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From: Todd Boyle
Subject: OMG AR/AP
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 18:14:17 -0800

Chris Hardie: Saturday, December 09, 2000 on the WebAccountant list

> Earlier this year there was some discussion on this list about the
> NetLedger project, an ASP-oriented web-based accounting package that was
> backed personally and publicly by Larry Ellison of Oracle fame.  In recent
> months, NetLedger has made leaps and bounds in this field, and is now a
> fully functioning online accounting system.

NetLedger is not a project, it is about a $100 million fullblown
dotcom about two years old with about a hundred people, in a
gorgeous office high on the peninsula looking over south SF bay.

It amazes me that after all the magazine and other press reports,
most people seem to think webledgers are experimental or some kind of
futuristic, geek alternative.  In reality, both desktop and midrange
accounting software is totally OBSOLETE, and webledgers are the only
accounting platforms that matter.

There are at least a dozen webledgers that are comparable to  I've been tracking them, and reporting on them
for a couple of years, there's a list of them on my "links" page,
and other comments.  There are
MANY webledgers in stealth mode, some of them are legacy software
companies who have VAR channels and cannot release their webledgers
without creating horrible channel conflict.  Sage for example has
apparently got infighting even within their own company, can't get
their webledger built, people quitting etc.  But here for example,
a couple you probably haven't heard of,
and, both of these ROCK. And there
are dozens more.  (You are going to want multicurrency.)

I like Netledger better than most of the other webledgers.  Obviously
it works better than most of them.  I spent a few months working
for NetLedger in San Mateo and from home.  They're great folks
although a bit secretive for my taste.  They've been proclaiming
they're going to have open interfaces for about a year now,
which still hasn't happened. That's OK.  The other webledgers
don't even PRETEND to have open interfaces....

If Netledger ever has open interfaces, they would begin to be my
recommendation for the US market, right now.  Personally, I
am not interested in any stinnkin' webledgers until they let
me conduct business over the internet, by letting me submit
orders, invoices and payments to other subscribers on the host,
as a minimum starting point.  They will then have to show me
a roadmap where you can conduct business over the open internet,
with XML and without LOCK-IN!  NetLedger is totally lock-in, at
this point, there is zerro options for exporting your data, and
you can only do business with the other service providers that they
choose.  NetLedger has lots of cool ways to IMPORT your data,
and are being very cute by not letting you EXPORT your data, at
this point.

Interestingly NetLedger has this and informally,
says they support openness and wants to support all independent
BSPs such as web storefronts inventory, CRM, payrolls, project,
time/billing, etc.  But everytime they choose a partner (OneCore
cash management, Yahoo Stores, ADP Payroll, etc.) the partner
charges an arm and a leg!  And two weeks later NetLedger comes out
with their own banking solution, webstorefront, or payroll built
into it.  So who are we kidding.

I predict, NetLedger is really wanting to build a monolithic
integrated webledger not an open interfaces webledger. Here,
read my RANT about monolithic versus component ASPs.,2350,2982,00.html

I'm growing more and more worried that *all* the major webledgers
including NetLedger will turn into typical lock-in portals in
coming months.  There is now a MAJOR webledger war brewing since
both Intuit and Microsoft have released their webledger betas.
They are good.  Now, we are realllly going to see the fur fly,
as these ferocious animals fight to the death.  So don't hold
your breath looking for open interfaces, which obviously enable
you to switch to another webledger provider.

I'm working for Netaccount now.  Netaccount is a Norwegian company
that truly has an open standards history and culture.  The founders
are the same people who contributed much of the OMG GL spec, and
built the Economica and COMPASS GLs.  I work directly for Jacobsen
and Aarsten, who are listed on the OMG GL boilerplate.  We are now
working on a proposal to OMG for an AR/AP specification.  I'm
hoping these will take the form of extensions to OMG GL, which would
make the GL more of an ecommerce platform, a multiparty GL.  The
existing 1999 OMG GL is at
The Financial Domain Task Force is at
and their Roadmap is
So it's possible they would just build a traditional AR/AP system
that sits there outside the GL, favoring larger enterprises that
doesn't conduct ecommerce.

Open intercompany GL interactions will happen anyway, regardless of
OMG or Netaccount or you or me, because in case anybody noticed, all
GLs have got access to the internet now, and we can start exchanging
transactions anytime we want.  There are going to be open GL interfaces,
free code, an open XML GL schema.  The language is called double-entry
accounting rows.  Duh.  and an assortment of supporting pieces like
XML definition of your company, periods, COA etc so that you can pack
up your GL and move, anytime you like.  This is not to say, webledgers
will voluntarily go along with it but rather, they won't be able to
say, "Geeee, we don't know HOW."

Obviously there will still be fools, who sign up for lock-in
webledgers just as they sign up for AOL and Intuit and MSN today,
to pay needlessly high fees for software, but are basically
prisons for your data.

The AR/AP RFP will be presented to OMG's Financial Domain Task Force
which is meeting tomorrow in Orlando!

YYeeeeee HAAAAA!   Makin real progress,

* Todd F. Boyle CPA
* address@hidden    Kirkland WA    (425) 827-3107
* XML accounting, webledgers, BSPs, ASPs, whatever it takes

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