Monday, January 1, 2018

Anatomy of Billsup bills and data export

Hey all,

In case you didn't know, our service is retiring. You can now download your data from the menu (no longer available)

As part of our final blog post, we'd like to leave you with the inner-workings of Billsup's bills.

How Billsup's bills work

  • Participants - all persons involved in a bill
    • Each participant is assigned an id for the bill 
      • E.g. Tom=#1, Mary=#2, John=#3
  • Items - breakdown the cost of the bills by item(s)
    • Each bill has at least one item, and each item contains information of how the cost of that item should be split between the participants. An item could be split between one or more participants.
    • E.g.
      • Appetizer - $30 - Mary and Tom shared - each should pay $15
      • Salad - $13 - Tom should pay
      • Pasta - $16 - Mary should pay
      • Lasagna - $15 - John should pay
      • Dessert - $20 - Mary and John shared - each should pay $10
  • Payers - who paid for the bill
    • the payer could be one or more of the participants.
    • E.g. John paid the entire bill - $94
  • Settle details - contains who should pay whom for the current bill
    • Based on items and payers, the balances are calculated:
      Tom Mary John
      Appetizer 15 15
      Salad 13
      Pasta 16
      Lasagna 15
      Dessert 10 10
      Payment -94
      Balance 28 31 -69

      Settle details
      • Tom->John - $28
      • Mary->John - $31

How about debts?

A debt or a payment has the same inner workings as the above. It's basically the above bill with one item. For example, let's say you input a debt - Tom owes Mary $100
  • Participants = Tom, Mary
  • Item = debt $100 - Tom should pay
  • Payer = Mary
  • Settle details (calculated) = Tom->Mary - $100

Friday, December 1, 2017

All good things come to an end

Apologies for the recent issues and slowness with our site. We don't like what's happening, and we would actually fix issues quickly if things were fully in our control.

Let us explain.

So what happened?

Billsup is hosted on a business pro hosting plan with arvixe, which means that arvixe, as the hosting provider, control the server capacity, resources, and admin privileges on our servers, while we (Billsup) have to rely on them to fix uptime issues. We chose them 6 years ago due to budget contraints and arvixe had great value and reviews at the time.

We used to love arvixe as did many others until recently when they changed owners. They are no longer reliable as many of you have experienced - in fact the recent data loss, migration mistake, and outages can be directly attributed to their lack of competency.

In detail...
  • Oct 13: arvixe emailed us saying that they will upgrade our admin panel (We thought okay, cool, zero downtime).
  • Nov 16: arvixe emailed us again and said server migration is complete and redirecting traffic to new server (eh? migration? but cool, zero down time!)
  • Nov 17: Server is down. Apparently arvixe didn't configure the new server properly - wrong config files, missing binaries, SSL certificate missing, wrong redirects, the list goes on 😅  no help from arvixe after numerous chats and tickets. We spent hours troubleshooting and fixed these configuration problems.
  • Nov 18: realized our brand new server has a database that's 8 days old. Apparently they cloned our databases to the new server on Nov 9 but didn't start redirecting traffic to new server until Nov 16. Again no help from arvixe after numerous chats and tickets. We again spent hours recovering your data.
  • Nov 28: 😡 Unstable server performance and responses, and lack of support from their live support or sysadmins, even until now.
We're sorry that our users had to endure this pain with us 😖 😭

What's next?

1. Build an export feature

We want to make sure all your bills can be downloaded so you feel safe. This should be available within 3 weeks.

2. Move away from arvixe

As arvixe is no longer reliable, we plan to move away from it even though we still have another year of contract with them. In case you didn't know, we moved to AWS for a short while a few years ago, but we just couldn't bear the cost. This time, we will try to migrate our services to azure for a more stable experience and keep it running there for at least a couple months. This will take a few days to a week, so bear with us while we move over.

3. Retire our services

Wait... what?!? Well, it has been 6 years since we started Billsup. Between the mobile app compatibility and hosting issues, along with the changing world of technology and needs, we felt that we couldn't dedicate the time or financial resources to continue to provide a high quality and stable service for you.

You may feel all sorts of emotions - anger, frustration, sadness - well, us too. It has been an extremely difficult decision to make as we use Billsup for our own bill tracking, and we have spent endless hours and sleepless nights building and maintaining the system. For those geeks out there who are just curious, we will be later blog about our algorithms here.

Before we go, we want to make sure you can download your data, and also find a new home for your bill tracking. Here are some apps to try if you liked Billsup:

We are thankful for our supporters over the years, especially those who have stuck with us since the early alpha stages,
Your friends at Billsup

Monday, January 12, 2015

Billsup mobile app 2.0 released

Hi Billsup'ers!

It's been a while since we've blogged. But we wanted to start the new year by telling you that we've released version 2.0 of our Android and iOS apps!

They are now available on iOS and Android. We've fixed a couple bugs, and redesigned the UI for Android. The mobile version is a very light version of our web application, so you can keep track of debts on the go!

What's new in this version:

  • new user interface for Android
  • ability to edit bills
  • "add friends" feature
  • ability to edit groups
  • fix for Android lollipop crash
  • removed ads
  • works offline
  • sync with website

Download the new apps now:

Current limitations:
  • itemized bills and debt transfers are not supported yet
  • friend details and remove friend features coming in future versions
  • delete and copy bill features are not yet available
  • requires password (Google or Facebook login not available yet)

Please support us by rating our apps :) Feel free to give us feedback so we can improve in our future versions.

Caleb @ Billsup team

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

date format setting

Many of you have been requesting for a different date format for your locale. Well, you can now set your date format setting within the website settings!

This feature is currently only available for our website.

Happy billing!
- Billsup team

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Introducing Bill Attachments

Hi billsup users,

We've just introduced a new feautre called "Bill attachments". Using our web interface, you can now attach files and pictures to your bills. This would be useful for receipts, bills, and anything for reference when you add your bills and debts with your friends.

Under attachments, choose your picture or file to start the upload, then save your bill - that's it! Now you're sharing files with your friends!

Hope this helps with your shared billing!
-Billsup team

PS This feature is currently only available through our website.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Android app updated with copy and delete features

Hi Billsup users,

just wanted to let you know that our Android app has been updated. We've fixed a few bugs and added some simple features to help with your billing needs.

In this new version, we have made the delete functionality available to all users. Before, the delete function is only accessible via the options menu, which wasn't made available to Android 3.0+ within our app. Now, the delete function is available for everyone in the action bar.

As well, you will notice the new copy feature, which will make creating those frequently-added bills easier to enter. Once the icon is clicked, all details are copied, and the date is automatically set to today for your convenience.

Update or Download our new Android app now!

Note: As before, only simple and editable bills can be edited, deleted, or copied. The bills that are more complicated, such as those involving one or more items, will not be editable in the Android app yet.

Happy billing!
- Billsup team

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Debt balance graph

Hi all,

in case you didn't notice, we added a "debt balance" graph within the friend's details page to let you visualize your balance with your friends. This is one of the requested features by many of you :-) A positive balance means your friend owes you money, whereas a negative balance means you owe your friend money.

update on iOS app

We know that the iOS app has not been behaving well on certain devices. We're trying to get this working better and resolved - thanks for your patience! If you're experiencing trouble, feel free to contact us regarding your issue. Meanwhile, if the app isn't working, please navigate to our mobile site for your bill sharing needs!

Billsup team