2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review (Image)

Phew… 2017 flew by, didn’t it!? Before our team locks in our plan for Gravity PDF in 2018 I wanted to look back and see just how far we’ve come in the last 12 months. The TL;DR is we wrote a lot of code, completed a load of Bespoke projects and released our online store!

Gravity PDF 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3

First up, in January the first beta of Gravity PDF 4.1 landed. This release saw the PDF Template Manager which allowed users to easily install our Shop Templates (or their own custom templates) without using an FTP client. We also added Gravity PDF merge tags and four column support to our Core and Universal PDF templates. It was production ready on March 31 and released to the public (subsequently, 4.1.1 was released the very next day).

Gravity PDF 4.2  landed on June 21 and added pagebreak support out of the box for Core and Universal templates. Users could add a special “pagebreak” CSS class in the Form Editor to ensure that field would always display on a new page. We also added additional support for Gravity Perk’s Terms of Service Field and allowed merge tags and shortcodes to be processed automatically in Administrative fields. A contentious feature (mostly due to an edge-case caching bug we couldn’t reproduce) where we’d redirect users to a landing page showing off the new features in a major or minor release was removed.

Gravity PDF 4.3 came out two months later on August 18 and the major user-facing change was support for Gravity Wiz’s popular E-commerce perk. This release also added the necessary hooks needed for one of the two Premium Extensions we released in 2017 (see below).

Along with the three minor releases, five point releases were also pushed out, including 4.1.1, 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.3.1 and 4.3.2.

Template Shop

One of our most popular Universal Templates, Formium

We soft-launched our PDF Template store on April 7 and announced it to our 800 newsletter subscribers at the time. The templates control the generated PDFs appearance, and our vision was, and is, to give website owners a cost-effective option to control the PDF design. The store initially launched with five Universal templates, two Invoices and three Letters and we’ve since grown the available Invoice templates to four. We plan to continue expanding our available designs in 2018.

Extensions Shop

The Previewer extension allows your PDFs to be previewed before the form is submitted.

The Extension store is one of my favourite additions of 2017. We’ve been working towards premium extensions for Gravity PDF since 2015, and on July 7 the store was launched with our first extension, Core Booster. This add-on allows users greater control of the display of Core and Universal templates, including being able to show all available Checkbox/Radio/Select field options in the PDF and “checking” the ones selected by the user. We shipped version 1.0, 1.0.1 and 1.0.2.

On August 22, we released our 2nd and final extension for the year, Previewer. This add-on allows users to preview their generated PDFs before the form is submitted (a feature that had been requested numerous times over the years – we finally got there). We shipped version 1.0 and 1.0.1 in 2017. We’re currently working on adding support for Gravity Flow’s User Input Step and am hopeful it’ll be in the next minor release.

Finally, an extension currently in the pipeline is Images, which will allow user-uploaded images to be automatically resized and displayed in Core and Universal templates. Those resized images will also be available to developers creating custom templates. We’re aiming to release this in the first quarter of 2018.

Non Profit Discount

This was another of my favourite changes in 2017. In June we announced a 50% discount for Non Profit organisations or charities for any of our Extensions or Templates. If you’d like to take us up on this offer, just fill out your details and, once verified, we’ll email you a coupon.

WordPress Meetup

Spearheaded by Robey Lawrence, a local WordPress Meetup began in 2017 and I became a co-organiser with both Robey and his wife, Mel Lawrence. Along with helping organise the monthly meetup (and speaking at a couple), Gravity PDF sponsored the food and drinks for a number of events. Topics covered throughout the year included Backups / Restores, Simple Security Steps, Optimising your Site for Speed, An Introduction to Plugin Development, Gutenberg, Page Builders and E-Commerce. We plan to continue being involved with the group in 2018.

Bespoke PDFs

Throughout 2017 our custom PDF template creation service saw our team work on and complete over 160 PDF projects from both new and existing clients. A couple of our favourites included:

  • The Accountant Pricing and Proposal service, GoProposal, which uses Gravity PDF to generated custom proposals for their user’s clients.
  • HomeSure Lending uses Gravity PDF to generate all kinds of documents, including Pre-Purchase and Pre-Approval Letters, Loan Fee Sheets, Mortgage Assessments, and marketing material, such as flyers.

Special thanks to Gravity PDF developer, Julian Tapping, who took on the bulk of these projects and steered them to success.

Gravity PDF 5.0

In the last quarter of 2017 our team was hard at work developing Gravity PDF 5.0 and updating our new documentation to suit. This major release will see fundamental changes to how Gravity PDF generates and emails PDFs during the form submission process and when using Gravity Forms Resend Notification feature (we’ll be handling this in Background Processes). Other notable changes include:

  • the installation process now requires a font installation step
  • the minimum required Gravity Form version will be 2.3+, while the minimum WordPress version will be 4.8+.

We’re currently waiting on Gravity Forms 2.3 to be publicly released before running our own public testing of 5.0. More in-depth details about the changes made will become available at this time.

Subscription Renewals in our Store

It missed out on launching in 2017 by two days, but today we switched on annual subscription renewals for all purchases from our Template and Extension stores. Along with the obvious benefits of helping us build a more consistent revenue stream, it has the added benefit of allowing our users to grandfather in their renewal pricing. For example, if you purchase the Core Booster extension today for $20AUD, you’ll lock in an annual renewal of $14AUD (we currently offer a 30% discount on renewals) until you cancel. If we ever increase the price of the product you purchased, or decrease the renewal discount, you’ll still continue paying that $14AUD renewal fee.

Looking to 2018…

Along with launching Gravity PDF 5.0, the Images extension and adding more Templates to our online store, we’d like to continue refining our existing products, while adding support for saving the generated PDFs to different services (like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive ect). The Gutenberg project is also of interest to us, as it might set the foundations for a PDF Builder that integrates nicely with our Core and Universal PDF templates. There’s still too much uncertainty about Gutenberg to make any definitive plans with Gutenberg just yet, but I can say 2018 is looking to be another promising year for Gravity PDF.

As always, happy PDFing!