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Simple Invoices review

by Sukrit Dhandhania

A web-based open source invoicing application that is designed to be very easy to use, but requires LAMP…

This article originally appeared in issue 85 of Linux User & Developer.
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Simple Invoices
Pros: It’s free and has a simple yet good-looking front end. Being web-based, it’s accessible from anywhere, and is cross-platform. The software itself is pretty advanced: it supports various billing formats and even allows several user accounts. This is great for a small organisation’s requirements
Cons: The primary drawback is that it requires a LAMP setup to be installed – non-technical users may prefer a hosted solution or even a desktop application. It also lacks integration with other hosted project management solutions such as Base Camp HQ

Simple Invoices is a simple, lightweight web-based invoicing application. It’s an open source application that you have to install on a computer running a LAMP stack. Its hardware requirements are quite minimal, depending upon your level of usage. Simple Invoices opens in your web browser and has a simple, yet aesthetically pleasing user interface. The application supports multiple users, and requires you to log in before you can access the software. Let’s look at some of the features in detail.

Despite the use of the word ‘simple’ in its name, the software is packed with all the bells and whistles seen in commercial alternatives. It provides support for several currencies, tax rates, custom fields for data entry, custom text in your invoices, among other things. There are five options in the main menu at the top of the screen. Using these, you can create and view invoices, manage users, and view and change the general settings of the software.
SImpleInvoices image03

The Settings Panel has a lot of tabs. Here you can modify the settings of your tax rates, modes of payment, choose which template to use, and also take a backup of your database. Under the ‘Invoice Preferences’ tab, you can view and edit the settings for your invoices. You can also view the settings for other documents such as quotes, receipts and estimates.
A good number of file formats are supported. You can export your invoices as PDF, Microsoft Word, plain text, Open Document Format or Microsoft Excel documents. This is great since you can store your invoice in the web interface and export it in a format your client is comfortable working with. It’s a flexibility missing in some commercial invoicing applications.

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    • http://jpugh.org JP

      Great review!

      I’m a bit surprised that you are showing the install of supporting software a “con” for it, though. I applaud the makers of Simple Invoice for using what I have/desire vs forcing me into a stack that I do not want. All of your favorite distributions have a simple way to install/configure a LAMP stack. Besides, the AR person is not going to be installing it!

      What I would be more interested in knowing is how it integrates into my CRM system. I don’t care that it does not integrate into project management like BaseCamp, but I do want integration with my SugarCRM and possibly into my Openbravo ERP system.

    • http://justin.kelly.org.au justin kelly

      Thanks for the review!!

      re Con having to install it
      - http://www.smarterinvoices.com offers Simple Invoices hosting
      - that way you don’t have to do anything – just sign up and its all taken care of

      Cheers

      Justin
      – simpleinvoices.org
      – smarterinvoices.com

    • http://justin.kelly.org.au justin kelly

      @JP

      there is no direct integration into any CRM / ERP etc..

      Simple Invoices is all php/mysql so whatever you want is possible – just take some work

      Cheers

      Justin

    • http://www.tocici.com TOCICI

      Simple Invoices is such a straightforward app, that I’ve integrated its database into our customer portal; the fact that Simple Invoices does not lock itself into other apps made this SO very easy to do.

      We’re putting the finishing touches on a web portal that brings together:
      – VPS (Virtual Private Server) management tools
      – Auto-payments w/ PayPal IPN hooks (C/O: Simple Invoices)
      – Resource utilization tracking
      – DNS management
      – Chat/discussion forums
      – Trouble Ticketing system
      – An extensive customer documentation website
      – General account management

      We picked the best-of-breed tools, tied them all together under a single authentication solution, and Simple Invoices fills its niche quite nicely.

    • http://justin.kelly.org.au Justin Kelly

      thanks TOCICI,

      great to hear Simple Invoices is helping your business!!

      cheers

      justin
      – simpleinvoices.org

    • Mike C

      I have been using simple invoices for the last 6-7months for my small business.
      It appealed to me initially because, unlike the other free to use applications, SQL-ledger, open-bravo etc, it was ONLY an invoicing system and I didnt have to learn all about the other guff worked, (how the sales invoices tied in with balance sheet entries etc etc…) just so I could use the invoicing part which is all I wanted!
      So far its been stable and great, yes the LAMP etc is a bit to get your head around but the fact that has HTML (and other languages, i think) components and the code is quite accessible and modifiable makes it really handy and flexible, as per the previous comments.
      Regarding system requirements, I was running SI on a 900mhz celeron, and am currently build a new server on a 2.6ghz pentium as i have found it did run too slow for my liking on old box.
      so thanks to Justin and the other developers! keep up the great work :)

    • http://justin.kelly.org.au Justin Kelly

      Thanks Mike !!

      re need to install LAMP

      there is currently work underway to get Simple Invoices running locally without having to install LAMP

      a self contained version of Simple invoices is a work in progress, refer: http://simpleinvoices.org/forum/discussion/1307/simpleinvoices-offline-portable

      Cheers

      Justin

    • Earl T.

      It won’t install!
      I have been looking for a basic program to make invoices, about only 20 a month so I want it free of charges and look better than hand written ones. I have tried to install ‘Simple Invoices’ and ‘Bamboo Invoice’. Both of these will not install! I tried on two other computers, same result. I read above about LAMP what ever that is?
      How anyone can offer software that can’t be used is crazy, It’s like making a motor car before anyone has invented the wheel!!!
      If there is an easy way to make them go that a non computer geek can understand I would be pleased if someone would tell me. No codes or chinese writing please.

    • Carry

      Why bother, when you can use services that cater for this?

      http://www.billfor.it
      http://www.invoicemachine.com
      http://www.freshbooks.com
      etc

      All the hard work and setup is done

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