I have a small brick and mortar business client who needs better side-channel invoicing.

They're currently using Excel, but this doesn't give them statements, and some other databased-related features. Also, Excel requires disciplined workflow (Remember to change the date. Disciplined file management, etc.). Despite all of this, it works, and has worked for years. But make no mistake, it is broken, and it needs to be fixed.

They've wasted money on a SAAS product subscription they never used (~$1,200 for one year) , because it was too complicated, had software requirements (Citrix) that my office was not ready to support, and a steep learning curve (despite free training and support documentation). Managers just continued to use Excel. I looked at free invoicing options such as Zoho or paid products with QuickBooks, but these are whole ecosystems which are either confusing at best or redundant cost at worst.

I'm quite frustrated and considering if I want to design/develop something for them. Simple requirements (basically 1990s FMP with cloud):

  • on-screen input layouts
  • print-first list layouts & document layouts
  • cloud or network accessible

Self-hosted could be an option if there's an OSS doing something close, but I don't want to make this from scratch using Django and a Raspberry Pi.

I got a recommendation for ReTool from HackerNews, but they don't support print-first layouts at this time.

Finally, FMP "Essentials" entry price is close, but I would need to develop the solution. At that price point it doesn't leave me any room for resale/support markup.

1 Answer 1


I would say that FileMaker is the way to go.

If that is already too expensive for you, you don't have many alternatives:

  • You can buy a SaaS product... but you said that it was not the right pattern for you
  • You can try another SaaS product, because there are thousands of software like this and you are on the only small brick and mortar business on Earth.
  • You can try to build it up by yourself. But that will cost you resources, time and money and it will end up being more expensive than a SaaS software.
  • You can try general accounting software for small-medium business that also provides invoicing. Xero is one of those but also QuickBooks. Ask for a 15 days free trial and see how it goes.
  • Because you mentioned a Cloud alternative one option is that you build a WordPress website and you use themes and plugins for accounting. This way you will turn the website into an accounting software that you can use for invoicing. And it will always be up as it will be stored online and accessible everywhere.
  • > "another SaaS product" They're not easy to discover. Once you start branding yourself on the slippery slope, you go from file maker, database maker, application maker, software maker. haha. Everything is software and now you're lost at sea.
    – xtian
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 15:46

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