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Introducing the new inbuilt calculator

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.


Posted by on 19 August 2013.

Categories: Accountants, Bookkeepers, Business, Company News

67 Responses

  1. 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.

    by Alexander Kohl on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

  2. 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!

    by Kelvin Hartnall on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:12 am

  3. 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. :)

    by MC Carter on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

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

    by Alan Creswick on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:38 am

  5. 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. :)

    by Elizabeth Salter on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

  6. 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.

    by Anthony Wardley on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

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

    by Cassandra Scott on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

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

    by Carl on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm

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

    by James on Aug 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm

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

    by Mike Block CPA on Aug 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

  11. 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.

    by Stephen Collard on Aug 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

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

    by Bob Harper on Aug 19, 2013 at 8:35 pm

  13. Great addition. We need more decimal places next as that is a big annoyance for many users … https://community.xero.com/business/discussion/51751/

    by Tom on Aug 19, 2013 at 8:56 pm

  14. 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.

    by James on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:53 am

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

    by Greg Penner on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:17 am

  16. 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!

    by Luke Pullin on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:42 am

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

    by Elton on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  18. 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 support@xero.com 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.

    by Andrew Tokeley on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm

  19. @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…

    by Andrew Tokeley on Aug 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

  20. @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?

    by Angela on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm

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

    by Bob Harper on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm

  22. 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.

    by Michael Mori on Aug 21, 2013 at 2:45 am

  23. 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!!

    by James on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:37 am

  24. 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……….

    by Teresa on Aug 22, 2013 at 1:38 am

  25. #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.

    by Michael Mori on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:01 am

  26. @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?

    by Steve Lucas on Aug 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm

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

    by Julius on Aug 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

  28. This is easy to do and works with the rhythm of the way I enter data.

    Agree – it would be good to see elsewhere.


    by @HeatherSmithAU on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

  29. @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.

    by Jacinda on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm

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

    by Alex on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm

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

    by Sarah on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm

  32. Another AWESOME feature! Keep it up Xero!!

    by R&S on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

  33. 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.

    by Lie on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  34. Nice work guys. Cheers Glen

    by Glen PERGL on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm

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

    by Lesley on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm

  36. @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…

    by Richard Phillips on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

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

    by Andrew Tokeley on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

  38. 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.

    by Michael Mori on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

  39. @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?

    by Michael Mori on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm

  40. @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 :-)

    by Andrew Tokeley on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

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

    by adam on Sep 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

  42. 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.

    by Justin on Sep 30, 2013 at 8:17 pm

  43. 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

    by Connie on Sep 30, 2013 at 9:05 pm

  44. 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?

    by Tom on Sep 30, 2013 at 9:06 pm

  45. @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.

    by Jeff on Sep 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

  46. 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.

    by Dipak on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm

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

    by Iain on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm

  48. 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!

    by Debbie Splodge on Oct 1, 2013 at 2:11 am

  49. 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!

    by Murray on Oct 1, 2013 at 5:28 am

  50. 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)

    by Sandra on Oct 1, 2013 at 9:24 am

  51. Loving that the Calculator has been added, could you please add it to the Bills as that would be even better.

    by Lissy on Oct 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

  52. I think its great but it would be better if it was available to Standard users also (most of our clients have this user access not Financial adviser)

    by Joanne Williamson on Oct 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm

  53. I imagine myself using this when wanting to display a discount against a line item. It is also useful for basic job costing when Work Flow Max would be ‘overkill.’

    by James on Oct 1, 2013 at 5:52 pm

  54. Ah, the Calcinator! Nice feature.

    by Colin on Oct 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

  55. @Joanne – hi, the calculator is available to all roles, it was just that the first release was on the Manual Journals screen, which is just for Advisors.

    P.S. no PO or Reporting projects were harmed in the creation of this feature!

    by Andrew Tokeley on Oct 2, 2013 at 11:50 am

  56. Enjoying the new inbuilt calculators and wondering if in future iterations there will be the ability for more sophisticated formulas related to budgeting and reporting? Example would be the ability to enter a budget that calculates against actuals to show delta projection either ahead of or under budget and by how much.

    by Rickey on Oct 3, 2013 at 11:13 am

  57. OKay, how sneaky are the XERO Developers, not only do they give us the built in calculator, but they slip in multiple decimal places to boot. This is seriously wicked! Now we can enter fuel, electricity and gas quantities and prices accurately. Thank -you, thank-you.

    @Murray, @Lizzy and @Joanne Williamson, the calculator does all the basics and is available to all users and in all fields that you can enter values. Sales, Bills and Journals as well Spend and Receive money in the bank accounts. XERO have done their work well, as usual.
    @ Debbie Splodge that little “glitch” is actually a feature that keeps XERO robust, unlike QuickBooks that allows you to change and delete anything without an audit trail, and unlike Sage/Pastel you can at least change accounts and tracking fields without deleting the payment first.

    by Michael Mori on Oct 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

  58. A very useful feature. Great to see it implemented.

    by Russell du Plessis on Oct 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

  59. @Michael – thanks for responding to some of the comments, good stuff. Regarding, multiple dp, we haven’t been intentionally sneaky! I suspect what’s happening is that you can enter a calculation that would result in multiple dps but it will still get rounded to (usually) 2 dp when saved.

    by Andrew Tokeley on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:54 am

  60. Great feature! Xero you are coming along!

    by Diana on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm

  61. This is great!

    by Dolores on Oct 5, 2013 at 3:33 am

  62. Keep the improvement coming – makes it even better than it currently is. Really looking forward to the Purchase Orders being added though – when will this be?

    by Mike on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:38 pm

  63. great idea but why limit it to only manual journals? there are plenty of other uses for it……when entering purchase invoices, receive money……
    if you’re going to make something useful, then at least make it so everyone can use it where they need it. :( whatever!

    by charm on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:46 am

  64. Multiplication would be very handy as well.

    by Haider Ali on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:52 pm

  65. @charm – this was done back in Sept. Still a few more places to add it but we think it’s better to add value progressively rather than delaying things too long.

    @Haider – this is supported. Have you discovered somewhere it’s not?

    by Andrew Tokeley on Oct 14, 2013 at 10:36 am

  66. Is there any plan to add the Total and Unit Price fields on the Expense Claim Add Reciept page (Expenses/EditReceipt.aspx). I quite often enter expense claims where I need to add two or three figures together. This would be very handy.

    It’s quite frustrating having this functionality in some places and then trying to use it on this page and it not working.

    by Brendan on Nov 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm

  67. @Brendan – we have some plans to roll it out to other pages; however expense claims isn’t on the list yet – but agreed that would be useful.

    by Matt Barnett on Nov 24, 2014 at 7:48 am

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