Polishing up the ‘ol library

Things are going swimmingly with the new library. We crossed the 1000 item mark in no time at all, and there's a whole lot of sharing going on.

Several of you wrote in with great ideas. With this feedback in mind, we have spiffed up the library:

  • You now control whether or not checking out/in an item should email the other person
  • You can add comments to checked-out items, e.g. "it's in the mail"
  • There is a now a default preference "share my library with all friends" that includes any new friends who come along (see Library: Share with Friends)

13 Responses to “Polishing up the ‘ol library”

  1. Tarwin Stroh-Spijer Says:

    Thanks guys! Awesome work …

  2. Varun Chatterji Says:

    Hi guys,

    Great work on BillMonk! This is a sort of feature request. Would like to see an authorize transaction feature added. As in if someone is recording a transaction, the people involved should get mailed with a link to authorize their share. Right now if someone enters an inorrect transaction, there is no way to deny it unless you go through the manual process of contacting the person who added the transaction.

    This is a pain. There should also be a ledger balance which basically records the amount including unauthorized payments. The actual balance reflects only the authorized/approved transactions. I realize this might be a pain for some users as it requires more fine grained control but BillMonk should support the feature and may leave it turned off by default for users who want a simpler process and don’t require fine grained control. Again when a payment is made, the guy to whom the payment is made should actually confirm that he/she received payment.

    Perhaps other users can comment on this post to endorse my feature request?

  3. Indradeep Says:

    I’d agree with Varun. This feature could prove to be extremely practical.

  4. Darius Says:

    yup.. agreed. would be great if i can approve before transactions are added to me. for the same reason i dont use interbank transfer for stuff like phone and utilities bills – i want to know how much before i pay, even though i SHOULD trust the carriers and utilities companies. ( i would imagine mistakes will occur much more often with laymen, making this feature all the more important )

  5. Sourabh Says:

    Approval of transactions is important and it some how makes
    one realize that how much he or she is spending.
    otherwise the bills will just keep accumulating very soon
    you’ll relaize that you owe people thousands of dollars without
    you realizing it ! 🙂

  6. Varun Chatterji Says:

    By the way, I used to be a user of a similar system written by my friend and co-founder of my company tenCube. It had all the features I am requesting and also some other nice features like weekly summary mails etc. All of us migrated to BillMonk only beacause the web hosting really sucked for Rishi’s system. BillMonk has far nicer UI and is quite easy to use, you guys got that right but the other features mentioned would be great to have. Rishi is willing to share his source code/demos with you guys in case you are interested (for free of course).

  7. rishi Says:

    i used to run a similar website for my small grp of friends. I ran it for 2 years before we migrated to billmonk. I have some interesting ideas.
    1) ppl feel out of control if their account balance moves up without their consent.
    2) selecting multiple ppl for shared bill is a little painful. I love your UI but i feel finding a way to simplify adding multiple ppl to the bill will make it a lot more attractive.

    Would be more than glad to help.

  8. billmonk Says:

    This is an interesting conversation and I’d like to encourage more people to voice their opinion before entering an Offical Proclaimation.

    Before I return to lurking, though, I’d like to clear-up some possible misconceptions. Varun, you can in fact go back and edit any incorrect transaction that affects you; you don’t have to ask whoever entered the transaction to change it for you. All changes are audited and result in notifications; and anyone can edit a transaction they disagree with; so if someone does something that’s incorrect, you’re empowered to know about it and fix it. See: https://www.billmonk.com/about/faq#badpeople

    If possible, I’d love to get into the more specific details of how an approval system would work. Are you approving the transfer itself, so it can happen? (Opt-in model). Or are you approving the notification after the fact? (Oversight model).

  9. Chacha Says:

    I agree… we need to have a approval system. The transaction should not be approved unless the borrower approves it. If the borrower him/herself adds a transaction, perhaps we can do without an approval.

  10. Arthaey Angosii Says:

    @billmonk: If designed to allow it, you should be able to support both opt-in and oversight models, which could then be chosen as a user preference.

  11. Ankur Says:

    Although we have the option of editing the transactions entered by other people, it is sometimes very difficult to track the changes made by multiple people. So its always better to have an approval system so that you can confirm what you owe to people.

  12. Rashmi Says:

    I totally agree with this. I would definitely want to approve the transaction before the system shoes that I owe someone money. Its very difficult to keep track of all transactions and the changes being made by people without getting our authorization.

  13. billmonk Says:

    Thanks for everyone’s comments here, and to those who wrote to us directly. We appreciate all your feedback, and we understand the point you’re making. 🙂

    We observe that people want an approval system so that mistakes don’t go by unnoticed. Once you know there’s a mistake, it’s easy to fix yourself. It seems like the problem is having a good way to be notified of important events and acknowledging the message.

    An approval system on the money transaction is just one way to do this. One of the downsides of an approval system is that, if you’re the payer recording a debt, do you really want all payees to have to approve that they owe what you know they owe you? What if they don’t use the system regularly, or are lazy? There would be two summary numbers everywhere, approved debts and tentative debts. Over time, you might start ignoring the approve debt number altogether, and treat the tentative debt as actionable, which weakens the practical benefit of approval. Another issue is that of workflow complexity, because approval systems put a lot more burden onto the users.

    We have a message-based solution in the works which we believe solves the core problem of making sure that no change affecting you escapes your attention. Our current notifications were intended to provide this functionality, but have too much noise and don’t require your acknowledgement.

    We’ll blog when our new solution goes live – stay tuned!

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