As an approved Xero API developer and network partner, the Red Jungle team is always keen to keep up with the latest happenings in the Xero world, and to further our knowledge of the development API.
Last week we attended the Xerocon 2013 conference, which was held across two days at the Viaduct Events Centre, Auckland. For me personally, this was my third Xerocon -- I've attended each one since the first modest gathering in Taupo 2011. Each year the event gets bigger and better. This year there were over 800 attendees, which is very exciting. It was fantastic to be able to share the event with several of the team this year as well.
Those who follow me on Twitter may have caught a fair bit of this already.
Day 1 - API & Add-on Day
The day kicked off with a catch up with Tony Rule (Product Manager – API). Discussing the last 12 months, and laying out the API roadmap for the next 12 to come.
Of particular interest for me from a developers point of view were the following upcoming planned additions to the API functionality;
- The ability to create new Accounts and Tax Rates via the API.
- Access to create recurring invoices. This is something we have been keen to see for some time, we have developed several applications for clients, which create invoices every month for the same amount, a recurring invoice would fit nicely in this scenario, but today we cannot set these up via the API.
- Changes to allow for scope of access when connecting to a Xero account via the API. Effectively this allows us - when setting up a connection to Xero - to ask for access to certain API end-points only for that company. I think this will really help with user understanding when they choose to connect to Xero from within another application. They will be able to see exactly what information we will be authorised to access, and can have faith that the application won't be accessing any of their more sensitive account information for example.
Interesting to hear that paging will be introduced soon across end points to help keep request sizes and load against the API down -- though I was disappointed to hear that Webhooks, despite being one of the top requested features, are still not a priority. I would have thought this would go a long way towards solving performance issues.
Next up Ronan Quirke (API Account Manager) then gave a quick update on the add-on ecosystem, discussing changes coming to the add-on directory to help connect potential customers with the right add-on in a more intuitive way. He also highlighted potential opportunities for developers interested in tackling some new and currently untapped verticals.
Andrew Tokeley (Xero Product Manager) followed with an update on overall product direction, and some new planned features which will potentially interest developers and add-on partners in the future.
Rob Drury (CEO) took the stage to finish up the morning by giving a more general Xero ecosystem update, how he sees the market changing, and the opportunities for add-on partners to join Xero on their global journey.
After lunch we spent our time in the technical track sessions: Tony Rule and Owen Evans (Chief Architect) discussed API Best practices, scaling out, and Security. As you'd imagine, the Xero crew take scale and security very seriously, so its always great to sit in on these sessions each year and gain some more insight into the Xero approach.
The afternoon continued with a workshop on 'getting funded' with Rod, Vaughan Rowsell (Vend, CEO), and several prominent investors from venture capital firms to discuss the process of obtaining funding for your software venture, when to start building a relationship with a VC, and even discussions around when its appropriate to start turning a profit (or not!).
The evening ended with drinks and networking amongst the add-on exhibitors. Which was a great time to wander around and see what interesting products others have been working on in the last 12 months.
Day 2 - Conference Day
While the second day is primarily aimed at Accounting partners, there's a lot to pick up on in terms of upcoming features and Xero's progress in the market. I spent most of the day with our client Re-leased, in their exhibition booth supporting them with their product launch and answering technical questions. More on this shortly.
Some interesting things coming in the main Xero business application included: Purchase Orders, Quotes, Stock (Lite), and updates to Reporting. I'm sure most of these features will be made available to development partners via the API in the timely manner also, which makes them quite exciting for us as it opens up the scope of what we can help you build.
It was great to see that shortly the Pay Online feature of online invoices will be able to be done via more payment gateways than just PayPal. New options include Authorize.Net globally EWay and DPS for Australia and New Zealand, Stripe for US and Canada and GoCardless for the UK. And of course a 'Custom URL' option for linking to any other existing payment platform you may have.
Updates have been made to the iOS and Android apps to allow bank reconciliations on the go. And Xero mobile for personal is apparently well into development and should be available soon.
Another reason It was a particularly satisfying event for us this year is because one of our client Re-Leased launched their new SaaS product for commercial property management at the Xerocon event. We have been building the Re-Leased platform for the last 12 months, so for us it was fantastic serendipity for us to attend the latest Xero conference, and launch a deeply Xero-integrated product on the same day.
I spent much of day 2 on the event floor in the Re-Leased booth and watched with great excitement at the warm reception they received. There was barely two minutes where someone wasn't checking out the product and watching Tom run through a quick demo with intense interest.
Its hard to believe it was only 12 months ago Tom and I sat down for a coffee before Xerocon 2012 to start seriously discussing the idea. And here we are exhibiting the fully functional product one year later. We are over the moon that the event was such a big success for Tom and his team. And look forward to developing the product further over the next 12 months!