Simple Invoices 500 Internal Server Error

Simple Invoices is a free, open source, web based invoicing system that you can install on your server, desktop, or at a service provider. I installed Simple Invoices on a webhost company I rather not mention. The application was working fine, until they tweak their PHP settings several months back. As a result, the PDF export in Simple Invoices no longer worked. I was bummed. So, I was forced to run Simple Invoices from my home server, which was fun, but the issue was, I can’t access it outside of the house.

So, I decided to install Simple Invoices on my new account at Linode. Now, the funny thing was, the application won’t even come up. Not even a login page. So, I searched online for a possible solution to my dilemma. Some suggested to increase the php memory settings to 128M, but that didn’t work out for me. At one time, I thought I had a missing pdo_mysql module, but that wasn’t the case. Then, I stumbled into something that led me to the ultimate discovery.

Simple Invoices has this configuration file called config.ini located inside the config folder. One thing this application doesn’t like are extra characters inside the config file. I happen to like funky passwords with interesting characters like +-)!@#. My MySQL password happens to have a close parenthesis in it. Essentially, this extra character caused the entire application to not start. So, I change my password, and sure enough, the application worked.

So, if you ever get a 500 internal server error with the Simple Invoices application, make sure you don’t have any of those extra characters inside your config.ini file. I wasted two hours trying to fix this issue, only to be surprised by such an idiotic requirement. That means I can’t use difficult passwords for this application. I think this is either a design issue or a funny requirement of the Zend Framework, which by the way, Simple Invoices is written on. It was somewhat funny, but I wasn’t amused.

Simple Invoices Quotation

I have professed my love for Simple Invoices previously on this blog. Simple Invoices is a free, open-source, web-based invoicing system that can be installed on your desktop or web server. In fact, I use Simple Invoices on one of my businesses.

Today, I started using the Quotation feature. Quotations are not much different than Invoices. The only difference that you save the form as a Quote instead of Invoice. The default selection is Invoice.

A quote can be easily converted later to an invoice later by simply changing the category. Simple enough. If you need an web-based invoicing system, be sure to check Simple Invoices.

Simple Invoices

I’ve been looking around for a simple invoice program. I even thought of creating one. Then, I found an open source program called Simple Invoices. I downloaded it and gave it a try. The installation was very straightforward. The process starts with downloading the program, editing the config.ini file, uploading to a server, and running the installation.

The installation gives the user the option to populate it with sample data or with no data. I chose no data. I entered myself as a biller and created several customers. I also created several product types like Labor, Hardware, Software and Miscellaneous. I would love to see more details in this area, perhaps a description field for each product type.

Once an invoice is created, it can be viewed, printed, exported in many formats like PDF, DOC or XLS. The invoice can also be sent via Email with a PDF attachment. Simple Invoices uses your host’s mail servers. The email feature doesn’t work on a localhost installation with no mail support. It worked on mine hosted at Hostgator. I imagine it will work on most host servers with mail support.

I wanted to modify the invoice number so that it will start at a certain number. This is for the continuity with my existing invoice numbering sequence. The default invoice number starts at 1. Unfortunately, there is no facility to change the invoice number except to manually edit it the database via PHPMyAdmin. The documentation about this sketchy, but I figured it out after a couple of tries. You will need to edit the cs_invoices and si_index tables and change the ids and the index_id.

Another great feature is the integration with Paypal. I’m using PayPal as a payment method and it works pretty good. The invoice can be sent via email to each customer. Simple Invoices places a Paypal button with a link to each invoice. The link redirects customers to Paypal to initiate payment. The customer can then use their Paypal account or use a credit card to send payment.

I have been unable to see any of the reporting features because I dont have the XSLT processor installed on my localhost. I’m using MAMP on the MacBook Air. I figured most hosting companies have this feature as standard, but after scouring the internet for a few minutes, I’m not so sure if Hostgator supports it. Will I ever see the reporting feature on this program? I’m not sure. I won’t know until I install it online. Update: this feature works at Hostgator!

Overall, the Simple Invoices program is great. It’s simple enough to be picked up by anyone. It has some excellent features such as exports to PDF, Word or Excel. The Paypal payment method is great. Simple Invoices needs more work in some areas, but it’s not bad start for an open-source program.

Finally, all software need some good documentation, and this one especially needs it. I’m sure the author can use a few volunteers here and there.