Local Tools 1.8.3 Released – Customizable Tool Status & More

Items For Sale at the West Seattle Tool LibraryThis release focuses on the new customizable tool statuses.  This allows libraries to setup and edit a list of custom “states” that items can be in, including specifying if an item is “for sale”, “in maintenance”, “sold” or even “recycled”.  Items can be placed into one or more sates,a nd each state defines who can see items in that state, and whether the item can be checked out or not.

You can already see what the West Seattle Tool Library has listed For Sale!

New Feature

  • [LEND-764] – Create ability for libraries to create customized tool statuses (broken, in maintenance, for sale, sold, scrapped, etc.).

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-765] – Automated Loan Reminders Not Being Emailed Out
  • [LEND-766] – Item type name chopped off
  • [LEND-767] – Currently impossible to remove all statuses for an item
  • [LEND-772] – Preventing users from loading item pages for items they are not permitted to see

Improvements Made

  • [LEND-731] – Display when an item is “Disabled” on search results to organization admins
  • [LEND-768] – Display comma separated list of tool statuses on browse results and item page
  • [LEND-769] – Display more information when searching/browsing for tools
  • [LEND-770] – Validate category names when editing
  • [LEND-773] – Show availability and status to non-logged in users


Seattle Share Fair: Start Sharing Tuesday!

Did you know that in Seattle you have access to cars, tools, workspaces, and even land without having to own them?

Here at Local Tools we make sharing easier with the use of online, mobile and social media tools, but we also realize building a real community and culture around sharing takes people getting together locally.  Come learn about what we, and many other organizations in the Seattle area offer and how you can save money, learn new skills, and be happier by having access to the things you want — without the burden of ownership.

Join us, Share Starter, Sustainable West Seattle and others to celebrate the Sharing Economy at the 2012 Seattle Share Fair:

Date:  Tuesday, February 21st, 6-9pm
Location: West Seattle Senior Center

The Course of Events

6-7pm: Share Fair Tabling: Get Involved!
7-8:20pm: Feature Program
Facilitator: Gene Homicki, Local Tools
Speaker: Patrick Dunn, Share Starter
Community Panel:
Billy Thomspon, Zipcar (Car Sharing)
Ken Gollersrud, Seattle Public Libraries (Information/Stuff Sharing)

Max Hepp-Buchanan, Cascade Bicycle Club (Bike Sharing)

Micah Summers, West Seattle Tool Library (Tool/Stuff Sharing)
Peter Rothbart, We Patch (Land/Garden Sharing)
Willow Brugh, Space Federation (Space Sharing)
8:20-9pm: Socialize & Sign up!

Admission: FREE 

Local Tools 1.8.2 Released – Inventory Reports & Improvements

New Features

  • [LEND-739] – Inventory Report

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-679] – Can’t start cart for non-full-member when starting with an item
  • [LEND-713] – NPE in weeklyCheckOutIn
  • [LEND-717] – Admin stats are blank if there are no checkouts
  • [LEND-718] – First data point in graphs is always 0
  • [LEND-736] – The Stats/Graphs are Never updated
  • [LEND-738] – Stat cache timeout
  • [LEND-748] – Unnecessary trailing orgShortName on Admin Dashboard and Library Home urls
  • [LEND-749] – Error messages are missing from inventory browsing pages
  • [LEND-750] – Toggling between local and default on item editing page doesn’t always set the right values
  • [LEND-751] – Unable to change values for input type=”file” fields in new item layout
  • [LEND-752] – Checkboxes not rendering a text value for display
  • [LEND-753] – Error when adding new items to inventory
  • [LEND-754] – Editing an item causes all field data to be lost
  • [LEND-760] – Items should only reindex in Solr when org disabled status changes
  • [LEND-761] – Only tech admins should be allowed to change org’s shortName
  • [LEND-762] – Renewals sometimes does not properly check an item in before checking it back out (or something)
  • [LEND-763] – Broken image icon in cart when item has no image

Improvements Made

  • [LEND-349] – Add gender/sex to user search reports (and export)
  • [LEND-708] – Stat cache
  • [LEND-732] – Put item editing/check in/out links on the (end user) item info page
  • [LEND-733] – Improve tool editing page UI
  • [LEND-737] – Change display of stats/graphs cache status
  • [LEND-744] – Add membership expiration to user/member report and export
  • [LEND-745] – Add javascript validation to all fields that need it in the item editor
  • [LEND-747] – Prefill item editing fields with default value on override
  • [LEND-755] – Show item value page has a lot of blank space when fields are left empty
  • [LEND-756] – Improve itemType default value editing page in the same manner as item value editing page
  • [LEND-757] – Warn user that updating default item type values may take a long time
  • [LEND-758] – Swap out the YUI Rich Text Editor for TinyMCE or one that produces well-formed HTML
  • [LEND-734] – Add label field to Attribute


1.8.1 Released: Define Your Own Tool Categories & More

Version 1.8.1 of Local Tools, our lending library management system has been released.  The biggest addition to this release is the ability to define and edit your own tool categories.  In Local Tools, items are managed in a hierarchy (e.g. Hand Tools vs. Power Tools), and in a previous release we allowed them to be categorized by “use” (e.g. Carpentry, Skiing for sporting good libraries, etc.).  The tool categories are now fully editable by organizations.

We’ve also added additional email receipts, including for account creation, adding/changing a membership, etc.  While there were only 15 or so new features, bug fixes and improvements, many of them are fairly significant (including a fix to stats and graphs).  For more information, or to sign up for a beta test, please contact us.

New Features

  • [LEND-350] – Email user on Tool Library account creation
  • [LEND-655] – Add ability to add/edit Tool categories


  • [LEND-598] – Add a preference for displaying “Card On File” into on the checkout page
  • [LEND-677] – Preference for tracking and displaying “Card on File”

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-433] – System allows removing Library Memberships that are in active use
  • [LEND-685] – Error when creating user, a library membership is paid for, and email transactions are enabled
  • [LEND-705] – Admin Stats show wrong value for total # of library items
  • [LEND-719] – Can’t save user info after editing
  • [LEND-720] – Check in/out by week graph always displays 0 for the first week
  • [LEND-721] – Stats page not working – no data shown for any graphs in some cases
  • [LEND-723] – Trying to edit tool categories leads to an error
  • [LEND-724] – Lending library items are not reindexed after category is edited
  • [LEND-725] – Reindexing failing after saving item type
  • [LEND-728] – Default membership fee created not set to reasonable default
  • [LEND-729] – Membership type messages should display name if available

No Need to Buy Toys for Toddlers. Rent (or Share) Them Instead.

For those parents looking to save money this holiday season (or any time), “ShortCuts” Columnist for the NY Times, Alina Tugend, has an excellent article on renting or borrowing toys from places like BabyPlays.com:

IF you want to avoid spending a lot of money this year on things that won’t last, like Christmas trees and toys, you don’t have to buy. You can now rent them, enjoying the items in your house but sending them back when you don’t want them anymore.

And if you need tools to put them together?  She points them to our  new “Find a Tool Library” page, to find your nearest Tool Library:

Need some tools to put together some complex toys you bought? No need to run out and purchase your own. In fact, you may not even have to pay anything. Tool-lending libraries are becoming increasingly popular around the country. To see if one is in your area, check out localtools.org/find/, the newly created Web site.

And while the article focuses on renting toys, there is actually a pretty extensive look at the Berkeley Tool Library. One of the few tool libraries that are part of the public library system:

The Berkeley Public Library has been lending tools for 31 years and offers everything from screwdrivers to table saws to plumbing wrenches.

“You can unstop a sink or build a deck with our tools,” said Adam Broner, a lending specialist who has been working at the Berkeley library for about 20 years.

Power tools can be checked out for three days, while smaller tools are available for a week.

Thank you Anita for the pointers, and we hope everyone has wonderful experiences sharing the holidays!

Learn How to Start a Tool Library on Wednesday Nov 30th in Seattle

We’re excited to announced that on Wednesday, November 30th 2011 at 7pm we’ll be giving a workshop in Seattle on how to start a community tool lending library with the West Seattle Tool Library.  The meeting will be held at the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center and we’ll be providing answers to questions like:

  1. Why should we start a kitchen, tool, sporting goods, etc. lending library?
  2. What do we need to get started?
  3. Where/how do we get insurance?
  4. How much funding to get started & keep things going?
  5. Do we have to buy the tools?
  6. How do we manage all the tools and new members we’ll be getting every week?
  7. What are some strategies for maintaining tools?
  8. and we’ll be answering other questions participants may have.

This meeting is being hosted by Sustainable NE Seattle:

Time: November 30, 2011 from 7pm to 8:30pm
Location: Ravenna Eckstein Community Center- Teen Room
Street: 6535 Ravenna Ave NE
City/Town: Seattle Wa. 98115

Please contact us to RSVP or learn more about Local Tools.


Local Tools 1.7.1 Released – Now with More Stats & Graphs

This is potentially our last release before 1.8, which will provide us with a better platform for some bigger features and user experience improvements.  The feedback we’ve been getting on the recent releases of Local Tools from some of the tool libraries we work with has been fabulous.  Keep an eye out for more updates soon!

New Features

  • [LEND-566] – Updates to the Admin dashboard, including lending library status widget, and additional graphs
  • [LEND-604] – Report by tools (per org) that have been out the most often (# of loans)
  • [LEND-635] – Add ability to browse by category

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-630] – Remove “view outstanding items” from the “User has overdue items” warning – the items are visible in the cart
  • [LEND-663] – Error when trying to preview reminder emails if the organization has not set their email reminder template yet
  • [LEND-674] – Can’t use quick check in/out form for certain items
  • [LEND-680] – Transaction problems related to membership expiration
  • [LEND-682] – Edit account page is missing username in title and page header
  • [LEND-683] – Error editing user with site-admin tools (MembershipFees not found)
  • [LEND-684] – Duplicate GUID in the transaction_line_item table. They were caused by previous update


  • [LEND-650] – Remove link to old check in page from various places
  • [LEND-651] – Change the checkin/checkout box to only go to the cart
  • [LEND-658] – Get rid of duplicated code
  • [LEND-659] – Add time to inventory rebuild message
  • [LEND-676] – Change wording for new combined check in/out page
  • [LEND-675] – Stop logging full email messages to debug
  • [LEND-660] – Improve search and browse
  • [LEND-691] – Use smaller thumbnails for cart and other tool list pages
You can also check out what’s new in version 1.7 or contact us about becoming a beta tester.

Local Tools 1.7 Released with New Admin Dashboard

Local Tools 1.7 has been released with a brand new Admin Dashboard.  The new dashboard brings all commons tasks to one start page for administrators.  We’ll be adding additional reports and metrics, as well as simplifying the dashboard further.

This release also brings the ability to categorize tools by “use” (Carpentry & Woodworking, Yard & Garden, Electrical, Plumbing, etc.) in addition to by type of tool.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

New Features

  • [LEND-602] – Admin Dashboard
  • [LEND-642] – Change navigation link to Admin Dashboard / Default Home Page
  • [LEND-374] – Ability to choose from a set of specific tags/categories for each item
  • [LEND-381] – Show user’s (member’s) transactions on that member’s account
  • [LEND-493] – Email user upon checking out a tool
  • [LEND-494] – Email user upon checking in a tool
  • [LEND-495] – Consolidate email from check in then check out when user renews tools
  • [LEND-584] – Automatically email a receipt after each transaction
  • [LEND-597] – Add ability to upload PDF and additional image
  • [LEND-624] – Put “checkin/renew” on cart page

Bugs Fixed

  • [LEND-578] – Email at checkout and checkin doesn’t obey user opt-out request
  • [LEND-599] – Hitting return to filter users when filtering users to select one to check a tool out to goes to the wrong place in IE
  • [LEND-608] – Edit page for attribute types does not work
  • [LEND-613] – Cart says user has overdue items, when they do not seem to
  • [LEND-621] – Background color issues with new gray bgcolor
  • [LEND-622] – When editing items quotes (and probably other characters) are not being escaped properly
  • [LEND-623] – Loan reminder emails are not being sent out automagically
  • [LEND-631] – Checkin transactions don’t keep track of the loan that was checked in
  • [LEND-633] – When using the old check in to renew an item, the cart ends up with items in it from multiple users
  • [LEND-637] – When item types have default values set, they do not affect existing items without a manual reindex
  • [LEND-639] – Problems saving default values for tool types
  • [LEND-643] – On the money report, the sorted-by arrow points up while the data is sorted descending (arrow should point down)
  • [LEND-644] – On the Money Report, the second page (and subsequent pages) is order ascending, when it should be descending
  • [LEND-646] – Some transactions for memberships have no MembershipFees to tie the transaction to the membership transition.
  • [LEND-648] – Automatic email reminders possibly sending out notices for tools already returned
  • [LEND-649] – Error when trying to preview reminder email
  • [LEND-627] – Prevent adding the same item twice to the cart when renewing


  • [LEND-615] – Update default layout to use nicer card layout that the custom sites use
  • [LEND-614] – Improve email validation on create/edit user pages
  • [LEND-616] – Generate drop shadow behind inventory cards with css
  • [LEND-618] – Replace default favicon

Tasks Completed

  • [LEND-603] – Convert attribute value (and default value) fields to MEMO/TEXT/blob. 255 chars isn’t enought
  • [LEND-632] – Re-attach checkins with their corresponding transaction
  • [LEND-634] – Convert existing data to new TransactionLineItem model
  •  [LEND-625] – Open accordion for check in only when there are items to check in
  • [LEND-626] – Show “no items to check in” instead of empty “select item” table; remove “enter late fees” when there are no items to check in
  • [LEND-628] – Get the right amount for recommended donation when renewing

Featured Tool: Cider Press

The tool libraries we work with have an amazing assortment of tools.  One of our favorites is the cider press at the West Seattle Tool Library:

In West Seattle, there are an abundance of apple and pear trees. And every fall, each tree produces more fresh fruit than one house can consume. Most of the fruit falls to the ground and rots, leaving behind a smelly mess for homeowners to clean up.
The West Seattle Tool Library offers an old-fashioned alternative to the smelly mess. We have two cider presses available to help you turn extra fruit into fresh cider. Cider can even be made from #2 apples, so don’t feel like you need perfect fruit for pressing.

Learn more about cider presses!

Local Tools 1.6.8 Released!

This will be the last release in the 1.6.x series, and we’ll be moving on to 1.7 where we have some bigger changes planned.  This release focuses on minor improvements, fixing Internet Explorer support for IE7 through IE9 and adding the start of email receipts for transactions (like check-in/check-out).

We strongly recommend libraries check, edit and save their email receipt templates.  You can do this by going to Organization Info in the left navigation, then clicking on “Edit Receipt Email Template”. Once you edit and save the templates for the first time, logged in users will be able to request a receipt for their transactions to be emailed to them from the “Your Account” link in the left navigation.

Bugs Squashed

  • [LEND-587] – The quick check in/out box does not warn when the item to be checked out is disabled
  • [LEND-590] – Issues with IE: can’t add item to cart, other form buttons not working
  • [LEND-600] – Paging by tool type in the admin loses the tool type/criteria on the second page of results
  • Improvement
  • [LEND-588] – Put warning at top of cart if user has overdue tools, even if late fee is not charged.
  • [LEND-592] – Add Google Analytics to custom layouts

New Features

  • [LEND-493] – Email user upon checking out a tool (currently disabled for all libraries)
  • [LEND-494] – Email user upon checkin (currently disabled for all libraries)
  • [LEND-569] – Opt-out option from email for checkout and checkin
  • [LEND-570] – Allow orgadmins to configure the template for the email sent upon checkout
  • [LEND-571] – Allow orgadmins to edit the template of the email sent to users when members checkin tools
  • [LEND-580] – Transaction report in My Account
  • [LEND-581] – Receipt-looking transaction details in My Account
  • [LEND-582] – Email button on receipt so it can be re-sent to user
  • [LEND-591] – On the cart, show whether and org has credit card info on file

Tweaks for Existing Libraries

  • [LEND-601] – Remove members self-registration for Vancouver Tool Library

Not Yet Enabled Functionality

  • [LEND-579] – Comment out emailing automatically on check in/check out. Need to review what gets emailed.