Integrating with QuickBooks Online Using Node.js

With the new year here and the holiday rush behind us I have a month (before tax season arrives) to dedicate to the one project that we see as the holy grail for a small business like ours: Quickbooks Integration.

I, being the nerd that I am, always wanted to integrate accounting with our order management system. Emi, who knows that some things are better outsourced always said: “no way.” The process of moving transaction to the desktop version of QuickBooks was “automated” by exporting customer and order data to “.IIF” files and then importing them into QuickBooks. This worked fine for invoices, but sales receipts would not allow us to put our order number in the number field in QuickBooks. This meant that after the import I would have to move the order number from another field where we sent it temporarily to the number field. A real time saver! Oh, and another thing. Our special sales tax codes for our city and county? Yes, they would come through but not actually select the correct code. So we had to go through every single invoice and sales receipt and select the correct tax codes for orders in Campbell, or in Santa Clara County.

I am in charge of importing orders. When I get busy and I can’t do that for a while I have months worth of orders to import. Invariably, checking for the correctness of the imported data would put me to sleep, or close to it. Let’s face it: I really hated it, and really wished that I could develop my own accounting application… “the data is already there!”

In my previous post I talked about how I had been watching the development of QuickBooks Online and always had to pass on it because it didn’t support inventory management. But that is no longer the case and even multi-currency support is in the works.

I am a full stack JavaScript developer. I don’t code in PHP, Java, or .NET, which are the server languages that are well documented on the QuickBooks Developer page. I have to use Node.js to accomplish this. I struggled to figure out how to make calls to the API that were not documented in the example that I had. Luckily QuickBooks support sent me a link that changed that and it was smooth sailing since.

Now I’m testing my cloud application to send (at a click of a button) customers, sales receipts, and invoices to QuickBooks Online. I hope to be able to go live this week in time for processing sales tax reporting. If I don’t I will be very, VERY sorry!

I hope that this story can help some other business owner out there who is considering a solution to problems like ours. I will let you know how it goes next week!

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Comparing 3 Campomaggi Backpacks

The VOLTA Campomaggi Backpack

The VOLTA Campomaggi backpack sits high on the back.

Recently I got a request to compare Campomaggi Backpacks to figure out how they rest on your back to see which ones are most comfortable. My customer said that she is a bit short and would not be comfortable with a backpack that sits very low. Having always carried a different Campomaggi backpack on our overseas trips I definitely have some first-hand experience on the subject. In addition, many of our customers have shared their experiences with their Campomaggi backpacks. So, let’s try to spot the most comfortable ones.

There are a few different major uses for backpacks today: shopping, commuting, traveling, and hiking. Shopping is different from commuting in that, when commuting, you might need to get in and out of the bag frequently. When shopping, you might benefit from more space and you do not know how much stuff you will want to carry. The main difference between traveling and hiking is that when you are hiking you don’t get to set the backpack down a lot and if it starts to get heavy then it is definitely going to be an unavoidable pain. When you travel, instead, the backpack might end up sitting on a luggage rack inside a train car for considerable stretches.

The most common concerns about backpacks are: weight and comfort, space, and ease of access to contents. Campomaggi backpacks meet the needs for different uses and different concerns. When it comes to weight, canvas backpacks are lighter. But comfort is determined more by the type of strap than the weight of the bag, which ultimately depends on what you put in the bag. The more spacious backpacks are at greater risk of becoming heavier for this reason. Also, a spacious backpack with a single compartment can make it quite difficult to find what you are looking for.

Which Backpacks?

To keep things simple I picked three Campomaggi backpacks to compare: The ZAVATTI, queen of all backpacks; the VOLTA, darling among Marcopolonites; and the FONTANA, full of tricks up its sleeve.

First I need to define what a comfortable backpack is for a couple of different uses and body peculiarities. If you plan on using the backpack for travelling you want to pay particular attention to bag weight and strap comfort. I would definitely pick a canvas backpack that is spacious.

From the attached pictures you can see that the VOLTA is the bag that sits comfortably on the shoulders and rests high. The other backpacks sit low and there is no way to shorten the straps past their tightest setting. The VOLTA is very adjustable and you get to make the straps as short as you need them. I really like it also because the straps are very comfortable (wider at the top), it is easy to put on and take off, it has a lot of pockets outside, and the top is high grade canvas which is lighter than leather. I would rate the VOLTA as the most comfortable for hiking and traveling.

The ZAVATTI is the most stylish, still, after all these years. It is very popular for commuting to work, where it looks professional and researched: there is no other backpack quite as high quality when you take a close look. The two large pockets are ideal for storing today’s large phones and other somewhat large items like an eyeglasses case.

The FONTANA is also in the stylish category that would do well when commuting. It is a different style than the ZAVATTI and appeals to a different taste that appreciates certain design features such as the braided straps. It feels more spacious than the ZAVATTI and it would be my pick for shopping out of these three, although there are other Campomaggi backpacks that I am not going to review today that would do better in that arena.

Ultimately, my customer liked the design of the ZAVATTI only so I had to discourage her because it was going to sit too low on her. My recommendation for comfort would have been the VOLTA, which did not cut it for her. This is a good example of the advice you can get from Marcopoloni. Instead of being sold a product you will find someone whose first priority is to listen to you to try to understand your needs. When I showed her the pictures she was able to make an informed decision.

Do you have a Campomaggi backpack? Please share your experience in the comments to help other customers. I plan on reviewing the other backpacks that we currently carry next time Chiara comes to the office on a school holiday. She took the pictures for this post. Good job Chiara!

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Gianni, Our First Artisan, Is Always Creating

Gianni Drawing In Alicudi (Lipari)

There are places where the sky and the sea inspire you ideas.

I just got off the phone with Gianni. Today it was easy to get a hold of him because, having fallen during a mountain bike race, he just cracked three ribs and now he has to rest quite a bit. That’s why he put himself in charge of the phones, accounting, and is staying put for a while. Such an easy target I might call him back tomorrow!

As we were chatting, I told him that I wanted to visit his cousin for lunch because he has an Italian restaurant in Palo Alto, not too far from us. He said: “Make sure to call me at home when you are there and I will buy you lunch!” It turns out that he means to pay him next time he sees Mario. Gianni is the elder among his cousins so I am curious to do this. I don’t want to get a free lunch, but I would like to see his face when I tell him that I have his cousin Gianni on the phone.

One of the reasons for me to call him was to get the picture of him drawing new products in the Aeolian Islands. I had seen the picture on his website and it looked great: a wonderful setting with the sea and the Island of Alicudi in the background. If you are ever trying to figure out a beautiful place to visit in Italy that is off the beaten path, this is certainly a good example. We are going to use the picture in our next Calendar (and possibly every calendar thereafter) and wish to go there.

As usual, Gianni was busy creating something new. He said that demand for his products in his native island (Sicily) is growing at a healthy rate so he is designing, among other things, a Trinacria key chain–a symbol of Sicily. I can’t wait to get this because many Italian descendants in the US appreciate Sicilian symbolism and I think that it would really add to our selection.

Gianni's New Trinacria

A prototype is coming alive. We might have it next year.

Thank you for reading my post. Don’t forget to use the coupon code I disclosed in a previous post to get 10% off anything on the Marcopoloni site during the month of November. Also stay on top of new additions by signing up to our newsletter below.




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The Campomaggi Fall Winter Collection – Part 2

TOALDO Campomaggi Studded Leather Patchwork Bag

TOALDO Campomaggi Studded Leather Patchwork Bag

Fall is always super busy for us because we make sure to stock up for the Holiday season and try to have lots of new products to introduce. Add to that that we try to add the Fall/Winter collections during fall, not the beginning of summer, and you can imagine that we have a great number of products to introduce. In the past we noticed that when too many products arrive at the same time we do not have the resources and creativity to properly present each product. That has caused many worthy products to go nearly unnoticed for a while until customers started to dig them out of our catalog.

It used to be either canvas with leather accents or leather. Now you have this, and it is a great combination according to the customers who snatched these up.

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To prevent that we are now spreading out the arrival of new products by Campomaggi across multiple shipments. This week we received one such shipment and it was very exciting because the bags and accessories that we picked for this winter are really beautiful.

One new design is the distressed leather with a grid pattern of small multicolored brass studs. The TOALDO Campomaggi bag is a great example of this. Another is the VERATTI: a spacious bag with a myriad of small pockets in front and strong magnets securing the closure flaps.
Another line is represented by the FERRARI: canvas bags with large leather components such as a full front flap.

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The VERATTI features a magnet closure, in a style that is unusual for Campomaggi.

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Adding Unbelievably Cool New Antartidee Home Accessories

CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand

The CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand has a strong personality and gives your glasses a safe resting place.

Antartidee has always aided us with useful products. It just seems to me that this time they are even more extremely useful AND even more extremely cool. I’ll admit it: at first the idea of an eyeglass stand did not sound very appealing. Fast-forward a year, as I am reaching for my eyeglasses more often, I have started leaving a pair on my nightstand. Unfortunately, they sometimes get knocked off of it and I freak out because I think that Marco (or a sleepy self) will crush them. The CAUGHT MY EYES, with its wide base could claim a permanent spot for the nightstand, look really cool, and bring some order to the surface.

Similarly, I totally want to use the PEPPER OPENER: easy to find in the drawer or on the kitchen counters where I left it last, and cool to use. No more boring clunkiness, it’s time to be stylish in the kitchen: we often have guests!

The rest of the products that arrived are great too. I just finished adding the BAFFONI wall hook to the catalog and have a few more to go. I hope to be done in time for the next newsletter next week, which reminds me: don’t forget to sign up to stay more up-to-date. As usual, don’t forget to use the November offer code that gets you 10% off anthing on the site just for reading my blog. Thank you!




CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand

The CAUGHT MY EYES Eyeglasses Stand has a strong personality and gives your glasses a safe resting place.

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My Style

Daniele Graziani Style

Daniele’s style seeks comfort and cool beauty, not overpriced brands.

I’ve never been much of a conformist. I wasn’t a paninaro growing up in Milan in the 80’s and I don’t subscribe to expensive brands for the sake of the brands. I just want what I think is the best stuff in the world. Is that too much to ask?

What I noticed early on in my life was that name brands could sell sub-par products at high prices just by slapping their logos on it. Kudos to their marketing departments, but I want something that is better quality and fits my tastes.

Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the luxury brands. For example, growing up I though Armani was great. But now I see that they make their shirts in Tunisia. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but I have had the luck to travel through all of Italy. I’ve been to every region and talked to a myriad of artisans, both great and not so great, and some truly amazing. And those amazing artisans make amazing stuff. So instead of getting an Armani shirt made in some factory in Tunisia, I would prefer to find an amazing artisan that still makes amazing shirts.

In my photo above I am comfortable with my look. The shoes, scarf, and jacket are by Maledetti Toscani. The belt and belt pouch by Campomaggi. The key chain by Gianni. I wear everything with pride knowing that each item is the best of its kind in the world or very close to it–it is, so far, the very best that I could find.

Of course I can’t find everything that is awesome on my own. If you know of a great artisan, anywhere in the world, please let me know so that I can explore more greatness. Thank you for reading my blog, use offer code DANI10XK to get 10% off anything in the store until 11/30/2015. For more updates about our great artisans, make sure to sign up for our newsletter. We send up to six every year.




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New Murano Glass Ornaments Capture Your Thoughts

MURANO Glass Fruit

MURANO Glass Fruit

As we placed an order for Murano glass products that are running out of stock we decided to try some new items. We perused our very many pictures of the vast number of creations by Imperio Rossi and Mario Costantini and ran into a few things that we really liked. In fact, we had already noted that we really liked these items, we just always had to narrow down our choices to what would most likely sell. This time, we were after something that was not as common and would inspire the admirer.

What we decided to choose this time was a set of fruit. These fruits are so attractive and realistic that they remind me of a still life painting, only achieved using a completely different medium: glass. Just like a painting these fruits can evoke different emotions and thoughts. I personally like to gaze at things and let them talk to me. I find the experience very peaceful and inspiring. I think of many things: the artisans, the process of creation, the care for the details. Having seen how other items are made, I know that every ridge, wave, and angle is not accidental: it was likely meant to be there. Also, I look at the details as they now rest, waiting to be noticed. This fruit can get pretty philosophical with me as it never rots, it is extremely fragile, beautiful, but it can’t be had. It also makes me wonder if climate change is threatening these fruits; it makes me recall the best tasting versions I had at one farm or another.

Then, ultimately I just appreciate the beauty of these fruits standing close together. Doing absolutely nothing, yet elevating the tone of the whole room. I will never stop loving authentic Murano glass!

MURANO Glass Apple

MURANO Glass Apple

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The Campomaggi Shipment Has Arrived

The new TOALDO Shoulder Bag

The new TOALDO Shoulder Bag fresh out of the box.

The latest Campomaggi Shipment has just walked through the door. This one is particularly interesting because it includes both items from the new Fall/Winter 2015 collection that we have never experienced, and some new variants from the Spring/Summer 2015 collection that you have requested.

When we receive lots of new products we have to focus exclusively on them for quite some time. As you know, we inspect them very carefully one by one to make sure that no defective units show up to your door. Then, because each Campomaggi bag is unique, we take at least two photos of each bag and add the bag with the photos to the database.

At this point, the bags show up in our Just Landed page, the page where you can preview bags and purchase them before they officially enter our catalog. At this stage we start talking about the novelties on social media but have to be careful not to link to this page as the product will eventually get moved.

When we have added all products to the just landed page, we go back and carefully complete the information associated with each product so that you can see weight, dimensions, sometimes a modeling shot, a description followed by a specific list of features. We also pick a list of recommended related products, and make sure that the product is categorized correctly so that it will appear on the correct pages.

Among the values that we categorize is the color. So if you search for the color in our search box the products that come in that color will rise towards the top of the search results. This is not a perfect system but it should help those of you who are interested in finding the bags we have in a specific color.

If you are interested in Campomaggi products, make sure to be notified of new arrivals. Sign up to our newsletter below or to Emi’s Campomaggi Report.




TOALDO with Campomaggi Model

A photo supplied by Campomaggi with the TOALDO worn by a model.

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Switching to Quickbooks Online and Node.js

Quickbooks Online

We are busy switching to Quickbooks Online.

As a business owner who has a long past and present as a web developer, I watch the tools that we use and the latest technological trends closely. I don’t like to use cutting edge technology, but I do like to make the jump as soon as there is a business case for it and a clear path that will enable a successful transition.

We have been looking at Quickbooks online for a very long time because I have been dreaming about an accounting system tied to our back-end system forever. Emi, on the other hand, has been longing for the ability to view up-to-date inventory information from anywhere. The problem always was that QuickBooks Online did not support inventory, and the few accounting SaaS companies that did provide it charged a lot for it. It felt that inventory was not on the radar of many of these companies who, obviously, chose the software or service industries as their target markets.

When we finally found out that QuickBooks Online offered inventory we were still stopped by the other hurdle: the ability to support multiple currencies. Last summer this was not supported but it was on the radar. Finally, this fall it arrived, and we were ready to jump on board, except for one tiny detail: if your QuickBooks company file includes multi-currency you won’t be able to export it to import it in QuickBooks online. This really royally stunk and gave us pause, but we decided to go ahead and not to ever look back.

As to integrating our back-end with QuickBooks Online’s it is going to be fairly easy. The API seems well developed although, by reading a few forums, there are some scenarios that return strange errors. I will be happy to sweat through those as nothing seems to be as confusing as the poorly documented FedEx and USPS APIs. Using Node will be a pleasure and abandoning our old technology stack will feel like getting rid of a ball and chain.

So if you are looking to abandon QuickBooks desktop in favor of QuickBooks Online, maybe check to see if you are going to be able to export your file (you might have to upgrade your version). Otherwise, I don’t know what else might cause you to go against that decision. In our case, we were able to save money because online payroll + QuickBooks online was cheaper than the previous payroll solution we were using. Less money, more convenience: a no-brainer.

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Happy Halloween!

Marco as Roberto Baggio

Marco looks pretty tough as Roberto Baggio

I did not grow up with Halloween. So I never got to experience the excitement, and I know that I would have liked it because I have one ginormous sweet tooth. On second thought, that’s probably a good thing as I would be completely toothless now.

But my kids are different and I want to help them enjoy this wonderful celebration by helping them go through the excitement of choosing a costume, getting dressed up, going trick or treating and partying with friends. And that we did. I’ve never seen Marco run around so much. It was evident that he had a little extra fuel to burn before going to sleep. Chiara said that: “she liked all the spooky and fun decorations!!” and made sure I included the two exclamation marks. :-)!

Gratian_Solidus di Rasiel SuarezOpera propria. Con licenza CC BY-SA 3.0 tramite Wikimedia Commons.

I have decided that next year I am going to spend more time preparing for Halloween. I am going to decorate our place a bit, even though we are not going to be there, and everyone in our family is going to be have a cool costume, not just the kids. I want to be Emperor Graziano (since my last name is Graziani), an obscure emperor that no one has ever heard of before except for perhaps a brief mention in the Gladiator movie: an obscure mention that no one has even noticed. But me. I hope to use the whole year preparing my costume so that it can be strikingly accurate, with a few handmade elements to reflect my personality.

Now we have a TON of candy! Let me know if you want me to include some in your next order! :-).

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