Host Your Own Invoicing App with Siwapp

There are just too many invoicing apps out there on the web. In fact, invoicing is one area where web apps beat the jeepers out of native apps. However, there is a catch; there are too many fancy features and they charge a bit too much of a price tag month after month, even if you’re not using it. Then there are concerns like security of users and their financial information (largely irrelevant, but some people still aren’t sure).

One possible solution for users worried about price, security and simplicity is to go for a self-hosted solution. Read on to find how to set up and use Siwapp on your server to meet your invoicing needs.

Overview

Overview

Overview

Siwapp is a free, open source web app meant to help people manage and create invoices from a simple, self-hosted environment. Although Siwapp is still in the beta testing phase, it’s a growing community of developers continuously working to add new features. Since the web app is hosted on your own server, there’s almost no need to worry about the security of your data. Siwapp meets all your privacy and security requirements and allows you to backup your data on your computer at any time, which is almost impossible with other third party web apps.

Requirements

Like a lot of open source projects, Siwapp also runs from a LAMP stack, making it a little cost effective. A full list of server components required are:

  • Operating System: UNIX/Linux, Windows XP or later.
  • Apache Web Server with URL rewriting module active in configuration.
  • Mysql database server 5.0 or higher.
  • PHP 5.2 or higher (better 5.2.4 or higher).

Setting Up & Getting Started

Installation & Set Up

After downloading and extracting the zip file, you’ll find a bunch of folders. Unlike other self-hosted apps which can be installed right away (like WordPress), you need to segregate folders before beginning the installation.

First, upload the contents of the folder named “web” to the document root of your web server (this is the folder where you usually upload your web pages).

Web Folder Contents

Web Folder Contents

Upload all other folders and files to another directory on your web server that’s not inside the document root. Preferably on the parent root directory.

Follow the write permissions mentioned here and ensure that a database is ready. Point the browser to the URL where the app should be installed and follow the steps suggested by the installation wizard.

Creating a Customer

Creating a Customer

Creating a Customer

Once the installation is done, you’ll have to login and, if the credentials you have submitted are correct, you’ll be taken straight to the dashboard. Since there’s nothing in the system, the dashboard will be empty. Let’s just head over to the Customers tab and create a new customer to send an invoice to.

Remember, you don’t have to create a customer here everytime you create a new invoice and you have the option to create invoices for one time customers on the fly while creating the invoice itself.

Editing a Customer

Editing a Customer

From an ultra minimalistic form, enter the information about the customer that you want to show up in the invoice. Verify the details and hit save to add them to your database.

Searching for Customers

Searching for Customers

If you want to edit or update customer information, select them from the list and double click on the field that you want to update. It is that simple!

Siwapp has a great set of filters to find a customer without having to scroll down a lengthy list (congrats on a lucrative business!) of customers. Tentatively select a date, month and year, and the list of customers will be displayed. Alternatively, you can search for a particular customer by typing their name.

List of Invoices

List of Invoices

Once the customer you’ve been searching for appears, the amount they’ve been invoiced so far will also be displayed. Just select a name to see all the invoices created for that customer. Invoices, their due dates, amount pending and the status will be on display for every customer.

There are options to filter invoices based on the above mentioned parameters too. To update a payment, select the payment option of the appropriate invoice and add the date when the payment was made to mark it closed.

Creating an Invoice

Creating an Invoice

Creating an Invoice

Creating an invoice works pretty much the same way as other apps do. Add items and add some more by selecting Add Item. Add multiple taxes to a single item and a discount too if applicable. The final price is calculated as and when you change the VAT and/or the discount rate.

Siwapp uses AJAX, which reduces the required steps the user would have to take by making changes without reloading the page.

Notes and TC

Notes and TC

Got some stern terms and conditions for your client? Or perhaps a note to help them remember certain aspects of the invoice? Ample space is available for you to type away to your heart’s content. You can also tag an invoice, which is for your internal use and won’t be displayed when the invoice to generated.

After creating the invoice to your satisfaction, options to download it as a PDF file or to mail it directly to a customer are available.

In case you plan to use the “recurring invoice” features, you need access to a scheduling application within your system (i.e. cron in Linux, or scheduled tasks in Windows).

Final Thoughts

Before you start using Siwapp, please note that the web app is not meant to solve every single financial need of your business. It’s developed with the noble intention of solving the need for creating invoices in a simple and hassle free manner. Siwapp might be a bit light on features in comparison to its market leading competitors, but it saves a good deal in recurring payments for many people who just want to create invoices without the unnecessary frills.

Where Siwapp could use some improvement is in adding customer information. The fields don’t add appropriate spaces or highlight user input from the form fields. On a personal note, I myself am using a well known invoicing web app, but as soon as my subscription is over, I am definitely switching to Siwapp. It’s that good!

Share Your Thoughts!

What do you think of Siwapp? Will you ever go with a self hosted invoicing app in the first place?