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.
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.
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).
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: