Last Friday we updated the AcuInvoice code to the 0.4 release, the final version prior to the forthcoming commercial release. This update includes a number of feature additions, UI modifications, and minor bug fixes, the highlights of which are described below. User feedback continues to drive the rapid improvement of AcuInvoice, and we thank those who have submitted tickets, contacted us by email, or phoned us with constructive criticisms. Your observations and attention to detail help speed development and make AcuInvoice a better product for all users. As regards the timing of the first commercial release, this could happen as early as next week or as late as the first week in February. The uncertain timing derives from the expected arrival of a son (our first) in the coming days. Following his birth, I’ll be tending to things at home for several days, and will delegate most customer support duties my very capable and responsive colleagues. Lastly, there are several important blog entries we will post in the coming days, among them posts on pricing, plans for AcuInvoice 1.0 and beyond, the development of a CRM application that integrates with AcuInvoice, a funding announcement, expansion of the AcuInvoice API, and the forthcoming development of a web store script that utilizes the AcuInvoice API. Check your feeds regularly, and please post a comment, visit the forum, or contact us directly if you have any questions.
Highlights From the 0.4 Release
Several users requested the ability to add custom notes to an invoice. This feature is already being used to provide invoice recipients with additional payment instructions, VAT numbers and more. You can set a default note in My Account–>Preferences, and can easily modify the default note each time you create an invoice. If users have and additional feedback regarding this feature, please let us know.
With assistance from Luc Latulippe we have optimized the AcuPort code such that we can now import–with just one click–several dozen contacts and a large number of invoices rapidly and seemingly error free. As a reminder, AcuPort is a function in AcuInvoice that allows you to import all of your Blinksale data into AcuInvoice so that you can try our service risk free and without data loss. We have previously posted a more detailed description of AcuPort, and suggest this post if you’re interested in the relevant background information. If you have a particularly large Blinksale account and would like to give AcuInvoice a spin, please give us a call or email us at support (at) acuinvoice (dot) com and we will initiate the data transfer during off-peak times.
Linsey requested that PDFs be included as a supported invoice attachment file type. You can now attach doc, .pdf, .txt, .jpg, .png, and .bmp files to invoices. Please post a comment or submit a ticket if you would like to enable another (non-executable) filetype for attachment.
We have added a coupon script to AcuInvoice and will issue to our Early Adopters a code that provides a significant discount on paid plans. Coupon codes will be sent via email in the coming days.
Custom CSS & Template Parsing
Dean at ClickSolution observed a bug involving the use of custom CSS to design invoices and estimates; this bug has been fixed. Additionally, Dean pointed out a template parsing bug (also fixed in this release) and well as a couple of easily implemented UI improvements. Thanks for these great suggestions, Dean—we truly appreciate your help.
We identified an Amazon Payments bug specific to the Safari web browser. This has been fixed.
This release includes the repair of a minor bug related to the display of the British Pound in the comments section.
This morning we applied a major update to the AcuInvoice code and are designating this the 0.3 release. We have managed to stay on track with our development calendar, but held off on this release until we were able to get all of the languages files updated appropriately. Thanks again to Charles Jean for his outstanding translation services. The 0.3 release includes a number of significant updates, most notably an improved sales tax system and support for Google Checkout and Amazon Flexible Payment Services (Amazon FPS). With the release of these features, we now have only minor updates to apply prior to the initial commercial release of AcuInvoice. We expect these updates to be completed throughout the remainder of December and into the first week or two of January. As a reminder, subscribers who sign up prior to the initial commercial release will be entitled to a subscription plan that will not be available to those who sign up after the 1.0 release. Details on 0.3 can be found below.
Perhaps the most obvious update in the 0.3 release is the integration of Google Checkout and Amazon FPS. For those who may not be familiar with these payment options, both Google and Amazon.com have recently entered the online payments market and are offering extremely competitve rates for payment processing. Google Checkout currently has the simplest of fee structures: FREE. Payments processed through Google Checkout are completely free until February 1, 2008, after which they will charge 2% plus $0.20/transaction. Additionally, if you advertise on Google AdWords, Google will credit your Checkout account for the processing fees on charges of up to 10X your monthly AdWords spend. For example, if you spend $100 with AdWords, your first $1000 of Google Checkout processing is free (a $20 savings in this example). Lastly, non-profit organizations will not be charged any processing fees for donations processed via Google Checkout until 2009.
Like Google Checkout, Amazon FPS offers advantages that are likely to accelerate its adoption. First, since every Amazon.com customer already has the ability to make payments through FPS, Amazon FPS enters the online payments market with an astounding 70 million accounts. Second, as Paul Stamatiou has very keenly noted, Amazon FPS is an ideal solution for micropayments and will be the only economical choice for businesses selling a large number of low cost items.
Improved US Sales Tax
The current release includes expanded support for sales tax, with an emphasis on US markets (for now). Subscribers can specify sales tax rates for different states and can even create different tax rates at the city level. The improved sales tax system is located in My Account–>Sales Tax. Please try out the system and let us know what we can do to make it even better.
Please Kick The Tires!
The overwhelming majority of the improvements to AcuInvoice are attributable directly to feedback from our users. We love hearing from you and strongly encourage you to contact us at support (at) acuinvoice (dot) com if you find something that doesn’t look quite right or if you have constructive criticisms of any kind whatsoever. Thanks again for your support.
The AcuInvoice Team
Two unexpected business trips rendered this blog quiet for the past several days.Despite the silence, we continue to make considerable progress and will be releasing a series of important incremental improvements over the coming weeks. Below is a tentative release schedule for these features. Please continue to email us your comments, questions, and feature requests to support (at) acuinvoice (dot) com. The amount and quality of feedback has been exceedingly helpful and we thank our users for their support and active participation in this effort.
Multi-Language Support: Week of 11/19
Translations into Spanish, French, and German have been performed and multi-language support will be released this week. While the homepage and tour page of the marketing site will be translated as well, the blog and our responses in the user forums will remain English only.
Improved Tax Support: Week of 11/19
We are actively coding an improved sales tax system that will allow you to specify the states/regions where you need to charge sales tax. This will be a useful feature for those who send large numbers of invoices and who are required to charge different rates of tax based on the presence of a local office in one state or another. We expect to launch the improved sales tax system late this week or early next week.
Partial Hours: Week of 11/19
Several people have asked us to loosen the current restriction on having only whole hours. By the end of the week you will be able to input things such as 1.4 hours as a line item on your invoices. Thanks to several people, in particular Phillip Blake, for feedback on this issue.
AcuPort 0.2: Week of 11/19
We are implementing a series of new features and bug fixes to AcuPort, the import/export scripts that allow you move data between AcuInvoice and Blinksale with just one click. Thanks to Luc Latulippe for providing a robust test case for AcuPort and for helping us uncover a few subtle issues related to this important functionality.
Various Fixes: Week of 11/19
There are a few other minor fixes that will be released this week, among them an issue related to the invoice date picker.
CSS Based Invoice Layouts: Week of 11/26
The invoice template file includes a few unnecessary tables. In the coming days, this will be revised such that
divs are used whenever possible. This will let users float most elements in the invoice and will enable more sophisticated customization of invoices. If you are currently using something other than the default CSS file, you will likely have to update your style sheet once this new template file is released.
New Invoice Designs: Week of 11/26
Concurrent with (or shortly after) the release of the revised template file, we will start releasing a series of CSS files that will allow you to apply a different look to your invoices. Thanks in advance to Ben Gray for what are certain to be beautiful invoice designs.
Google Checkout and Amazon FPS: Week of 12/3
A few users have asked about the timeframe for the release of Google Checkout and Amazon FPS support. As of today, we are anticipating support for these gateways in early December. This will bring the number of supported payment gateways to five. Please post additional payment gateway requests to the forums or email us (as most of you seem to prefer) at support (at) acuinvoice.com. We’ve already had requests for gateways including WorldPay and eWay. If you’d like to second your support for these gateways, or if you would like to nominate others for inclusion in AcuInvoice, let us know and we’ll consider putting them on the development roadmap.