LightSpeed 3.8 – A First Glance

LightSpeed 3.8 is here and with it come many changes to our favourite POS system. Check back often as I’ll try to post a number of blogs in the coming days that will attempt to wade through all the new features, bug fixes and issues surrounding the latest version of LightSpeed. 

The question of whether or not it’s a good idea for you to upgrade will likely depend on a few things.

First of all, major upgrades always have a few bugs that need to be worked out so if you’re the least bit nervous, you may want to hold off for a bit until the minor versions are released. Many users and fellow resellers have complained about some initial bugs that I expect should get fixed in short order, however, some have openly complained about some of the new features. I’ll be blogging more about that soon, so check back here often.

Second, if you were holding on to LightSpeed 3.6.8 because you were afraid that ReportMaster would interrupt your workflow, some of the improvements to the reporting system may be enough to tempt you into upgrading but I recommend installing the demo version of 3.8 on to a non-critical machine (i.e.: not your server) and test it out thoroughly before upgrading.

Admittedly, my experience of upgrading LightSpeed from 3.7.6 to 3.8 was not without a few tense moments. The installer crashed while upgrading my database and gave very little in the way of a reason or any instruction as to what to do next. All that I knew was that my LightSpeed was stuck somewhere between the two versions and I could no longer access my data from either version. Needless to say, I was a bit worried but I had my backup so I ran the LightSpeed Removal Tool and then re-installed LightSpeed 3.7.6 on my server. Once installed, I simply restored my data from the most recent backup and logged in to make sure that everything was alright… and it was.

I sent an email to support describing the problem that I had and my obvious reluctance to attempt the upgrade again. They responded back the next day letting me know that they had seen my issue before and that performing the restoration steps that I had already taken had solved the problem. With this advice, I installed again and it worked!

While the most notable change is the redesigned and renamed browser, there are some more subtle changes as well. The release notes are long and detailed. I’ll try to cover them all on this blog but today, I’ll just point out some of the changes that I found while performing the installation.

Be warned! Upgrading to 3.8 can take a very long time if you're upgrading from 3.6.8.

Be warned! Upgrading to 3.8 can take a very long time if you’re upgrading from 3.6.8.

Warning to LightSpeed 3.6.8 Users

If you’re still running LightSpeed 3.6.8, you should know that everything to do with reporting changed as of version 3.7 and although 3.8 brings some much needed improvements to the new ReportMaster, it still won’t run any custom reports that you may have had built and there are many reports that simply don’t exist anymore. Again, download the demo if you’re not sure or contact our office to arrange a consulting session so that we can discuss this together. While the old report may be gone, there may be new ways to get the same data.

Also, upgrading to 3.8 can take a very long time if you’re upgrading from 3.6.8. Everything to do with photos was changed in 3.7 and this installer will drag them, kicking and screaming, into the world of 3.8. On larger databases, I’ve seen it take hours.

Backup

While Lightspeed 3.7 saw the backup functions moved into the LightSpeed Server, 3.8 goes even farther and insists on performing a backup as the first step in the installation when upgrading an older version. Normally, I would applaud this if the process of performing a backup didn’t take so long on larger databases. I will often schedule upgrades with my clients early in the morning… after the backup has occurred the night before and before their store opens for the day. There doesn’t seem to be any option to skip the backup and it doesn’t seem to be smart enough to notice if any changes have been made since the last backup so anyone with large databases with pictures should be warned that the upgrade may take a while.

LightSpeed Server

LightSpeed 3.7

LightSpeed 3.7

The preference pane has under gone some seemingly minor changes as well, but look closely and you’ll see a reference to the number of SKUs for which your server is licensed. This could be a hint as to what LightSpeed has planned for future versions. Perhaps, a new pricing system is in the works that will offer a limited-use version of LightSpeed that only allows a certain number of SKUs? No one knows and as mine says, ‘Unlimited’, I’m sure that it won’t affect me or any existing users but I thought it was an interesting point.

The term, ‘Support’ is still being used here despite the recent switch to the words, ‘Maintenance Plan’ in all of LightSpeed marketing materials. I’ve always preferred the new term, ‘Maintenance Plan’ as I feel that it speaks more to the value of the annual subscription as it entitles you to the latest and greatest version of the software… as opposed to the feeling that you’re paying for ‘support’ that you may or may not feel you need.

LightSpeed Server 3.8

LightSpeed Server 3.8

With LightSpeed 3.8 installed and ready to go, I’ll be diving in, head first, to take a look. Check back here often as I’ll be posting a series of reviews as I go through each new feature.