Journal / Tractis Review and Invites

Are you a freelancer who struggles with contracts? Do you have trouble working out what to say and what not to say in a contract for a client? Are you forever wondering about the legality of your wording, but can’t afford the crazy lawyers fees to find out? Well, Tractis might be for you. Then again it might not. Tractis claims to eliminate the need for paper contracts and time consuming filing, along with helping you to write new contracts by allowing you access to user posted templates for various types of contract. Sounds like a good idea? Well it is, but so far I don’t believe it has been executed all that well.

I received an invite to the private beta a few days ago, and since then I have been coming back to the site from time to time, trying to look at it from a different angle. When I log in, I am presented with a list of my contracts (I started a couple of test contracts), and the ability to start a new contract, a new template, or invite friends to Tractis.

Tractis

I start a new contract and it basically gives me a blank text box, in which to write my contract. I look around the page for the link to import a template (surely no one writes contracts from scratch, I think) but there is nothing. So I abandon the new contract and go looking for templates. I eventually find some public templates created by other users (I’m not a big fan of their navigation interface), which I can save to ‘My Templates’. So I find one that looks handy, and click to add it to ‘My Templates’. Somehow, however, this doesn’t work. Another strange thing is the dropdown menu on the ‘New Contract’ page. The options seem to be in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish. I make sure my language and location are set properly in the Settings. Dropdown option still Spanish. I start to wonder if the site is a Spanish site, but all the other text is in English. I also cannot seem to find anything to explain digital signatures to me. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t know how they work, how legally binding they are, etc. Indeed, there does not seem to be much prominently displayed legal information. I wonder how many actual lawyers are behind the site, as well as web developers. If I use someone elses template and it turns out to not be legal, where do I stand? How does the site relate to UK law, or US law, or French law? I don’t know, and the site doesn’t seem to want to tell me. The success of a web app is surely based on trust, and much more so when dealing with legal documents. Yet Tractis is not building my trust. The FAQ is even more worrying in its vagueness. I would love to have a web app that I can use to create and file contracts for each client I have, and have them legally sign them online. It is a great idea. SO far, however, I wouldn’t even contemplate using this service with a client.

Want to find out more about Tractis? I have invites to give away. Leave you email address here, or email me, and I’ll sen one your way, until I run out.

3 responses so far

  1. David Blanco

    16th Aug, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Hello Andy,

    This is David Blanco, part of the team behind Tractis.

    Yours is one of the most useful feedback we have received so far. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with us.

    The main key proposition of Tractis is to allow individuals, professionals, and SMEs to digitally sign contracts online. An incredibly complex and expensive infrastructure, at just 1 € per signature (generally). Tractis Library (the collection of user-contributed templates) is an add-on on top of the former. We knew/know “Library” has a lot of work left to do but we decided to include it on the beta and get feedback/bugs ASAP. So far, this strategy is working really well. Navigation by language, by tags, by authors… and yes, “Import your templates” are missing and have a place in our roadmap. However, I don’t think “Import your templates” will be ready for our launch in September (maybe the week after that). Making it easy for users to contribute content is a must. However, there are more urgent things right now that are consuming most of our time. For example, the set up of our Time Stamping Authority or the integration with the first row of Certification Authorities accepted on Tractis. Both tasks with tough requirements (both technical and legal) to comply with European Union regulations.

    From your post, I guess you received an invitation from another beta-tester. We state in our “Invitation” emails that we are currently working in the internationalization of the site and, therefore, it’s likely that you’ll find mixed languages here and there. We are located in Barcelona, Spain, and plan to launch in both, English and Spanish.
    In Tractis, you use other people templates at your own risk. A good clue about whether the template is useful to you or not is to look at the “Jurisdiction” field. If you are in the US and the template author says that the template jurisdiction is “US”, you are one step closer from saving dollars in legal fees. Besides, you’ll be able to ask the author and, in the future, to seek legal advice for your jurisdiction, from lawyers offering their services through Tracts.

    We are working right now on the Tractis Help section, Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and the TSA (Time Stamping Authority) Policy. We know that not all current beta-testers are familiar with digital signatures, and several don’t have valid certificates to sign yet. We plan to include a section in “Tractis Help” where you can check which signing methods are available in your country and what vendors you can get one from. Please understand that the problem we are trying to solve (the lack of security in e-commerce) is huge. It requires careful preparation for each method, country and/or jurisdiction. We’ll initially launch with User & Password authentication, Smartcards signatures (PKI) and with Spanish certification authorities. We’ll be expanding to more methods, countries and jurisdictions. It’s a huge task, but worth the effort. In the meantime, please bear with us.

    Again, thanks for helping us improve. It shows that you really want a service like this. I hope you will consider us once we are out of beta and get all the rough edges worked out.

    If you have more feedback, please don’t hesitate to share it with us, it’s very much welcome.

  2. Nonimage

    17th Aug, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Hi David, Thanks for stopping by to reply. You have cleared up a lot of my points, and hopefully you will be implementing all of this into your site soon. As I said before, I really do want a service like this in theory, so I look forward to checking back in due course to found out what you have been up to.

  3. Huymada

    2nd Jan, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Think if WordPress or Joomla can do more best… ?

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