Not much to look at, but the beer looks nice....
|Latest blog from the developer, Mike Towle:
2013-05-09 Thursday: Accounting software for small businesses has mostly always run on PC's, first under MS-DOS and then Windows. But what will we all be using to run accounting software in 10 years time?
Yes, I know, Apple Mac's run accounting software too. They have been around for a long time. But it's not their strength. When it comes to small business accounting and administration type applications, the PC has dominated.
But things are changing. Sales of Windows PC's have been in decline for a little while now. Is this due to the surge in sales of tablets, or the poor take up of Windows 8? I'd guess it's a combination of the two. Tablets are good for surfing the web, and they're being used more and more by people who need access to information while not at a desk. For example, sales assistants can talk to their customers in store, tablet in hand, and answer queries about delivery, specification, price, etc. straight away, and even take the order there and then. But would you want to run your accounts system on a tablet? Not unless you plug in a keyboard, in which case why not just use a laptop running Windows instead? Tablets have an useful part to play, but not for running the core accounting tasks.
What about using the internet? The 'Cloud' is really trendy at the moment. Everyone is jumping on that bandwagon. But as an accountant recently commented to me about a cloud accounting solution "it's all hype and not enough bookkeeping". An opinion I (and many others) share. The problem is software development is very time consuming, and when it comes to developing serious business applications for the web, it's even MORE time consuming. The web was never designed for handling on-line applications, and it's not very good at it. So they'll never be as sophisticated as a PC application, and will always have fewer options and feel rather clumsy. Then of course is the security issue. Once your accounts data is in the 'Cloud', you don't actually know where it is being stored, or who has access to it. You don't really know if it's being backed up properly, and you don't really know if next time you want to access it, whether it'll still be there. Server crashes, hacking, companies going under, are things that happen all the time. Business people tend not to be taken in by hype, and so I think the security issues put many off using the Cloud for accounting purposes. Certainly, some companies offering Cloud accounting solutions are struggling. I know of one in particular who owes Adminsoft money for some promotional services, and has been unable to pay.
This sounds like I'm Cloud 'bashing', which isn't my intention. Like tablets, the Cloud has a great many benefits, but running business critical software such as an accounts system isn't one of them.
The last ten years have see some big changes in the way we use computers. The next ten will see even larger changes. My gut feeling is that although sales of Windows PC's will continue to decline, because fewer people need to use them to browse the web, Windows PC's will continue to dominate the world of small business applications for a long time, but these applications will communicate directly with other applications running on tablets and other devices and services (including the Cloud). Each device working as part of an overall solution, each one having a different role to play. But the main accounting role will remain with the Windows PC.
2013-02-04 Monday: I fear governments. Not just because of their ability to wage war, or wreak economic havoc. As dreadful and catastrophic as those are. But also because of their constant and ever changing demands on businesses for more and more information in the name of 'progress'.
There was a time when all information, from small businesses at least, was provided to the government on paper. Changing something was a big deal for all concerned. And so changes were few. Over the last decade most western governments have realized they can have information provided to them electronically. Slowly, the paper has been disappearing. Which is actually a good thing. It reduces the amount of paper used, saving trees and energy and so also emissions. It reduces the time it takes to get information to the government. It reduces errors within the government itself because their staff do not have to type the information into a computer any more. And of course it reduces the number of staff they need, so the costs of running a tax department fall. Well that's the theory!
The problem is, it's businesses in the main that have to pickup the tab for this. Which would be fine(ish) if it's a one off. In other words if a collection of forms can now be submitted electronically, the up front cost of putting this in place can be offset by savings over the coming years. For the business, it should reduce staff time, paper, postage, and time spent handle enquiries due to errors.
So where's the problem? Well as governments are finding it so easy to get information sent to them electronically, they will be forever requesting more of it. Information they have never shown an interest in before, because collecting it was too expensive (to them), will now be available far more cheaply (at the expense of businesses). In most countries, the year end accounts are now filed electronically. So are income tax filings, and so are VAT/Sales Tax filings, and in some so is payroll information. In the United Kingdom, from April this year each time you run the payroll, you will have to submit a report electronically (in practice this means over the internet) to HMRC (the UK's tax authority). This includes highly detailed information about each employee. Far more information than they used to receive once a year on the paper based system it's replacing. In some cases this will even include information on the employees partner.
As tax fraud and money laundering are serious issues, I suspect we're not far away from our respective governments wanting to know exactly what transactions have gone into producing our accounts and tax figures. Then they can see exactly who is paying who, and how much. I haven't heard or read anything about this. But I'd be amazed if there aren't people in various governments thinking about it right now.
In the United Kingdom, the government wants all internet and telephone service providers to store ALL emails, skype, text messages, basically all forms of written electronic communication. They say it's in their fight against terrorists and organized crime. But if terrorists and organized crime know their emails etc. are going to be recorded in a big database, aren't they going to use some other method of communication? Of course they are. The government wants to store this information because it can, and best of all it can do it at some one else's expense. ie. the internet and cellular telephone service providers.
It's possible via cellular 'phones to track the location of anyone at any time. And this is done sometimes. It's only a matter of time before it's done all the time, and the movement of each individual is recorded in a database. That means you. Not because you've broken the law, bust just in case you do.
This web site is not political, it's about accounts software and anything related to it. But these last couple of months I've been working on the software to send payroll data electronically to my government. I've had to, otherwise the payroll would be useless in the United Kingdom. And it occurred to me, the government ask us to send them this and send them that, and we all comply. First it was year end accounts, then tax filings, now payroll, where does it end? Where do we draw the line? When do we say 'you're not having any more information, that's as much as we're prepared to give you'?
Because I think that as our governments' demand for information grows, and little bit by little bit we meet that demand (at our cost), and keep sending them more and more, we could cross that line and not even notice.
2012-11-24 Saturday: Supporting software is a real issue. It can be time consuming for the software vendor, but an absolute necessity for the software user! So how can good support be offered for a free product?
Of course you could purchase a Software Registration Key (please!), then it's not exactly free. But it's definitely cheap! I'm constantly told it's far too cheap for the wealth of features Adminsoft Accounts contains. The low price reduces the perceived value of the product. But really it's a $500 to $1,000 package. It compares well to other accounting products in that price range. When a user pays that kind of money, they often also end up spending a further few hundred dollars every year to receive continued support and software updates. For that kind of money, the software vendor can afford to operate telephone support. Although they'll usually still charge extra for on-site support or training.
Email support is available for Adminsoft Accounts. And I think the level of support offered via email is as good, and probably better, than many much larger accounting software vendors offer (despite their high product prices). But there times when email isn't really sufficient.
When a product is free, or almost free, there's no money for telephone support, or for setting up the necessary structure to handle on-site support or training, even if it was to be made available as a chargeable extra. If Adminsoft Accounts was available in just one country, then it may be possible. But the software is available all over the world. There are users in USA, Europe, Africa, and the far east, including China. For many users, English is not their first language. Which can make it quite difficult when trying to explain something technical. So there's often a language problem as well as a shear distance problem.
Many users of Adminsoft Accounts are accountants, bookkeepers, or in the training and/or computer support business. People who are very familiar with computers and computerized accounting. Expert users if you like. So it occurred to me, that perhaps the best way to implement a global support network for Adminsoft Accounts would be to offer it through these people. In their country, they can offer telephone support, with no language issues. In their county/province/state they can offer training and on-site support. Of course, like all of us, they're in business to make money, and so will charge for these services. But at least these services will available. Where as at the moment, for the most part, they're not available at any price.
For those of you who are expert users, and would be interested in generating a little extra revenue, please click HERE for further details. An email shot is in the process of going out to all users. But the email list is now so large it takes several weeks to email everyone!
I hope to go live with the support network on 2nd January 2013 Details of business partners offering support in your country will be available on the web site at that time.
2012-06-30 Saturday: Is accounting software really that important? You only want to record sales and purchases, and know how profitable you are. Surely any old bit of accounting software is going to do that right? Well, yes and no.
The problem with accounting is that on the face of it, it looks simple enough. And if your requirements truly are very basic, then it is simple. But you users out there, you have a habit of thinking your requirements are very basic, when in fact they're any thing but! You want sales invoicing? No problem. Oh, you want to record sales tax, and there's two of them: a state tax and a city tax, and there's different rates for different products/services, and on the same invoice sometimes you want to invoice from stock and sometimes you don't, and if invoicing from stock not every item should have it's stock quantities controlled because it's really there just as an easy way to get a price, and part way through the invoice you might want to save what you've done and come back to it later..... And so on. Adminsoft Accounts can do all that, and more. But we're no longer talking about a simple accounts system!
This presents two problems for the software developer. It makes developing accounts software VERY time consuming, because it needs to be able to do so much. And, because it can do so much, it makes the software look so complicated. This last problem is really the biggest problem, because users want lots of functionality (although often don't realize it at the time), but are fazed when presented with so many options. If you know accounts, then you probably have a good idea of what you want, and will know what to look for. But if you're not familiar with accounts, then the whole thing can be pretty daunting. This is why Adminsoft Accounts has two levels of operation: Level 1 which provides a cut down menu, and cut down version of some of the more complicated forms, and Level 2 which offers everything. These levels are completely interchangeable, in that if you have two users on a network, working on the same company/organization, one can run the system in Level 1, and one can run the system in Level 2. No problem. You can even switch levels as you use the software, if you wish. I've thought about introducing an extra even more basic level, or even complete user defined menu's, so users can choose what options they want to see. But that could just makes things even more complicated!
2012-04-04 Wednesday: Email spam is a persistent problem. Like most of you, I get lots of emails from people trying to sell me anything, from barbecue sets to mail order brides! Adminsoft Accounts contains an email shot facility, so maybe I'm kind of responsible for some of it!
The email shot option was created to make it easy to send out email shots to a range of customers or suppliers. It has been made even more useful now it includes a visual editor, that allows you to create nice looking emails, using different fonts, colors, images, etc. without any knowledge of HTML. But, I get quite a few support emails from users asking how they can import their list of prospect email addresses so they can email them out. I have to point out this is not what the facility was created for.
Of course, what people do, and how they use the software is entirely up to them. Later this year I hope to include Sales Order Processing and Sales Prospecting. As part of the Sales Prospecting module there will be an option for bulk email. You will be able to load up email addresses from a file and email them. Once the email shot has started going out, you won't even need to run Adminsoft Accounts, there will be a separate email program sitting in the background sending out the email. While your PC is running, it will be emailing.
Adminsoft Accounts has always been more than just an accounts system. It was always my intention that it should be able to handle most of the accounting and administrative requirements for most small businesses. It's my job to give users what they want. I draw the line at mail order brides though!
I should point out, that yes, I too send out an email shot every month or so. But they are all 'opt in' email addresses, and the emails do contain a link the user can click to opt out of future emails.
2012-02-08 Wednesday: They say there's no such thing as a 'free lunch'. In other words, it might look free, but everything has a cost! So I want to talk about free software.
Google 'free software' and you'll get around 2.2 billion results! So it's rather popular. Free software is available for a wide range of applications, including games, operating system utilities, internet, multimedia, even accounts! The quality of it varies enormously, as does the available support. From software that's difficult to use, riddled with bugs, and perhaps barely works at all (and sometimes doesn't), and has no support, through to software that is good to the point of being indistinguishable from a paid for (perhaps expensive) product, and with support to match. Unlike most paid for products, most free software is the result of one persons efforts (there are exceptions, 'open source' products are often developed by a number of programmers). In the main, the difference between poor software and good software is down to the developer; their experience and the amount of time they're prepared to invest in the product. The problem with software development in general is that's it's SO time consuming. Few people can afford or find the motivation to invest a lot of time into a product they intend to give away.
If you're just interested in computers and software, you can afford to try numerous free programs until you find one that works for you. It can be fun discovering just what's out there. But if you're setting up or already running a business, time is money. You could end up spending a lot of time looking for the right free accounts package. In which case, your 'free lunch' has turned out not to be free after all! To save time and hassle, many businesses will just turn straight to the established accounts software companies that sell their software. You pay your money, and you expect a certain quality and a certain level of service. There are plenty 'paid for' accounting software products out there that don't offer the functionality of Adminsoft Accounts, or in some instances even the same level of support. So it's perhaps ironic that the biggest single obstacle to Adminsoft Accounts' success is the fact that it's free.
Is this leading up to an announcement that I intend to start charging for Adminsoft Accounts? No. I intend it to remain free, at least for the foreseeable future. Though I would like frequent users to buy a Software Registration Key, otherwise income is limited to the Pay-Per-Click Google adverts. As useful as they are, they will never pay for my yacht in the Bahamas! I console myself with the thought that I'd be too busy with Adminsoft Accounts to use the yacht anyway....
2012-01-16 Monday: Yes, I know, Adminsoft should be tweeting, it should have a page on MySpace, FaceBook, I should have a page on Linked In, etc. etc. Currently, Adminsoft is doing no social networking at all, and yet these days it's such an important part of getting in front of people.
Why is it not being done? Usual thing, lack of time. So what I've done today is put some buttons on top of each web page for MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. for you guys to click and do all the work for me! OK, it's not the same. I should be putting content up there, where as with these buttons I'm entirely at the mercy of what people want to say about Adminsoft Accounts and/or it's web site. I can't edit any of it. So please be nice!
If you like Adminsoft Accounts, please click away on the MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Google buttons and let everyone else know. It only takes a few seconds of your time, and would be much appreciated.
Adminsoft is a one man organization. It has one product, Adminsoft Accounts, which for the most part is given away. As you can imagine there's no budget for sales and marketing. As I have to do everything, including developing and supporting the software, there's not much time for sales and marketing either. I even have to develop and maintain this web site, and as you no doubt appreciate, I'm no web developer. Of course I'm not exactly alone. There are many thousands, probably millions of small businesses across the World with the same problem. Web sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. provide a great opportunity to market a product or service, at little or no cost. But they are time heavy. Setting up pages, maintaining them, generating tweets, blogs, and so on all takes up so much time. I don't even have time to maintain this blog. When I started it about five years ago, I intended to blog about twice a week. I've ended up blogging about once every two months! I don't issue press releases, and yet there are some web sites that will publish press releases for free. If only I had the time..... I don't have the answer, I'm afraid, I can only comment on how frustrating it is to see all these opportunities and not have the time to exploit them.
2011-11-25 Friday: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Benjamin Franklin in 1789 in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy. I'm afraid I can't do anything about the former, but I can help with latter! Well, the accounting of tax anyway.
Sales Tax is often a problem. Not because we have to pay it, albeit with begrudging acceptance! But because there's often more than one of them. It is not uncommon for a sale to attract state sales tax, county sales tax, and even a city sales tax. Three taxes on the one transaction. To make matters worse, occasionally a tax might not be on the total amount of goods or services, but might be calculated on the total including the state (and/or county) tax. Adminsoft Accounts was designed for just one tax. Although it was modified some time ago to accommodate an extra tax, to be honest, it didn't work well. It simply wasn't flexible enough. The difficulty is not all goods or services attract the same state, county, or city tax rate.
So, Adminsoft Accounts is currently undergoing a substantial modification to allow it to operate with up to FOUR different sales taxes! It also allows up to 100 different rates for each tax, and each rate is to four decimal places. This should be flexible enough to handle any combination of sales tax/VAT and rates any where in the world. This new version of the software will be out mid. December.
(Edit 16th Dec.'11: oops, did I say mid. December? More like start of January!)
2011-09-19 Monday: How do you know if accounting software is any good or not? One way is by accreditation from a respected body. An independent organization that is an authority in accounting and accounting software. In the United Kingdom, the Institute of Chartered Accountants is such an organization. They are highly professional and well respected. They offer an accreditation service to publishers of accounting software. It is an excellent scheme, used by some of the largest and most respected accounting software publishers. So where's the problem? It's expensive. Not unreasonably expensive, but to most of the small software publishers, especially those that give away much their software, the cost is prohibitive.
Yogesh Patel is working on a solution. Along with colleagues, he has formed The Center of Excellence for Accounting with Free Software which is now UK government registered (UKPRN 10033957). The Center is a part of the Institute for Accounting with Free Software. The role of this new institute is to offer inexpensive accreditation to small accounting software publishers, promote the use of free accounting software, and to offer courses in book keeping and accounting. They are not fully operational, but further details of what they intend to do and offer can be found on their web site. Adminsoft Accounts is nearing completion of its evaluation and will likely be the first application to receive accreditation. But if any of Adminsoft's competitors are reading this, please do visit their web site, and contact them to get involved. They do not exist just to promote Adminsoft Accounts! They are very interested in offering accreditation for free accounting software published by anyone, and associated qualifications, which is unique to the Institute for Accounting with Free Software. Please bear in mind, it's very early days and so the information on their web site is subject to change.
Remember, you heard about them here first!
2011-08-20 Saturday: Why is Adminsoft Accounts a stand alone application and not in the Cloud? Isn't Cloud computing the next big thing? Well, if you believe the hype, but the internet was never designed for handling distributed applications.
Cloud applications tend to be a bit clumsy, slow, awkward, and usually lack functionality. But there are bigger concerns. Ask yourself the following questions: If I operate my accounts system in the Cloud, where's my data? How safe is it? How secure is it? Who else has access to it? The computer systems of large companies get hacked, just ask Sony, or Apple/AT&T, or TK Maxx. What happens if they increase the price of their Cloud service, perhaps substantially? I may have no option but to pay, or lose access to my accounts data. What if I accidentally miss a payment, is my service suspended? What if my Cloud operator goes bust? Is my data gone?
The Cloud will be the next BIG thing, but I suspect not for the reasons most people imagine. It'll be the next BIG news item when some large Cloud operator gets hacked, or goes bust. Don't be a victim! Be in control. Don't trust the Cloud for your business critical software requirements.
2011-06-20 Monday: A new version of Adminsoft Accounts is out now! Included in the list of new features is a facility to edit/design document layouts (invoices, statements, etc.) using HTML. If you email documents (and who doesn't these days), you'll find this facility really useful! Far better than sending PDF or plain text files as attachments. Some very basic layouts are included. But of course, if you want to edit these or create entirely new ones, I'm afraid you will need a working knowledge of HTML.
For further information on the new version of the software (v4.009), check out Version Log This details most of major changes to the software for each update.
The book Free Accounting with Free Software by Yogesh Patel is proving quite popular. It's a great step by step visual guide to accounting using Adminsoft Accounts. So many thanks to Yogesh for his hard work. Many users of Adminsoft Accounts are now benefiting from the help this book offers.
If you're a software developer, or involved in selling accounting/book keeping services or software, you may be interested to hear that a version of Adminsoft Accounts is on the way that will allow you to distribute co-brand copies. It will also come with details on integrating 3rd party software. Exactly how far the co-branding will go, and the way this scheme will operate, are yet to be finalized. So if you have any ideas you'd like to put me on any aspect of this project, now would be a good time to get in touch.
2011-04-18 Monday: The book on accounting using Adminsoft Accounts is out now!!! Written by Yogesh Patel, who is a Fellow of the International Association of Bookkeepers. This book covers all the common accounting tasks, for further information see the Free Accounting with Free Software web page.
This book has been a joint effort between myself and Yogesh, and will I'm sure be very useful to anyone learning accounts and/or learning to use Adminsoft Accounts software. It is task based, with lots of visuals, so you can see how things are done. It is also a great educational tool that can assist you in gaining a Level 3 Diploma with the IAB.
2011-03-19 Saturday: V4 IS HERE NOW!!!!! Finally! A LOT of time has gone into getting this one ready. Update your software now, for free. Operationally, v4 is much like v3, all buttons, options, and inputs are in the same place, but it looks so much better. Although the new version can be made to look like the old version if you really prefer it!
The software was originally developed using Microsoft Visual FoxPro v6. This is a very stable and powerful database for single user systems and small networks. I changed late last year to FoxPro v7 as it could do one or two things FoxPro v6 couldn't. I resisted moving to FoxPro v9 because it wouldn't run in Windows 95 or NT 4.0. But people kept saying things to me like 'Great accounting software, shame it looks so dated.....'. So at the start of this year I cast my caution to the wind and started development using FoxPro v9. As it won't run on Windows 95 or NT 4.0 and looks so different to the previous versions of Adminsoft Accounts, I decided to call this new version v4.000. No doubt v4.001 will appear very soon! Lets be honest, there's bound to be a few bugs need fixing!
I don't know how many people using Adminsoft Accounts are still using Windows 95 or NT 4.0. I also don't know whether people running Adminsoft Accounts in Linux or on a Mac (using Windows emulation software) will be able to use Adminsoft Accounts v4. So v3 will continue to be available in the Previous Versions page. Also, I will continue to fix any bugs that come to light in v3. At the time of writing, the latest v3 is v3.231. When I update v3, the new version will only be available in the Previous Versions page. So if you continue to use v3, you might want to check back there from time to time.
2011-03-14 Monday: There is a major software update in the pipeline, to be released very soon. Using Windows 'Themes' it brings the look of the software right up to date. Apart from the way it looks, it will also offer a host of other features. You can, of course, update for free!
Originally, Adminsoft Accounts was developed using Microsoft Visual FoxPro v6. From August 2010 I started using FoxPro v7. Adminsoft Accounts v3.217 is the last version using FoxPro v6. For the user, there appears to be little difference, but for me the developer, FoxPro v7 offered a few things v6 doesn't. However, recognizing the need to bring the look of the software up to date, over the last few months I've been very busy developing a version of Adminsoft Accounts using FoxPro v9. This is the latest, and probably last version of FoxPro that Microsoft will produce. It has allowed me to make Adminsoft Accounts look much more like any other modern Windows application. The down side is that it will not run on Windows 95 or Windows NT4. It's unlikely many people are still using these old versions of Windows. It might also cause a problem for those users running the software on Linux/Xenix using Wine. We shall see. However, a version of Adminsoft Accounts using FoxPro v7 will continue to be available. And previous versions using FoxPro v6 for that matter.
2010-12-29 Wednesday: I can't believe another year has nearly passed! It's been a strange year for businesses, there's kind of a recovery, but it looks fragile, and it's fragmented. Some sectors are doing well, many are finding it really tough. So what does 2011 have in store for us?
I'm no economist, I'm a small businessman and software developer. But I've been in business for nearly 30 years, so I do have a little experience! Recessions come and go, property prices fall, rise, rise some more then crash.... Oh, and so do stocks and shares. Only they seem to recover faster. Once property starts falling, it takes a long time for the market to flatten out and then start to rise again. In 2011, I think share prices will rise modestly as confidence returns to the financial markets, and those countries carrying large amounts of debt start to look like their finances are on firmer ground. The austerity budgets that have been put in place in 2010 will start to have an effect in 2011. It may settle share prices, but it won't do property much good. A great many people are in fear of losing their jobs, or are out of work already. Unemployment will increase, bank loans of all kinds will remain difficult to obtain and expensive when you do get them. This is likely to be the trend for the next two or three years. Property owners will not sell unless they have to. This reduced supply of property coming onto the market will help prices, but prices will fall, slowly, probably for another couple of years or so. Property will only start to recover when people are secure in their employment, and bank loans are easier and cheaper. And, most importantly, first time buyers can actually afford to buy. I feel particularly sorry for first time buyers, they are usually young people just starting out, and to buy a place of their own they are currently faced with finding large amounts of money for a deposit. 100% loans seem a distant memory. I suspect we will never see them again. In the future, getting credit is going to be a lot tougher. After a few years of falls, this could cause property prices to be flat for many years. Certainly at the lower end of the market, the more expensive properties may see some recovery earlier, as they are not so dependant on first time buyers.
But what about trade in general? I think overall it'll be flat. Some sectors, house building is an obvious example, will find market conditions very difficult. Although the smaller building companies that specialize in home extensions could do quite well. Many people who decide not to move, will decide to extend instead. The problem won't be so much about a downturn in business, but finding the finance to cover any short term cash flow issues. Many good small businesses could fail due to lack of cash. Aware of this pitfall, many owners/managers are going to conserve cash. Instead of investing in a new computer system, or new piece of plant equipment, or fresh marketing campaign, they will leave the funds in the bank. The old saying 'cash is king' has never been truer! My fear, is that this will put further pressure on businesses, and small businesses especially.
I'm talking about Europe and North America. On the Asian continent, things are likely to be quite different. Businesses there are generally doing very well, with considerable exports in goods that look cheap due to under priced currencies. Property prices are on the up, and will keep going up. There are some problem area's of course. But they tend to be the places that relied heavily on 'foreign' buyers buying large ticket items like property. Those buyers aren't there anymore, and it could be a long time before they return.
Despite my concerns about western economies for the next few years, and the poor credit environment that small business will have to adapt to, I'm actually quite confident that it won't be all that bad. Most small business people are very resourceful. They have to be!
Where ever you are in the World, I wish you a healthy and prosperous new year.
2010-08-12 Thursday: Adminsoft Accounts v3.217 is now available for download!! It contains lots of improvements, including: a basic PAYROLL (see below), support for accruals & prepayments on supplier invoices, sales tax/VAT calculators, you can now input much larger batches of journals into the Nominal/General Ledger, you can also enter transactions that contain an element of sales tax/VAT directly into the Nominal/General Ledger,and more. Plus of course some more bug fixes, where do those pesky bugs come from......
The payroll has been designed for use in the United Kingdom, and has been available to users of Adminsoft Accounts in the United Kingdom for some time. However, payroll requirements in many countries are similar, so I have now made the payroll available to all users, regardless of country. If you are not in the United Kingdom, it may work for you, it may not. As payroll software goes, it is quite basic, but is suitable for most small businesses. But if you have a large number of employees, and/or your payroll requirements are fairly sophisticated, then this is not an option for you. A comprehensive payroll system is a big complex beast, and needs regular updates to keep abreast with ever changing legislation and tax rates & structures, which also makes it very country specific. You're unlikely to find that kind of payroll offered as Freeware from anyone! If my payroll works for you, in your country, please let me know. I'd like to put a list of countries up on the web site so other users or potential users can see whether the payroll will work for them.
2010-06-22 Tuesday: Adminsoft Accounts is free, of course. But you can buy some extra bits called AutoManager and CafeManager, and the price of those has just been slashed! The first one is specifically for the autotrade, it handles the retail of parts and accessories, and workshop invoicing, booking, etc. The second one is for general retail outlets and cafe's. Check out the 'Purchase' page on this web site.
When I started this blog, I intended to write every couple of days or so. Instead it's every couple of months or so! You lot keep me really busy! Adminsoft Accounts v3.210 is now out. I recommended everyone updates their software to this latest version. No BIG move forward, but with each new version that comes out, it moves forward a little bit. It's all about evolution rather then revolution. And I will try and find the time to write this blog more often......
2010-03-20 Saturday: How do you run a successful business? I suspect if I asked ten different business owners/managers, I'd get ten different answers. Keeping overheads down is vitally important, so where better to start than a free accounting system! Like many business people, I've read the usual books, watched TV interviews of the hugely successful, and read the autobiographies. What have I learned? Well, there is no 'secret to success'. No magic formula to follow that will guarantee your wealth. Every successful business person has their own approach that suites them. The main thing is to keep going, don't give up. No matter how tough it gets, there is always a way forward. In my experience, most business owners would just be happy to be financially secure. They're not looking to purchase a mega-yacht or a private jet. They just want the surety of knowing their home is secure, their future and their children's futures are secure, and a happy retirement one day awaits them. I've been in business for over quarter of a century. Adminsoft is the smallest one of several businesses I run. I could go on and on about the ups and downs of business life, and maybe I will write a book one day. If only I had the time.....
Adminsoft Accounts v3.199 was released a few days ago. No great additions have been made, BUT it does contain quite a few bug fixes. In particular, a bug that prevented many users from printing or otherwise outputting lists (and help files for that matter). All known bugs have been fixed in this version. However, if you're running v3.199 and think you've found a bug, please do email me. The more information you can provide the better.
2010-01-16 Saturday: Another new version of Adminsoft Accounts is ready for you all to download. Biggest change is that it now has a Cash Flow Statement report. Most of the development going into the software these days seems to be about making small changes and enhancements. It's all about minor improvements. Of course I do have a wish list: I would like to add an international payroll that works across many different countries. I'd like to add a Sales Prospecting and Sales Order system. I'd like to refine the system so that it operates in all countries with all tax systems and accounting methods as if it had been developed specifically for that country. It all takes so much time. But they'll happen, one day.
Which is why my last blog was over three months ago! Support and maintenance have a high priority, the blog, unfortunately, has to have a low priority.
It's just over three years since Adminsoft Accounts became available on the web. In that time it's been tried out by over 20,000 users. There are now a 'few' thousand regular users. It's hard to tell, because although some use data (date, time, country, and software version is about all) is logged, it's not easy to determine whether a user is running the system on a regular basis. And if the user has purchased a Software Registration Key, no use data is logged at all. So while good reliable statistics are thin on the ground, what I can see is the trend. And the trend is VERY much upwards. With each year, the number of people downloading and trying out the software, and the number that continue to use it, increase dramatically. After the first year 2007, it's doubled each year. This year will be interesting.
2009-10-07 Wednesday: Finally, the web site has a User Forum! OK, I didn't do it, a friend installed it for me, and it needs some work to make it look a bit more like the rest of this site. But at least it's up and running. Please look through it, register, and post your questions, problems, thoughts, and ideas. There aren't many postings on there yet, as it's only just gone live. But a few months from now I expect it to be quite busy. It will be really interesting to see how it develops.
I mentioned in July that a price increase for Software Registration Keys was on the way. Well it's not happened yet! Mostly because I haven't found the time to change things. It's not a priority as most people use the software as freeware. But an increase is still on the way.......
2009-07-11 Saturday: It's July already! I haven't got used to it being 2009 yet, and we're already over half way through the year! I'm busy working on the next version of Adminsoft Accounts, which should be out in a week or so. Nothing major, just lots of minor improvements/additions, and some bug fixes. It will be worth updating your software. Also, for those interested in purchasing a Software Registration Key, a price increase may be on the cards before the end of this month. I may email everyone later this month with the news.
The web site badly needs updating. Most of it was created a few years ago when the software was first released. The software has moved on A LOT since then, but the blurb hasn't changed much at all. The software is SO much better than my web site would lead you to believe! Also, I'm considering adding a forum, where users can chat to each other about the software. Help each other out, discuss ideas, and swap things like layouts (for invoices, statements, etc.). If only I could find the time........
As I write this, the World is still deep in recession. But, I think we're at or very near the bottom. Most of the large companies that had some major financial problems (the banks especially) are either sorted out, or well into the process of being sorted out. Albeit in many instances with the considerable help of tax payers money. I'm not saying these large companies are now healthy, because many of them clearly aren't. But they have adapted and are coping. Over the next year redundancies will be common place, and they will be a drag on the economy. I think two years from now things will be better. Stock Markets will be rising, property prices will be rising, employment will be rising, as will interest rates. Taxes will be high. I'm looking forwards to a prosperous future. It's just going to take a while.
2009-06-06 Saturday: The accounts system is now more suitable for international use than ever. Adminsoft Accounts has users all over the world, from Britain, United States, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, to United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Australia, India, and even China! The list goes on, and must run to over 50 different countries. One big problem is regional variations in accounting terms, and language. When you install Adminsoft Accounts, it queries Windows to see what country it is running in, and will adjust the accounting terminology it uses accordingly. But it is in English. So what happens when English is not the first language?
Now users can create and/or modify existing layouts for printed documents like invoices, statements, and so on, English is no longer such a problem. You want your invoice in French? Go to the invoice layout and change the text to French. You can now (as of v3.168) change the terminology used for transactions. So they can be changed by the user to another language too. Very useful for printing customer statements, as not only will the body text all be in your language, but so will each transaction on the statement. Your customer would never know your accounts system is in English.
Of course, ideally, the accounts system itself should be multi-lingual. Now that would be great! Unfortunately, it's just not practical. It would be a HUGE task to modify the software and then translate it into one other language, let alone the dozens of different languages that would be required. Sorry folks. But, although the software is stuck in English, I am keen to make it as useable as possible for those people in countries where English in not their first language.
2009-05-16 Saturday: Finally, it's gone live! Users can now create or modify layouts for invoices, statements, delivery notes, advice notes, proforma invoices, estimates, remittance advices, debit notes, and purchase orders. And, as if that wasn't enough, you can now create estimates/quotes for your customers.
This is a major update to the software, and has taken a LOT of development time. But, user defined layouts and estimates/quotes were the two things most frequently requested by users of Adminsoft Accounts. So I think (hope!) it's time well spent. Actually, to be honest, version 3.162 that went live a week and a half ago had user defined layouts. But I introduced it quietly, tentatively you might say, so that it could get a good testing. It's been tested. Had some bugs fixed. Had the estimating/quoting added, and is now available for download as v3.163. This is the version I'm shouting about, and will email all users in a day or two to let them know it's available.
Adminsoft Accounts now compares very favorably to many of the more well known accounts packages. Most of which cost a lot of money, and yet don't posses the functionality of Adminsoft Accounts. Are those big software publishers worried? They should be. Do they see their market share slipping away? Slowly, yes. Can they compete with a FREE product like Adminsoft Accounts? I don't think so. Their business model is based on extracting as much $ from you as possible, by selling you something that often is not as good as Adminsoft Accounts that you can get for free. And then continuing to sell it to you every year, for lots of $, in the form of software updates and support contracts.
Many users of Adminsoft Accounts can not understand why it's free. Many actually find it hard to believe software of this quality is being given away. How can it be developed, maintained, and supported, for free? The answer is Google ads, and very low overheads. It'll never make me a millionaire. But I get great satisfaction from seeing Adminsoft Accounts used in thousands of small businesses all over the World. Help me turn those thousands of users into millions. Spread the word. Tell your colleagues, friends, and business associates about Adminsoft Accounts. Thank you.
2009-03-13 Friday: The single biggest request I get for improving the software is a facility to allow users to create their own sales invoice and statement layouts. Well, it's on the way. Development is now at an advanced stage on a facility that will allow users to change the existing layouts, or create entirely new layouts. All users of any version of Adminsoft Accounts will be able to update their software for free. Within the next few weeks a new version of Adminsoft Accounts will be available with this feature. It will be very flexible, and very easy to use. As well as invoices and statements, you'll also be able to change and create delivery notes, purchase orders, and remittance advices.
The development has been technically challenging. Which is the main reason this feature hasn't been available in previous versions of the software. Microsoft Visual FoxPro that has been used to develop Adminsoft Accounts, does not have the ability to allow end users of software to design their own report layouts. So I've had develop the software from the ground up. An interesting project, but rather time consuming! However, now I've done it the software could be applied to other projects. So if anyone out there has software developed using Microsoft Visual FoxPro, and would like to give their users the ability to design report layouts, without using 3rd party add ons. Contact me. I have the source code that does it. You can have a copy, for a small fee!
2009-02-18 Wednesday: As I write this, both the Dow Jones and FTSE 100 are heading south. They are at, or pretty near, the lowest they have been in several years. US President Barack Obama has signed his $787bn stimulus packaging into law. The ink is barely dry and Chrysler and GM are asking for a further $21.6bn, and even if they get it, they'll still be shedding 50,000 jobs. It's much the same story in every developed country across the World. Where will it end?
I'm no economist. So my grasp of the financial technicalities behind the recession that has gripped the World's economies is tentative at best. Like everyone, and business people in particular, I'm concerned. Worried even. Because unlike previous recession, this one isn't simply a lack of confidence, it's a lack of credit. We keep hearing the banks won't lend to each other, let alone to their customers. Yet the World functions on credit. Whether it's an individual wanting to buy a car, or a house, or a business wanting to buy machinery or some other asset. Without credit, most of these purchases don't happen. If cars, houses, and machinery aren't being bought, they aren't being made, which means people aren't needed to make them. So we get lots of redundancies. With more people out of work, they can afford to buy even less. So even less things need to be made, resulting in more redundancies. It's a vicious circle. Until the banks start lending again, the circle can not be broken.
My gut instinct is that lots more people are going to loose their jobs, and lots more businesses are going to go out of business, before this thing bottoms out. First, the banks have to be sure of their own finances, and that's going to take the rest of this year. Then they need to be sure of their customers finances in order to start offering loans. That will take us through 2010. So I think recovery will start around the middle of 2010, at the earliest. But it could be so slow, we may not even notice until 2011 that things have begun to improve.
That's my opinion, for what it's worth (not a lot!). We'll get through it. But it'll be tough, and in a couple of years time the business World will be a different place.
2008-12-20 Saturday: Looks like the recession is really starting to bite. 2009 could be very difficult, with many businesses large and small closing down. If like most other business owners/managers you're trying to cut costs, at least you now know where to get a FREE accounting system!
It's interesting that while the cost of hardware has plummeted over the years, the cost of software has remained stubbornly high. Many people would say it's far too high, and I'd agree with them. Twenty years ago, when you bought a computer system, the hardware generally cost far more than the software. Unless you were having the software specially developed (which was much more common then). When you buy a new computer system today, you can end up spending far more money on software that has come straight off the shelf, than on the hardware. Not only is hardware a lot cheaper than it was twenty years ago, but it's massively more powerful. The speed and memory capacity of the average PC today is staggering when compared to the hardware available then. Twenty years ago your PC would probably have 512K of RAM, and a CPU that ran at 8mhz, today it will have maybe 2,147,483K and run at 2,500mhz (in other words, 2gb and 2.5ghz). The reason of course is that huge technological advances have been made in electronics, with chips containing more and more components.
So what happened to software? Well of course users expectations are a lot higher now than they were twenty years ago. So the software has to do more stuff, look prettier, and be easier to use. And software is a bit cheaper than it was then, but not much cheaper. The problem is, it isn't any faster developing software now than it was twenty years ago! It's still just as time consuming. The way software development is done hasn't really changed much in the twenty five years I've personally spent as a professional software developer! I use Microsoft VisualFoxPro for Windows, this product has it's roots in FoxPro that ran under MS-DOS back in the early 90's, which was based on dBase III+ of the mid 80's, which was based on dBase II from the early 80's, which was based on Vulcan from 1980. You could take a Vulcan or dBase II program, and with probably only a little modification, run it with Microsoft Visual FoxPro. Yet the products are twenty five years apart! Vulcan was developed by Wayne Ratliffe, dBase was developed by a company called Ashton Tate, who were bought by Borland in 1991. FoxPro for MS-DOS was developed by Fox Software, the product was purchased by Microsoft in the mid 90's. Many other development languages have a similar pedigree. I don't know why software development hasn't moved forward at the same pace as hardware development. But the end result is that developing software is HUGELY time consuming. It's amazing that anyone gives it away at all!
2008-10-20 Monday: Finally, Adminsoft Accounts Version 3.149 is now released, and being downloaded by eager users as you read this blog!
OK, It's been FOUR MONTHS since my last blog! Where does the time go? I had expected to release the latest version of the software in July, I'm three months behind schedule! The payroll took a lot longer to complete than I anticipated. The good news it's done, and works well. Again though, I must apologize to users outside of the United Kigdom, of which there are a great many, for developing a payroll that only works within the United Kingdom. I would have loved to have an international payroll, but it's just not practical. Please see my previous blog below.
Of great importance to everyone is the change made to the Freeware version of Adminsoft Accounts. After being installed for around 60 days or so, if the user did not purchase a Software Registration Key, many of the menu options and functions would disappear. Well no more! Now the Freeware version runs as Freeware, with ALL the options and functionality, for ever! No time out, and no forms popping up asking if you want to buy the software. I decided to do this because 99% of all users were using the software as Freeware. Little cash was being made from software sales. So I'm now giving away what is effectively the FULL product..
So, if the software is not being sold, how can I afford to keep developing and supporting it? This is a problem. I'm attempting to solve it in two ways. One is by advertising, you'll have seen the Google adverts all over the Adminsoft web site. When the Freeware version of the software closes down, it will now fire up the users default browser and display a web page containing Google adverts, as well as my latest blog, and other information. The second way to try and raise funds is by donation. The 'Purchase' page on the web site now just encourages users to make a donation. Whether users will be encouraged to part with their cash remains to be seen!
2008-06-07 Saturday: The good news is: the next version of Adminsoft Accounts will include payroll !! The bad news is....
When not trying to sort out Vista problems, I have been doing more debugging and developing on Adminsoft Accounts. A new version will be released, probably in July sometime. One major development is the addition of a payroll. But at this point, I have to apologize to a lot of people. The payroll will only work in the United Kingdom. To avoid confusion, only users in the UK will even see the payroll option. I would love to have developed a payroll that would cater for other countries, the USA in particular. But it would have been just too much work, too big a project. It's taken quite a while to develop the payroll for the UK, and even now it is quite a simple system. It does not calculate SMP or SSP, or have a facility for electronic filing of payroll information. It's really designed for organizations with less than 50 people. As 99% of the users of Adminsoft Accounts are in organizations of less than 50 people, it's not an issue. But, probably around 80% of users are not based in the United Kingdom, and that is an issue. One, that regrettably, is unlikely to be addressed. As every country has it's own way of handling payroll, I just don't have the time to develop one for every country. I did think about developing a payroll that would be so flexible, it could be configured to work in most countries. But it would have taken a very long time to develop, and would have ended up so complicated, few people would figure out how to use it! So I decided to keep things simple and limit it to just the UK. Sorry folks.
If anyone out there has developed a payroll for any other country, and are looking for a way to distribute it, please get in touch. I am especially interested if it can be integrated into Adminsoft Accounts. Either at source code level, or as an external .exe that recognizes Adminsoft Accounts data files (for Nominal Ledger postings). I may set up a page on this web site for third party payroll products.
It can not possibly be three months since my last blog? But it is. Where does all the time go? Well, a good deal of it goes into trying to get Vista to work! Without a lot of success. I'll continue to run Vista on my home computer, but mainly for testing purposes. This means I have to put up with complaints from my family who would much rather I reinstalled Windows XP. But I don't want Vista on my development machine, or I really would never get any work done!
Anyway, I'm not going to turn this blog into another rant about Vista. And this time I won't leave it so long until the next blog. But then I always say that......
2008-03-04 Tuesday: Windows Vista, are we going forwards? As a software developer, to me the operating system is a means to an end. It handles all the mundane stuff, sending output to the screen, printers, across the LAN and/or internet, and so on. It is NOT an end in itself, just something we can use that makes it easy to run programs, copy files, etc. Windows 95 was riddled with bugs, but when working it made things a LOT easier. Windows 98 Second Edition, now there's a venerable old operating system. Not overly complicated, and (compared to Windows 95) pretty stable. Since then, the look of Windows has changed a little, a few extra bells and whistles have been added, but there's been no drastic changes. The good news for developers, is that most software that runs under Windows 95 also runs under Windows XP.
So along comes Windows Vista. Five years in the making. Is it easier to use? Does it make things easier for the developer? Perhaps even reduce the cost of software development? No, NO, and NO. Due to the 'security' features built into it, whenever you want to do something it feels like you have to click 20 buttons (you don't, it just feels that way). I know computer security is a big issue these days, and rightly so. But does it have to get in the way of using the computer so much? Vista might look pretty, but it doesn't seem to be any faster, and it doesn't seem to actually do anything that Windows XP couldn't do? I'm sure lots of Vista experts will cough at this point, and email me a huge list of stuff Vista can do that XP can't. But from the point of view of the average user I bet 99% of the stuff on that list could be deleted. I may be a developer, but I consider myself an average user. All I want to do is email, browse the web, move files around, and run accounts and other software. Vista makes these simple operations feel so cumbersome. I've had a computer at home running Vista for a couple of months now. At first everything was fine. But then things, bad things, started to happen. As of now, it will no longer print, or even attempt to put anything in the print que. Internet Explorer keeps crashing, thanks goodness for Firefox, that works great. I can't start Control Panel, it just flickers and then closes down. Vista will close itself down and restart at random intervals. My favorite game that used to work fine now takes literally about two minutes to start up, and it may or may not run, depending on what mood Vista is in. This is a genuine copy of Microsoft Vista Ultimate. Yet messages keep appearing telling me I am a victim of software counterfeiting? I think my Vista machine is very sick. Whether it's picked up an undetected virus or what I don't know. But I'm going to have to take it to someone who knows a lot more about it than I do to sort it out, hopefully without having to reinstall everything.
Just when you thought my rant was over, there's more.....
I thought my Vista experience was bad as a user. But as a developer, things have just gotten worse. Due to the 'security' in Vista, Adminsoft Accounts can not be installed into the C:\Program Files folder. Instead it has to be installed off the root folder (ie. C:\). What's the point of that? I have been playing around with Adminsoft's help system, to try and improve it. I thought I'd start using RTF (Rich Text Files) for the help text. Then I could have text underlined, or in bold, or italics, different colors, even change the size & font. After implementing this enhancement, I discover that Microsoft have removed the ability to display Rich Text in Windows Vista! So users of old versions of Windows can see my help text in pretty colors etc. (OK, when I get around to it.....), but users of Vista can not. Vista supporters will say 'yes, but you should be using HTML....'. No, I should not. Using HTML requires Internet Explorer to be started up to display it, which is a large, resource hungry bit of software. From the user clicking on the Help button, it would take several seconds to display the help text. As if that wasn't bad enough, Internet Explorer will only display the content of files, so far I have not been able to find a way of directly feeding it the text I need displaying. Which would not speed things up much, but would have made it easier to integrate into Adminsoft Accounts. I've looked through numerous software developer bulletin boards, where all us sad developer people meet to discuss stuff. I've seen lots of developers complaining, and the standard response from Vista supporters is that we should all redevelop our software for Vista.
I don't know how much money Microsoft spent developing Vista. A wild guess might put it at $5 billion? Maybe on the high side. It's a LOT of money. But, how much money has been invested all over the World by third party developers in producing Windows application software? Another wild guess, it would probably run into TRILLIONS of $ Microsoft spend $5n on Vista and expect the World to rewrite their trillions of dollars worth of software to accommodate it? Tail wagging the dog, anyone?
OK, now my rant is over!
2008-02-05 Tuesday: Have finally released the latest version, v3.129 It doesn't contain anything radical over the previous version v3.120. A few more bug fixes and various minor changes. I keep wanting to add to the functionality of the program. But when I do, it makes it a little bit more complicated to use each time. More user options means more complexity. Which is why in the previous version, I actually created two systems in one. The accounts software can run in basic mode, which as the name suggests, just offers the basic accounting functions. Many small businesses will find this works fine for them. But if your requirements are more sophisticated, you can tell the software not to run in basic mode, but to offer it's full functionality. So complex or simple, it's the users choice.
However, I have a sneaky feeling that having an accounts system that can run in complex mode or basic mode, does in itself confuse users? I mean, just to complicate matters, it can also run as full software (if you have a Software Registration Key) or Freeware. I suppose it's trying to be all things to all people. The danger in making a product so flexible is that by trying to satisfy the requirements of everyone, it ends up satisfying the requirements of no one! For that reason, future development effort will concentrate on making it easier to use, for both the novice and experienced user. Rather than simply adding on lots of extra functions. The software already has all the functionality it needs for most businesses, with the possible exception of user defined invoice/statement formats.
The next changes are likely to focus on the help system. Making this more informative, and easier to use. Perhaps HTML based? I find a lot of the questions emailed over to me are accounting type questions, rather than to do with the operation or installation of the software. In a way, thats good, people must be finding the software easy to install and use. But it also means there are a lot of people using the system who are not just new to Adminsoft Accounts, but are new to accounting. They need more help than the current help system offers. So, improvements are on the way.
2008-01-14 Monday: Happy new year! OK, maybe I'm a little late, but I'm busy readying the next release of Adminsoft Accounts. It won't have any big new features, just lots of little things made a bit better, and a few bugs routed.
One thing I will do is to make it even easier to setup. At the moment, when you run it for the first time, you have to say whether you have a Software Registration Key and so want to run the full version, whether you want to run it in Demo mode, or whether you just want to run it as Freeware. In the future, it will either run as full version if you enter a Software Registration Key, or it will run in Demo mode for a month or so. If you don't buy a Software Registration Key within that time, it will automatically change to Freeware mode. Of course even when it's running in Freeware mode, you can still buy a Software Registration Key at any time and change it to full version.
2007-11-17 Saturday: Ooops!! Nearly three months since my last blog! Where does the time go? I have been working hard on the software, and have now released the latest version v3.120 It's easier to use than ever, has had a few bugs ironed out of it, contains a few extra reports, and allows the user to set up their own colors. So they can customize the look of the software.
Those last couple of sentences, did you notice I used the USA spelling for 'colors' and 'customize'? As I am aiming to distribute Adminsoft Accounts into any country where English is their first or second language, spelling is a problem. Fact is, although I'm from the UK I tend to use USA spelling because most of my target audience do. No doubt if you look carefully through the software, or this web site, you'll notice I sometimes slip back into UK spelling. Sorry for the inconsistency, spelling things the UK way is a habit of 40 years.
Most words have small differences, but some have large differences, like 'cheque' and 'check'. Some are totally different, like 'mobile phone' and 'cell phone'. I go to surprising lengths to try and accommodate these within the software. Adminsoft Accounts changes the terminology it uses depending on which country you're in. There are limits though, it doesn't change the spelling (unless the word is very different). So to all those people who grew up with UK spelling, I apologize (pun intended :-). But there has to be compromises, otherwise I could spend all my time getting the language right for each country and no time actually developing the software.
I'll try not to leave it three months before my next blog. Promise.
2007-08-25 Saturday: The latest version (v3.106) is now released. It contains various minor modifications, bug fixes, and updates. I know I should be recording the details of all work done so users can see whether they need to update their software, but I just don't have time. I was originally going to write a blog about twice a week, I'm lucky if it gets done once a month! Anyway, one thing this latest version can do is produce a full Balance Sheet. It always had Asset and Liability account types, I have now added Equity. So you can show where the capital in the business has come from. Although only a small minority of users bother to maintain a Balance Sheet (preferring to leave that sort of thing to their accountants) I felt not having an Equity account type was a serious omission.
I've had a few requests regarding the availability of the source code. The source code is available, under licence, for a fee which is negotiable. The fee will depend on what you intend to do with the source code. Adminsoft Accounts has been developed using Microsoft Visual FoxPro v6. This version of FoxPro has been around since the late nineties, but I use it because it will run on just about any Windows PC from Windows 95 onwards, and it allows users to install Adminsoft Accounts without having their registry messed around with or having any DLL's installed. So Adminsoft Accounts will not affect any other software on the users machine. Also, if they wished, they could install Adminsoft Accounts on a ZIP disk or USB memory stick and use it on any Windows PC without actually installing it on that PC, just run it straight off the disk or memory stick. So I stick with FoxPro v6. However, FoxPro v6 projects can be run by later versions of FoxPro with little or no problem. So if you want to use the source code with say FoxPro v9, that would not be an issue.
2007-07-17 Tuesday: Can't believe it's over two months since my last entry! I have been so busy getting v3.096 ready for release. Finally, it's now available for download. This latest version may not look much different to previous versions, but it fixes a number of bugs. Especially the problem with creating new sales analysis codes, and printing of invoices and credit notes. I'm already working on the next release!
In my previous blog, I asked if there was anyone out there interested in becoming a partner to promote the software. I had some interesting replies, and made some good contacts. But as yet have not found a suitable person to help drive the business forward. so if anyone is interested.......
2007-05-05 Saturday: I have decided to look for a business partner in the United Kingdom. Adminsoft is basically a one man band, and I realize if I am to make a success of this venture I need help. I can't do the development, support, marketing, and sales all by myself. I am looking for someone with a solid background in sales and marketing, preferably in financial/accounting software or a related industry.
This is a great opportunity for the right person to come on board and start selling a product that is already in use all around the World. Little or no investment will be required, but you will need to be sufficiently financed to be able to work for a period without pay until sales are well established. If you want to get involved, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a few details about yourself and I'll send back a brief outlining the current position and where I think the market is, etc. Serious enquiries only please.
2007-04-24 Tuesday: I've been updating the web site. Mainly cosmetic stuff. In particular I have attached Google Ads. For no other reason than they pay me money every time someone clicks on an advert! Not very much money though :-( Will be lucky if I clear $50 a month! As you can see, I'm no web developer. So don't let the poor state of my web site put you off the my software. I am FAR better at developing traditional business applications like accounts systems. If the Google Ads get in the way, I might take them off. We'll see.
2007-04-10 Tuesday: What happened??? It's nearly a month and a half since my last blog! I was hoping to do one at least once a week....... Anyway, in the meantime the competition wasn't exactly a HUGE success, but I did get a handful of interesting suggestions for improving the software. I have selected the winner, and will be implementing his suggestion into the software later this year, I won't reveal what it is at this time.
The reason for not blogging for so long is that I have been very busy getting ready the latest release of Adminsoft Accounts. This is version 3.077 There is no single big difference between this and the previous live version (v3.075), just lots of little improvements. But it's amazing just how much time it's consumed. One of the main criticisms of the software is that because it is so comprehensive, if you're inexperienced with accounts software you may find it a little difficult to use until you get used to it. If you've used accounts software before you'll probably get the hang of it right away. The latest version now brings up a simple menu to help first time users get started, and has an improved help system. Work will continue throughout this year on making it easier to use.
OK, that's it for now. I won't leave it a month and a half until the next blog. Promise.
2007-02-27 Tuesday: WIN A FULL 10 USER VERSION OF ADMINSOFT ACCOUNTS! I've been putting together a 'To do' list. Consisting of all the modifications and additions I want to make to the software. Most of it is quite minor stuff though. What I really want is some ideas from you guys?
What do you really want to see in your accounts system? What would make Adminsoft Accounts stand out from the rest (I mean even more than it does now......). Do you really need fully customizable invoices? Customizable reports? Additional modules like payroll, sales prospecting, sales order processing, point of sale, etc. ? Please let me know! You see if I just guess, I could spend weeks, or months, developing some software I think you need, only to find no one is interested!
If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me (email@example.com) and I will respond. The best idea received will WIN the competition. The competition closes on Friday 16th March 2007. I will judge which idea is the best, and my judgment is final, bla, bla, bla.....
I look forward to hearing you!
2007-02-23 Friday: Can't believe it's the end of the week already! Anyway, I want to talk about user feedback. Those of you who have used Adminsoft Accounts will know that you have an opportunity to provide some feedback. It is very useful for me to know how you get on with the software, and what you think about it. Some of the comments are very interesting.
One user complained that only a selection of invoice formats is available, ie. they are not fully customizable. He/she goes on to say "The idea that the people who design this stuff charge SO much for SO little is TOTALLY INFURIATING...". The fact that the Adminsoft Accounts Freeware they were using is FREE appears to have passed him/her by!
Another user was concerned about where their data is kept: "Is all my data for my \"business\" stored on your computer or mine?". Good point. I can understand the concern. ALL data is kept on your local computer. I can assure everyone, that NO accounting data at all is kept on our servers. If you want to check that out, disable your internet access, and then run Adminsoft Accounts, you'll find it'll run fine and all your data is accessible.
See ya next week.
2007-02-19 Monday: This is the very first blog! I have been developing Adminsoft Accounts for over three years now. It represents thousands of man hours of work. It has been running on a couple of select sites for a year or so, but I only started marketing it late December last year. At the moment, the 'marketing' consists of a little web site optimization and submission of the software to lots of freeware/shareware download sites. So far, if you do a search for 'free accounting software' the site is in first position in MSN, but appears several pages down in Yahoo and Google. But that's not bad considering I've only been promoting it for two months, and with zero marketing spend! What is impressive (well, to me anyway) is that over one thousand people have downloaded the software! It is hard to tell how many of those are using it on a regular basis, but indications are around 20%. I'm happy with that, it means 200 users already, and the numbers can only grow. I'm also very pleased to see that my software is being used all over the World, in places like USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, and various European countries, United Kingdom in particular, of course. The current version of the software is 3.075 I am now working on the next version, this involves fixing a few bugs, but mainly making enhancements and adding extra features. My main worry at the moment is ease of use, and I'm looking for any idea's anyone might have on making the software as easy to use as possible. Hint, hint... I'll be uploading a new blog maybe twice a week. So, until the next one, see ya.
If you would like to comment on any of the issues covered in Mike's blogs, or would like to suggest some improvements to the software, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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