Blinksale for your invoices 26 Jul 2005

35 comments Latest by Jason Liebe

Building of Basecamp Workshop alumnus and Ruby on Rails devotees Firewheel Design serve up Blinksale — an elegant way to send and track invoices. It’s web-based, fast, and useful. It’s also built by a small team of 3 who understand the value of good interface design. Me likes. Welcome to building software for the Fortune 5,000,000.

If you want to know more about the people behind Blinksale, check out this interview.

35 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Mark 26 Jul 05

Are you sure you guys didn’t make this?

Elliot Anderson 26 Jul 05

It has a very distinct 37signals feel to it.

Rock on.

Mark 26 Jul 05

Not to say it isn’t good though, I think the signals ought to steal the “does this domain exist” AJAX bit from the signup page, much nicer than a refresh.

Randy 26 Jul 05

I see they’ve been drinking the 37signals cool-aid, but come on Firewheel, how about something more original?

The Blinksale manifesto looks and reads and awful lot like the 37signals Backpack manifesto and the Basecamp manifesto and your pricing chart sure feels like it’s just a few pixels away from the Basecamp pricing chart (and even more so like the actual pricing chart inside Backpack and Basecamp).

This won’t stop me from signing up for Blinksale (I could surely use it), but it does give me pause. Are you leading or following?

Be yourselves, Firewheel!

Vaughn 26 Jul 05

I’m loving Blinksale thus far, but the pricing model makes me feel like I’m getting shortchanged. Now, I don’t speak from experience or even from an admin’s perspective, but $6 a month for only 20 invoices seems alittle short.

Jeremy Jarvis 26 Jul 05

your pricing chart sure feels like its just a few pixels away from the Basecamp pricing chart

Maybe they should have re-invented the [fire]wheel…

Lode 26 Jul 05

Is it common practice in the US to send a thank you note when an invoice is paid?

I’d never heard of it before seeing it in Blinksale. I’m not sure if this gets you any more repeated business. To me it just feels like spam.

Richard 26 Jul 05

I could so use this…

Except for one rather large problem - It does not cater for my local currency (ZAR).

I simply cant understand why it is limited to US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, British Pound and Euro only…

John 26 Jul 05

I see theyve been drinking the 37signals cool-aid, but come on Firewheel, how about something more original?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t copying 37signals, to a certain degree, the point? They’ve done a great job of providing a direction for a new, refreshing generation of web applications. A book, blogs, semiars, a free development framework, sample applications (that happen to be real)…

J 26 Jul 05

is the enormicom.com website no lorger working?

Darrel 26 Jul 05

If only this included time tracking. The invoice part isn’t hard for me. Just tally my hours, slap them in an email, and send them off.

What is hard (for me) is dilligently logging my hours on each project. If this could do that AND make the invoice, I’d be sold.

Of course, I suppose that’s what Basecamp is for. Is 37sig and Firewheel talking about integrating the two with some API calls?

matt 26 Jul 05

It’s like if you told 37s to convert basecamp into a billing tool — and then said (probably with an evil snicker) “since you’re so big into embracing constraints, you may only use pastels!!”

JF 26 Jul 05

Darrel, we’ll be adding time tracking to Basecamp later this year. Stay tuned for that.

Once Basecamp and Blinksale have APIs (neither do at this point), I’m sure people will find ways to hook them up somehow.

Jeff Wheeler 26 Jul 05

Once I saw Blinksale for the first time, I knew I’d love it.

I was right. This is absolutely amazing. It seems like something that came from you guys.

Josh Williams 26 Jul 05

Blinksale intentially has a decent dose of formula 37 in it, and this is laregly due to its audience. While it is familiar to Basecamp in a handful of ways, we wanted people who were using both apps (like us) to not have to perform mental gymnastics when switching between apps.

In regards to internationalization and currency support, in order to get Blinksale out the door, we had to limit our currency support at first. This is something that will grow in coverage in the weeks ahead. If you’re currency is not there today, check back again next week. Or, better yet, just sign up for our newsletter. It’ll keep you up to speed.

John Peele 26 Jul 05

I have to agree with John, the other John above…

37S has done a great deal to set the foundation, and the bar, for new web apps. So it makes sense to me that we will see certain similarities between these types of apps. Even Jason mentioned that the Firewheel guys are Building of Basecamp alumni.

If certain conventions work for Basecamp/Backpack/Ta-Da, they most likely will work in other situations as well.

NotVaughn 26 Jul 05

Is $6 a month for twenty invoices really too expensive? That’s basically an invoice sent EVERY day during the month (your office is closed on the weekends, isn’t it?) If you’re billing someone, ANYONE, every day, all month—surely $6 is not too much for you to spend to manage it. That is, unless each of your invoices is for $0.25, in which case you’d be losing $1 per month.

You are perfectly welcome to save the $6/month and do it yourself, no one is twisting your arm. Now go manually create today’s invoice.

Nathan 26 Jul 05

I use Clockwork for simple time tracking. It doesn’t tie into an invoicing system, but it’s easy and free.

Stefan Seiz 26 Jul 05

Of course such a tool only helps if you actualy think about sending invoices and not plain forget about them — hint, hint ;-)

Kevin Ballard 26 Jul 05

Blinksale looks pretty cool, although I don’t do invoicing. But if I ever get off my ass and actually start doing some consulting work, I will probably use this.

What would make it more enticing would be a full-featured web API, which I could use to write, say, a Dashboard widget (OS X) that keeps track of the time I spend on projects and can send it to Blinksale to create an invoice.

pinder 26 Jul 05

am i the only one uncomfortable uploading my corporate info online to someone else’s server?

Dan Hartung 26 Jul 05

pinder makes a worthy point, but that’s not one unique to an invoicing app. Certainly there must be $millions in potential trade secrets buried in various Basecamps and Backpacks. But if you think about the “corporate info” that already travels through “someone else’s server” where someone else is, well, Yahoo or Hotmail, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

Security breaches are an absolute must-avoid for web-based apps, though. No accidentally exposing another client’s data, etc.

Rebort 26 Jul 05

I don’t want to spread the FUD, especially since I tested this application out and found it both easy to use, reasonably priced and truly useful.

That said, these applications on small-company servers always make me raise an eyebrow.

How does everyone feel about leaving sensitive information on someone else’s server? How do your clients feel about it? Is Firewheel going to be here next year, or the next? Do you know for sure?

pwb 27 Jul 05

Rebort, I agree to an extent. I think the whole ASP thing is faddish and will be replaced or at least augmented by hosting the services yourself. SugarCRM vs. Salesforce is a good example. I think Sugar will give Salesforce a good run. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sugar already has more users. Salesforce is attractive at first because of the small up front cost and web accessibility. But Sugar offers both as well as control of your data and ultra customizability.

That said, I think some of these apps like Blinksale and the 37Signals stuff will have decent shelf life. The advantage that the smaller, nimbler developers has will have is that they will be able to adapt with the industry whereas Salesforce, for example, is locked into its current approach.

Wesley Walser 27 Jul 05

Well, I think we can all be sure that they hype machine is in full affect.

Never the less, I am really excited about getting to take a look at blinksale.

Al Abut 27 Jul 05

I’m confused as to what the added value is compared to sending out an invoice with Paypal. A cursory glance through their site didn’t reveal an answer. Not to snark and snipe, just genuinely curious - I kind of expect a service developed by smaller more open teams (the 37s variety, the types not pretending to be smaller clones of large co.s) to reference the competition and explain advantages.

Jake Tracey 27 Jul 05

I absolutely love most of Firewheel’s graphic design, but the colors of Blinksale made me close the window not long after logging in. I can handle the 37signals ‘inspiration’, but damn guys, my eyes!

Derek Organ 27 Jul 05

I think it looks great! Nice work. In terms of looking and acting fun i think it probable has that over basecamp. But i would suggest having a more serious thank you message as well as the ones there.

One suggestion: Send the invoices attached as pdfs. I personal think this would be more professional looking. There are loads of ways of converting from html to pdf. It wouldn’t be much added functionality eiter as it could be an option to do it that way.

Josh Williams 27 Jul 05

Al — explaining the advantages of Blinksale over say, using PayPal for invoicing is definitely a good point. And its certainly something we intend to do. Although, since you can sign up for a free account (even without a credit card), it’s pretty for people to explore for themselves the advantages. Speed and ease-of-use are the two biggies that come to mind.

pwb 27 Jul 05

Wondering:
- could Blinksale have been built entirely on a publis set of APIs?
- could the emails be XHTML such that they could be reliably parsed?

Josh Williams 27 Jul 05

pwb — not sure about the API, however unfortunately the emails cannot be valid XHTML. Since many people use web-based email clients, details like doc headers and such simply get ripped out. Or, if they don’t get ripped out, they screw up the layout of the web client in which the email appears.

If everybody used a mail client built with Apple’s webkit, we’d be in luck. But that’s extremely far from the case.

Ben Linton 29 Jul 05

It is good to see an app that follows some sort of main stream design similar to the look and feel of 37signal apps. Who has time to learn and use something that is “totally original”? Apps should have some sort of consistency to minimize the learning curve involved to utilize them.

Monique Powell 11 Sep 05

Is it common practice in the US to send a thank you note when an invoice is paid?

Id never heard of it before seeing it in Blinksale. Im not sure if this gets you any more repeated business. To me it just feels like spam.

Its called manners and it will get you very far in life. That said, yes it is common practice among the more professional among us.

I signed up for basecamp this week, and think I’m gonna now give Blinksale a try. I already use Quickbooks but find it to be very complex, so if Blinksale can simplify my life then why not.

Monique Powell 11 Sep 05

Just to clarify, the following part of the above post was actually a quote from a previous posters comment:
————————————————————————————————————
Is it common practice in the US to send a thank you note when an invoice is paid?

Id never heard of it before seeing it in Blinksale. Im not sure if this gets you any more repeated business. To me it just feels like spam.
————————————————————————————————————

Jason Liebe 27 Mar 06

Blinksdale is great. I paid $600 for Manufacturer’s version of Quickbooks and never needed 90% of the features. Blinksdale is a breeze and I really love it. After sending an invoice I was sure I missed something as it was so easy and quick.

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