We’re excited to announce that the Blesta v3 beta 1 has been released. If you didn’t receive the announcement email, you can view it online here.
If you are participating in the beta, we look forward to your feedback!
If you have a paid license and want to get started with the beta, go to https://account.blesta.com/order and enter your v2 license key. On step 2 click “Continue” not “Checkout”. Then, create a new account and follow the steps to complete checkout. Your beta license will be sent to you via email within a few minutes. Email support if you run into any trouble.
If you don’t have a paid license and want in on the beta, you can purchase Blesta v2.5 today for the promo price of $99, and then follow the directions above to request your beta key.
So far the response to the beta has been pretty huge, and we are very thankful for all of the support and words of encouragement! Together, we can make Blesta the best, most trusted billing software available!
Tags: beta | v3 | version 3
Watch the video first, and then scroll down for more details. It will be more fun that way. Also, be sure to turn on your sound and make the video full-screen.
Last week, we announced the beta release date and decided to do a contest. We offered a free owned license to the first person to guess what feature we were announcing today.
So how did it go? Well, we received a lot of guesses, really good ones. Some were for features that are actually already in v3, and others were definitely ones to consider. Unfortunately, nobody guessed multi-company support. I guess you didn’t see it coming.
So, what exactly is Multi-Company support?
Multi-Company allows you to manage more than one company in the same Blesta installation, each at their own domain, with their own branding, unique settings, client bases, and more.
I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg. This is multi-company done right. You really have to try it to understand the scope.
Is there any extra cost for multi-company?
Yes, each additional company will be priced at a low, one time fee of $95. Discounted “company packs” will also be available.
Is this a new feature, that you just implemented?
No. In a way, we subtlely announced this feature almost two years ago, when we made an early post about v3. At the time we didn’t realize how long the road ahead would be. But what we did know, was that multi-company support was already built in. We designed it that way. From the beginning.
Here’s the image we posted at the top of that article. (And last weeks!)
And, here’s how it looks when you put a dark background color behind it.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t notice. We don’t think anyone did.
A poll anyone?
In a recent poll, we asked the question: Do you manage more than one company or brand? The result was surprising. Over 60% of respondents said yes. We took a sigh of relief.
There you have it, multi-company support. Nobody else has it. The whole system revolves around it. It makes running multiple companies easy.
What do you think? Do you need multi-company support? Will you in the future?
Tags: blesta v3 | branding | brands | companies | multi-company | multiple | v3
We are excited to announce that the beta for blesta version 3 is scheduled to start in less than three weeks, on Wednesday, May 15th.
The beta marks a major milestone in the development of version 3, and is the culmination of thousands of hours of planning, design, and development. The beta will be available to everyone with a paid license in good standing. We will be posting something here, and sending out an email on the 15th with more details on how to get a beta key. Sign up for our newsletter if you aren’t already.
Although the beta is about to start, we feel like this is just the beginning. There’s a lot on our roadmap, especially in terms of additional modules and gateways and we will be prioritizing continued development based on your feedback.
How about a contest?
Next Thursday I’ll be posting a video about a major new feature that is part of version 3. It’s actually one of the first features we built for version 3, and none of our competitors have it. Can you guess what it is? (No purchase necessary. Alpha developers do not qualify!)
We have a free owned license for the first person to guess correctly. Email your guess to sales. One guess per person. I’ll announce the winner (if someone guesses correctly) and what the feature is next Thursday.
Tags: beta | blesta | v3 | version 3
The ticket system in v3 is a plugin, which means it can be installed or uninstalled with the click of a button. If you haven’t noticed yet, we try to keep things simple by separating everything into one of two categories: Core, and Extensions. Since extensions can register links and views in the system, if you don’t need a particular extension uninstalling it results in a lighter interface.
I don’t know about you, but I feel less stressed, and more productive with less clutter!
Here are some of the features in the ticket system:
Overall a lot of improvements over the ticket system in v2.5, and we have even more planned for future releases. The video is below, be sure to turn on your sound and make the video full-screen.
Tags: blesta v3 | departments | email piping | imap | pop3 | staff | support | ticket system | v3
Financial advisory firm, Deloitte, recently published an article detailing the ever expanding need for two-factor authentication. They predict that, “a number of technology and telecommunication companies will likely implement some form of multifactor authentication with their services, software and/or devices in 2013.” I see this less as a prediction and more of an advanced report of the facts, since we had the same notion back in 2010 when we announced two-factor authentication for Blesta.
Deloitte’s predictions go even further, stating that passwords that were previously considered secure (8-characters of mixed case, numbers, letters, and symbols) are now vulnerable to hackers, primarily due to password reuse and the use of graphics cards (GPUs) to perform dictionary attacks. Personally, I’ve never found those types of passwords to be very secure. After all, we know that password security is derived from entropy (randomness) and entropy increases with length. So rather than trying to remember 8 to 10 character passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols that have no meaning, why not simply use a long natural password? Bonus points if your language of choice is not typical of the application’s audience. Extra bonus points if it’s a dead/non-existent language. Anata no o pasuwado wa nan desu ka?
Of course, what’s more secure than a secure password? How about a password that changes every time you use it? “How could I possibly keep track of that,” you might ask? That’s where two-factor authentication takes over.
Time-Based One-Time Passwords (TOTP) are generated using an algorithm that produces a pseudo-random value based on any given moment in time (remember, randomness = good). The benefit of using two-factor authentication is that you need not put all your trust into the security of your password. Random token generators (or apps for your smart phone) can produce a one-time password that’s used in combination with your standard password, and as the name suggests are used only once. That means that even an attacker that knows your password and knows the token you just used to login to your account still can’t use the information to login as you.
Tags: authentication | blesta 3 | password | security | TOTP | two-factor | v3 | version 3
Quick links are basically bookmarks. In the grand scheme of things, they may not be the most powerful of features, but don’t write them off so easily. Quick links are simple, unobtrusive, and very useful for getting back to where you need to be.
If there’s a client you frequently access, or a package, setting, or email template you aren’t quite happy with, just quick link it! Quick links appear on the dashboard and are staff member unique.. that means you are the only one that will see your quick links.
Add and remove quick links with a simple click directly from the page you’re on. Get back to where you need to be quickly and easily. Just another way you can customize your dashboard.
The video is below, as usual you can make the video full screen and be sure to turn on your sound.
Tags: bookmark | quick links | v3 | version 3
We like to do everything in house, and we work best together as a team. From idea, to design, to implementation we’re all involved to one degree or another in every part of development. Granted, we each have our strong points, but the unique ideas of every member of our team can be found in every stage of development.
I was feeling a little nostalgic and thought I’d share a bit of the evolution of the v3 design. The video below shows how the design for v3 came along, from the first hour as a static image in Photoshop to how it looks and works today.
It’s incredibly satisfying to create.. and to see something static come alive.
The video is below, as usual you can make the video full screen. (No sound this time)
Tags: blesta v3 | design | photoshop | v3 | version 3
It’s incredible how quickly this year has gone by. It’s been productive, but I’m looking forward to what 2013 has in store. I think it’s going to be an amazing year for Blesta!
The v3 alpha is in its third release and is going great, the feedback we’re getting from developers is incredibly valuable and reassuring. We’re working towards the beta release now, resolving issues, and finishing up some critical features while pushing out regular alpha updates.
This week I wanted to show you custom client fields. Not an incredibly exciting feature, but it’s a really useful one.
The video is below, as usual you can make the video full screen, and be sure to turn on your sound!
Tags: blesta v3 | clients | custom | custom client fields | fields | v3 | version 3
Whoa, it has been a busy week! If you didn’t hear, we released v3 alpha on Wednesday, which is a huge milestone. We’re excited and gearing up for the next phase, which I think will be a lot of fun.
Part of prepping for the alpha was building an installer and handling licensing. We opted to do a CLI installer for now, but you’ll have the option of installing via CLI or your browser at release. Once installed, the rest is handled in the browser — entering your license key and creating your first staff member.
Tags: alpha | cli | installer | license | licensing | v3 | version 3
When we originally introduced two factor authentication there weren’t a whole lot of options available to produce one-time-passwords. Since that time a number of applications have popped up for Andriod, Blackberry, and iOS devices. Chief among those is the Google Authenticator.
Using your Google Authenticator with Blesta is pretty straight forward, but requires a little manipulation to get the key in the correct format. Blesta expects TOTP keys to be in hexadecimal format (base16), but Google Authenticator uses base32. So we have to convert our Google Authenticator keys into hexadecimal before storing in Blesta.
There are a number of online utilities to perform this operation. Here’s one: http://www.darkfader.net/toolbox/convert/.
As an example, “PEHMPSDNLXIOG65U” (in base32) becomes “790ec7c86d5dd0e37bb4″ in hexadecimal. Simply select Time-based One Time Password as the two factor authentication method in Blesta then enter the converted (hexdecimal) value and you’re good to go.
You can download the Google Authenticator from the iOS app store, or Android Marketplace.
Tags: authentication | google | security | TOTP | two factor authentication
Packages in v3 are very similar to packages in previous versions, with a lot of additional functionality. The goal in redesigning packages for v3 was to facilitate addons, allow for quantities, provide for better organization of packages, and support specific pricing in multiple currencies (Rather than relying on currency conversion, which Blesta can do too).
A few notable items..
Tags: cpanel | module | packages | v3 | version 3
We hear it all the time, people love the simplicity of Blesta. Part of the challenge in v3 was to add a lot of new functionality but at the same time maintain and even improve on the simplicity and ease of use of Blesta. The last thing we want is a cluttered interface displaying links to things most people will never use, which is why all the more advanced functionality is hidden under a tiny link called “Settings”. It’s also why non-core items have been delegated as plugins. If it’s a plugin, it can be uninstalled — get rid of those unnecessary links, get back to productivity!
Today’s video is on Client Themes, which can be created and selected under that tiny link, Settings. Selecting one of the themes Blesta ships with, or creating a new theme lets you quickly and easily theme Blesta to match your website without editing a single line of code. Of course, you can still dig down into the markup if you want to for a more complete integration, but it’s no longer a necessity for a unique, non cookie-cutter, client area.
Gradients! Need I say more?
Tags: blesta v3 | client themes | themes | v3
Blesta v3 was designed with a major emphasis on developers. We know that when others can easily write their own extensions on our platform and make powerful new features available to the market, it makes our product that much better.
We expect a lot of these 3rd party extensions will serve niche markets, and others will compete directly with or extend functionality we’ve built.
With all we’ve done to support developers, the issue becomes about getting their hard work in front of Blesta users. By no means have we created a closed system that forces a particular distribution channel. Our focus is the user experience, and what we’ve built is right up that alley. It’s much easier when users can find extensions quickly and easily, see ratings and feedback from others, and install with a click of the mouse.. all within the application.
So, we built The Marketplace.
The Marketplace is built right into Blesta and should be available at launch. Developers can list their extensions on The Marketplace if they like. It’s not a requirement and extensions can be installed manually but we think the exposure and ease of installation makes it the right place to be.
We’ll have a lot more on The Marketplace in the future, so stay tuned.
If all goes according to plan this next week, I may have another video for you on the client area!
Tags: marketplace | v3 | version 3
In software development, this is where things start to get really exciting for me. Thousands of hours of planning, research, and development all coming together into a single product. I feel like we’re entering the home stretch, even though our next release is in many ways just the beginning of what will surely be plenty of fantastic, feature-rich updates and extensions.
The video today focuses on a rather small feature: Staff BCC Notices. But, this feature is representative of how we approach both permissions and usability. In terms of usability, staff members can subscribe to only those client emails that they want to receive a copy of with just a few clicks. In terms of permissions, the client emails they can subscribe to are specified as part of their staff group so staff members may only opt-in to notices that they have been given permission for. This might vary depending on the staff role, billing or sales, for example.
Tags: bcc | blesta v3 | notices | staff | v3
Back in May our largest competitor WHMCS was compromised, and I wrote a blog post titled “Thoughts on Security“. After my post, the hackers released a data dump and the personal information of their customers became public. Names, email addresses, credit card numbers and more. A nightmare scenario for any company, and worse for their customers.
I got a lot of email, and a few phone calls after that post. People are now, more than ever, concerned about security and they should be. It’s something that cannot be taken for granted, and can no longer be ignored. It requires diligence. There is no such thing as security through obscurity.
Most recently LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Blizzard were all compromised. These are big companies with big budgets and they are big targets, but it highlights the fact that nobody is immune.
Today’s post is sort of a follow up on that last post. I wanted to be more specific in terms of security measures we’ve taken within our software — specifically our next major release, version 3. It’s because we believe security doesn’t come from obscurity that we are so open about the steps we take to protect not just our customer data, but in as far as possible, our customers’ customers.
We don’t claim to know everything there is to know about security, but it’s an area we spend a considerable amount of time in discussion, research, and development. It takes priority over new features in our development cycle.
Passwords in v3 are stored using bcrypt, computed from an HMAC-SHA-256 hash of the user password, if supported by the server. The advantage to using bcrypt is that it slows down the time it takes to compute the value. How could slowing it down possibly be good you might ask? Because, if an attacker happens to acquire your users’ hashed passwords, and also the key used to generate the HMAC-SHA-256 hashes, it would be impractical and time consuming to brute force them from a list of common passwords (known as a dictionary attack). Without the HMAC key, it becomes computationally infeasible to brute force (with 2^256 possible combinations of hashed passwords, and a 1/4 second to compute 1 bcrypt password, you would only be able to attempt 126,144,000 bcrypt passwords per year. So, statistically, it would take 4.5897 x10^68 years to crack a single user’s password).
Now, assuming the HMAC key is known, a 60,000 password dictionary file would take statistically 2.083 hours to crack 1 users password assuming the password is in the dictionary to begin with. This is fantastic because it gives you much needed time to reset every users password and notify them, making the leaked hashes virtually useless.
Additionally, a bcrypt password is never the same. If user A and user B both have a password of “hunter2″, the stored values will not be identical.
Blesta supports two-factor authentication (in v2.5 and v3) for both TOTP (Time based One Time Password) and MOTP (Mobile One Time Password) for staff users. Both methods use a token, like OATH Token for the iPhone. Staff members log-in by entering their username and password, and are then prompted for their one time password. Once this token is entered, it can never be used again, so a man in the middle attack is not feasible.
I did a video on Staff Login a while back that shows two-factor authentication in action, if you haven’t seen it.
Shipping with v3 is a plugin called PHPIDS, which is an intrusion detection system. The plugin is excellent at detecting, logging, and blocking various attacks and uses the PHPIDS library.
From the PHPIDS website:
Furthermore the PHPIDS is able to detect yet unknown attack patterns with the PHPIDS Centrifuge component. This component does in depth string analysis and measurement and detects about 85% to 90% of all tested vectors given a minimum length of 25 characters.
The video is below, as usual you can make the video full screen, and be sure to turn on your sound.
ACL (Access Control List)
v3 introduces a fully featured ACL. Access to different areas and tasks is limited to the group a staff member is part of. For example, a support staff member may only need to have access to support features, and be kept far away from private customer details. You have fine-grained control over what they can and can’t access.
I did a video on this one too, appropriately named Full Featured ACL. It’s worth a watch, if you haven’t seen it.
v3 logs a lot of things, including credit card accesses. Anytime a staff member views a credit card number it’s logged. If card numbers are siphoned off, you’ll be able to tell exactly who took them.
Offsite Gateways and Batch Processing
In v3 we are introducing offsite storage of card details for gateways that support it, like Authorize.net’s CIM method. For those using local storage of card numbers they are still encrypted. Now with up to 3072-bit RSA cipher (depending on your system), and you can optionally set a passphrase on them. A passphrase is similar to a password, and is not stored on the server anywhere. Credit card numbers can be encrypted without the passphrase, but the passphrase would be required to decrypt them. When enabled, all payments made from stored card numbers must be batched manually with the passphrase. It’s an added layer of security that can be enabled or disabled anytime. (Just don’t forget the passphrase if you set one!)
minPHP and PDO
The open source PHP framework we wrote, minPHP, provides foundation level security for Blesta v3. minPHP supports, and v3 uses PDO which helps make queries safe and secure through parameter binding. Cody wrote more on this in his article title Eliminating SQL Injection.
Smarty’s not that Smart
Blesta has never used the Smarty template system, and v3 is no different. We rarely trust 3rd party libraries, especially bloated ones with very little benefit. The template system in minPHP is light weight and secure and it has many similarities to the template system we used in previous versions. We feel justified in our approach to keeping things simple and light weight, especially in light of recent security exploits with Smarty that affected at least two of our competitors.
Our strict requirements in terms of integration of 3rd party libraries, and our aversion to bloated code put Blesta on a higher playing field.
I’m not good at marketing, I’m really not. I tend to think of good marketers as a little dishonest and don’t always hold them in the highest esteem. Their job is to portray their product in the best possible light and at times make it seem better than the competition. I think the product should speak for itself and I am passionate about what we’re doing because I know we are building something great.
Part of what sets us apart from our competition is our desire to do things right, along with our expertise to follow through on that desire. No shortcuts. No compromise. After all, that’s what I would want in a billing system for myself, because, if the focus is right, everything else will fall into place. If not, it’s an exhausting game of cat and mouse and I have no interest in that.
Tags: ACL | bcrypt | intrusion detection | PDO | phpids | security | sql injection | two factor authentication | v3 | version 3
ach ACL api authentication behind the scenes blesta blesta 3 blesta 3.0 blesta v3 cli client area design developer commentary documentation encryption gateways importing invoices licensing minphp payments plugins security sql injection staff support TOTP translator v3 version 3
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