Friday, 15 January 2016

Xero integrates Google mail - A Potent Mix

Since Blink Reports for Xero users are also Google Apps users, this may be of great relevance to you. Here is a recent update from Xero that is too good not to share.

It's often difficult to get a clear picture of where you stand with a particular customer. It's no surprise that our favourite tool to keep track of this is Xero. With over half a million global subscribers and counting, Xero provides online accounting, bank reconciliation, invoicing services, and integrates with a wide range of powerful software solutions and add-ons. Now, with the integration of Google's Gmail, it's more powerful than ever.
Just before the end of 2015, Xero pushed their final major update of the year: Contacts were updated and Google's Gmail service was integrated into the contacts screens. Essentially, this gives Xero users complete visibility of the business they've done with their customers or suppliers, making it much easier to make decisions and develop opportunities. This vital update makes Contacts a hub for customer communication and demonstrates how cloud accounting has opened the doors of opportunity for innovation and efficiency.

Features in this update enable you to:
  • Connect your Gmail account to view emails with contacts directly in Xero. This saves emails to a contacts activity tab, adds email to a new invoice, quote, or bill, and allows you to download attachments to the contact record.
  • View emails between you and your customers in real time.
  • View emails from the email account that you've connected to Xero while they remain invisible to other users in your organization.
  • Share an email with other users in your organization by simply adding it to the contact's activity tab
    You can see here email messages have been pulled from Blair's account using the contact's email address or emails including the words ""
    Connecting Xero to your Google account is simple, here's how:
    1. From the Contacts menu, select All Contacts.
    2. Select a contact.
    3. Under the bar graph, click Email, then click Connect to Gmail.
    4. Sign in to your Google account.
    5. On the permissions screen, select Allow.
    You can find further details on Xero's Business Help Centre page and Xero's blog.

    If you're already using Google apps and are looking for a great accounting solution to bridge the gap between you and your customers, Xero with Gmail is a robust and ideal solution. We at InterlockIT are proud Xero and Google Apps advocates and are more than happy to help make your business's IT solutions a breeze. Be sure to contact us to learn how we can assist you.

    Monday, 16 November 2015

    Using advanced Google Sheets functionality: ArrayFormula

    Since Blink Reports is built on top of Google App Engine, Google Apps Script, and Google Sheets, you can leverage the power and functionality of all three products to work with your financial data in ways you may not have thought was possible before.

    The ARRAYFORMULA function, in conjunction with OFFSET and MATCH, can help you manage dynamic data sets by allowing you to search for a specific piece of information and then manipulating that data elsewhere. In our template, for example, we use an ARRAYFORMULA on the Operating Expenses Extract sheet to pull data from the XeroPL sheet, which (by default) shows the profit and loss report for a single month.

    The old-fashioned way to do this would be to use hard-coded lookups on each individual row in the Operating Expenses Extract worksheet. While this does work, it makes any changes difficult to manage and can increase the amount of time you spend finessing the spreadsheet instead of focusing on the work you need to do.

    Instead, by using the ARRAYFORMULA, we are able to pick any worksheet as a source, with any date range, and generate the report you see below.

    This chart will now be automatically updated when any changes to the source data occur. Even if a hundred new line items appear in your P&L report, you'll see them in the Operating Expenses Extract right away, without any additional work needed on your end.

    Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    Blink Reports now supports Xero budgeting!

    We've had many requests over the last few months to build in support for Xero's Budget Manager, and we're happy to announce that we've now completed development on this new feature and it's available for all Blink Reports users right now!

    From here, you can now manipulate your budget numbers, compare them directly to your account balances and transactions, and make any changes as necessary to get the results you're looking for.

    This feature is now available to all new and existing Blink Reports users, and highlights the massive productivity improvements you can get by using the reporting engine on Google Sheets. Interested in taking Blink Reports for a spin? Click here to sign up for a free two-week trial and you'll be able to see this brand new functionality right away!

    As ever, we make lots of behind-the-scenes improvements to make your Blink Reports experience better, so keep checking back to see if anything else you're looking for has been implemented.

    Have a suggestion, feature request, or question? Email us at

    Tuesday, 30 June 2015

    New Google Sheets functionality upgrades Blink Reports automatically

    One of the biggest benefits of taking advantage of Google's massive infrastructure and the resulting improvements in services, user interfaces, and more, is that we're able to bring those improvements directly to your reports without any work on your end. Google rolls out some new functionality, and you've got that same functionality right away.

    In mid-June this year, Google introduced a number of enhancements directly related to data manipulation and charting. You can now add data labels to display the exact value of data points in a number of charts; we've integrated this into our standard template now, which you can see in the image below.

    New data point value display thanks to a Google Sheets upgrade.
    Since Blink Reports uses a fairly large number of formulae to return your data in an easily-readable format, Google's new in-line formula preview makes adjusting our formulae to work with your data easier than ever, as you can now see exactly what your formula will return while you're writing it.

    Updated permissions for protecting cells or ranges have now also been integrated into our templates, to ensure that our formulae can keep looking at the correct data.

    It's thanks to the ever-evolving nature of Google's products that we're able to bring you such a powerful reporting engine and constant updates without you needing to lift a finger. Google ships it, and you've got it right away.

    Monday, 5 January 2015

    Happy New Year from Blink Reports!

    Here are a few facts:
    • Blink Reports continually gets better because we built it on the Google Sheets and Google App Engine platform. 100% of our Blink Reports code runs inside the Google Cloud Platform meaning it will automatically scale to match customer demand without us having to manage server instances or configure load balancers. Google does it all for us.

    • Blink Reports data is secured by the massive resources and security team of Google. If you'd like to further secure your Blink Reports data from hackers or malicious websites that might figure out your password simply enable 2-step Verification on your Google Account... Sony should have had this.
    • Google is constantly improving the speed and features of Google Sheets on your web browser and on your Android Tablet or iPad. Blink Reports is accessible anywhere and on any device.
    If you feel that Blink Reports is missing something please Contact Us. We're always open to doing custom development on our Blink Reports platform to meet your needs. 

    Wednesday, 21 May 2014

    By popular request, we're rolling out yet another new function!

    The feedback on our Xero reporting engine continues to be overwhelmingly positive and filled with enhancements and feature requests.

    One that we found to be particularly ingenious is the ability to pull sales and purchase invoice details directly out of Xero to populate into a sheet, which you can then use to create powerful invoice-based reports using pivot tables.

    Now you can see all your invoices from Xero and have the details show up in one single view! Need to see authorised accounts receivables for the past year? Choose your date range, accounts receivable, and your invoice status. Done.

    Interested in giving it a shot? Sign up for a free trial and you'll be able to see this powerful new functionality right away!

    We're constantly updating Blink Reports, so keep checking back to see if anything else you're looking for has arrived.

    Have a suggestion, feature request, or question? Email us at

    Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    Multi-column complex category option reporting made easy

    We designed and built Blink Reports from the ground up as a more powerful alternative to Xero's built-in reports, we tried to make sure it was fast, it could grow, and we could add new functionality quickly and easily. Over the course of the past few months, we've received extensive and enthusiastic suggestions from users and are continually rolling out new functionality.

    Today, we present one of our most powerful features yet: you can now generate profit and loss reports with more than 256 columns of data! Google Sheets has traditionally had a 256 column limit. Thankfully, with the new version of Google Sheets (now the default), this limit and a number of others no longer exist. Need to generate a huge report, with up to 2 million cells and the share it securely in real time with others? Not a problem. Google Sheets can do it for you right from within your web browser.

    Xero recommended that Ryan Anning at TargetCW test out our reporting engine to overcome the limited number of columns that are normally shown on the profit and loss statement. Ryan's goal was to produce a revenue and cost analysis by worker (tracking category) which requires a report with several hundred columns! It turned out that his need was so unique that initially our reporting engine would produce an error as it was waiting too long to receive the data from Xero.

    The technical side of how we fixed Ryan's challenge is quite clever, but we won't go into too much detail here. In a nutshell: we're using Google Cloud Platform to handle all the heavy lifting when the Xero data takes a long time to populate the spreadsheet. Thanks in large part to the flexibility of Google App Engine, we were able to adapt our code, test it live without impacting existing users, and then make it the production version with zero downtime.

    The solution means that Ryan can now generate large reports like the one you see below (click to enlarge). Note the columns stretch all the way to KJ—representing nearly double the original column limit—and it will continue growing as needed.

    Xero's built-in reporting engine is pretty good on its own, but when you need to analyze the data in a spreadsheet you're forced to export the report to Excel or Google Sheets format. This leads to static financial data that becomes quickly out of date. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Xero simply cannot generate reports to rival what we can do on the Google Cloud Platform with Google Sheets.

    With Google Sheets and Blink Reports, you can now review this month's revenue and expenses by Xero tracking category and then change two date fields to see a different month (or even year) for comparison.

    Offloading the pain of financial reporting to Blink Reports means that Ryan (or even you) can now work more quickly through finances and focus on the things that matter: generating business instead of generating spreadsheets.