Here are your monthly highlights from the smart cookies of the Beacon product team.
Using URL parameters with Beacon forms
You can now use URL paramaters to set values and fields when your Beacon forms load. This lets you do some fun new things with Beacon forms:
- Set options like donation amounts or membership types
- Set dropdown options
- Pre-fill fields such as name and email address
This is great for making Beacon forms jive nicely with your website. You can now create different buttons on your website that link to the same form, but with different options pre-set.
The best way to show you this is with some examples.
If you head over to this form you'll see that the £50 donation amount is selected: https://beaconben.beaconforms.com/form/5da69de0?bcn_donation_amount=50
We can also pre-fill the 'Families in need' fund: https://beaconben.beaconforms.com/form/5da69de0?bcn_fund=1331
Or pre-fill the name and email of the donor: https://beaconben.beaconforms.com/form/5da69de0?bcn_first_name=David &bcn_last_name=Simpson &bcn_email=david%40beaconcrm.org
This even works with embedded forms!
Here, we're selecting a standard membership option and selecting Biscuit the Goose as our preferred animal for Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries.
Or, on Arnos Vale's donation form, we can select £200 as a custom donation amount and pre-fill our name and email details.
You can configure all sorts of things about your form from its URL. We have, of course, written a comprehensive guide article which gives you full details about how this works and how to make use of this feature with your forms.
Configurable names on forms
You can now add titles and middle names to forms. This is configured from the Personal details section in your form's configuration.
Beacon's fancy new infrastructure
We are putting the finishing touches to the biggest overhaul of our systems that we have ever done. Our improved infrastructure is even more cutting edge, more scalable, and more reliable. Key to this is moving to an Amazon service called Aurora, which scales up and down based on how our databases are being used. Just like the National Grid, during peak usage the database scales up to handle the increased requests, and at night it scales back down again. This is the same infrastructure used by Netflix, Samsung, Nintendo and the United Nations.
Your data is all still stored in London. We're using new technology, but all the same data centres. For more on this check out our privacy for humans page.
The team have been working tirelessly to improve the most fundatmental aspects of Beacon, like how your data is stored, accessed, filtered, and searched. If you don't notice any changes at all, then that means that we're doing things properly behind the scenes!
A quick note on auto-number fields
One of the consequences of our major infrastructure upgrade is that for a while, it was more common for auto-number fields to increment by more that 1. For example, you may have seen ticket numbers go like this: 1, 2, 3, 35, 36. The reasons are dull and complicated (it's to do with the database making absolutely sure that each number is unique whilst also doing two things at the same time) but we have released a fix to make sure that this is now far less common. You can read more about auto-number fields here.
Become a Beacon expert with Beacon Lighthouse
If you're looking to really get to grips with Beacon then you can enroll in one of our free online courses through Beacon Lighthouse. We've recently added Deep Dive courses on Major Gifts & Grants and Events & Ticketing, all curated by Senior Customer Success Manager and Lighthouse Keeper, Luke.
Beacon chat: Where all the cool kids are hanging out nowadays
Beacon customers are invited to join our private Facebook Group. It's a place to exchange ideas, tips, and best practices.
You can find the group here and we'd love to welcome you in.
The group is only available to Beacon customers.
We're focussing on updates to forms right now, including conditional fields/sections, customisable fonts, copying fields that you've already filled in to other places on forms, and more configurable dropdowns.