Xero have been hosting their #XD18 Xero Developer Roadshowaround the world and this time (June 2018) it was the turn of London.
Gary Turner (MD of Xero UK) kicked things off with aninspiring vision on how the internet has presented us a once in a lifetimeopportunity to rebuild the fundamentals of how business works. Xero is morethan beautiful accounting software – it is a cloud business platform helping torewire the global economy by helping millions of small businesses interactbetter with banks, advisors, and each other.
Xero has significant presence in the UK, South Africa,Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. They are a world classtechnology company based in New Zealand servicing 1.4 million subscribers withover 200,000 advisors and 40,000 registered developers. One majordifferentiation for Xero is the App Ecosystem with over 700 certifiedapplications supplementing the base accounting functionality with paymentsystems, inventory, document processing and all sorts of integrations withother platforms and systems.
We were treated to twenty minutes from Dan Young (Head ofDevelopment) who lives for the Xero API and its ability to operate both in theworld of XML and JSON. We use the .NET API here at Redware for our connectivityproducts and can vouch for the quality of the SDK that Xero provides andsupports. Improvements to the Xero API include:
- Notes and History – being able to attach documents within Xero.
- Web Hooks for Contacts and Invoices allowing the triggering of your own web services.
- Emailing Invoices automatically from Xero (using the API).
- Payroll for NZ and UK.
- A new Expenses API coming soon deprecating the existing functionality.
- 0AUTH 2.0 is finally being rolled out.
All certified applications at Xero pass through the hands ofa development evangelist before being approved (unfortunately for technicalreasons – as it is a desktop product - our Xero Connector for CRM has yet to gothrough this process). Ben Glazer (UK Development Evangelist) took us throughthis process and the help available to new developers. Some interestingcomments on best practise include:
- Rate Limits – only 60 requests a minute or 5,000 a day allowed.
- Token refresh – store the token and expiry time and refresh only as required.
- Careful because what Xero call accounts (and we call nominal ledger codes) vary between different regions.
- Handle errors gracefully with an explanation to the user for corrective action.
The certification process involves a journey through avalidation process undertaken with a few reference sites before listing on theApp Marketplace. Xero are investing heavily in improving this process toencourage subscribers to use more and more applications.
Glen Foster (Director of Partner Sales) is focussed onservicing the 7-8,000 accounting partners here in the UK with 45-50 accountmanagers and notes that only 11% of accounting partners actually recommend applicationsto their customers although 52% would be interested in doing so. He sees manyaccountants providing more and more advisory skills in the future and wants toencourage the recommendation of marketplace apps by accounting partners totheir clients.
Nick Houldsworth backed this commitment noting that anaverage of 1.7 applications were used by subscribers but only 9% used more than5 tools. Alex Falcon of Soaring Falcon explained the problem of recommendingapplications from the advisors point of view and advised developers to makesure their integrations were quickly understandable to the user and above allthat data was passed in to Xero correctly. Andy Muir also described four stepsto help a developer communicate and market their application successfullywithin the Xero marketplace and how to leverage the Xero brand and succeedwithin the ecosystem now that there are so many applications available.
The #XD18 Developer Roadshow was managed by Kaye Harding whois the head of Ecosystem Marketing at Xero in conjunction with Amazon WebServices. Although the afternoon was a little light on hardcore developerinformation, we were treated to a walk-through development of a simple PHPapplication by Jim Coleman using AWS tools to quick create his solution.
At Redware we develop billing tools and integrate Xero withMicrosoft Dynamics 365 CRM and we learned a lot more of the commitment of Xeroto developers and the application marketplace and ecosystem. Some of the tipsaround the certification process were useful but, for us, the ideas andresources available to communicate the benefits of our application to prospectswas the most useful part of the day. The commitment of Xero to their advisorsand accounting partners was also revelatory. The one thing we can put to gooduse immediately with our own Xero integration is the ability to automaticallyemail invoices out of Xero using the API. I see that being implemented nextweek… so thank you to Xero and AWS for a productive afternoon.