Today we're releasing a boatload of beautiful blockout-based features. A completely new blockout process on the web helps any user input their blockout dates much more easily. In addition, we've added new repeating options, a blockout request email that Team Leaders can send to their teams, and the option for Team Leaders to receive blockout notifications when their team members blockout dates.

Adding Blockouts

When we set out to refine the blockout experience, our first goal was to make it as fast and as easy as possible. We found that most people don't put their blockouts in as they plan them, but put them all in at once when their team leader reminds them to do so. Our new blockout creator makes it very quick and easy to add all your blockouts at once using a calendar-based interface.

Simply click a date on the calendar and a blockout is added. The "Reason" field is automatically focused, so you can type immediately. Drag across multiple dates in the calendar to set both the start and end dates quickly.

The majority of blockout dates are all-day events, so we've optimized for that. If you do need to specify specific times in the day, uncheck the "All-Day" toggle and the start and end times are revealed.

If you need to change a date before saving it, just click to edit it, or hover over it and click the trash can to delete it. Once you're satisfied, click the Save button, which also affirms how many blockouts you'll be creating, and your blockouts are added.

The date you're currently editing is in dark red, dates you've just created but haven't saved yet are in a medium red, and dates you've previously blocked out will be light red. Hovering over the light red dates will show you the blockout reason and prevent you from clicking them and making a duplicate blockout. Clicking on the medium or dark red dates will select them on the right so you can continue editing them.

New Repeat Options

While we were at it, we added new repeating options, too! Previously, you had two options, every week and every month. Now you can specify a number of weeks or months, like every 3 weeks, for example. If you choose months, you can also specify which day pattern (e.g., the last Tuesday, the first Wednesday), or an exact day (the 27th).

Blockout Notifications

Each Team Leader now has the option to receive a notification when anyone on that team blocks out a date. You can set this on the "Team Leaders" tab of each Team, next to where you enable Accept or Decline notifications.

When your team members add new blockout dates, you'll receive an email notification lisiting all the new blockouts they've added. If they use our new Blockouts interface on the web and add them all at once, you'll get one email with all dates listed. If they don't add them at the same time, or add them from our mobile apps where you can't (yet) add multiple at once, you'll get single emails for each date they add.

Blockout Request Emails

Now you can quickly send your team an email requesting blockout dates! Go to the main People tab, filter to your team, and choose the new general email template "Planning Center Blockout Request." Customize it to your liking, or even save your customizations as a new template, and send it to your users before you're ready to schedule. We've even included a help section at the bottom of the email template (that won't be sent with the email) to make sure you know how to enable Blockout Notifications.

At the bottom of the email are two links. The "Block Out Dates" link takes them to PCO Services and opens the new Blockout Dates box.

The "I Have No Blockouts" button takes them to PCO Services and gives them a message that their Team Leader (you) has been notified. Other Team Leaders will not receive this "No Blockouts" email, even if they have Blockout Notifications enabled, but they can see it in that user's email history.

Side note: We chose to only send this "No Blockouts" email to the one person who sent the email. Many people are on multiple teams, and just because one team leader is ready to schedule doesn't mean others are. In fact, other Team Leaders might be confused to receive a random email saying the user has no blockouts, if they didn't request it themselves.

Last Set Blockout Filter

When a person adds, edits, or deletes blockouts, or when they click "I Have No Blockouts" from the blockout request email, we update the "Last Set Blockouts" timestamp on their profile. On the main people page, you can view the "Last Set Blockouts" field as a column and click its header to sort them. There are also new filters on the left, making it easy for you to find everyone who has entered their blockouts recently. (When a Scheduler enters blockouts for someone else, that other person's timestamp does update.)

More to Come

We're going full speed ahead and have some great updates just on the horizon. You'll be seeing some other great new things in the next month or so, so stay tuned!

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