2023 Slate Innovation Summit Executive Summary

Date: May 31 - June 2, 2023

Summit by the Numbers

New Features

Enterprise & Reliability

Updates will be made to indicate the status of these features as they are published to Production Environments. Links to relevant documentation will be provided. 

Enhanced Error Messaging

Errors and their categories are now fingerprinted. Slate can now document and display more information about the errors. Links to documentation and more information can also be available. The errors will also be tracked in the Error Logs for Slate Captains to look further into the error. 

Slate Support

A new, enhanced experience will guide all users to the right resources for the right situations. Slate Support is a new tool directly integrated into every page in Slate. Using the new side-panel dashboard that's part of the new user interface, the Discovery/Support tool is now accessible from anywhere! This is the future of how we intend to support our users – to guide users to the proper forum for each unique question. We can do our best work and provide the best service when our users engage with us through the right tools for the right conversations.

User Permission Request

When a user tries to access Slate functionality to which their account has no access, the system responds with an Error 403 Forbidden. Slate now has a new mechanism to enable users to appeal via a Request Access option. When the Forbidden error appears, users can complete a short form to notify Security Administrators of the request. Slate records which permission was required on the page the user was attempting to access, so there is no guessing what was needed at the time of access.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Configurable Imports

Phase 1 of Configurable Imports is a backend change that will deliver immediate benefits and continued incremental gains over time, and set the stage for a second phase that completes the vision of giving imports equivalent versatility to the exports users enjoy with Configurable Joins. Phase 1 includes many updates to how data comes into Slate, whether via forms or sources. Configurable Imports is an entirely new architecture that allows Slate to make updates on a form-by-form and source-by-source basis based on what the tool "knows" to do. Every form or import using this mechanism will see performance increases. Most significantly, Slate will see a reduction in timeouts/deadlocks.

Custom Match Types

Custom Match Types is the next level for record matching criteria. This new capability allows users to define their own matching criteria that will send records into Consolidate Records for consideration while Slate continues to pre-deliver the standard matching criteria. Create Custom Match types and rules, and see new matches in Consolidate Records based on your unique criteria.

Slate Payments

Slate Payments now includes a redesign in a number of regards. The experience on forms and payment pages for paying by credit/debit card, bank account, and PayPal/Venmo is improved. For bank accounts, instead of needing to know the routing and account number, locate your bank, enter your login credentials, and the rest is magic. Various digital wallet options will be accessible, and Venmo will now support paying from a desktop. These updates include pay-over-time providers, international payment options, and payment links where your payment information can be securely stored and prefilled.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

Express Checkout in Slate Payments

Express Checkout is now available on any payment form using Slate Payments. Users will have the option to save their payment information for future use. When entering an email address, if a user has saved this information previously, they will not need to re-enter their card or account information. The payment details are stored securely by Stripe, so there is no change in PCI compliance.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

Dashboard Editor

The Dashboard Editor is a one-stop shop for creating and managing all your custom dashboards throughout Slate. The Dashboard Editor is a single landing page for all dashboards - existing and new. Editing happens in one place now. Preview a dashboard for a specific record to ensure the perfect experience for users.

  Updated Documentation

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

Prompt Editor

The Prompts Editor is a dedicated tool for managing the hierarchical relationship of prompts. Now, each prompt key can have a series of attributes at the key level, including labels for the export values and a friendly name for the prompt key. A prompt no longer requires the restatement of the key (nor can it be changed), and the label calls out the export values. The export labels will also be carried over to the query builder.

  Updated Documentation

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Address Autosuggest

Address Autosuggests is a redesign to the address blocks everywhere throughout Slate, including on public-facing forms, that provides real-time letter-by-letter address suggestions for addresses in the United States and 137 other countries worldwide. With this update, for public-facing forms, we'll pre-select the country based on where the person accessing the form currently resides. Begin typing into the street address field, and Slate will show nearby suggestions based on your IP address geolocation. Like our other autosuggests, other fields will be prefilled when selecting an item.

Imports & Exports from S3

Imports & Exports from Amazon S3 are now available for a scheduled export or source format that picks up from a remote server. Specify S3 credentials and an S3 endpoint/bucket from which data should be transferred.

Slate Open API

Slate Open API is a turnkey, ready-to-go, fully documented API that's always up to date with the Configurable Joins bases and accessible data points. Select the object type and operation (i.e., fetch a specific object, list objects by criteria, etc.), get code samples, and see the full documentation. Test-drive the API right through the documentation. Pull a definition file into a client tool you choose to spin up an immediate SDK. These are the voyages of Slate for Enterprise.

Slate Configurable API

The Slate Open API is the pre-delivered API to give users a sense of what is available, but the Slate Configurable API delivers what users should use in a clean, well-documented, tightly-scoped API. Use the new API builder to create a new API which will serve as a collection of endpoints. Any formatting of the exports will be carried over into the API. Access documentation for the entire API, send some test requests or get code samples. Both configurable and open APIs support token authentication, client certificates, and anonymous authentication.

Flow

Every school has a different process for implementation, data transfers, etc. Flow, a.k.a. Slate scripting, is a new ETL tool allowing users to create their own custom integration flows in a JavaScript-like scripting language called Slate Script. While Slate has long been able to pull or push data from Slate programmatically, outside environments are required when additional manipulation is needed. With the introduction of Flow, this can occur natively in Slate.

While not immediately available to users, Slate will use this feature for various integrations behind the scenes (e.g., AMCAS), foregoing custom C# code in the process. Stay tuned for more information on Flow!

Slate Credit Accounts

Slate Credits, the successor to Deliver Credits, is a set of internal payment accounts for all your Slate purchases. All existing debits/credits from Deliver Credits will move over to a default Slate Credits account. On any Deliver account, specify which Slate Credits account to use—purchase funds for any specific Slate Credits account and transfer funds between accounts. When sending messages/print with an associated cost, we will debit the credits from the appropriate Slate Credits account. Neatly segment spending between any number of cost centers.

Unified Login

Unified Login is a new framework in Slate that will replace the login pages for staff, person records, dataset rows, and any other audience. This new framework allows for any number of audiences and identity providers (IdP), allowing a client to have multiple IdPs for different populations. Not to mention, there is no need for specialized external login links in this model. Your existing configurations will be automatically imported into this new tool, and several types of identity providers (Slate.org, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) will be pre-delivered to all databases. 

With these changes, Slate allows incredibly sophisticated enterprise login flows, and the entire administration and control of these will be in the direct hands of our users.

Scoir Messaging

Soon you'll be able to message Scoir students, both known and stealth, right from Slate.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in December 2023.

Ping Deep Tracks & Deliver Conversion Events

Deliver Conversion Events, powered by Ping Deep Tracks, is a new opt-in behavior to Ping that allows deep user tracking and conversion event tracking in Slate. When a database opts-in to Ping Deep Tracks, Slate rewrites the click-tracking links in outbound messages in several key ways; this synchronization of tracking will also enable Slate to more immediately attribute browsing activity back to a person record before they have ever submitted a form.

Slate.org Impersonate 

Colleges sharing data via Slate.org can now impersonate a record to see what a high school counselor can view on the platform. 

Slate.org & START

Slate.org is launching START, a free platform where the college search begins for students. The Strategic Transformation of Admissions and Recruitment Technology (START) allows colleges to collect student information and begin their recruitment search process for free. With START, students can follow colleges of their choosing, share their information with those institutions, register for information sessions and visits without needing to re-key their information and register for NACAC college fairs. At these fairs, colleges can scan the student’s START QR code, and this adds the college to the student’s list in START and shares the student's information back to the college. START will help students discover new colleges using an AI model that is free to use. This ongoing program will continue to grow!

Creativity & Empowerment

Portal Components

Components in Portals is the next step of utilizing components we introduced with Deliver Designer. Components in portals will enable users and partners to create reusable components that can be used in any portal. Components can be simple or incredibly complex and deliver CSS/JavaScript. This enhancement will make Building portals and microsites highly straightforward for regular users.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Portal Permissions

Portal Permissions is a capability that will enable users to use the standard "edit permissions" screen to determine who can edit particular portals. As portals are enhanced, more users may want to build queries, so it makes sense that permissions should be set on who can edit specific portals.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

Portal View Custom URL

Since express portals can provide microsite capabilities, Portal Vanity Views provide a simple but powerful way for users to assign a custom vanity URL to any portal view. It's as simple as it is elegant.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Custom Portal Branding

Portal Branding is a way to edit the branding of a portal and use something other than the branding of the institution’s main site. This can be built in the WYSIWYG editor or revised in the HTML directly. Slate will render whatever is inside the portal in the new branding template. All those joint travel events and custom microsites can now live in Slate in their own special branding that can be different on a portal-by-portal basis.

  Updated Documentation

Concierge

Concierge is a new way to use conventional and express portals as a primary screen for fast record lookups. Create curated user experiences for fast, go-to lookups. Select a record and get an instantaneous embedded portal. Take the results of any query and send it to concierge, where users can choose which concierge experience to run the records through.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

Query Profiler

Query Profiler is a new tool that will launch whenever a query is run. While the query is running, Slate can display a real-time snapshot of exactly what is happening behind the scenes and the millions of rows that Slate might be examining to return the "simple" query. Not only does this tool provide insights into the progress that is occurring, it also will be available for debugging purposes to enable end-users to identify the more complex parts of their queries.

This feature was published to all Slate TEST Environments in October 2023.

Connecting & Simplifying

Slate Voice Dashboards

Slate Voice Dashboards are a new dashboard type that can be created with the Dashboard Editor. This allows for personalization of the display when an inbound call arrives through Slate Voice to provide immediate context about the caller. Create an Inbound Call Dashboard and associate these dashboards with any of your numbers enabled for Slate Voice.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

Slate Voice Snippets

In what indeed is not a standard feature in commercial phone systems, Slate extends its resourceful snippets tool beyond just email and SMS and into the realm of phone calls with Slate Voice Snippets. Record your own voice, and like other snippets, create personal ones or share them in the office. Then, in any inbound or outbound call, these snippets are accessible. Click on a snippet, and it will play right into the call.

  Updated Documentation

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Outreach Center

Outreach Center is a new tool for an enhanced experience with Call Lists. Create a new mailing in Deliver with the method set to Outreach List, configure the recipient list queries, build out the plan, and a report form. Merge fields can be included in the call script/instructions. Users can navigate to the new Outreach Center anytime to see a queue of actions or select a specific campaign. Fetch new recipients, click on a record, see the requested action, and set a resolution. Both the communication item and the outreach item log back to the timeline on the record, so there will be a comprehensive accounting of who did what and when.

Slate Voicemail

With Slate Voicemail, users will no longer worry about missing an inbound call. This new feature is a voicemail recording and transcription system that integrates with Inbox. Record a custom voicemail greeting or use the standard. From Inbox, click on a voicemail and listen to the message. Users can respond by SMS or Slate Voice.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in November 2023.

File-Based Materials

File-based materials provide a new option to upload files of any format and preserve them just as they are. Upload a PowerPoint file and maintain it as a PPT instead of converting it to a PDF. Select "File" instead of "PDF / Document" when uploading a new material. This is also available on a form with the Material Uploader.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Asset Library

Asset Library is an enhanced version of the current Deliver Library. Assign dedicated permissions to edit assets in the library, create organization with folders/subfolders, assign vanity URLs to specific assets, archive assets, add in metadata such as a friendly internal name and description so your asset is searchable, and provide an updated user interface that better matches the Slate experience. From any HTML editor, the Browse Server option will now go to the Asset Library.

Handwritten Notes

Some things are better the second time around, as Handwritten Notes are now available in Deliver. This new capability is powered by the existing postcards and letters functionality (not to be confused with Slate Print). Select any of the new handwriting styles in any Deliver postcard or letter. Save, and it is done.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in January 2024.

Deliver Mail Merge

Deliver Mail Merge will help to relocate one of our orphaned communications options into Deliver: a traditional mail merge. Set up a mail merge just like an email campaign by using the new mailing method of Mail Merge. Note that, like with Slate Print currently, these communications will all go to the Outbox. Click "Approve", and select the documents that need to be printed, all perfectly merged and ready to go to the printer. Any number of documents can be associated with a campaign. These “messages” now log right back to the Timeline.

Deliver Ad-Hoc

Deliver Ad-Hoc is a new tool that will let users send Deliver messages to a single explicit recipient at a time. Inside any Deliver mailing, click on Display Message and look up a particular record. Slate will display a preview of the message. Click Send Message to send a test message or change the Type to Send Ad-Hoc to send a real message to the real recipient. When the message sends, Slate will add the record to the query executions for the mailing so that (a) they do not receive the message should they somehow meet the criteria in the future and (b) the analytics on the message can treat the ad-hoc recipients the same as those that met the broader criteria.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

Deliver Outbox Editing

Deliver Outbox has become a much more powerful tool with Deliver Outbox Editing. Users can approve or abort a single message and edit it before sending it. The new capabilities to approve, abort, and edit apply to all communication types for happier editing and approving.

Deliver Precision Timing

Deliver Precision Timing is a restructuring of specifying when an email or SMS should be sent. When sending a mailing, new options, such as Frequency and Timing, will be available. Choose "Send at future date/time" to specify a precise date and time in the future if a send is not immediate—no need to set delivery windows or activation times. In addition, specify a date range, weekday preferences, and the specific time the message should be delivered. On the backend, we will figure out when we need to evaluate the queries for a mailing so we can queue it up for delivery at a specific time.

Form Communication Precision Timing

Precision timing is coming to Forms and Events, too! Send text messages or emails at a specific time.

Reply Bots

Reply Bots are the next evolution of interactive messaging. Set up a reusable reply bot that can be used in any chatbot or SMS campaign. Specify what actions it should take when someone responds in a particular way, such as RSVP to an event. The actions of reply bots can be other reply bots OR other natural language bots in Slate. Deliver isn't just about delivering messages; it's also about delivering results.

First Draft

First Draft is a tool that provides ChatGPT-like composition for first drafts of emails and text messages throughout Slate. Provide a prompt, and Slate will handle the rest. Insert this text into the message, and edit from there. It will automatically have the context of your organization (i.e., name, type, etc.), the message's recipient, and so much more that can be incorporated into the drafted copy.

This feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in June 2023.

First Draft Dashboards

First Draft Dashboards are an extension of the new Dashboard Editor. Users will be able to create dashboards that will guide the generative predictive text models that can help write emails and text messages. This is where Slate can have even more context than something like ChatGPT—because context can be fed dynamically. In a First Draft dashboard, users can provide more context because the dashboard supports merge fields and conditional markup. This will guide the model to return the right information given the context. This will be helpful in databases with multiple constituent types since a communication to an applicant will likely need different context than a communication to a donor.

Quicker Query

When creating a query, we recommend a Configurable Joins query. Building on the beloved quick query, Slate now has a Quicker Query. Using an AI large language model, users can tell Slate what they would like to query on, and we will help the user get started. This feature begins to build the query on the spot. This will be available on some of the main Configurable Joins bases initially, and we will expand its capabilities concerning what types of joins and filters it can recognize, and even where there are gaps, a spectacular first draft will be delivered.

Slate Menu Updates

Updates to the Slate Menu include a new user interface that will eventually become the default for all users. The frame of Slate will change for users (or entire organizations). Maximize the browser and notice how much space Slate is now utilizing. Additional features will include hovering over a menu item to surface more recent and pinned items and having space to include additional tasks and other content.

The forced banners at the top will no longer be present on the homepage. Instead, they'll be incorporated into a Slate Support container, which incorporates user and system content accessible by clicking the Slate logo from anywhere inside Slate.

The Beta UI version of this feature was published to all Slate Production Environments in July 2023.

User Dashboards

User Dashboards are also an extension of the new Dashboard Editor. A user dashboard can support exports that can be used as merge fields. Click the Slate logo to access your user dashboard. Here, we will share context-aware new developments in Slate, provide updates from the community and feedback, and more. The sidebar will be automatically expanded when navigating to the main Slate homepage, where we will show the user's upcoming events, promos for Summit, etc. Promotional content will no longer be shown at the top of the homepage. Everything loads on-demand and asynchronously. With user dashboards, the dynamic information our users care most about is now available from every page in Slate.

Contact Scanning

A new feature from the Slate App this year is now available in Slate. Scan a person's QR code, and share contact information via a portal and the app functionality. Networking just became that much easier. 

Slate Pre-Reader 

Slate Pre-Reader is a new tool that can be enabled in the Slate Reader to summarize documents that are under review. When viewing enabled documents in the Slate Reader, the Slate Pre-Reader will summarize what a reviewer needs to know about a letter of recommendation, college essay, etc. Centrally specify a directive that will be applied to the applications in a queue reading (or ones in specific bins) to tailor the pre-reads to specific goals. The Pre-Reader will update its notes based on the document being reviewed. With Slate Pre-Reader, users have a summarization tool and a well-trained colleague that understands what is under consideration when evaluating various types of documents. While not live yet, this will be coming soon!

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