New Experimental Feature: Detailed Upcoming Invoice Previews by App

I’m excited to announce a new experimental feature with our Billing UI: You can now choose to view the invoice broken down by each app in your organization :tada:

The old

Before we jump into what’s new, let’s look at an upcoming invoice preview for an organization of mine. I navigated to the dashboard, go to “Billing”:

Some details:

  • You can see this organization has a paid hobby plan
  • You can see the resource cost across all apps
  • Finally, you can see credits being applied to the invoice

Obviously you can’t gleen a ton of information from this. I don’t know what apps are costing me more or less money, what apps are being charged for what resources. There’s a lot left to be desired.

The new

I’ve personally wanted this forever, so I’m excited to share it with you. Here’s an example using the same organization. I navigated to the dashboard, go to “Billing,” and click “Toggle App breakdown [Experimental]”:

Some details:

  • The first highlight is where that app’s sub-section begins
  • The second highlight shows the ending of that sub-section as well as the subtotal for that app’s items
  • Next you’ll see organization-wide invoice items
  • Finally, you can see the credits being applied for the month to this organization

Special note: This is only available in the dashboard UI at the moment. In the coming months we will be taking over more and more of what our old system is currently supporting so we can bring you things like improved invoices to your email as well as in the dashboard.

Also: This is only visible for your “preview” invoice (draft, this month, etc.) for now. We were too excited to wait on shipping it.

How

We owe this work in large part to a gargantuan effort to update the guts of how we bill you. It’s such a large change that we are calling them two separate systems. All new organizations and users are on the new billing system. Many of you are on the old billing system today. We are actively working to migrate organizations on the older system to the newer system.

Our old system associated prices to quantities - pretty simple. Simple is great, but it hamstrung us when it became apparent our data had more shape than a simple quantity and type. We may want that simplicity in our pricing models in some cases, but we also need to communicate where that data (which become line items) came from on your account so you can better manage your spend.

Our newer system is built differently. The big interesting change is that we are tracking way more dimensions (think: more data like which app a quantity is associated with) with your usage data, and that is the same data that goes into the billing system that builds invoices. Since it is now the same data that turns into your invoice, we can now breakdown your invoices using the dimensions we send it and get truly correct information like: cost for a specific app in your organization this month.

Breaking down your invoice data is now basically a round-about group-by query.

There was a middle-step that you might have noticed

Those of you paying attention at home might have noticed that we had added some data about your usage in the dashboard sometime last year.

The work there was important because we got really pretty good at writing usage data en-masse, but only OK at reading it back out in a useful way to you.

The most important thing that came up was folks often wanted dollars of usage more than they wanted plain usage. That make sense to us. We wanted that for you too - even we think there are useful was to provide insights about usage divorced from dollar mounts.

An important caveat we kept returning to was that we had a billing system that didn’t care about dimensions, and a separate system tracking usage. This means we couldn’t reliably tell you a breakdown of dollars based on the data from our usage tracking - it would never be “true” enough for us. If we were going to give you something like an invoice broken down per app, the dollars had to add up to what we were actually going to charge you… the data had to be the same.

This is why we undertook a larger effort to rewrite billing.

Can I use it now?

Yes! Maybe! Or soon!

This is all scoped to our new billing system. As mentioned earlier, not everyone is on the new system yet - we’re working hard to get you all moved over.

One other tear in this concept at the moment: If you have too many apps we don’t let you see this style of invoice in your dashboard yet. We are working with our provider to get performance to an acceptable place. Right now we can support ~99% of you with what we have. For exceedingly large organizations we are working on getting performance nailed down and making an interface that makes sense for that level of cardinality - probably an export or API.

Unfortunately this all means that if you do not see a link to “Toggle App breakdown [Experimental]” then you are either on the old billing system or you have too many apps.

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