XD18 Xero Developer Roadshow 2018
Xero have been hosting their #XD18 Xero Developer Roadshow around the world and this time (June 2018) it was the turn of London.
Gary Turner (MD of Xero UK) kicked things off with an inspiring vision on how the internet has presented us a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild the fundamentals of how business works. Xero is more than beautiful accounting software – it is a cloud business platform helping to rewire the global economy by helping millions of small businesses interact better 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 class technology company based in New Zealand servicing 1.4 million subscribers with over 200,000 advisors and 40,000 registered developers. One major differentiation for Xero is the App Ecosystem with over 700 certified applications supplementing the base accounting functionality with payment systems, inventory, document processing and all sorts of integrations with other platforms and systems.
We were treated to twenty minutes from Dan Young (Head of Development) who lives for the Xero API and its ability to operate both in the world of XML and JSON. We use the .NET API here at Redware for our connectivity products and can vouch for the quality of the SDK that Xero provides and supports. 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 of a development evangelist before being approved (unfortunately for technical reasons – as it is a desktop product - our Xero Connector for CRM has yet to go through this process). Ben Glazer (UK Development Evangelist) took us through this process and the help available to new developers. Some interesting comments 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 a validation process undertaken with a few reference sites before listing on the App Marketplace. Xero are investing heavily in improving this process to encourage subscribers to use more and more applications.
Glen Foster (Director of Partner Sales) is focussed on servicing the 7-8,000 accounting partners here in the UK with 45-50 account managers and notes that only 11% of accounting partners actually recommend applications to their customers although 52% would be interested in doing so. He sees many accountants providing more and more advisory skills in the future and wants to encourage the recommendation of marketplace apps by accounting partners to their clients.
Nick Houldsworth backed this commitment noting that an average of 1.7 applications were used by subscribers but only 9% used more than 5 tools. Alex Falcon of Soaring Falcon explained the problem of recommending applications from the advisors point of view and advised developers to make sure their integrations were quickly understandable to the user and above all that data was passed in to Xero correctly. Andy Muir also described four steps to help a developer communicate and market their application successfully within the Xero marketplace and how to leverage the Xero brand and succeed within the ecosystem now that there are so many applications available.
The #XD18 Developer Roadshow was managed by Kaye Harding who is the head of Ecosystem Marketing at Xero in conjunction with Amazon Web Services. Although the afternoon was a little light on hardcore developer information, we were treated to a walk-through development of a simple PHP application by Jim Coleman using AWS tools to quick create his solution.
At Redware we develop billing tools and integrate Xero with Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and we learned a lot more of the commitment of Xero to developers and the application marketplace and ecosystem. Some of the tips around the certification process were useful but, for us, the ideas and resources available to communicate the benefits of our application to prospects was the most useful part of the day. The commitment of Xero to their advisors and accounting partners was also revelatory. The one thing we can put to good use immediately with our own Xero integration is the ability to automatically email invoices out of Xero using the API. I see that being implemented next week… so thank you to Xero and AWS for a productive afternoon.