3 Free Invoicing Web Applications

Jul 18th, 2008 | By Tom | Category: Featured Articles, Web Applications

I’ve been looking around at the various web applications for invoicing that are available at the moment. I must have come across at least 20 or so different ones over the last couple of days, most which require subscription fees. I did come across three that are completely free however and these are the ones that I’ll focus on here. Actually I came across a fourth which looked very good but it lacked Euro currency support and so I’ll leave it out.

Update: Since writing this article I’ve discovered even more free invoicing applications and these have also been added below.

www.invoicejournal.com is a hosted invoicing application which means you don’t need to download or install anything, just sign up for a free account and away you go invoicing your clients. This makes it an ideal choice for people who don’t want to get dirty installing files and setting up databases for a self hosted solution. If you consider hosting costs (free hosting isn’t really ideal for something as important as your invoices) then it’s the only option here that is 100% free.

Pros: Simple to use, good looking interface, custom invoice template support, easy paypal integration, pdf export (currently via third party website)

Cons: Doesn’t seem to be any way to backup or store your data locally, worrying if anything happens to the service.

www.bambooinvoice.org is a free open source invoicing application. With this one you’ll need to provide your own hosting and install it before you an use it. The good thing about this is you’ll have complete access to your data and can back it up easily. Because it’s open source the possibility of future growth via community contributions is good. The app is, at time of writing, pre version 1.0 so it is unfinished although it does look promising.

Pros: Backup MySql database, xml and excel export options, pdf export, nicely documented installation instructions

Cons: lacks multiple billers/multiple templates, no read only access for eg. accountant, no support for recurring invoices

www.simpleinvoices.org is another free open source invoicing solution so again you’ll need to host and install it yourself. The interface is possibly the least appealing of the others listed here although it does seem more mature and functional than it’s closest alternative Bamboo Invoice.

Pros: Export invoices as .pdf, .xls and .doc, backup database, support for multiple billers

Cons: Ugly interface, complex install (so complex I gave up my install and could only review the demo)

Even more Free Invoicing Applications

Since covering the three invoicing applications above I’ve come across some more alternatives that allow you to invoice your customers for free.

www.curdbee.com offers a nice easy to use invoicing system. It’s a hosted invoicing service so you don’t need to install anything, just create a new account and you’re ready to start invoicing right away. There is some service provider branding and advertising on the invoices and sent emails but then it is a free hosted service after all. Invoices can be branded with your own logo and some page colours changed, and you also get to choose your own subdomain where customers view and can pay their invoices online. Both Paypal and Google checkout are supported and easy to activate.

Unfortunately with Curdbee emailed invoices consist only of a link that points to an online invoice page and  there is no PDF export option. It also seems that every item invoiced needs to be created and saved as an item which feels a bit clunky and at times is probably unnecessary, especially if items are not likely to be repeated. Notes can be added to invoices which are shown on the invoice although it’s not possible to have a standard note that is saved and included on invoices by default. Notes can also be included when adding payments to invoices.

A pro version of Curdbee is in the pipeline which will remove branding and add other goodies including PDF export and data import/export but it leaves me concerned that sacrifices will always be made to the free version of Curdbee that other free invoicing solutions wouldn’t suffer. All in all Curdbee is an invoicing application well worth checking out.

Pros: Well developed and seems to be bug free, very tidy and easy to use interface, Paypal and Google checkout payments

Cons: No support for taxes yet, forces you to save all items when adding to invoice, no saveable default standard note(s) for invoices, no PDF support, optional pro version will mean a stunted free version

www.billingboss.com is a free online invoicing application from well known accounting software developers Sage. Their free online offering is a pleasant surprise and offers almost everything you’d want from an invoicing application. Invoices can be easily created and managed through a user interface that is shiny, clean and easy to use.

When creating an invoice notes can be added and there is the option to save a default note that is included on new invoices. These notes support html code which is a real bonus. There’s support for taxes and discounts and invoices can also be printed and downloaded as pdf. When emailing an invoice you can also choose to include a pdf attachment which is another great bonus. By default emails include a link that bring you to an online web page for the invoice where it can viewed and printed. Paypal payment links are also included in emails if activated. Each email subject line can be edited and additional body text can also be included.

Thankfully Billing Boss keeps their self branding to a minimum and display online invoices and pdfs in a clean manner and branding only becomes really apparent when emailing invoices. With emailed invoices coming from a Billing Boss email address and the default email text there is a strong sense that your invoices are coming from a third party and not directly from you. This might be a good or bad thing depending on what you are looking for but if there were options to use your own email address and the ability to personalise the email a bit more they would be welcome options indeed.

Overall Billing Boss is a fantastic invoicing application that is well worth checking out and I look forward to seeing it develop further.

Pros: Pretty and easy to use interface, share read only access with your accountant, basic reports, pdf support, Paypal support

Cons: More customisation options for invoice layouts would be nice, online invoice pages lack Paypal payment button although you can include links in invoice notes, emailed invoices give the strong sense of third party involvement, logos are shrunk to tiny size on pdfs!

Tags: , ,

7 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. I’m the author of BambooInvoice. Firstly, thanks for taking the time to check it out. Anything specific about it that you found buggy? Fixing those types of things is very high on my list of priorities.

  2. Hi Derek, one of the things I noticed when trying the BambooInvoice demo was filtering the list of invoices, the selections at the top didn’t seem to effect the invoice summary list. Not sure if it’s a bug or just unfinished.

    Another thing I noticed is that when applying a payment to an invoice it gives a nice payment history but it would be even nicer to see all payments totaled up and a total for how much is still outstanding on each invoice.

    I’ve only tried the demos briefly but I hope to install it and try it out in greater detail soon.

  3. Hi tom,

    nice small list you have there with a good description of each. invoice journal is good, and is nice, but when i did mess around with it, i used to get errors with it. dunno if it was just a server hiccup, but it really made me lose faith in the service as a whole, not that i had any serious intention of using it.

    @ Derek, I must admit, I tried this software in it’s earlier days, and whilst i liked the concept of it, it was really young and extremely buggy. Looking at it now, everything from the interface to the features to the functionality has all improved immensely and you should be proud of it.

    On the brightside, I have a client who i worked with very recently in setting up her new business, and she bought invoice software for $100 USD. http://www.office-kit.com/. bamboo and simpleinvoices would have done the same , if not better, for free.

    When the times comes that I will have substantial use for such an application, I will strongly consider using BambooInvoice.

    Regards,
    Nev

  4. You mentioned a fourth application that also looked promising but you left out because it didn’t support Euro. I’m in the States and don’t need that. Can you share what that other application is?

    - T Schulz
    Technology Geek & Guinness™ Addict

  5. It’s been a while since I looked at these invoicing apps but I think the other free one I came across was Intuit Billing Manager https://billingmanager.intuit.com/billing/welcome.url – But it was geared for the US only unless they’ve changed it.

    Edit: Looks like Billing Manager may support multi currency in the future – Will have to keep an eye on this one.

  6. Hi Tom,

    Billing Boss has recently been upgraded to support multiple languages and mobile access (IPhone and G1). There are many small improvements as well. More can be found here http://blog.billingboss.com/2009/04/new-in-billing-boss-languages-iphone.html

    Please give it a try when you have time.

    Thanks.

  7. Hey All

    I have been using the services of http://www.invoicera.com for quite sometime now and they are coming up with the new Invoicera with features like time-tracking, expense tracking, import function, and much more. Check out their blog at http://www.invoicera.com/blog for updates

    Cheers!!!

Leave Comment