Tag Archives: Web 2.0

Is Online Accounting ready for Prime Time?

Hey All,

*Warning! Long Post Alert!*

Today’s blurb will be a comparison (or review I suppose) of some online accounting software I’ve been keeping and eye on and trying. To get things started, I’ll post all the software I’ve tried thus far (in no particular order):

Phew! Yes….I actually spent the time creating accounts for all of those and looking at them, only the ones that passed my initial feature inspection I actually put data into for testing. Now, I’m no stranger to the world of accounting, I had to do much of the accounting for eFireHost (My partner in crime was supposed to, but we won’t get into that…). Given my highly mobile, and unpredictable nature, keeping the books remotely accessible was a must. We had used a variety of techniques for accomplishing this:

  • Run RDP/VNC on a server that had QuickBooks installed
  • Host a private windows VPS server that had QuickBooks installed
  • Use QuickBooks Online Edition

My business partner was set on using QuickBooks for the accounting and I don’t blame him, it’s industry standard. I eventually got used to the system and quickly learned my way around the interface. Out of all the solutions I liked the QuickBooks Online Edition the best. It automatically updated banking transactions and was available everywhere, well…almost. The MAJOR pitfall to that solution was QuickBooks OE’s dependency on ActiveX controls, and as I’m sure you know these only work in Internet Crapsplorer. So that left Firefox, my primary browser out. To make matters worse, I am a Linux guy, I run Ubuntu on all my machines. So to recap, Ubuntu + Firefox + QuickBooks OE = ?, I don’t think there is an elegant solution to that equation.

Step forward a few months and I’m on my own now. I’m a very strong proponent of the web application movement and it is my weapon of choice whenever a problem lends itself to being solved by some web app. In the interest of time I’m going to skip ahead through all my testing and ranting to pull out the 4 top contenders, more like 3 but I’ll add more to that later.

  • Clarity Accounting
  • Less Accounting
  • Xero
  • Saasu

All of these web apps have an API that can be accessed and allow for Bank Statement importing. Less Accounting has automated this feature, but as of this writing they are having some issues with it and it isn’t functional.

From my testing Xero probably takes the cake in terms of features. Its UI is a beauty and the general work flow is excellent. Those guys DEFINATELY spent some time on their UI design and layout. Their help desk/center is also amazing, by far the most informative of the lot. There were many many many articles in there to help you get up and running and how to handle all the details of the software. Everything sounds peachy right? Well there is one small caveat, for me at least, as great as this software is they are charging $29/Mo (or $290/Yr) for their software. It’s not outrageous really, but at this early stage in the game I can’t see myself paying $30/Mo for accounting software. Maybe when my budget grows and I have a little more money to burn I’ll move over. It’s definitely something worthy of another look down the line!

  • UI – A+
  • Help Desk/Center – A+
  • Reporting – A+
  • Price – C

Next up is Saasu, this is another feature packed offering. I’d venture to say it probably has more features than even Xero, but this software lacks a great deal of polish. Saasu offers such features as payroll, time sheets, inventory management, and more. It’s pretty rough around the edges, while it does work and it can get everything done, it takes a little more thinking and clicking to do so. Another area I was slightly disappointed with was the Bank Statement importing. Although Saasu is the only one of the bunch that has a Banking Integration Guarantee, they only work with plain csv files rather than a more standardized Quicken/QuickBooks file. As of this writing they did not support importing from my bank, Washington Mutual/Chase. I had to manually enter some of the transactions to validate the functionality of this offering, but the lack of importing left a bad taste in my mouth. I got an email this morning (7-9-09) saying that my bank will be supported in tonights software release, we’ll see how that goes… I got a follow up email (7-10-09) to verify the functionality of the csv import for my bank, sure enough it worked as prescribed! Saasu was 1 of 2 providers that offered a free plan with limited features, above that the prices ranged from $25/Mo $19.50/Mo USD upwards of $95/Mo $74.60/Mo USD depending on storage and feature requirements. All of these monthly denominations are paid in 3 month chunks.

  • UI – C
  • Help Desk/Center – B+
  • Reporting – B
  • Price – B+

The last two contenders are pretty much neck and neck in my book, Clarity Accounting and Less Accounting. Both of these software offerings offer almost identical feature sets and very intuitive UIs. The Less Accounting devs are very much in the limelight of social media and make it a point to be out there and active to aid their customers, I like this a lot. I think an award that was granted over at Cloudave sums them up quite nicely, the “get off Twitter and do some work” award. The Clarity Accounting devs are very much in the background, but both teams actively participate in making customer feature requests come true, another thing I like about both.

Less Accounting is more expensive than Clarity, at $24/Mo. (They also offer a Free plan and 2 other plans that are $12/Mo and $20/Mo) Clarity Accounting on the other hand charges a flat $10/Mo fee (or $100/Year). Less Accounting offers integration with Shoeboxed, WeSabe, Shopify; numerous contact importing sources, integration with their time tracking product, LessTimeSpent, and lastly Automated Bank Transaction importing. That last one is what’s really keeping me on the fence between the two. Reporting capabilities are very similar for the two offerings and each present the same information. Clarity Accounting offers a little more advanced accounting functionality with the option to have equity, liability and other types of accounts. Less Accounting only offers income and expense accounts, their reasoning behind this is well founded, they want to be “less” cumbersome than QuickBooks. Ideally I’d like to see Clarity pick up some type of automatic transaction import, but at this stage in the game it’s not really a deal breaker.

Less Accounting

  • UI – B+
  • Help Desk/Center – B
  • Reporting – B
  • Price – B

Clarity Accounting

  • UI – B+
  • Help Desk/Center – B+
  • Reporting – B
  • Price – A+

I’ll be continuing the trials with Less Accounting and Clarity Accounting, but as of now I’m probably going to go with Clarity Accounting due to its advanced accounting options (equity and liability accounts) and its lower price point. At the end of my trial for each I’ll head back here to post which I decided to go with.

Phew! Good thing I took the “shortcut” and went straight to the main contenders, this post was MUCH longer than I anticipated it to be! If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me! Hopefully some of the things I’ve uncovered here save you some time and make your life easier!

Until next time! L8rz

February Update

Hey All,

*edit*

So turns out I missed my 1 year anniversary for my blog…..I’ve never been able to keep a blog up and going for more than a month or two so this is definitely an accomplishment for me! The anniversary of the Robert Report was actually on Feb 14th, 2008…..go figure!

For reference, here is a link to the first post: Clicky!

*/edit*

Well again, I haven’t been keeping up with my blog….sorry about that! So this post should be fairly large in length in order to get up to speed on what’s been going on as of late.

Presidents Day Weekend – 2/14/09
I went snowboarding with some buddies of mine: Jared, Tuan and Diego. We went to mountain high…that was fun. The weather was perfect and there actually weren’t that many people! I hope to go again some time really soon especially since Jared got all new gear…I want to try that stuff out! =)

Random Ride – 2/21/09

So I finally managed to get back on my bike and head out for another motorcycle ride. Man was that way overdue! It was amazingly awesome by the way…..the ride started off a little chilly, but once I got up into the mountains and onto the other side (not overcast anymore) the weather was great, took off the jacket and strapped it to my backpack. As I started to get higher the snow from the previous rain started to emerge….that was exciting! I’ve never ridden in the snow, it was quite slippery but definitely fun! Hopefully I can get out on a long ride over Spring Break…..*crosses fingers*

Quarter Ending

So Winter quarter here at UCSB is drawing to a close and all my classes project due dates are approaching fast. I have a midterm later today that I should be studying for….hopefully that goes ok. I have a project due tomorrow that I totally forgot about, hopefully its not too long! I have another group project due next Tuesday, that should be ok….my group members are smart and responsible. Although I need to get a haircut on Friday to make myself somewhat presentable for the presentation I need to give for that….

SCO3

So with the Quarter drawing to a close the deadline for my project, now aptly named SCO3 or Service Center Online version 3, is approaching as well. I’m supposed to have this bad boy done before everyone comes back from spring break so I guess I’ll be doing some coding over the break. I am now experimenting with various AJAX requests and making it more Web 2.0-ey……but that might have to be put on hold for the next release while I polish up the interface and make it more usable/intuitive.

I think that’s it for now, as usual I’ll try to keep this updated more often….but hey I’ve had this thing for almost a year….holy crap I just realized I’ve had this for a year….*edit*

Phiivo? What’s that?

So based on a lot of thinking and a great deal of “mulling” as my friend Matt would say…..I’ve decided to step down as VP of eFireHost.com Limited, Inc. Instead I will be pursuing my own venture….Phiivo What that you might ask? Well as of right now….it’s just a registered domain name….however I have plans to turn it into a site that is dedicated to my web development work, OSS and Commercial. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for some time now…so we’ll see how it plays out! Any suggestions or comments are definately appreciated!

Until next time….Later!

Dev Hosting? What gives?

Ok watch out….this post is most likely going to be an epic rant….you’ve been forewarned…..

Why in the HECK is it so difficult to find a pretty, simple, elegant and above all FUNCTIONAL source code management and bug/ticket tracking system????

I have tried unfuddle, assembla, 16bugs, the now defunct porchlight, beanstalk, sifter, codebase, fogbugz, bugja and have yet to find a system that I *truly* like.

Unfuddle almost took the cake, but they don’t allow for the public to submit tickets only team members….what’s that about!?

Assembla was great too, but they also didn’t allow for public submission of tickets. Assembla got REALLY close though, people can view the “Dashboard” of one of your projects and sign in to submit a ticket. Seems close to what I want right? The catch…..in order for a user to submit a ticket they need to have “edit” rights to the ENTIRE project…which means they can edit the wiki, all the ticket information, etc. Why can’t you make a permission set for public users to just create/comment on tickets??

Right now i’m trying to cobble something together using Lighthouse, my MediaTemple SVN account and a simple WebSVN page.

I did stumble upon github which is a pretty cool concept, it also integrates with Lighthouse. This is essentially the same as my above configuration (slightly more integrated because github combines my WebSVN page and a Git account) However going this route brings with it other issues:

  • Need to learn Git Source Versioning
  • The Git eclipse plugin leaves much to be desired

The two apps I did find that can do this are ironically free, trac and redmine. At this stage i’m not sure if redmine can do the public ticket submission, but it does handle multiple projects.

Trac:

Cons

  • Ugly as hell
  • Requires an account with Mongrel support
  • Doesn’t manage multiple projects

Pros

  • It’s free!
  • It essentially works for what I need

Redmine:

Cons

  • Not sure if it even supports public ticket submission
  • Requires RoRs/Mongrel support

Pros

  • It’s Free!
  • It can handle multiple projects

The problem with these two is that my MediaTemple account requires me to pay and ADDITIONAL $20/mo to simply add Ruby/Mongrel support….grr….I’m not really too exicted to change hosts at this point in time because that’s a lot of work (R&D plus the actual migration)

Some might ask, why not SourceForge or GoogleCode or any other free project management setup?

The problem with this is that I have projects that are not potentially opensource, they are private. I cannot host private projects on sites such as SF or GoogleCode. This is problematic for me. Sure I can create and host all my OSS projects at sites like these, but I would MUCH rather have a centralized project management system in which I can overview all my projects and what’s going on with them in one area rather than all over the internetz.

My Needs:

  • Bug/Ticket Tracking System
  • The aforementioned system MUST allow for public submission of tickets (and not allow the public to edit the whole dang site!)
  • Source Control system that integrates with SVN/Git/CVS/etc.
  • I would like the above so that I can link code to tickets
  • Also I would like to have the public able to see all my code revisions and edits (along with myself)
  • Support for multiple projects
  • I plan on doing many projects in my life time, I don’t want to have 10 different places where they are hosted. I want it centralized.

I’m seriously thinking about brewing up an app to fit this niche market because from my google-ing I found that a lot of small developers have very similar, if not the same needs as me.

*phew* /Rant

Until Next Time…..~RN

Web 2.0?

Hey All,

So i’ve been prowling the blogs I follow and just google in general in search for a group collaboration app. During my search I evalated a great deal of products. During my evaluation I noticed a reocurring thought, “Wow….this app is really good….these developers have a lot of talent!” That seems to be the case for a lot of nifty web 2.0 apps. I was really happy to learn about some new 2.0 apps and how they work. There are a multitude of different ideas and methods of thinking. Upon my search I settled upon No Kahuna for a workgroup collaboration tool.

While looking for a support button I stumbed accross their version of a support application, GetSatisfaction. This app was a completely different spin on support than I’m used to, but frankly the idea is pretty darn good.

Some other apps I previewed were:

Well I think that’s all for now, just wanted to post my findings. Hopefully these tools can help others.