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New Content Delivery Network (CDN)

May’s been a busy month here at MIDAS HQ!

Not only have we migrated Certificate Authorities to Let’s Encrypt, but we’re also been testing a new Content Delivery Network (CDN) feature in MIDAS.

To explain what a CDN does, imagine viewing a photograph online. That photograph will be stored on a web server somewhere. If you’re in the UK and the server where the photograph resides is located in Australia, it will take your browser longer to establish a connection and download the image from the other side of the world than it would do if the server was located in the same country as the person viewing the image. Now, we may only be talking of a few fractions of a second longer, but if you’re viewing a webpage containing several photographs, that can soon add up!

A Content Delivery Network vastly improves performance by storing (or “caching”) a copy of the photograph from the source server on multiple servers all around the world. Then, when a viewer requests the photograph, the CDN serves a cached copy of the file from whichever server is geographically closest to the viewer. This greatly improves the load time for the viewer, and also reduces the load on the original server (as the photograph is served from the CDN “cache” instead).

As a CDN “caches” a source file/webpage, it is only suitable for “static” content which doesn’t change frequently (for example, images, Javascript, Cascading Style Sheets, downloads, etc). “Dynamic” content (i.e. content which changes frequently/upon each visit, files must still be served directly from the origin server, rather than via the CDN.

In MIDAS v4.18 we unofficially introduced support for serving static resources from a CDN (CloudFlare), and this has been automatically enabled for all MIDAS trials and for all new cloud-hosted customers since the start of April, whilst we closely monitored its impact and effectiveness.

As our CDN trials proved effective and exceeded our expectations, throughout May we’ve been engaged in a phased roll-out of the CDN for remaining cloud-hosted customers, and we’re pleased to announce that all cloud-hosted MIDAS systems now have CDN support enabled.

We’re currently seeing nearly 90% of all requests for static resources being served directly from CloudFlare’s global CDN network, and performance improvements and reduction in load times of customer’s hosted MIDAS systems of between 13% – 67%!

We’re sure you’ll appreciate these performance improvements, which are all part of our ongoing commitment to provide the best possible service for our customers! …and we’ve more improvements and enhancements in the pipeline too!

Let's EncryptDuring the course of May we’ve been migrating our domain’s security certificates from ones issued by GlobalSign to ones issued instead by Let’s Encrypt.

What Is A Security Certificate?

In essence, a security certificate is what allows you to connect to a website over a secure https connection (instead of traditional, insecure, http). A valid and strong security certificate is what ensures that the connection and traffic between your web browser and the website/service you’re using is encrypted.

What Is A Certificate Authority?

Put simply, a “Certificate Authority” (or CA for short) is an organization responsible for issuing and revoking security certificates for websites. Popular CA’s include Comodo, Symantec, GoDaddy, and GlobalSign to name but a few.

Which Domains Are Affected?

All mid.as domains and *.mid.as sub domains (including our cloud-hosted customer’s domains)

Why Is This Happening?

Our security certificates were due for renewal in June, and as part of our continuous commitment to provide visitors to our site and customers alike with the best possible experience, we took the opportunity to review who provides our security certificates. Let’s Encrypt provide HTTPS certificates to over 70 million domains, and switching to certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt allows us to simplify and automate the management of security certificates across our growing MIDAS network.

Will I Notice Anything Different?

In short, no!

In order to migrate our CA from GlobalSign to Let’s Encrypt, we needed to remove the previous GlobalSign (AlphaSSL) certificate from each *.mid.as domain and install a new Let’s Encrypt certificate in its place. We have being doing this in a phased transition for all *.mid.as domains during the course of May, and we’re pleased to report that this transition to Let’s Encrypt is now fully completed.

Here’s how the old and new certificate issuers now look for our *.mid.as domains:

CA Migration to Let's Encrypt

We’d also like to reassure hosted customers that no domains, URLs, or IP addresses have changed as a result of this CA migration.

If you experience any issues or have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help!

A note for cloud-hosted API users

Whilst unlikely, depending upon your code and development platform/language, you may initially receive a certificate warning/error when mmaking API calls now that the security certificate for your dedicated *.mid.as subdomain has changed, which may prevent your code/app from working temporarily until you accept the new security certificate.

Also, in some rare cases, you may not be able to access the API if your platform/device is listed as incompatible in Let’s Encrypt’s certificate compatibility list.

Finally, please be aware that Let’s Encrypt issues auto-renewing certificates which are valid for fixed periods of 90 days.

MIDAS v4.18 Out Now!

Over the past few months we’ve been busy working on the next update to our Web Based Room Booking and Resource Scheduling software MIDAS, and we’re very excited to announce that this latest update (v4.18) is now available!

As you’ve come to expect from our regular releases, this latest update includes a variety of new and improved features, many of which are based on direct customer feedback!

Here’s What’s New & Improved in v4.18:

How To Get MIDAS v4.18…

New To MIDAS?

We are committed to fair and accessible pricing for all organizations regardless of size. We’re totally upfront and transparent about our pricing structure, and you can purchase MIDAS v4.18 securely through our website and be up and running in no time!

“Self Hosted” Customers:

Self-Hosted customers with ongoing Annual Support Subscriptions will be able to update to v4.18 in the coming days. It only takes a couple of clicks – simply log in to your MIDAS system and go to MIDAS Admin Options → Manage MIDAS → Update

“Cloud Hosted” Customers:

Cloud-Hosted customers don’t need to do anything! – All our active Cloud-Hosted MIDAS customers were automatically updated to this latest version of MIDAS over Easter!

We hope you’ll enjoy all the new and improved features that MIDAS v4.18 has to offer!

In other news…

MIDAS was recently tested and reviewed by FinancesOnline.com. FinancesOnline is a respected global Business-to-Business Directory of SaaS (Software As A Service) solutions, each of which have been independently reviewed by experts. We’re delighted that FinancesOnline have awarded MIDAS both their “Great User Experience” and “Rising Star” awards!

FinancesOnline - Great User Experience Award FinancesOnline - Rising Star Award

You can read their full and independent review of MIDAS here.

About these awards…
FinancesOnline recognizes software solutions that provide exceptional ease of use and an intuitive interface with its “Great User Experience” award in their appointment booking software category. Meanwhile, the “Rising Star” award certifies software products that have proven reliable and effective for users. MIDAS is also recommended in the platform’s “What is appointment scheduling software?” guide. These recognitions are complemented by the high 98 percent user satisfaction rating gathered by their Customer Satisfaction Algorithm, which aggregates the feedback and reviews of users across the web.

MIDAS v4.18 is almost ready for general release, and boasts a variety of user-requested features and improvements.

One of these improvements concerns the way that information is display on “blocks” within the booking grid. Each “block” within the booking grid represents a booking, and administrators can set up to two booking fields to display within each block, and a further two booking fields to display is the associated tooltip.

Here’s a typical example showing the Client and Organization field values on the booking block, and the booking times and booking notes in a corresponding tooltip:

Booking Block within the MIDAS Booking Grid

Now, that’s all fairly obvious as to which fields are being displayed, but as MIDAS allows you to add your own custom booking fields, which can also be shown on booking blocks and their tooltips, consider the following example:

Booking Block within the MIDAS Booking Grid with no field names

In the above example, the value of two custom booking fields has been set to shown on booking blocks. These two fields are drop-down lists, however, because the name of the field isn’t shown on the block, only it’s value, the above offers little insight into what’s being shown.

That’s why for v4.18, we’re giving administrators the option to choose whether individual field names are included on booking blocks/tooltips along with their corresponding values, or just the field values only (as in earlier versions of MIDAS).

Here’s the above example again but this time with the settings configured to include the name of the field too:

Booking Block within the MIDAS Booking Grid displaying the names and values of custom booking fields

As you can see, this is a lot much user-friendly, and we’re sure this improvement will be welcomed by our customers.

Click here to continue reading about some of the other new & improved features coming in MIDAS v4.18!

MIDAS v4.18 is coming soon! To be notified when it becomes publicly available, please join our mailing list, or to be among the very first to try the v4.18 “Beta”, why not join the Beta Test? (We reward our Beta testers too!)

We think we’ve really “Excelled” with our forthcoming update to MIDAS… literally!

…because we’re adding the ability to export directly in the native Excel (2007+) .xlsx format.

Previously in MIDAS, if you wished to export bookings, clients, invoice summaries, or resources directly to Excel, you’d first need to export as a .CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, and then import this file into Excel.

However, in MIDAS v4.18, you’ll now be able to export data directly into a native .xlsx Excel 2007+ format!

Export data to Excel (.xlsx)

Furthermore, following customer feedback, we’re also providing the ability to export Statistics & Reports data directly to Excel too. On Statistics report pages you’ll now find an “Export” icon:

Export statistics to Excel (.xlsx)

Self-Hosted Customers: Please note – in order to take advantage of the new Excel export options in MIDAS v4.18, you’ll need to ensure that the Perl module “Excel::Writer::XLSX” has been installed on your server. (This module is already installed on our cloud-hosted infrastructure). For assistance installing Perl modules on your server, please refer to our KB article: How to install Perl modules.

Click here to continue reading about some of the other new & improved features coming in MIDAS v4.18!

MIDAS v4.18 is coming soon! To be notified when it becomes publicly available, please join our mailing list, or to be among the very first to try the v4.18 “Beta”, why not join the Beta Test? (We reward our Beta testers too!)
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