (home) page of the member section of Cyclos there is now a quick access window with icons that link directly to most common functions (place ad, modify profile, make payment etc)

Admin – personal notifications
In the previous version only members and brokers could receive personal notifications on events (defined in the preferences). With Cyclos 3.5 an administrator can enable e-mail notifications on specific system/member alerts, member to system messages (one or more categories can be selected), error logs and received payments (one or more transaction types can be selected)

Static documents
Next to the current html type member documents it is now possible to upload files like pdf, doc, images etc.
The files can be added to a member group or to an individual member. In case if the file belongs to an indiviual member the admin/broker can specify if the member can or cannot view the file.

Transaction feedback (qualifications)
Next to the 'general' member reference it is now possible to enable a feedback per transaction. The payer (buyer) has a  period to write a feedback. After this the receiver (seller) can add a reply (optional) and in case of conflict an admin can change a reference and give an final comment. The feedback overview page of a member will show an overview with recieved and given feedbacks and the totals.

Cyclos documentation project
Not really a feature but worth to mention. The Cyclos documentation project centralizes all technical documentation of the Cyclos project. The project is published as a wiki on http://project.cyclos.org/wiki. Persons that are interested in contributing can get a login.

 

Improvements

Help & Manuals refactoring
All help files have been reassembled by main subjects (e.g. payments, references, advertisements, account management, etc). There are a total of 30 help files with a fixed format. The working will be much the same as before. Users can click on the help icons on the funcion windows that will open the help file in a pop-up window and jump to the paragraph of the specific function.
The manuals will be constructed automaticaly from the help files. This way it will be considerably easier for the translators and also easier to maintain the translation. With every release we will publish a 'difference' file that shows (in different colors) all new and modified texts.

Webservices
Cyclos has now various webservices that allow interaction with other software products. The webservices available are: search and retreiving of advertisements and members profiles, direct payments and external (webshop) payments for paypal types of payments. Each webservice can be configured with its own security level.

Integration with websites for login and register
It is possible to access the login page and register page directly from an external website.

Import and export functions
To faciliate configuration of similar systems we have added import and export functions for various configurations as; translations, settings, categories and themes.

Charge back  on payments
An administrator can 'charge back' a payment what means that a payment in the oposite direction will be done with the same amount. The charge back payment will contain a link to the original payment. In case a payment has related transactions (like taxes) all will be charged back as a group.

Enhanced broker commisions
We added more types of possible broker commissions (system to broker of buyer/seller or member to broker of buyer/seller). A broker can now define his own commisions settings to his registered members or to an individual member.

Set timezone per Cyclos instance
For servers with instances with different timezones it is possible to define the time zone per instance.

UTF-8 enconding for all languages
Cyclos 3.5 will only have one language enconding for all languages. UTF-8 supports all known languages and characters.

Bulk member actions by administration
Some actions can now performed on an entire selection of members (by group, broker, custom field)

Improved transaction and account fees
Both transaction and account fees have more options and the configuration is displayed in a way that is more staightforward.

Layout mailing messages (with list)
The messages translations in administration became a quite a large page. Now all messages are shows in a list. The messages can be selected one by one and modified with a rich text (wysiwyg) editor

Calender icon for date selection
Next to date input fields there is now a calender icon that will open a visual calender that can be used to chose the date by mouse.

Improved advertisement search
The advertisement keyword search is now a full text (Google type) search. The main advertisement seach page shows a ‘tree’ with all categories and subcategories and the number of ads they contain. The categories and subcategories are links that can be selected and will open a list with the advertisements. There is also a option at the main page that shows directly the list of the latest (new) advertisements. These functions is also available as web service (for integration in websites).

Improved advertisement category management
The category management is now more dynamic. There can be 1 to 3 levels of categories and the order of categories can be changed using a ‘drag and drop’ mouse function. It is also possible to import and export the category file.

Improved member search
The member search is now a full text search that searches all profile fields. The member search for administrators has some eExtra search options like a group filter combo (only if group filters exist) and a search by broker (with auto complete)

Option to 'link' two select combos
When creating a new field it is now possible to 'link' a select combo with a second one. A typical example is a 'Province' select combo that (once a province is selected) will show the related cities in a 'City' select combo below. This option is available as custom field (for member profile, advertisements, loans fields) and can be included in the searches as well.

Improved security
– The MD5 hashing algorithm used for password encryption has been replaced by SHA2.
– Passwords are send encrypted over the Internet even if https is not used
– Minimal/maximal password length can now be set per group
– New setting to disallow easy password patterns like 1234, birthday etc
– Option to force users to change their password when password has been reset by admin

Transaction password per group per account
In the previous Cyclos version the transaction passwords where activated per member group. It happens in multiple currency systems that organizations only want the transaction password enabled on specific accounts. This is now possible.

Separation of translation and messages in admin section
All translation items have been taken from the settings and are now centralized under a main ‘Translation’ menu.

Local settings
For clarity reasons the local settings are divided now per logical function group
It is now also possible to import and export the settings

Rich text editor
A rich text (wysiwyg) html editor can be enabled for text areas like advertisement description, messages and custom fields (profile).

Broker to members mailings
A broker can send a mailing to its members. Either in plain text or in rich text.

Initial groups for external registration
In the previous Cyclos version members that register via the external (public) register page will fall in one group (defined in the system settings). It is now possible to present first a list of possible groups that the member can chose from (like consumer, business, etc). This way members that register externally will get directly the profile fields that are belong to their group. The group select on registration can also be enabled for brokers that register member with the internal register function. It is possible to specify a different set of member groups assinged to a broker group.

E-mail validation on new registrations
If this option is enabled a member that registers at the publich registration page will receive first an e-mail with a link that needs to be clicked in order for the registration to be activated. This will avoid bogus or spam registrations.

Default currency
When there are more than one currency available for a member group a default currency can be selected. If a member of that group places a new advertisement the default currency will be pre-selected.

Currency search on ads search
If more than one currency exists in the system there will be a currency search option in the advertisement search. But only in case if the member (group) has an active account with such a currency.

Local settings input validation on new login name
In case if the member/broker/admin can define the login name at member registration (e.g. it is not generated automatically) it is possible to force an allowed input ‘pattern’ with a regular expression. (e.g. allowed characters/digit, min max length etc)

Statistics
The statistics function has many new functions and the layout has been simplified a bit.

E-mail messages in separate thread (process)
Actions that generated mails like adding an interest or sending a message to a member group where very slow because the confirmation only appeared after the e-mails were send.
The mails are now send in a different process.

Repay & discard loan option for any loan repayment
It is now possible to repay or discard any loan repayment (and not just the last payment as in Cyclos 3.0)

E-mail confirmation validation (link) for external registration
When users register externally they will receive an e-mail asking them to reply in order to confirm the e-mail address. Only after confirmation the account will be created and the user will be send a temporary login password (the temporary password is an option)

Customized login page per group and group filter
It is now possible to define a different (customized) login page per group or group filter. This can be done be inlcuding the group name in the URL of the login page (group filters are normally used to combine member groups in a logical entity, for example a community) This option can be usefull for systems with mulitiple communities that want to have their own configurations and login page.

Default notification preferences
An admin can specify the default notification preferences per member group

Available balance, reserved balance
The transaction summary page shows now next to the balance the 'available balance' and 'reserved amount' (if applicable).
This means that if there are account fees like interest and demurrage the total amount of these charges are placed in a 'reserved' bucket until they are charged. The lower credit limit is also counted within the available balance.

Separation of themes types
The (layout) themes are now separated as system, login page and mobile page types. This makes it easier update new themes (without the risk to change your customizations)

Enhance group search
The manage groups page in the admin section has now a search box where you can search by type (member, broker, admin) and by group filter (community)
For systems with many groups this makes it easier to manage.

Enhanced public register page
We noticed that many organisations added to the public register page some additional text with an obligatory 'do you agree' select box.
This is now an internal option what means the page does not need to be customized.

Template for create new group
When creating a new group you can choose (from a combo) to copy settings and configurations from an existing group.

Reply to member e-mail
In Cyclos 3.0 member to member messages that were forwarded to an e-mail address still had the default e-mail address of the Cyclos administration as reply address.
Now the reply address will be the e-mail address of the member, but only if this member has the e-mail not set as 'hidden' in his profile.

Delete messages on trash
Member messages in the trash bin will be removed from the database after X days (system setting)

Advertisements interests – select currency option
If a value is given when entering a new interest a currency select combo box will appear (in case if there is more than one currency defined)

New advertisement group settings
Max description (text) size for advertisements
Hide ad select boxes 'external payment' 'permanent ad' and set default value.
View ads list member by member shows column with Type (offer or demand)
New ad button at insert ad page
Extra advanced search options for Admins (by group and groupfilter)