Web Services

I signed up with a basic account at Blinksale.com a couple of weeks ago. They provide online invoicing services geared for freelancers. I tested it out, and found a couple of limitations in the Invoicing that I didn’t care for. Specifically, I desired a way to add notes to invoices, and hoped there would be a way for invoices to automatically recur. Both of these concerns I expressed in an email to their support staff, to which I received a prompt reply. They told me they hoped to add these things in coming months.

Since Blinksale did a lot of cool stuff and made invoice management easy, I was prepared to stay with them, with the strong possibility of upgrading my account.

Enter Side Job Track, another new kid on the web services block. I learned about them from somewhere (can’t remember now) and signed up.

Looks like I am going to be cancelling my Blinksale account, for Side Job Track offers a lot more, at the cost of absolutely nothing. Side Job Track gives you a way to track your projects, time spent, send invoices as needed, and keep your client info organized. I hope to see Side Job Track stay around, for what they provide is definitely valuable and is done quite nicely.

Check em both out and let me know what you think.

About Will Chatham

Will Chatham is an Information Security Analyst, OSCP, Ethical Hacker, and Penetration Tester at a federal data center in Asheville, NC. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. His varied background, from developer to search engine optimizer to security professional, has helped him build a wide range of skills that help those with whom he works and teaches.
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7 Comments

  1. This looks neat. Thanks!

  2. Will, have you looked at Vebio (http://www.vebio.com)? I’m the founder so naturally biased, but I still believe that Vebio offers a better solution. Vebio uses PDFs for the final invoice, a format that is more professional and better suited for the structured requirements of invoicing (as a former CFO I do have a foundation for this belief). Vebio also offers recurring invoice capabilities. If it’s not too late for you, take a look. Happy to get your thoughts on our service.

  3. Haven’t looked at it but I will check it out. Thanks.

  4. OK I checked it out – not as impressed as I was with Blinksale or SideJobTrack. Main reason: they use Ajax and web standards for their site.

  5. Thanks for checking us out, Will, and I appreciate your comments. Useability is definitely a big focus for us and we’re constantly adding features to enhance our users’ overall experience with Vebio.

    As for the use of Ajax, I have to take the view that Anil Dash does: http://www.dashes.com/anil/2005/07/27/how_do_we_judge. I’ve been asked a lot why we don’t use more Ajax in our site, but the question has always come from developers. 99% of the population–including the 10 million independent contractors that serve as our target customers–do not know or even care what Ajax is. All they care is that a web service they choose to use performs reliably and predictably each time they use it. And the majority of users have only just come up to speed on web 1.0 standards. Call me a dinosaur, but I prefer to use features that the majority of users are already comfortable with, and only add on new technologies if I can answer yes to both of the questions: “Does it improve the user’s experience?” and “Does it work reliably?”

    I agree that in many cases Ajaxing a site will enhance the user’s experience. But merely emulating a desktop application for the sake of emulating it isn’t enough of a justification for me. Will it perform reliably under all (or at least most) conditions expected by my users? I can’t seem to make this case with any featureset too dependent on javascript. This is the same reason why database developers know not to depend on client-side javascript to validate form field data.

    Take Google Maps, for example. Google Maps has been touted as one of those “cool technologies” and often applauded as a service that uses Ajax. And yet, more often than not, I get the message “Address Could Not Be Found” when I click the link to Google Maps from an ad on Craigslist. This doesn’t happen nearly as much when I click over to Yahoo Maps, so I doubt its an issue with the actual address being displayed in the ad. At the end of the day, what was most important to me as a user was that Google Maps didn’t work for me for that particular purpose, not that they used Ajax or had some cool satellite feature that I didn’t use anyway.

    I may, and likely will, start to incorporate Ajax into our site in the near future. But only if it actually improves the overall useability of my service and only if it doesn’t compromise my ability to deliver that service (i.e. cause more bugs in the process if a user happens to be using an older browser). After all, I’m providing a service, not demo’ing a new technology.

  6. Side Job doesn’t have any AJAX, either. It is standards-based and was developed on an extremely flexible PHP framework of my own design. That framework allows for rapid feature development and frees up time for me to spend working on the user interface — which must be so well executed that that’s why so many people seem to think it uses AJAX. : )

  7. Wow…the Sidejobtrack creator shows up! I’m not worthy!

    You sure did a good job of fooling me…I thought AJAX was working behind the scenes. Nevertheless, I always choose to support standards-based sites when I can.

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