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.

 

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.

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.

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) – Tracking Categories Updates

If you’ve been using Xero for a while you’re probably familiar with their use of tracking categories to categorise transactions such as Invoices and Bills to suit your business needs and allow you to generate reports by tracking category. For example you might setup tracking categories for different areas of your business (e.g. departments, cost centres, or locations) so you can track their performance over time.

A typical Xero tracking category might be named Sales Regions and have the following tracking category options:

  • North
  • South
  • Eastside
  • West Coast

 

There are some limitations to tracking categories in Xero – a Xero organisation can have a maximum of two ACTIVE tracking categories and four tracking categories in total (ACTIVE and ARCHIVED). You can enter up to 100 category options for each category.

We’ve always had some basic support for tracking categories in the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution – you could download all your tracking categories from Xero at the click of a button and also add them to Invoices and Bills when uploading to Xero. Over the past 12 months we’ve had more and more customers request additional support for tracking categories, including the ability to manage tracking categories completely in FileMaker.

We’ve just released an update to the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution that includes full support for Xero Tracking Categories. You can now enter two tracking categories for the following items:

  • Invoices
  • Bills
  • Purchase Orders
  • Overpayments
  • Prepayments
  • Receipts

Both tracking categories are also downloaded from Xero for each of the above items. We’ve also added the ability to do the following from the fmAccounting Link file:

  • create a new tracking category and upload it to Xero (as well as update existing ones, e.g. change the name or status)
  • add new tracking category options and upload them to Xero
  • delete a tracking category from both FileMaker and Xero
  • delete a tracking category option from both FileMaker and Xero
  • download an individual tracking category, including all tracking category options

We currently support a single tracking category in our Timesheets module – we’re working on a few changes to Timesheets and tracking categories which will be included in the next update to fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition). Timesheets uses the Payroll API and you enable Timesheet tracking categories separately to the general tracking categories, but we expect them to work in a similar way to Invoices, Bills etc.

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.

Mapping our Customers

Databuzz might be based in Sydney, Australia but thanks to the wonder of the Internet we have customers all around the world. Managing a diverse customer base can be a challenge at times and we’ve become experts at time zone differences and knowing when is the best time to schedule a demo for customers in Europe or North America.

We love meeting up with our customers face-to-face at the FileMaker Developer Conference every year – it’s usually the only chance we get to meet our non Australian customers in person. Every 12 months or so I like to generate a simple Google Map showing where our customers are located for our various products – it’s quite pleasing to see the pins grow every year and new locations added to the map.

Our FileMaker Xero integration solution fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) is now into it’s fourth year of development and in that time the number of Xero subscribers has grown exponentially. Xero is now reporting a total customer base of over 862,000 subscribers (up from 284,000 in 2014) and is on track to hit the magic million mark some time in 2017. It’s four main markets remain the same:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • UK
  • North America

but it is now seeing growth in new markets such as South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore. Australia remains the largest Xero market for now, but we can expect to see North America become the largest market over time. Here’s a map showing where fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) customers are located:

As you can see it also reflects the main Xero markets – we’re starting to see more enquiries from Canada, Asia as well as Africa, so hopefully next time we generate this map there will be some red pins in some new countries as Xero grows in other parts of the world.

fmSMS, our oldest product is a truly international product and was designed from day one to work in as many countries around the world as possible – using fmSMS you can send and receive SMS messages via one of over 75 supported SMS Gateways reaching over 860 mobile networks in more than 220 countries. We continue to add additional SMS Gateways each year and now have customers spread out all over the world – here’s a map showing their locations:

We often speak to FileMaker customers who are considering purchasing one of our products from outside of Australia and are slightly concerned that they will be the only customer from their country and will have trouble getting support. We pride ourselves and providing the same great customer service to all our customers regardless of where they are located – and as these maps demonstrate there’s a good chance you’re not our first customer from your part of the world.

New fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) Videos

We’ve just uploaded a couple of new videos demonstrating how you can work with Prepayments and Overpayments using fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition). In each video we cover:

  • creating a new Prepayment and Overpayment from a Customer
  • allocating the Prepayment/Overpayment to an Invoice
  • refunding the balance of the Prepayment/Overpayment

You can watch these videos on the Videos page or here are the direct links:

Prepayments in fmAccounting Link

Overpayments in fmAccounting Link

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) – Prepayments Update

Our first update to fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) for 2017 is now out the door – this release includes a number of minor enhancements as well as a new endpoint example: Prepayments. We’ve had a number of requests for Prepayments so we’re happy to release this free update to all our existing customers.

The fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) file has examples for:

  • downloading Prepayments from Xero (all Prepayments or between 2 dates)
  • creating a Prepayment in FileMaker and pushing to Xero
  • allocating Invoices to a Prepayment in FileMaker and pushing to Xero
  • creating a Refund for a Prepayment in FileMaker and pushing to Xero

Further details on fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) including the full list of examples are available on the fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) product page. 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 – we’re already working on the next round of enhancements and examples based on customer feedback.

FileMaker Inc. Releases Xero eBook

filemaker-xero-ebook

FileMaker Inc. have put together a number of resources outlining the benefits of Xero integration with a FileMaker custom app, focussing on how to eliminate duplicate data entry between FileMaker and Xero and centralise your Customer, Inventory and Invoice data whilst protecting your Xero financial data. I’m pleased to report that our recent Xero Webinar and our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution are both featured.

You can access the eBook and other resources from the FileMaker Inc website. If you would like to discuss integrating Xero with your FileMaker business app please get in touch.