QuickBooks

Extract Data from QuickBooks with QXL

Written by Charlie Russell

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop can be frustrating to work with sometimes, because their reporting capabilities are limited and it can be difficult to extract data from them to use in your own reporting tools. However, there is a new tool on the market that can help. Let’s look at how you can extract data from QuickBooks with QXL.

QXL and QODBC

QXL is a new product from FLEXquarters, the same company that produces the excellent QODBC driver for QuickBooks desktop and QuickBooks Online. The QODBC driver is used by QXL to extract data from either QuickBooks desktop or QuickBooks Online, and then QXL saves the extracted data into a series of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that you can use to generate reports.

The QODBC driver for QuickBooks desktop has been around since 2001, and Intuit includes a read-only version of this as a part of QuickBooks Enterprise. The QODBC driver for QuickBooks Online was introduced more recently (see my review of QODBC and QuickBooks Online).

Database drivers like QODBC provide access to as much QuickBooks data as is possible (what Intuit allows you to access outside of QuickBooks itself), but you must be familiar with working with this kind of database tool. Connecting QODBC to a reporting tool such as Microsoft Excel can be a chore unless you are familiar with setting up complicated database connections. That is where QXL comes in – it handles all of the complicated database connection work for you, making it easy to extract your QuickBooks data into a useable format.

There are versions of QXL for both QuickBooks desktop and QuickBooks Online. I’ll go into some detail with the QuickBooks desktop version, and then show how the QuickBooks Online version is very similar.

QXL and QuickBooks Desktop

Let’s take a look at how you can use QXL with QuickBooks desktop.

QXL is a Windows desktop application, and it has an installation procedure that is typical of any desktop app that works with QuickBooks desktop. I won’t go into details on this, FLEXQuarters has an adequate explanation of the process on their website. Keep in mind that the first time that you run the app you will have to log in to QuickBooks as the admin user.

Here’s the startup screen – I already had my QuickBooks company file open. If you don’t, that green slider switch at the top will be red until your file is open.

Extract Data from QuickBooks with QXL

All you have to do is click that large green arrow, and all of your QuickBooks data is exported to a series of Excel tables (or, CSV files if you prefer that format). This process may take a long time the first time that you run this app with a particular QuickBooks file, as all of the data is being exported. The slow response is primarily due to the slow process that Intuit uses to support add-on products. There are several ways that this can be sped up, which I’ll talk about later.

When the export is finished, QXL opens Windows File Explorer to show you all of the tables that have been exported to Excel spreadsheets. The files are placed in separate folders for each QuickBooks company file that you work with, which is very helpful if you are an accounting professional working with multiple client files.

Extract Data from QuickBooks with QXL

Each table and report that is available via the QuickBooks programming interface is created as a separate Excel spreadsheet, although you have an option to combine them into one file. Here’s an example of the Inventory item table (using my crazy test database).

QuickBooks data in Excel

That is pretty much what the product is going to do for you – extract all possible data into Excel spreadsheets (or CSV files). It is up to you to manipulate the data.

FLEXQuarters does include two sample reports to show you how things can be handled. The inclusion of help information is a very nice touch. Here’s one of the reports:

Sample QXL report


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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Sleeter Report since 2011. Charlie can be reached at charlie@ccrsoftware.com

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.

7 Comments

  • Thanks Charlie for the share. The wrapper they provide for connecting and exposing the tables is great for those that haven’t ventured into this world. FLexquarters has been at this for a long time and they know what they are doing. But you still need to know how to use excel to join the tables and whats in them to do any meaningful reporting. And that’s true of any of the data extraction or “reporting tools” available. Having to buy a new license for each QB year would be a real downer for those of us that keep several years of QB files. For me, the utility would be for ONLINE , cause there is so little available. I can really see the utility of this tool if you want to take a look at the data in a table for troubleshooting.
    For reporting, QQube is still my fav as most of the joins are done for you already. And it provides a sound basis for the modeling needed to take advantage of the Modern Excel Tools(Power BI, Power Pivot).
    I know I am a “data” nerd and dive deep, so for my work, this tool may not be at the top of my toolbox. But I can certainly see it bringing utility to those that have more simplistic data table or reporting needs and can manipulate the data in Excel.

    • Thank you, Fran. I agree that QQube is a better tool, in that it does a lot more for you. It is a reporting tool, while QXL is a simple data extraction tool. But, two issues. First, QXL is much lower cost, which may be a factor for some people. Second, QXL works the same way for both QB desktop and Online, which has some advantages. QQube doesn’t work for QB Online.

  • Thanks Charlie. I can see this a being useful. For QBOA users, is the $7.95 monthly charge just for one company or can we use it for multiple companies for that one charge?

    • Jeff: you can use it for multiple companies with a single license – either version (Online or Desktop).

      fran: thanks for the feedback! there are a number of report designs in our support forum (support.qodbc.com) and the techs there can help you design a new one – regarding how data from different tables is related we also have the most complete data layout tool available: http://qodbc.com/schema.htm

      also one thing we think is notable is updating the data – QXL updates the Excel data in place – what this means is if you create a report based on the data in these raw data sheets, your reports are now updated with one click – this is the way the samples have been created and the primary benefit we see in QXL – it’s easy and you can use your excel skills and with one click you have updated all QuickBooks reports you have built with no SQL/ODBC skills required.

      regarding pricing – if you look at both products you will see they are both about $8 a month to use, they are just sold differently to match the pricing model used in QuickBooks.

      thanks!

      brad
      qxl1.com

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