new Export system coming

The import system we’re building lets you import from any sensible data format, and map your own column names into the column/field names that we use internally here.

While writing the prototype for an FTP exporter, I realised that the same method we use for converting incoming data can be used for outgoing data. For now, I have a very basic proof of concept that runs in one corner of FieldMotion. We’re going to expand on that.

Exporting data is almost the same as importing. As one of the bosses joked, “can you not just write the code backwards?” (yes, he was joking – we’re all pretty savvy here!). In essence, he’s kind of right. The sequence of events is reversed (convert file to data then data to internal map, becomes convert internal map to data then data to file).

So, as soon as we finish the importing system and push that out to all parts of our paperless office solutions, we will do the same for exports.

And as is usually the case with things we have just done or are just about to do, there are already potential clients waiting for this feature!

One nice side-effect of this work is that we will soon be able to hook into external reporting engines, providing data in whatever format they want. This, again, is something our clients are clamouring for. We have simple reporting built in, and have built Access-based report engines where some of our clients needed more bespoke work, but if we could hook into a full-on data analysis package that already exists, this would save us some time. So, we’ll do it.

The proof of concept export that I mentioned is an hourly export to FTP of any customers that have been changed in the customer relationship management software within that hour. You set up details of the server on which the data should be dumped, and then FieldMotion will push the data to that. We could potentially expand that even further to push to Dropbox or Google Drive, etc.

The export format for the hourly thing is CSV, but I will be making that configurable. At first, CSV/XLS/XLSX/ODS, and eventually we may offer XML as well.

FieldMotion: the book of the system

I’ve been tasked with writing a book about this field service management system thing that we built. Most of the books I’ve written have been code-related and general in nature. Writing a specific “how to” of a single system will be a bit more challenging. Especially as the system we have is really so large that condensing it all into one book will probably make the book wither much too long to read, or much too dense to read.

So, I think the best thing to do is to write a general overview of the various parts within the system, and how to use them from a basic point of view. I will intentionally avoid detailing the use of the more complex parts of the workflow management software, and will return to those either in later chapters, or in follow-up books.

Why write a book?

I’m a big fan of written tutorials. I would much rather read instructions on paper than watch a video. Printed instructions and explanations can get a lot more in-depth than videos. Also, it’s easier to highlight lines in a book, or refer back to earlier pages.

Videos tend to have accents as well. Even within the single English language, there is enough disparity in accents that it can be hard for a person in the US to understand someone with a Scottish accent (for example). Written text does not have accents.

It’s also easier to translate a book than a video. With a book, it’s a simple matter of having the text translated by a technical writer. With video, though, the entire thing must be re-done.

I will be publishing the book in this blog as I write it.

When I wrote my other technical books, I stuck to a general prescribed format – about 13-14 chapters per book, each book should be 15-20 pages long, and all concepts should be presented with visual diagrams if possible. I’ll do the same here.

Proposed chapter list:

  1. Introduction to FieldMotion
  2. General Usage
  3. Customers
  4. Jobs
  5. Assets
  6. Stock
  7. Using OnCompletes to setup WorkFlow
  8. Financial Reports
  9. Dynamic Scheduling
  10. Recurring Jobs
  11. Outsourcing Jobs
  12. Linking to Xero
  13. Using FieldMotion with Zapier

After completion, we hope to give out electronic copies of the book for free to people that ask us for a demo of our job scheduling software, and will give a free printed copy to all new customers.

link FieldMotion customers to Quickbooks customers through Zapier

Zapier is a very popular middleware system that connects hundreds of online applications together.

With Zapier, you can very quickly link your FieldMotion information to any of those hundreds of applications. Today, I’ll describe how to automatically create customers in Quickbooks when a customer is added to FieldMotion.

You will need a Quickbooks account, a FieldMotion account, and a Zapier account.

Login to your Quickbooks account and click Make A Zap.

Choose the FieldMotion app. If you don’t see it, ask us to send you the Beta

Choose the New Customer trigger, and click Continue

Select the FieldMotion account you are linking to and click “Save and Continue”. If you have not already set up a connection, use the “Connect a New Account” link to do so, then come back to this.

Next, you need to test the connection. By running the test, Zapier requests a list of customers from FieldMotion. You should make sure your FieldMotion account has at least one customer in its database.

If you click on the “view your customer” link, you’ll see something like this:

Next, you should select the “QuickBooks Online” app

Choose “Create Customer” and click “Save + Continue”

Connect to the QuickBooks account by following the steps (note that it requires a subscription account. a trial account will not work)

When that’s done, select the account and click “Save + Continue”

The next step is to link the FieldMotion customer fields to the QuickBooks fields. To do this, click on the Menu icon on the right of each field:

A list of FieldMotion customer fields will appear in a drop-down. Click the appropriate one for each field.

Full name = Name of the Customer
Email = Email
Company = Name of the Customer
Phone = Landline
Address Line1 = Street Address1
Address Line2 = Street Address2
Address City = County
Address Zip Code = Postcode
Address Country = Country

click Continue when done.

Next, you are shown a quick preview of what will be exported to Quickbooks

press Create and Continue, and a test will be done on the Quickbooks account

If you check your Quickbooks account, you will see the new customer already imported

Finally, just click Finish, give the new zap a name if you want, and turn the zap on.

That’s it! You’re connected now.