We’ve done a minor update to the Mac Time Tracking and Expense Tracking Widget. Users were having to re-enter their API key after a restart or logout; this has now been fixed, and users should download the updated version here.
Today we released a Smart Invoice Time and Expense Tracking Widget for Mac OSX. This widget allows you to record expenses and track time spent on client projects without logging into your Smart Invoice account. Download the Smart Invoice widget, try it out, and let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions for improvement. Video demonstration below (click the HD icon for better quality).
We have made two more demos of the AcuInvoice Simple store. These videos detail how to configure, sell, and deliver digital good with your AcuInvoice Simple Store.
Configuring the AcuInvoice Simple Store
The first demo shows how to configure the store and demonstrates how all of your information is passed to your AcuInvoice account.
Receiving Payment and Delivering Digital Goods
The second demonstration shows the process of receiving payments and illustrates how digital goods are delivered to your customers once an invoices has been converted into a closed state.
Today we are proud to announce the release of the AcuInvoice Simple Store. We are releasing this lightweight PHP script free of charge to the AcuInvoice community as a means of providing a set of core classes that can be used in custom applications that interact with AcuInvoice via the API. We have prepared a zip archive of the AcuInvoice Simple Store for you to download and install on your web server. As previously described in detail, the Simple Store can be easily installed on your web server and allow you to sell products–both digital and traditional goods–via a clean looking storefront. Order information is passed securely to your AcuInvoice account via the API, and customers are able to pay via any AcuInvoice payment gateway you have enabled. If you are selling digital goods (software, eBooks, etc.), these goods will be automatically delivered to your customer once the invoice has been converted into a closed state (either via a payment gateway or from a payment you have manually entered). Below you will see a brief demonstration of the Simple Store installation process. By the end of the week we will have a full demonstration of how to configure the Simple Store (you should be able to figure it out without the demo, we think) and how orders are processed. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the AcuInvoice Simple Store, please email us at support (at) acuinvoice (dot) com or submit a ticket from within your AcuInvoice account.
Installing the AcuInvoice Simple Store
As the name implies, installation is easy, but it never hurts to have some helpful visuals. This demo should help.
- PHP 5.0.0 or higher
- MySQL extension loaded (in php.ini)
- SimpleXML extension loaded (in php.ini)
- This is not a requirement but a recommendation: allow_url_fopen = 1 (in php.ini). If this option is turned off (value 0) you will still have a fully operational store, however every downloadable item and product image should be uploaded to the store server via the admin application. Linking to remote files and images will not be possible.
This week we will be releasing version 1.0 of the AcuInvoice Simple Store, a PHP application that uses the AcuInvoice API to enable subscribers to quickly generate a standards-compliant web store where customers can place orders for products, services, and digital goods. Order information is passed securely via the AcuInvoice API to the subscriber’s account and invoices are automatically sent. If you sell digital goods (MP3s, images, software, etc), the items will be automatically delivered to the customer once payment is received and the invoice is converted into a closed state. The AcuInvoice Simple Store is an outstanding example of the power of the AcuInvoice API (it even uses a number of features and data elements that we have yet to fully document) and provides a large amount of sample code that will be useful to other AcuInvoice developers. Therefore, we will be releasing the AcuInvoice Simple Store to the AcuInvoice community free of charge as a means of providing a strong set of core classes with which developers can build custom AcuInvoice applications. We will be putting the finishing touches on the Simple Store early this week, and plan on releasing documentation and tutorials along with the script later in the week. This post highlights the features and benefits of the store, and provides access to a sample store containing some $0.10 items so that you can execute a couple of test transactions and let us know what you think.
We have posted “The Charlie Store“ so that you can see a preview of what the store looks like by default. You can execute a test transaction (where you purchase a $0.10 picture of my infant son and have it automatically delivered) to test the functionality. The script functions in the manner described in the “How It Works” section below.
How It Works
When a customer places an order from your AcuInvoice Simple Store, all order data will be instantly passed to your AcuInvoice account. The data will be used to create a new contact (if the customer is not already in the database), and an invoice will be automatically created and sent to your customer at the email address provided during checkout. When your customer receives your invoice, they can pay via any gateway that you have enabled both in your AcuInvoice account and the AcuInvoice Simple Store. Once the invoice is paid, it will be automatically converted into a closed state. If the order contained any digital goods, the script will automatically send out an email containing an order-specific download URL. The AcuInvoice Simple Store allows you to limit the duration the download URL is valid, and specify a maximum number of item downloads.
Features & Benefits
Super Simple Installation
The AcuInvoice Simple Store is easy to install and configure. Simply unzip the archive, upload it to your web server, create a MySQL database, change a couple of permissions settings, and load the installer script in your browser. Your store will be automatically configured and should be functioning in about five minutes.
The AcuInvoice Simple Store utilizes clean CSS and produces valid XHTML 1.0 Strict for maximum compatibility with a variety of popular web browsers.
Simple Management of Content
The AcuInvoice Simple Store utilizes the TinyMCE HTML editor giving you the ability to style your store’s content using a familiar interface. TinyMCE is integrated by default into a number of applications and should be familiar to most users.
Your AcuInvoice Simple Store is completely customizable. You can make modifications to the storefront to suit the look of your site, and edit the store’s CSS via a simple web-based editing utility.
Standalone and Embeddable Mode
The AcuInvoice Simple Store can be used in either a standalone or embeddable mode. The standalone mode (default) produces a separate storefront page, while the embeddable mode allows you to insert your AcuInvoice Simple Store into any web page using a singleelement. Embeddable mode could be used, for example, to insert your simple store into pages dynamically generated by popular publishing platforms such as WordPress.
Centralize Service Invoices and Store Purchases
You already use AcuInvoice to bill your clients, but if you sell products too, you might have to use another system for tracking those sales. Since the AcuInvoice Simple Store uses the AcuInvoice API to automatically enter customer and order information into AcuInvoice, all of your data will be centralized into your AcuInvoice account.
Automatically Delivers Digital Goods
If you sell digital goods from within your AcuInvoice Simple Store, these goods will be automatically delivered once the relevant invoice has been paid. Once payment is remitted and the invoice is converted into a closed state, customers will be sent an email containing a purchase-specific URLs that provides controlled access to digital content.
Plays Well With AcuInvoice Domain Mapping
If you have enabled domain mapping in your AcuInvoice account, all invoices generated via the AcuInvoice Simple Store will originate from your mapped domain, thereby giving you the option of providing a more carefully branded purchase experience for your customers.
The AcuInvoice Simple Store will be released without charge to the AcuInvoice community. Please note that transactions completed through the AcuInvoice Simple Store will automatically pass customer information securely to your AcuInvoice account. Therefore, if you believe you will have a very active store, be certain to have a subscription level that will permit you to have a sufficient number of invoiced clients.
As we near the launch of AcuInvoice 1.0, we have begun to update our development roadmap and set goals for the reminader of 2008. This post, which highlights features of the soon-to-be-developed AcuInvoice 1.1, is the first in a series of articles detailing our near term development goals and provides some insight regarding the direction of this service. Subsequent posts in this series will discuss (perhaps not in the following order):
- Plans for AcuInvoice 2.0, a major release scheduled for the second half of 2008
- Expansion of the AcuInvoice API and the release of an AcuInvoice-driven web store and
- Development of a CRM and project management module that integrates with AcuInvoice.
If you have any feedback on these, or any other, development items, please post a comment, start a topic on the forum, or contact us by email or phone.
AcuInvoice 1.1: An Update Scheduled for Late Q1 2008
The forthcoming 1.0 release marks both the conclusion of our initial development efforts, and the start of some important follow-on development. AcuInvoice 1.1, the first in a series of incremental updates, should be released late in the first quarter and will focus primarily on making the software more user friendly. Key features will include:
Dashboard Quick Actions
The AcuInvoice dashboard is ideal for scanning your invoices and identifying accounts in need of attention. However, working with invoices requires that you first click on the invoice, navigate to an invoice-specific screen, then select from one of several context-dependent actions. AcuInvoice 1.1 will include Dashboard Quick Actions, a series of functions allowing you to initiate context-specific actions from within the dashboard. You will no longer have to navigate to a particular invoice to receive payment, send a payment reminder, or deliver a thank you note; these actions will all be available via an intuitive dashboard interface.
AcuInvoice has powerful built-in reporting features and allows you to customize reports. AcuInvoice 1.1 will extend this functionality by allowing you to quickly generate reports using a set of predefined input parameters.
Tags are great for organizing your invoices and tracking various business segments. Though AcuInvoice’s tagging functionality is strong, it can be improved. The 1.1 release will allow users to edit tags and have changes automatically applied to all invoices.
There are a few elements in AcuInvoice that can be improved through the selective use of AJAX. Expect minor improvements throughout the application in this regard.
Adios, Unnecessary Pop Ups
A few unnecessary pop ups somehow managed to remain in the current code (we’re actually not sure how they managed to get there in the first place!). They will soon exit stage right.There will likely be several other small items included in AcuInvoice 1.1. Significant new features, however, will be included in AcuInvoice 2.0 (scheduled for the 2nd or 3rd quarter), and will be unveiled concurrent with the alpha release of a CRM & project management module currently in the planning stages. More on this major release (AcuInvoice 2.0) soon.
We’ve had a number of upgrades, features releases, and bug fixes this week, so we thought it appropriate to highlight the key updates implemented over the past several days. If you have any questions or comments, post here or simply email us at support (at) acuinvoice (dot) com.
User Forums Launched
The most immediately noticeable addition to the AcuInvoice site is the launch of the user forums. Accessible via the rightmost tab of the marketing site’s persistent navigation area, the user forum will become the go-to place for user questions, feature requests, discussions related to the API, and general chat. Rather than posting every detail of our progress on this blog, interested readers will be able to more closely track development by reading and posting on the relevant forum.
By far the most technically significant feature released, the AcuInvoice API will provide a platform by which developers can extend AcuInvoice’s functionality. I wrote about the merits of API-based extensibility at Luc Latulippe’s illustration blog. As an aside, I challenge you to find a more gifted artist that Luc—really incredible work.
Flooded By Feedback
We’ve started receiving a significant amount of feedback from our users and it is really helping us identify issues that we had missed in our internal testing. Thanks!!! We would like to encourage you to submit feature requests via the newly released forums, while continuing to post tickets or email us directly if you have identified what appears to be a bug. If you have not yet accessed our helpdesk system, you can quickly submit a ticket to the AcuInvoice help desk by clicking the link in the upper right of your account. This system will allow you to track the request or bug report and will automatically notify you when we have resolved your issue. User requests submitted via the helpdesk will be acknowledged—and frequently resolved—within one business day.
Newfangled Login Area
Waive Late Fee
Late fees, though often added to invoices, are frequently not collected. We have therefore added a feature that allows you to easily waive the remaining late fee on an invoice. This will prevent you from having to go in and edit an invoice to correct for what might be an annoyingly small late fee.
Streamlined Country Selection
Country menus have been streamlined such that those countries in which the majority of our users reside will appear higher on the list. We need to update this to include Australia. Next week we will be implementing similar updates to the currency menus.
CSS Updates Begin
For the next several weeks, the most visible change to AcuInvoice will be updates to the CSS of the application and marketing site. A small preview of this started this past week, when Ben started to apply a new CSS class to required fields in the signup process. Ben will be working on perfecting our look and feel over the next several weeks, so if you have any comments on this topic, please feel free to email us, post a comment here, or start a thread on the user forum.
Monitoring Service Added
We have implemented a network monitoring service to ensure that we are immediately notified in the event of a server outage. We will soon be extending this to include automatic high frequency tests for MySQL connectivity.
Filed under: Announcements, API, Documentation, Features, Geek Fodder
The AcuInvoice development team is pleased to announce the initial public release of the AcuInvoice application programming interface (API) and PHP client library. The AcuInvoice API allows developers to build applications that securely access and manage their AcuInvoice data. Possible applications include integration with third party shopping carts, integration with third party accounting packages, and more. We have extensive documentation and sample code (to be posted shortly), but wanted to provide a consolidated summary of topics germane to this API and its future plans.
The AcuInvoice API is open to all AcuInvoice subscribers. We currently have no plans to restrict API access based on account type. To use the AcuInvoice API you will need an access key. As of this writing, said key has magically appeared in the My Account→Preferences area of your account. Keep your API key safe. If you share it with the world, some nefarious pack of geeks might do something naughty with it. If you ever suspect that your API key has been compromised, simply change your master account password and an new API key will be automatically generated for you.
AcuInvoice API communications are transmitted via XML and secured via HTTPS; requests made over non-encrypted connections will not be served. Additionally, if you have mapped a domain to AcuInvoice (if you haven’t, you know you want to), note that for purposes of data encryption you will have to access the AcuInvoice API at https://yourid.acuinvoice.com/api/ rather than at http://www.yourdomain.com/api/.
PHP Client Library
Our PHP client library is complete and can be downloaded at the URL conveniently located beneath your API key. Technical requirements for the library include PHP 5 compiled with SimpleXML and cURL. Documentation is included with the client library.
This 0.1 release is strong and has intentionally been structured such that the API’s scope and data formats are familiar to anyone who has developed applications using our competitors’ APIs. However, we believe that the AcuInvoice API can and should do more. To this end, we will be adding additional functionality to the AcuInvoice API as it becomes available. We welcome your suggestions.
API Developer Forum and Code Repository
We encourage API developers to join the AcuInvoice forum (just opened yesterday, so we’d love to have people join) to discuss API development issues and to let us know what you’d like to achieve with the API. If you have developed code that you believe has broad use, and which you don’t mind sharing with fellow API developers, we would be happy to promote your work and serve as a repository for this code.
Lastly, we want to thank all of our early adopters for their support as we continue to release features and upgrades. We love hearing back from you and encourage you to continue to contacting us with your constructive criticisms. We’re working to make this the best application in this space and we can’t do it without feedback from you, our subscribers. Please feel free to contact us at support (at) acuinvoice (dot) com with any questions.