PayPal launches PayPal Business in a Box (United States)

As part of National Small Business Week in the United States PayPal today announced PayPal Business in a Box aimed at U.S. small business owners who would like to take the leap into online sales. You might be just starting a business for the first time but you don’t have web design capabilities to develop an online store or know how to set up online or point of sale payment methods, or an established offline business looking to move online.

PayPal have partnered with two of our favourite companies WooCommerce and Xero to deliver a simple, integrated solution that gives you the tools you need to start an online business. If you’re using the FileMaker platform to run your existing business you can also take advantage of our solutions that integrate WooCommerce and Xero with FileMaker:

FileMaker, WooCommerce and Xero make a great combination when it comes to running your business – we should know as we’ve been using these platforms for many years to manage our business, online store and accounting needs. We’ll be publishing a new article shortly about the benefits of integrating FileMaker with WooCommerce and Xero and how you can save time and money and avoid unnecessary double data entry.

Xero Surpasses One Million Subscribers

Xero today announced that it has recently surpassed the one million subscriber mark on its global accounting platform, doubling subscriber numbers in less than two years. We’ve been closely following the growth of Xero over the past five years and knew it was only a matter of time before they hit the magic million mark, becoming the first cloud accounting platform to achieve this milestone.

When you consider they had only 50,000 subscribers just five years ago the growth rate has been phenomenal – in April 2015 they had 475,000 subscribers and in March 2016 that had increased to 717,000. Xero has added almost 300,000 subscribers in the past year alone.

As a Xero customer, Xero Approved Developers and developers of the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) add-on we’re extremely pleased to see the rapid growth of Xero around the world. We’re getting more enquiries each month from the North American market and it appears Xero is starting to gain some attention and market share in that tough market.

Here’s some other numbers about Xero that demonstrate the size of the size of the Xero ecosystem globally:

  • in the last 12 months Xero has processed more than $1.2 trillion of global economic activity
  • the Xero API receives more than 10 million calls per day
  • there are over 35,000 developers in the Xero ecosystem
  • there are over 100,000 business advisors – accountants and bookkeepers – empowering small businesses as they join the cloud accounting revolution

Every day our fmAccounting Link customers around the world are uploading Contacts, Invoices, Payments, Purchase Orders, Bills and more from their FileMaker solutions to their Xero accounting software, removing the burden of double data entry and saving them tens of hours each week in manual processing. If you have any questions about integrating Xero with your existing FileMaker solution please get in touch or visit the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) page for more details.

Downloading the Xero/MYOB Invoice PDF

Whether you’re using Xero or MYOB AccountRight for your business accounting software there are times when you would prefer to send your customer the Invoice that Xero and MYOB generate natively. For example if you have added an online Payment option to your Xero Organisation you might prefer to send the customer the Xero generated Invoice with the “View and pay online now” link in the PDF for customers to click and pay online with a credit card. Similarly if you’re using MYOB AccountRight you might to send your customer the invoice using one of the MYOB M-Powered layout forms.

For our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution we’ve already given users the ability to:

  • get the Online URL for an Invoice and include that in an email etc that they send to clients so they can choose the “View and pay online now” option
  • download the Xero Invoice PDF into a FileMaker container field and then save that to the desktop etc or include that in an email to the customer in place of a FileMaker layout based Invoice

We’ve been working on creating a similar feature for our fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) solution and it will be included in the next update. Like the Xero solution it will allow users to click a button to download the MYOB PDF invoice into a FileMaker container field and then save that to the desktop or include that in an email to the customer. We currently have the ability to download all the Form Templates setup in your MYOB Company File:

and then specify the Printed Form for each Customer in the fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) file:

 

This is then used as the default when you request the MYOB Invoice PDF, however you can specify a different form template to be used by passing a parameter with the request for the Invoice PDF. Here’s a quick video that demonstrates creating an Invoice and then requesting the PDF from MYOB:

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Updates

We’ve been busy in 2017 with updates to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – we’ve just released the 7th update this year. The latest update is mainly focussed on adding the ability to create and update records for some of the endpoints that you don’t frequently interact with, including:

  • Tax Rates
  • Attributes
  • Terms
  • Tax Classes
  • Product Tags
  • Product Categories
  • Shipping Classes

We already had examples for downloading from these endpoints but we now have examples for downloading an individual record as well as pushing up new and updated records from FileMaker to WooCommerce. We wanted to get these updates completed before WooCommerce 2.7 is released and fill in some of the missing gaps in the fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) file. We’ve also added the ability to update the Status of an Order from FileMaker.

Once again this is a free update to all our existing customers – you can get the full details of the changes in the release notes for fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition).

Voice Calling with FileMaker

Since we released v1 of fmSMS many years ago we’ve been approached by customers from all around the world to work on integrations between FileMaker and other APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Customers love using FileMaker to send and receive SMS/TXT messages, but they have also asked us to help them send faxes, MMS/Picture messages and to make outgoing voice calls from their FileMaker solution.

We’ve done a number of voice call integrations with FileMaker over the years – having FileMaker initiate a series of outgoing voice calls can be useful in a number of situations, including:

  • Alerts: you might not have mobile phone numbers for all your contacts/customers, but if you have a phone number you can call that number to provide an update to important events (e.g. school closures due to snow days)
  • Election Campaigns: we’ve helped one customer initiate a series of campaign calls to voters about upcoming elections (you may well have been on the receiving end of one of these)
  • Appointment Reminders: we helped one customer move away from having administration staff manually phone each customer about their upcoming appointments and having FileMaker generate these calls, saving them 1-2 hours of staff time each day

The process for generating a voice calling campaign works as follows:

  1. you’ll need to sign up for an account with one of the voice calling providers such as Twilio that handle the voice calling
  2. if you wish to have a dynamically generated message that references data from your FileMaker solution (e.g. to have the voice call say “Hello Andrew” instead of just “Hello”) you’ll need a process on your FileMaker Server than can generate the dynamic message for each contact to be called. We use the FileMaker API for PHP to generate these. If you don’t need a dynamic message you could simply hard code the message so it is the same for all recipients of the voice call
  3. a FileMaker script that is initiated either by a user or FileMaker Server that finds a group of records, then loops through each record and makes a request to the voice calling provider to generate a new outgoing call to that contact
  4. if you wish to be notified of the result of each call you can setup a webhook on your server to be notified by the voice calling provider each time a call is made with the result (engaged, answered etc) and the duration of the call

We’ve put together a simple demonstration video showing this in action – you can watch the video inline below or directly on YouTube:

 

If you would like to discuss integrating voice calling into your FileMaker solution please get in touch.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Update

We’ve just released our first update to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) for 2017 – this release provides an alternative method for handling authentication for some servers that may not parse the Authorization header correctly, as well as making the process of working with Product Variations much easier.

The WooCommerce REST API docs mention that some servers may not parse the Authorization header correctly – we’ve never encountered this during the testing and development of fmEcommerce Link but recently a customer contacted us after having trouble getting started with fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition). Upon further investigation we noticed that were receiving the same error each time they attempted to download data from WooCommerce:

{
 "code": "woocommerce_rest_cannot_view", 
 "data": {
 "status": 401
 }, 
 "message": "Sorry, you cannot list resources."
}

After many hours of frustration we stumbled across the suggestion to switch from using HTTP Basic Auth and implemented a change to test this and had immediate success. We’ve decided to add a toggle that users can switch on/off in case anyone else in the future encounters this issue:

We’ve also made it easier to download, update, create and view Product Variations in the fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) file:

and also show which variations were selected when viewing an Order:

This is a free update to all our existing customers – we have a number of items on the list to add, including Refunds (create a Refund in FileMaker and upload to WooCommerce) and download Reviews. If there’s any examples that we don’t currently have that you would like to see please get in touch and let us know.

fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) Updates – my.MYOB Login and General Journals

We’ve been busy working on some updates to fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) over the past few weeks. fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) was a popular item during our recent End Of Year sale and we’ve had some great feedback from customers about features they would like to see in future releases.

We’ve just released an updated version of fmAccounting Link  – v1.0.8. As well as the usual bug fixes we’ve added examples for working with the General Journals API endpoint – you can now download, create and update General Journals from FileMaker using fmAccounting Link. We’ve also added support for users that have linked their MYOB Company File User ID to their my.MYOB login – typically this is set using either of the following dialogs in AccountRight:

We couldn’t find anything about working with linked my.MYOB logins in the API documentation and after raising a ticket with MYOB developer support we were informed about the changes you need to make when working with linked my.MYOB accounts. We’ve added a new checkbox to the MYOB Company screen that allows you to flag that you’ll be using a linked my.MYOB login:

which handles the required changes automatically. For existing customers using older versions of fmAccounting Link you can simply disable a single script step to handle working with linked my.MYOB logins – see our FAQ page for details.

We’ve started working on adding examples for working with the JOBS API endpoint and hope to have this completed in the next few weeks. If there are features you would like to se in the core fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) file please get in touch and let us know. You can view the full release notes on our version history page.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) and Webhooks

When we released fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) last week there was one feature that we wanted to include that wasn’t quite ready: Order Webhooks. The initial release of fmEcommerce Link lets you download orders from WooCommerce, either all at once or within a specified date range. For many users that will be sufficient as they might only need to download all orders from the previous day.

Some customers would prefer to be notified immediately the order was placed and have it automatically download into FileMaker – you could setup a server side schedule that ran every x minutes that checked for new orders since a specified timestamp, but it’s much more efficient to leverage Webhooks if they are available. A Webhook is simply a way of having WooCommerce send a notification to another service at a nominated URL when a particular event is triggered.

Webhooks were introduced in WooCommerce 2.2 and can trigger events each time you add, edit or delete orders, products, coupons or customers. New orders seemed the logical place to start – wouldn’t it be great if upon receiving a new order in WooCommerce it could be pushed to the fmAccounting Link FileMaker file automatically without you having to do anything?

We’ll be releasing a free update to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) in the next couple of days which will include support for Webhooks when a new Order is created. You will need to setup a Webhook and install the supplied PHP file on your FileMaker Server (you will need to enable Custom Web Publishing/PHP in your FileMaker Server Admin Console), and once this in place anytime a new Order is received in WooCommerce it will automatically be pushed to the fmEcommerce Link file, typically within a few seconds.

This was a feature that we wanted for ourselves to completely streamline the order entry process for our business – there’s nothing better than waking up in the morning and seeing new overnight orders already in the fmEcommerce Link file. Here’s a short video demonstrating this in action (you can also watch this on YouTube here):

 

 

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Preview Video

Last week we announced the upcoming release of our latest FileMaker integration solution – fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – and included some screenshots. We’re in the final stages of testing and working on the website product pages etc but I can confirm that v1.0 will have the following features:

  • download Customers, Products, Orders, Tax Rates, Tax Classes, Categories, Attributes, Shipping Classes and Tags from WooCommerce
  • download all Product Details, including Images
  • update existing Customer, Product and Order records from WooCommerce to FileMaker
  • download Orders between 2 dates
  • create/update a Customer record from FileMaker to WooCommerce

Like our other products it will also have these features:

  • will work with FileMaker Pro v12, 13, 14 and 15
  • can be hosted by FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Server
  • works with Macintosh and Windows
  • 100% unlocked for you to integrate into your own FileMaker solution

I’ve put together a short preview video showing fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) in action downloading Products, Orders and Customer data from WooCommerce to FileMaker. You can watch this below or via this link on YouTube:

Coming Soon – fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition)

Earlier this year we published a series of articles about FileMaker and eCommerce Integration, highlighting our use of External SQL Data Sources (ESS) to make our online store orders visible in our internal FileMaker CRM. We’ve been using this method of integration successfully for many years and it has saved us countless hours by not having to manually re-enter online orders in our main FileMaker business app and our accounting software (Xero).

That was until recently when we started getting this error message every time we navigated to the online orders layouts:odbc-error

Suddenly we could no longer see our online order records! Everything was still working on the website and orders were still being submitted successfully (we receive an email for each order) so we started troubleshooting this to try and get to the bottom of it. After many frustrating hours we still could not establish the ODBC connection to our server, so we made contact with our web host and opened a ticket explaining our issue and describing how this had previously worked fine for many years. We were then informed that they had disabled remote MySQL access for security reasons and there were no exceptions – talk about a great way to annoy your customers by switching off access and not informing your customers about this!

It was still possible to connect but you had to create an SSH tunnel first – we then wasted another couple of days setting up the SSH tunnel which would work but then drop out, and we had issues with automating this so it could run when the server wasn’t logged in. After many days of frustration and lost productivity I decided to abandon the SSH tunnel efforts as it was proving too unreliable and too look at other options. Databuzz specialises in FileMaker integration and having recently written an article on working with eCommerce APIs and Webhooks I revisited my article and knew what needed to be done.

Our website stores are built with WooCommerce, a popular plugin for WordPress that powers over 39% of all online stores. WooCommerce offer both a push and pull API so you can have new orders automatically pushed to a server, and also download new orders on demand (e.g. get all new Orders today). The push option is the more complicated of the two options as it requires FileMaker Server, Customer Web Publishing, PHP pages and Webhooks to be setup, so we decided to focus initially on the WooCommerce REST API as that allows us to query WooCommerce for any new Orders and download the data directly into FileMaker. This can be run regardless of whether the file is hosted with FileMaker Server or just using FileMaker Pro, and we can also setup server side schedules to run each night and download new data. The REST API also allows us to push data from FileMaker to WooCommerce, such as Product updates, which is something customers have requested in the past.

Fast forward a few months and we are in the final stages of development and testing of our latest product – fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition):

preview-home

fmEcommerce Link is our solution to connecting FileMaker to WooCommerce when you can’t make a direct ESS/ODBC connection – you use the fmEcommerce Link file to query your WooCommerce store for new orders, product inventory changes, new customers and also to push data back to WooCommerce such as new Products. You can link the fmEcommerce Link file to your existing FileMaker solution to push orders from WooCommerce into your main FileMaker business app, or recreate the same functionality inside your FileMaker business app as the fmEcommerce Link will be 100% unlocked for you to explore.

Here’s some screenshots showing data that we have downloaded from our test WooCommerce site:

preview-order-details

preview-orders-list

preview-products-list

I’ll be posting some videos demonstrating the core functionality of fmEcommerce Link over the coming days and would love to hear any feedback from existing FileMaker/WooCommerce users about any features you would like to see in the product – just leave a comment below.