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A quick demo of my soon-to-be app


#1

This is a little embarrassing and terrifying, but what the hell. Here’s a demo of the app I’m working on and plan to launch sometime next week (it helps freelancers handle contracts with their clients). Looking for honest feedback on whether or not this is something anyone in BSFM crowd could use?

Have at it: https://vimeo.com/75510644.


#2

Looks promising. How do you handle changes to the contract?


#3

Do you mean if a client reads it and says “we need to change this?”

If so, the contract only locks itself after the client has agreed. So technically edits are open until they click the “Sign This Contract” button. That way if there’s a discrepancy you can make the changes and either send another signature request or just have the client use the original request.

Any thoughts on this process? It’s sort of in a “good enough” state, but I’d like to improve it…


#4

It would be cool for the client/serv. provider to make edits and highlight the changes.


#5

Looks like you’ve put a lot of work into this, great job! One feature I would probably want before I was comfortable using this is a save as PDF button and Print button. As the client, I am not familiar with this software, so I wouldn’t be sure if the contract would still be available for me to view tomorrow. I’d want to archive a version of it and print it out before signing it, perhaps to show my lawyer, perhaps just to file away.


#6

@JanLukacs – Big fan of this idea. My only concern would be making sure that edits didn’t get out of hand or too overwhelming for a freelancer. Since they’re not lawyers (at least the majority), I don’t want to have a client’s legal team marking up the contract with something like 50 edits and sending it back. Could get hairy.

@ryanbattles – PDFs are top of my list. I’m using a new JavaScript framework to build the app called Meteor, and right now implementing a PDF download is somewhere between not awesome and non-existent (PDF generators exist, but their HTML rendering is pretty bad). One thing I’ve considered as a temporary “fix” would be to have PDF button, but then just show a modal with instructions on how to use the computer’s “Print as PDF” option. Messy, but may be my best bet for the time being.

Does anyone have experience with a JS/Node PDF library that works well?


#7

This is great! Really love it.

Have you considered this the other way around - clients managing contracts with their freelancers? The companies I deal with would tell me exactly where to go if I asked them to use this for my contracts, but I can really see that this would be a boon for them to user for all their contracts. Managing contract revisions is a massive pain. (A competitor in that space might be Exari.)

My bread and butter was/is document generation. I’ve been interested in checking out what’s available in JS for a while, haven’t got around to it yet. I’ve googles two options jspdf and pdfkit. They both look awesome - but a bit too low level for what you want to do. pdfkit say they’ve got “higher level APIs for creating tables and laying out content” coming soon, which sounds like what you’d want.

My go-to for this kind of problem is fop, which implements the XSL/FO standard, abstracting the whole layout process. fo is derived from CSS, so it’s kinda-sorta easy to keep fo inline with web, but it’s not one-to-one. Unfortunately, it’s java, so you’d have to spin up a separate server to generate the PDFs. Very robust & scaleable though.

For now, I think you’re spot on - just show instructions on how to use the computer’s “Print as PDF” option. It’s gonna be easier, work better, and satisfy 99% of customers. Once that 1% of customers offers you a Large Cheque you can reconsider the PDF generation options :smiley:


#8

Thanks @danielstudds, appreciate it.

I haven’t given this much thought. I’ve designed this from a freelancer’s perspective because I’ll be using it with my own clients. My ultimate goal is to focus on making the life of the freelancer a bit easier. Also, there’s a lot of useless bureaucracy in corporate contracts and I’d like to offer this as something that is a bit more friendly (I’m sure in some circles this will be great and in others, a nice laughing point). A good archetype for my thinking would be this fellow: http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/projects/contract-killer/.

Thanks :slight_smile: I recall playing with jsPDF but placing it aside after I realized it wasn’t going to get me all the way there. I’ll check out pdfkit and keep an eye on both for updates/improvements.

I’d considered doing this (in PHP), but I feel like I could kill a lot of time and money just to implement the one feature and end up throwing it away when the preferred method catches up. If worst comes to worst, this is probably where I’ll end up.

This is my focus. I’d rather spend my time satisfying this set first, and if it makes sense down the road, invite the others along too. There’s definitely a lot of money to be made in bigger companies, but to be honest, smaller companies/freelancers are just more fun to work with :slight_smile:


#9

Looks great, just a few things I’d point out:

  1. I think generating even an ugly plain white PDF would be better than not having that. It’s been a long time, but last I recall Windows didn’t have a print as PDF button without Adobe stuff installed but either way it seems like it would be a very common need.

  2. It’s probably money well spent to see what a lawyer thingk about using a button click as a legal signature. All the document signing tools I’ve used require more than that.

  3. This is just my opinion, but I’d be inclined to remove all those tiny text areas and make the document feel more like a continuous flow with just subtle indications that each area is editable. I always read through contracts I sign and having to scroll in each little box seems like it would be cumbersome.


#10

I agree, but the options are pretty bad. I spent some time with this over the weekend and it’s really not something I’m comfortable offering up as a feature until it’s fully baked. You’re right in that windows users don’t have the “Print as PDF” option. This is top of my list, though, so after I launch this will be a primary focus.

Fortunately, my dad and a good friend are lawyers and I was able to get some feedback on this. They explained that they are legal, though, there are some compliance points (stuff I’m working on this week like having an audit/record trail and ability to access the agreement by both parties no matter what). If you’re curious, I used this article by DocuSign as my starting point (the acts outlined there are pretty lengthy and with dev tasks, I haven’t been able to read them in their entirety).

In addition to the signatures, though, both parties receive a confirmation email when the contract is signed and the client (signee) is sent a request email. Since I’ve heard of plain emails being used as evidence for legal intent in the past, I think this should just squeak by. But like everything else, I’d like to make this as solid as possible moving forward.

Might need some clarification here (my video may not have been 100% clear), but the part where you see text fields is the contract editor. As the freelancer, you have the option to preview the contract (which gives you an open, mostly text-only formatted version of the contract), or, a signed version after the client has agreed. I’m a reader of contracts, too, and made sure that the part your client agrees to has nice typography/is easily readable so there’s no misunderstanding of the terms.

Does that make sense? If not, let me know. Would like to improve it if not.


#11

Awesome, sounds like you have it covered :smile:

On the last point, I did think that was the main UI but if that’s just to edit it’s probably not too bad. Maybe have them auto expand on focus, but that’s all minor stuff.


#12

Implemented this yesterday :slight_smile: Thanks for the suggestion. Makes editing a lot easier.


#13

Sweet :smile: Let us know how you make out.