We are making a significant change to how we store and manage project files for users who sign up directly (using an email), and we are getting close to finishing our internal testing. Here’s what’s coming, and why.
Previously, when someone signed up directly (with an email address) Kerika would automatically create a new Box account linked to that user, and use this account to store the user’s project files.
This was done by Kerika’s servers: our end-users didn’t have to do anything and, in fact, had no direct access to these Box accounts.
The trouble with this approach is that we ended up with three islands of users: people who had signed up with their Box IDs (Kerika+Box); people who had signed up with their Google IDs (Kerika+Google); and people who had signed up directly.
These islands were isolated: you could collaborate only with users who had signed up the same way as you had. In other words, someone who had signed up using a Google ID could not collaborate with someone who had signed up using their email, because the first user’s project files were getting stored in her Google Drive, while the second user’s files were getting stored in a Box account.
(And over time the ratio of people who preferred Google over Box became increasingly lopsided.)
We are now implementing a new storage model that will deliver four important benefits:
You will be able to collaborate with any other Kerika user, regardless of how the other person signed up. You can invite anyone using their email, and not worry about whether the other person has a Google or Box ID. If you accept an invitation to join a team, it won’t matter how you sign up. No more isolated islands.
Previously we would ask for access to your entire Google Drive if you signed up using a Google ID; now, we can limit our access to only those folders that Kerika itself creates and manages.
Folks coming via the Google Apps Marketplace can try Kerika without first having to get authorization from your Google Apps Admin. Authorization is actually needed only when you want to upload files to your Kerika boards.
Our direct signup users can benefit from Google Apps (Sheets, Slides, Forms, etc.) even if they had previously not used these apps. Direct signup users will be able to create new Google Docs; something that previously was limited to people using Kerika+Google.
How this will work:
Kerika will have a master Google Drive account, and inside this we will create separate, access-controlled folders for each (direct sign up) user. This will bring all the Google Docs functionality to our direct sign up users.
From a security perspective, we believe this will be good: each user’s project files are stored in a separate folder within Kerika’s Google Drive, and each user has access only to their own folders.
We believe this is good in terms of privacy, too: because Kerika has an enterprise Google Drive account, we get the additional privacy protection afforded to paid/business users of Google Apps. (Your files won’t get scanned by Google for any advertising purpose.)
We will do all the work needed to move our direct signup users from Box to Google Drive; no one should be inconvenienced!
In our previous blog post, we explained how an Account Owner can remove someone from their Account Team, or reduce their role to a Visitor. Both options can help if you want to reduce the cost of your Kerika subscriptions, since you don’t have to pay for Visitors.
Once the number of Team Members and Board Admins in your Account Team falls below the licensed (paid-for) amount, you can shrink your subscription count as well.
(You need to reduce the size of your active Account Team first, before you can reduce your subscription count since Kerika automatically checks to make sure you are paying for all of your current Team Members.)
To manage your subscriptions, click on your photo/initials on the top-right corner of the app:
A dialog will appear; select the Manage My Account option:
This will take you to your Account page inside the Kerika app:
A section within this page shows the size of your current plan, and whether there are any unused subscriptions. If you had followed the steps for reducing the size of your Account Team, you should have unused subscriptions shown, as in the example above.
Click on the Manage My Current Plan button, and you will see a dialog like this:
In the example shown above, this account has 2 unused subscriptions, and the Account Owner can reduce her Kerika plan down to 18 users. When the subscription plan size is changed, Kerika calculates whether you are owed a refund or need to pay more (if your plan increased in size).
This calculation is based upon the number of days left before your existing subscriptions expire. In this example, the user can get a refund of $74.10:
After confirming her request, the user’s Account Summary page now reflects the credit she has gotten by reducing her plan size:
Most people leave the credit in place because small changes in their Account Team are expected, both in terms of reducing Team Members and increasing them.
If you are sure that you will never use the credit, you can click on the Request Refund button (shown above) and a refund check, drawn in US dollars from a US bank, will be sent to the user’s billing address. (So make sure your billing address is up to date!)
We are still working with Google on fixing the problem with the G Suite Marketplace that caused the Kerika product listing to disappear unexpectedly about 2 weeks ago.
Progress was slow over the holiday season because many Googlers were out of office, but folks are back in town and working with us on debugging the problem — which, as far as we can tell, is entirely on Google’s end and has to do with their back-end systems for managing listings on the G Suite Marketplace.
Some Kerika users — specifically those who had signed up directly — had trouble logging in if they had left Kerika running overnight on a browser.
Their browser was endlessly refreshing itself, bouncing between the /app and /setup URLs. There was a workaround (type “https://kerika.com/logout” to clear Kerika’s cookies) but the workaround was far from obvious, so obviously some people were inconvenienced.
(Would have been a lot more had it not been for the Christmas holiday season!)
This has been fixed now. We found a problem with the configuration of our NGINX web server software.
We have offered free accounts to small nonprofits and schools/universities from the very beginning of Kerika’s existence, but this was always on an ad hoc basis: someone would occasionally ask us for a free account for their school or nonprofit team, and we would agree.
Looking back, we found that we agreed to almost 99% of all the requests that ever came to us: the only situations where we turned someone down were
When we couldn’t figure out what the nonprofit was doing, or even whether it really existed. (Having a domain for your school/nonprofit really helps, even if it is not in English.)
When the school was for-profit, (We dodn’t see why we should subsidize for-profit organizations.)
When the organization was essentially a governmental entity that was getting funded through public money in a normal way.
With these caveats aside, we have tried to be very generous and helpful for small organizations that are doing philanthropic work, or are schools.
But our old process for dealing with these requests was really haphazard, and when we implemented our new billing system and improved account management features, we also made it easier for us to grant nonprofit status to a much larger group of organizations, providing they are small teams.
Our new process makes everything much easier for schools and nonprofits: we are whitelisting entire domainsso that everyone from that domain who signs up automatically gets a free Academic & Nonprofit Account.
This means that only person ever needs to make a request on behalf of a school or university: if that gets approved, we will approve it for everyone from that school/university.
With a free Academic/Nonprofit Account you can have up to 10 people working on boards owned by that account: it doesn’t matter how many boards you have, or how big these boards are.
If you need more than 10 people, you will need to sign up for a Professional Account, which is $7 per user, per month (normally billed annually, as $84 per user).
Here’s a partial list of schools and universities we have already whitelisted for free service:
Adler Graduate Professional School, adler.ca
American Quality Leadership & Educational Management, aqlem.com
Arizona State University, asu.edu
Austin Community College, austincc.edu
Australian Pacific College, apc.edu.au
Bethlehem University, Palestine, bethlehem.edu
Boston University, bu.edu
California State University, Fullerton, csu.fullerton.edu
Campbell University, campbell.edu
Carnegie Mellon University, cmu.edu
Catholic Education Diocese of Wagga Wagga, Australia, ww.catholic.edu.au
Clemson University, clemson.edu
Cochise College, cochise.edu
Coconino Community College, coconino.edu
College Euroamericano, Monterrey, colegioeuro.edu.mx
College La Grange du Bois, Savigny Le Temple, clg-la-grange-du-bois-savigny-le-temple.fr
Colorado State University, colostate.edu
Cornell University, cornell.edu
Crefito-3, Sao Paulo, crefito3.org.br
Duke University, duke.edu
Edmonds Community College, edcc.edu
Escuela de Educacion Secundaria Tecnica No. 5 de San Martin, Argentina, galileo.edu.ar
Everett Community College, everettcc.edu
Faciplac, Brasilia, faciplac.edu.br
Fundacion de Estudios Superiores Universitarios, Medellin, fesu.edu.co
George Fox University, georgefox.edu
Humboldt State University, humboldt.edu
ICDL Colombia, icdlcolombia.org
Iḷisaġvik College, ilisagvik.edu
Indiana University, iu.edu
Institucion Universitaria Colegio Mayor del Cauca, Colombia, unimayor.edu.co
Instituto Potosino de Investigacion Cientifica y Technologica, Mexico, ipicyt.edu.mx
Instituto Superior de Ciências Económicas e Empresariais, Cape Verde, iscee.edu.cv
Instituto Superior de Formacion Docente Salome Urena, Dominican Republic, isfodosu.edu.do
Iowa State University, iastate.edu
Kalamazoo Valley Community College, kvcc.edu
Kirtland Community College, kirtland.edu
Kuruwi, Cabo San Lucas, kuruwi.edu.mx
Lane Community College, lanecc.edu
Macquarie University, mq.edu.au
Maricopa Community Colleges, maricopa.edu
Michigan Tech University, mtu.edu
Mid Michigan College, midmich.edu
Milwaukee Area Technical College, matc.edu
Mount Holyoke College, mtholyoke.edu
Mount Wachusett Community College, mwcc.edu
Mundo Sin Fronteras, Oaxaca, sinfronteras.edu.mx
National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology, Tawian, kuas.edu.tw
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, ntust.edu.tw
Newman University, newmanu.edu
North Carolina State University, ncsu.edu
Oregon Health Sciences University, ohsu.edu
Ośrodek Szkolenia, Krakow, straz.edu.pl
Paul Cuffee School, paulcuffee.org
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, pcom.edu
Yesterday we had our first instance of “leaver’s regret”: someone asked us to delete their Kerika account, and we acted promptly upon receiving that request.
Too promptly, as it turned out, because a couple of minutes the ex-user changed her mind. But by then it was too late: we had completed closed her account and deleted all the associated data.
Maybe we should be a little slower in responding to these requests? Deleting/closing an account is an irreversible action: we scrub all the boards owned by that account, and we don’t have any way of getting that data back. Our goal in implementing this process was to be very faithful to our privacy promises, namely that your data remains your data; it’s never Kerika’s data.
But, faced with this leaver’s regret situation, we are now thinking that maybe we should wait, for up to a day, before acting on these requests.
What do you think?