Andrew Duncan from Databuzz to speak at WordCamp Sydney 2018

 

WordCamp Sydney 2018 is on 28 & 29 July this year at the University of Technology Sydney. Databuzz is pleased to announce that Andrew Duncan will be speaking this year on WooCommerce integration using the WooCommerce API.

Databuzz are big fans of WooCommerce and WordPress – we’ve been using WordPress and WooCommerce for many years to run our websites and eCommerce platforms. Our fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) solution is one of our most popular products and we can continue to update this with new features and improvements.

We look forward to meeting up and discussing all things WordPress – you can get tickets and more information from the WordCamp Sydney 2018 site here:

https://2018.sydney.wordcamp.org/

Databuzz Turns 10 🎂

January 2018 marks the 10 year anniversary for Databuzz – we first opened our doors for business back in January, 2008. As it turned out 2008 wasn’t a particularly great year to start a new business. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years of starting, and with a global financial crisis that same year I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time to start a new business.

Here I am 10 years later and happy to have come out the other side of the GFC, with many customers from our first year still with us today (and some still with us after 20 years).

When I started planning to return to the world of FileMaker Consulting as an independent developer after spending many happy years with Complete Data (which is still going strong today) I knew that I wanted to have a different name to my previous company name – Splash IT Consulting Pty Ltd – as that was no longer an accurate reflection of the business and work that we would perform.

I had first registered the name Splash IT Consulting back on January 5, 1999 when I first went solo and needed a business name to operate under as a sole trader. Having worked at Apple for many years, both in Australia and the UK, I was more of a generalist back then and offered a number of IT services, including:

  • FileMaker Pro development (I had just joined the FileMaker Solutions Alliance as it was known back then)
  • Mac OS X Server installation/configuation (sadly Apple has just announced that it has deprecated most of the macOS Server services)
  • Sherlock Plugins for Mac OS 8.5 – who remembers those!
  • Palm Pilot solutions
  • CD Burning

Here I am almost 20 years later and FileMaker Pro development is now the only service Databuzz offers and most of the other services no longer exist. Back then FileMaker Pro v5 was the latest version – FileMaker, Inc. had only recently come into existence to replace Claris Corporation. I no longer have any of the original website files for Splash IT Consulting but thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine I managed to find an archive from September, 2000 (missing the main graphic):

Back in 1999 the options for searching for business names and registering them online were very limited and you had to complete the registration in person at the local Consumer Affairs registry office. I wanted to have the word ‘data’ in my name somewhere and had compiled a list of my top 3 names which I believed were available and most importantly also had the matching domain name available. I had also learnt the lesson of never having a hyphen in a domain name if you can avoid it (too many typos from customers when reading your your email address on the phone etc), as well as unfortunate emphasis some customers placed on the “sh-it” part of the name when pronouncing it.

I headed off to the local registry off knowing that if my first option was rejected then I at least had 2 other names to fall back on that I was happy with. For reasons that I can no longer recall all my names were rejected and I was left standing at the counter with a big queue of customers behind me frantically trying other names – and that’s how Databuzz was born. It was the first name I could come up with on the spot that didn’t get rejected!

I decided to keep things simple and use Databuzz as a trading name and keep Splash IT Consulting Pty Ltd as the official company name. The first Databuzz website was also a very simple 5 page static site:

which had an associated blog that ran on a platform called WordPress, which itself was only a few years old at the time. I’ve since replaced the static website with WordPress which now runs the website, blog and online shops for the Databuzz and fmSMS shops. Back in 2008 FileMaker Pro v9 was the current shipping version and FileMaker Go was still three years away from being released – FileMaker Mobile, the previous FileMaker mobile solution for the Palm OS and Pocket PC, had recently been discontinued. The original iPhone had been released in June, 2007 but was not available in Australia – it wasn’t until the iPhone 3G was released in July, 2008 that you could buy an iPhone in Australia.

It’s amazing how much change there has been in the IT industry in the past 10 years, and no doubt there will be even more change in the next 10 years as the pace of change only gets faster. Looking back there have been a number of highlights and milestones that stand out, including:

We’re continuing to update these solutions with new features based on suggestions from our customers and our own product roadmap, as well as work on some exciting new products that we hope to release some time later in 2018. I’d like to thank our customers for their support over the past 10 years (and a special mention to PEDro who we have worked with since 1999) and I look forward to working with you all again in the future and cannot wait to see what the next 10 years brings.

Eliminating Double Data Entry with eCommerce, FileMaker and Accounting Integration

Are you a small business that uses FileMaker to run your business (Contacts, Invoices, Suppliers, Leads etc) but also have an online store and use another accounting software? Do you find yourself re-entering online orders multiple times in your FileMaker CRM then once again in your accounting software?

There is a better way – we know as we once were in that situation ourselves. Over the past five years we’ve introduced a number of new systems into our business operations, including:

  • 2 online stores for our main Databuzz site as well as for our fmSMS product both running WooCommerce
  • switched from a  desktop accounting software to the Xero Cloud accounting platform

We also use the FileMaker platform internally to run our business and like many of our customers we suddenly found ourselves in the position where we had to enter a new sales order multiple times in different systems. The workflow for a new order became:

  1. receive notification via email of a new online order
  2. create a new order in our FileMaker CRM and copy/paste the customer and order details from the email
  3. logon to Xero and create a new Customer and Invoice and enter the Payment manually via copy/paste from FileMaker

The online order was being manually typed twice in FileMaker and our accounting software, leading to data entry errors and wasted time handling the same order multiple times. At Databuzz we like to “eat out own dogfood”  and most of our Products have been the result of a need to solve a problem within our own business that we suspected other businesses would also have. With the help of our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution as well as fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) and the power of webhooks we’ve been able to completely eliminate all data entry for our online orders.

The new streamlined process looks like this:

  1. a new order is created in one of our online stores which triggers a WooCommerce webhook to push that new Order to our internal version of fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition).
  2. this calls a FileMaker script which then pushes the online order to our internal version of fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition). It checks to see if the customer already exists, otherwise it creates a new one.
  3. a staff member does a quick sanity check to make sure everything looks correct and then clicks a button to upload the new Invoice and Payment to Xero.

We’ve managed to reduce this business process from 5-10 minutes to 5-10 seconds –  this has freed up time to be spent on more productive tasks instead of mindless double data entry. Whether you’re using WooCommerce or Shopify for your online store and Xero or MYOB AccountRight/Essentials for your accounting it is possible to integrate all of these with FileMaker in the middle so that new online orders flow directly into FileMaker and then into your accounting software without any more double data entry.

If you would like to discuss integrating your FileMaker solution with your eCommerce system please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. We also have a number of FileMaker integration solutions available if you would prefer to do the integration in-house:

Databuzz 2017 End of Year Xmas Sale – 20% Off All Licenses

The Databuzz End of Year Xmas Sale is now on – all Product Licenses are now 20% off, including:

The sale runs until the end of the day on the 31st December, 2017 (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). Free trial versions are available for all of our products – please contact us to request a trial version.

All our prices are in Australian dollars – if you’re purchasing from outside of Australia you’ll also get to take advantage of the low Australian dollar (1 Australian Dollar equals approximately 0.75 US Dollars).

Discounts are applied automatically – no coupons required! Click here to start shopping.

We also have a similar sale on fmSMS Licenses (20% off) – click here to visit the fmSMS website for further details.

FileMaker 16 Certified Developer

Databuzz is pleased to announce that Andrew Duncan recently passed the Developer Essentials for FileMaker 16 Certification Exam and is now FileMaker Certified in v8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. FileMaker 16 Certification is the official credential offered by FileMaker, Inc.

FileMaker Certification is your validation that you are hiring an experienced FileMaker professional who has technical knowledge of the complete FileMaker product line and has passed the “Developer Essentials for FileMaker” certification exam. Being a certified developer demonstrates to clients, peers and management that you’ve achieved an essential level of knowledge, experience and skills in developing FileMaker solutions.

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) and Public Application Integrations

When we released fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) back in 2014 we developed it to be used with a Xero API Private Application – this made the most sense at the time and still does for most customers who are only concerned with connecting their custom FileMaker business app with their own Xero organisation. Private Applications are just one of the three different types of API Applications available for the Xero API:

  • Private – connected to a single Xero organisation, doesn’t require user authentication
  • Public -connect to multiple Xero organisations, requires user authentication, 30 minute access limit
  • Partner– connect to multiple Xero organisations, requires user authentication, long term access

One of the main advantages of a Private Application is that your FileMaker users do not need to have a Xero account, so you can allow them to perform specific functions (e.g. uploading Contacts, Invoices, Payments etc from FileMaker to Xero) without having to get them access to Xero itself – the Private Application handles the authentication with Xero for them. This means you don’t have to worry about giving access to confidential business information contained in Xero to all FileMaker users.

There may be times however when you wish to only allow Xero users to upload data from FileMaker to Xero – this would require the use of a Public or Partner application. Databuzz recently took part in Xero’s XD HAX Developer Challenge 2017 and we decided to use this opportunity to explore how a Public Application integration could work. We were focussed on integrating with FileMaker Cloud which runs on AWS and wanted to have a native solution that ran on all the FileMaker clients that FileMaker Cloud supports, including FileMaker Pro for Mac/Windows, FileMaker Go for the iPhone and iPad, and FileMaker WebDirect.

As FileMaker doesn’t have the native functions to perform the OAuth 1.0a authentication that a Private Application type uses we have used a FileMaker plug-in to handle the authentication with the Xero API. FileMaker plug-ins are only supported by the Mac/Windows FileMaker Pro client applications which means they cannot be used by FileMaker Go for iOS (though you can use the iOS SDK to create an iOS application based on FileMaker Go that can include the plug-in).

Using a Public Application type integration means we could remove the dependency on the plug-in as Public applications use the standard 3 legged OAuth process where a user can authorise your application – in Xero’s case this is for 30 minutes, at which point the access token expires.

For our XD HAX Developer Challenge entry we changed the authentication method to use a Public Application integration and took advantage of a number of native FileMaker features, such as using a Card Window to handle the Xero authentication window, and the new cURL and JSON functions to handle the encoding/decoding of data and uploading/download with the Xero API. Here’s a brief video demonstrating how a Public Application integration could work with our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution:

We would love to hear if this is something that you would be interested in seeing in a future version of fmAccounting Link. We love that we can provide a native solution that runs on all FileMaker clients without a plug-in but are not sure whether customers would prefer the long term access that a private application provides and the benefit of not having to use a Xero login to authenticate.

Xero User Magazine Custom Integration Article

Issue 12 of the Xero User Magazine was released today in time for Xerocon London where Xero announced they have now surpassed a quarter of a million subscribers in the UK, contributing to the more one million subscribers in over 180 countries.

We’re pleased to report that this latest issue of XU Magazine includes an article by Andrew Duncan of Databuzz on ‘The Benefits of a Custom Xero Integration’. You can find the article on page 110 of Issue 12 – you can subscribe for free to the print and digital editions here. The article discusses the benefits of a custom Xero integration, particularly when there is no add-on in the Xero App Marketplace that meets you needs. We also mention examples of integrations we’ve done for customers over the past four years that have helped them eliminate double data entry, for both FileMaker solutions and other applications.

Earlier this year we were approached by an Australian Government agency that was using three different software applications to handle online sales, point of sale merchandise and ticket sales and needed to get the consolidated data into their internal financial accounting software. Xero was used to reconcile all financial data which was uploaded by Vend each night and we developed a custom web application which ran every 24 hours to download the Invoices from Xero and generate a custom XML file which was sent to the internal financial application. This has been running smoothly for many months now and the customer is very happy about the time saved from not having to do any manual re-entry of financial data.

If you would like to discuss a custom integration with Xero please get in touch.

 

fmSMS Updated for Telstra Messaging API v2

Back in 2015 Telstra, Australia’s biggest mobile phone operator, launched a beta of their SMS Messaging API and fmSMS was one of the first commercial solutions to support the Telstra API. Telstra have recently released v2 of their Messaging API which includes a number of new features including:

  • dedicated number: you can provision an Australian mobile number for your account via the API
  • send SMS and MMS messages
  • receive messages to your dedicated number
  • delivery status: query the delivery status of your messages
  • callbacks: automatic notifications of message delivery status to a callback URL
  • alphanumeric sender ID support
  • concatenation: send messages up to 1900 characters long and Telstra will automatically segment and reassemble them
  • scheduled delivery: delay the delivery of submitted messages

Now that the Messaging API is out of beta there are a number of plans to choose from. You can start with a free trial which includes 1000 free messages and a dedicated mobile number. They also have a PAYG plan with no fixed term contract and messages are 6c per message, as well as an Enterprise plan.

You can download a trial version of fmSMS from the fmSMS website to test the Telstra SMS API using their Free Trial. When you purchase fmSMS you get the PHP files to use for automatic delivery status updates and automatic replies into fmSMS. Please contact us if you have any questions about fmSMS and the Telstra Messaging API.

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) Update August 2017

We’ve been busy over the last couple of months working on some updates to fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) that fill in some missing gaps with the examples that we include in the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) file. For example we’ve always had examples for downloading:

  • Chart of Accounts
  • Tax Rates

from Xero into FileMaker, but some customers have asked for the ability to create and update these from FileMaker to Xero. We’re pleased to report that our latest update – v1.932 – now includes examples for creating Account Codes and Tax Rates in FileMaker and pushing these to Xero. You would typically apply some kind of access privileges around these features so that only authorised accounts users can perform these functions, but the functionality for this is now included in the core fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) files.

We’ve also updated the Bank Transactions endpoint examples to support creating and updating Bank Transactions (spend or receive money) in FileMaker and pushing these to Xero. This update also includes some minor bug fixes – you can view all the changes in the version history notes.

Last month Andrew Duncan from Databuzz attended #XD17 – the Xero Developer Roadshow – in Melbourne, Australia. There were some great presentations on upcoming features for the Xero API as well as some cool demos showcasing some cutting edge Amazon Web Services integrations with Xero. Xero have also announced that Webhooks are coming to the Xero API, starting with the Contacts endpoint first then followed by Invoices (the two most popular Xero API endpoints). Databuzz have been invited into the closed beta of this and we’ve started work on a PHP solution using the FileMaker PHP API that will accept the incoming Xero Webhooks notifications and trigger an update in the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) file. We will post an article with further details about this when Webhooks becomes publicly available.

Xero have also just announced support for JSON when uploading data to Xero via the API – they have previously only supported JSON for downloads (GET requests). Now that FileMaker Pro v16 supports JSON natively this will allow us to add native support for uploading and downloading data between FileMaker and the Xero API.

We also get a number of questions about Invoice Numbers when pushing Invoices from FileMaker to Xero, so we’ve updated our list of Frequently Asked Questions with some details about the options you can use when pushing an Invoice from FileMaker to Xero and whether to allow Xero to generate an Invoice Number to have FileMaker push the Invoice Number across to Xero to use. We’ve also updated our FAQ to include a note about FileMaker Cloud support.

FileMaker Cloud Now Available in Australia and Japan

FileMaker Inc. today announced that FileMaker Cloud, their cloud-based platform for managing and running custom apps, now supports the Japan and Australia Amazon Web Services (AWS) regions. With FileMaker Cloud you don’t have to spend time and resources deploying and maintaining a server – there are no up-front costs and you can be up and running in around 20 minutes.

FileMaker Cloud now supports 7 AWS regions including:

  • Sydney
  • Tokyo
  • Canada
  • US West
  • US East
  • Ireland
  • Frankfurt

Today’s update also includes the ability to renew the 90-day trial Comodo SSL certificates through the FileMaker Store for 1, 2 and 3-year terms, using the initial host name and the filemaker-cloud.com domain. We recently wrote about our experiences with FileMaker Cloud and some differences between FileMaker Cloud and the traditional FileMaker Server product that you should be aware of.