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4. Configuration.

Once e-Bills is installed and the database has been set up on MySQL you need to spend a short time configuring it to your needs.

You now need to access e-bills from your web-browser. Enter the url as e-bills.your.domain. You should see the login screen.

4.1 Configuring e-Bills: about your organisation

e-Bills needs to know about your organisation in order to put the correct details on the bills, letters and emails that it creates. This is done by logging in using your browser as your 'Super-User' (su) account (name is su, default password is 'password') and then using the 'configure/your organisation' option. Note that the 'configure' menu is only visible to Super-Users. Change the details and then select organisation details again to view the details you just added.

If you can do this then the database is working perfectly.

At this stage you should also think about adding some users, as a minimum add a Product Manager, Administrator and a Charge Manager. Please also change the password for the su account.

Staff who just need to view bills can be given "Billing Enquiry" status.

4.2 Configuring e-Bills: create a test customer & contract with charges

From the customer menu, select add customer. Enter in the mandatory fields and select add customer. You'll get a message that the customer has been added properly.

Select view customers. Clicking on 'Last' should will show you the details of the customer that you just added.

Now select create contract from the contracts menu. Create a contract. By default e-Bills will create a contract of 1 year, starting from today's date. When creating a "test" contract it is best to select a start date of some time ago, say 3 months) so that you'll get some bills produced.

When you've added the contract select view contracts and 'Last' to see the details that you just added.

Now its time to add some charges. You'll do this under the Charges menu. As you've probably not created any product codes yet it would make sense to use the "Add special charge" function. With this you can add charges directly. Add a number of charges.

4.3 Configuring e-Bills: creating a bill

Once charges have been added to a contract you can print bills.

From the Bills menu. Select "View Next Bill". Click 'Last' alongside contracts to show you an html format bill for the charges you've just added.

4.4 Configuring e-Bills: your own product codes/database

Your product codes, descriptions and prices can be entered manually at any one time. However this will be time consuming, especially when you're starting. There are a couple of options:

1) Only enter the product codes when they're needed in a particular customer contract

2) Import them into the database from another file.

The latter can be achieved by importing from a .csv (comma separated variable) file. These can be produced by most spreadsheet applications.

Look at some of the scripts in the configuration sub-directories to see how to import .csv files.

4.5 Configuring e-Bills: your own billing template

e-Bills is supplied with some outline billing template files:

/home/ebills/bill_templates/Standardi_Multipage.tex
/home/ebills/bill_templates/Standard Euro.tex

These templates now support bills of one or more pages, with correct headers, footers and tables split over tables. They also support the use of a logo in eps format. These may be adequate for your needs if you want to bill in UK Pounds, but it may that you need to match an existing bill format that your business already uses.

See 7.4 Creating your own billing template.

When you have created a new template, make sure it resides in /home/ebills/bill_templates and then select it using the Billing Template option in the Configuration menu (Super Users only).

4.6 Changing the default email templates

e-Bills is provided with two default email templates. These are both stored in /ebills/etc and are in an htm format:

send_bill_by_email.htm - is used to send bills to customers or an admin
send_workitem_by_email.htm - is used to send work item notifications and reminders to ebills users

The principal behind the templates is that they contain a range of variables which are populated by e-Bills prior to sending them to the correct email address. You are at liberty to change these templates to meet your own needs and wording. All you need to do is ensure that you use valid html and use the e-Bills variables (all preceeded by a $) correctly.

See 7.5 Configuring the email format sent with bills.

and 7.12 Configuring the email format used with work items.

4.7 Testing

Its worth running MySQL from the command line to ensure that the database tables have been configured promperly. The following commands should produce some sensible output:

mysql -u eb_user -peb_password ebills
mysql>show tables from ebills;
mysql>describe organisation;
mysql>select * from organisation;
mysql>quit

Replace eb_user and eb_password with the privileged username and password that you selected for ebills. Don't forget the ";"'s at the end of each mysql command!

Note that the select command may be a little verbose!

4.7 ... and finally

Because of the technology behind e-Bills it is an inherently reliable application. The installation process may look complicated, but its not. I've found all of the pre-requisite software to be easy to donwload, install and configure.

Good luck and happy billing.


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