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Introducing the new inbuilt calculator

Posted 5 years ago in Advisors by Andrew Tokeley
Posted by Andrew Tokeley

UPDATE (30 Sept, 2013) – the new calculator was released to sales invoices, bills and spend/receive money grids

While still actively working on some of our bigger projects (in particular, improved reporting and purchase orders) we’ve just sneaked in a brand new feature we’ve been working on. We’re calling it the inbuilt calculator because, well, it’s a calculator and it’s built-in. It helps you enter data using simple formula rather than having to pull out your pocket calculator. Also nice to be able to make progress on another top ten Community feature request.

It’s not been introduced everywhere yet though – we wanted to get your feedback first. So head on over to the Manual Journals screen to give it a test drive. Note this is only available for users with the Adviser (previously known as Financial Adviser) role.

Here’s how it works.

Enter a formula into either the Debit or Credit column,

A formuala using the inbuilt calculator within Xero

tab (or click) away and voila, the result appears.

A formula using the inbuilt calculator within Xero

If you make a typo, a red box will appear around the field, giving you a chance to fix things up or, if you try and tab out again, the value that was in the field previously will be returned.

Example of error message when you enter a typo in the formula using the inbuilt calculator

You can use brackets and *, /, + or -, and your formula can be as complex as you like. We don’t support any other mathematical operators or functions at the moment, but please let us know if you’re going to miss doing some cube rooting or power raising.

One last note, if you can cast your minds back to high school maths (however painful that may be) you might remember the famous acronym, BODMAS, which we adhere to, so make sure you understand why, 10 + 20 * 5 equals 110 not 150.

Hope you like it, let us know what you think.

There were a few other smaller updates in this release – full details here.



Alexander Kohl
August 19, 2013 at 10.02 am

Excellent feature. I do not think there is a need to add other mathematical functions. It would be great though to see the entered formula again (at least while working on a transaction and before saving it) when clicking on the field.

Kelvin Hartnall
August 19, 2013 at 10.12 am

Awesome, a very nifty feature that makes the product richer without cluttering the screen real-estate. I vote that this is rolled out throughout the product. I think I would find myself using this frequently.

By the way, would be even cooler if it wasn’t just a calculator, but also stored the formula. So that at a later date when you hover over or edit the amount, the original formula appears 🙂

One last thing, for us who grew up in NZ we called it BEDMAS (‘E’ for Exponential). I’m guessing this is a reflection of the success of Xero!

MC Carter
August 19, 2013 at 10.27 am

Neat feature. It’s little conveniences like these that build the user love for an app. Great name for the feature, too. Very out-of-left-field, but it works. 🙂

Alan Creswick
August 19, 2013 at 10.38 am

Almost standard feature in most accounting software, bring to Xero in all areas ASAP.

Elizabeth Salter
August 19, 2013 at 11.14 am

Thank you! Have eagerly been waiting for this one. It was one of the little, but most missed, features of the “other” products for me. Can’t wait until it’s not just in journals. Will be using this feature a lot. 🙂

Anthony Wardley
August 19, 2013 at 11.45 am

Great to see and seems to work well. This is one thing I really missed from Quickbooks. Can’t wait for it to roll out into other areas.

Cassandra Scott
August 19, 2013 at 12.10 pm

Awesome guys…. don’t even wait for feedback on this feature – just roll it out to Purchases and Sales – it will be used!

August 19, 2013 at 12.15 pm

Nice work, would be good to see it rolled across in all other areas too.

August 19, 2013 at 1.45 pm

What a little ripper of a time saver. Roll it out everywhere stat!

Mike Block CPA
August 19, 2013 at 3.00 pm

This seems nice, but it will not be available in all programs. I got a blue tooth Canon mouse – calc for less than $20.

Stephen Collard
August 19, 2013 at 5.33 pm

Fantastic put it everywhere ASAP (if not quicker). Especially purchases and sales, as it will stop me from reaching for the calculator all the time.

Bob Harper
August 19, 2013 at 8.35 pm

A nice “nice to have” but what about fixing Xero so it does UK VAT correctly as per the LinkedIn forum question?

August 20, 2013 at 4.53 am

Andrew, I used to copy and paste individual numbers from Lavu POS (doesn’t have a Xero integration yet) for a weekly revenue and discount journal. Now when I paste a number in a manual journal debit or credit cell, and tab or hit return, I get red bolded cell and “invalid formula”. Am I doing something wrong or is this the way things are now with the new functionality (which will slow me down). Let me know.

Greg Penner
August 20, 2013 at 5.17 am

Yes this is good. And also the comments about storing the formula in the background. I definitely second that.

Luke Pullin
August 20, 2013 at 10.42 am

Congratulations Xero on taking soooooo long to implement a BASIC feature which exists in all other accounting packages. Must have been extremely difficult asking/emailing Sencha for some code or advise on how to add feature.

Hats off to the team that decided to LIMIT the implementation to just journals! Makes perfect sense to test a feature that your community has been screaming for in an area most users don’t use. Why not test it in purchases or sales?

If these are the sorts of features we are going to receive every three weeks I simply can’t wait too see what the next one will be…. Let me guess its Purchase Orders! How many months have we been hearing this now?

Advise to Xero… Little less conversation, little more action!

August 20, 2013 at 1.28 pm

As per James comments i am also have the same issue can not copy and edit journals anymore???

Andrew Tokeley
August 20, 2013 at 1.44 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

@James, @Elton – we’re looking in to why copy and paste isn’t working for you guys – can I also ask you to contact and give them as much details as possible? For example, if you try copying something out of NotePad/TextEdit does it work? Or is it only when you copy out of certain applications? What browsers are you using? Thanks.

Andrew Tokeley
August 20, 2013 at 2.12 pm

@James, @Elton – it could be that you are pasting in characters that aren’t allowed. For example, if you paste in “$200” or “1,234” then the $ and comma aren’t allowed so it complains. Will look to see if we can be a bit smarter about this…

August 20, 2013 at 10.26 pm

@luke it’s advice not advise..
@toke…it would be good to be able to enter a split in an add detail screen. Where if you put the amount it calculates the remainder for you?

Bob Harper
August 20, 2013 at 10.26 pm

@Andrew – thanks for the update on the VAT issue on the LinkedIn forum.

Michael Mori
August 21, 2013 at 2.45 am

What puzzles me, is that the cost of buying a basic QuickBooks and/or MYOB package is negligible, in order to determine how the calculator works in those packages, and in which areas of those packages they are applied to. I don’t see any blog’s of complaint about how well they work or don’t work in any forums, because they just do. How difficult is that. 10 year old technology just arriving at XERO’s door is not something that should be highlighted in this public blog. Just release it in the release notes, and keep a low profile about a feature that your competitors have had for years, is the best advice on this one. Not often that I complain, but I do hope that there is not the same fanfare about Purchase Orders, for the same reason. This not a new and exciting feature, but a standard one required to conduct normal business.

August 21, 2013 at 10.37 am

Michael, what wrong today? Did your bulk supply of Preparation H run out? Time for another 44 gallon drum?
If you want to stay with CrapBooks and MYOBarf, knock yourself out. Just don’t dribble and snivel around here. Thanks.
Its great that the new features keep rolling out, keep ’em coming Xeroites!!

August 22, 2013 at 1.38 am

Xero team, Ignore the negative comments, I think you are all awesome and really happy with your service and products. Can’t wait for Purchase Orders……….

Michael Mori
August 22, 2013 at 5.01 am

#James. Those that know me, know that my life as it is, would not be possible, if it were not for XERO. It is by far the BEST accounting package to work on for a wide spectrum of clients and if you know how to set XERO up, there is almost ZERO bookkeeping to do. Absolutely amazing- hence my complaint about something so trivial as an inbuilt calculator.

Steve Lucas
August 23, 2013 at 5.01 pm

@Michael I see what you’re saying; this feature isn’t worth a press release. However, not everyone reads release notes so making a tiny blog post with some instructions explaining the new feature isn’t a necessarily bad thing. Furthermore, blog posts can easily be shared and can be a more effective way to communicate with others. I’m sure there are thousands of people that don’t about this feature yet so I think making a song an dance about is totally fine.
I did notice how quickly you can make enemies talking ill of Xero, hopefully not all constructive criticism is treated this way.

@Bob, thanks for replying about the linkedin forum reply, can you send a link through?

August 23, 2013 at 5.11 pm

It is an absolute innovative tool that will enhance performance in Accounting.

September 30, 2013 at 2.38 pm

@Michael Mori @Luke Pullin.. put the knives down kids, as Steve Lucas said not everybody reads release notes and might I add not everyone knows everything past and present about every other accounting package software feature that existed. Some people are new to accounting and book keeping. Just saying.

September 30, 2013 at 2.42 pm

Yes, bring it on everywhere. This is an awesome feature and helps you to continue to beat MYOB hands down!!

September 30, 2013 at 2.46 pm

Seriously, don’t even wait for feedback on this feature – just roll it out to Purchases and Sales – it will be used!

September 30, 2013 at 3.31 pm

Another AWESOME feature! Keep it up Xero!!

September 30, 2013 at 3.38 pm

Hi All! I think you can already use that built in calculators in Sales and Purchases, under “Unit Price” and “Quantity”. I’ve tried it and worked for me.

September 30, 2013 at 4.17 pm

Nice work guys. Cheers Glen

September 30, 2013 at 4.25 pm

Works for me too – thanks for your feedback, this is something I have missed

Richard Phillips
September 30, 2013 at 4.32 pm

@Lie nice spotting – we just extended the inbuilt calculator functionality to these areas based on the feedback here. Also taking a note from @Michael Mori’s playbook earlier in this comment thread we kept the fanfare to a minimum with just an in-app message. The Marketing Team can barely contain themselves so have started polishing the trumpets for some fanfare over the next few months…

Andrew Tokeley
September 30, 2013 at 4.32 pm

Hi all, @Lie is right, today we updated sales invoice, bills and spend/receive grids with the same functionality

Michael Mori
September 30, 2013 at 4.33 pm

Hi Tokes. Wow, that calculator works in the Quantity and Unit Price fields – fantastic job. Now as @Steve Lucas mentioned above – there needs to be some notice on the screens that have the calculator as a function, to notify users who do not know about it, because as @Jacinda says “not everyone knows everything past and present about every other accounting package software feature that existed. Some people are new to accounting and book keeping”. Thanks for this – it makes a HUGE difference to bookkeeper’s lives.

Michael Mori
September 30, 2013 at 4.39 pm

@Richard @Andrew. Wrt my earlier comment, in QB the fields that have the inbuilt calculator have an appearance that intuitively lets you know that the calculator exists in those fields, almost like a “dropdown” box. This would eliminate the need for notifications on the pages. Is this helpful?

Andrew Tokeley
September 30, 2013 at 4.45 pm

@Michael – yeah, we’ve certainly talked about doing this but we’re wary of adding too much “noise” to screens advertising features etc. Design team are pretty tight on this. We could consider doing a temporary message that can be dismissed or we could just leave it as it is and, like date shortcuts, make it a nice little surprise should you stumble across it 🙂

September 30, 2013 at 6.16 pm

good feature but i think not time well spent. try spending time on building a quoting system.

September 30, 2013 at 8.17 pm

I think Xero needs to accelerate development of useful features needed by users. Every time I see a message for Xero being taken offline for an update, I expect to see real features being rolled out but I have been disappointed so far this year. It appears the more Xero add more development staff, the less agile they are becoming in delivering new accounting features. My clients need quotes, POs, receipts, more depreciation methods, basic CRM, basic inventory etc.

September 30, 2013 at 9.05 pm

Awesome not before time, now bring on recurring spend and receive money and alot more of the ex MYOB users may just cope a bit more

September 30, 2013 at 9.06 pm

Nice little gimmick, but there are far more serious things that Xero could be addressing, like the absence of running balances. Why are you spending time on gimmicks when you could be addressing the important stuff?

September 30, 2013 at 9.38 pm

@Adam @Justin @Tom – couldn’t agree more. I wonder how much time was spent on this when they can’t even get the correct address and a logo on the long-awaited remittance advices. There is simply no focus.

September 30, 2013 at 10.28 pm

Keep the updates rolling out Xero. Agree with the number of comments rolling out this is a feature that is not game changing and has been available on other apps for years. I am a big fan of Xero having only been using it for a couple of months, however the development needs to speed up particularly the PO.

September 30, 2013 at 10.37 pm

Yeah, I don’t have to use the calculator on the desk and re-enter the data.

Debbie Splodge
October 1, 2013 at 2.11 am

Nice to see something happening now start working on purchase orders please and also that little glitch which means we have to delete a payment before we can edit an invoice – so sloppy!

October 1, 2013 at 5.28 am

Nice feature, but as some above have said, please make it across the board ie any field that accepts numbers. Also, please make sure you can add, subtract, divide and multiply as a basic as entering VAT incl/excl etc is very frustrating when you have to calculate it with a calculator.

Also, when are the reports coming? Pleeeeeeaaaaasssssssseeeee!

October 1, 2013 at 9.24 am

yay I’ve missed this basic feature. Keep up the good work. (Why do so many people complain about things, just enjoy that things are better than they were yesterday, life is better that way)

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