The new trading plugin

Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Seems that Lino is going to have a new plugin, trading.

Use case 1

A small shop who sells electronic devices and related services. Some customers don’t need to pay immediately, they receive a monthly invoice. In such cases the shop owner writes a delivery note.

delivery note

A voucher with a series of rows, each of which means that a given quantity of a given “product” has been “delivered”.

The same customer can come multiple times, each visit expressed by a delivery note. At the end of the month we want Lino to generate all invoices. It can happen that a customer asks, at some arbitrary moment “Please make my invoice now”. And of course these deliveries should not get invoiced again at the end of the month. Or it can happen that the site operator decides to not write an invoice to a given customer and to wait another month before invoicing the delivered items.

When looking at any given product, we want to see when it has been (1) delivered and (2) invoiced to a customer. Each “open” delivery note means that a corresponding invoice is waiting to be emitted.

Use case 2

The shop also offers the possibility to their customers to order some device. That’s another operation, and the workflow becomes more complex:

order form

A voucher with a series of rows, each of which means that the business partner “orders” a given quantity of a given “product”.

An order form can include a deposit or pre-payment, which may be partly.

When looking at any given product, we want to see who ordered it. Each “open” order means that a corresponding delivery note is waiting to be emitted.

Use case 3

Like case 2, but we add a feature that Lino also helps with filling our own orders towards our providers. At any moment we could say “Let’s write an order form four our provider X”. This order form may cover the orders of multiple customers. It adds “incoming delivery notes” and a feature to notify customers that their order has arrived.

It can get even more complex. For example when you have serial numbers and warranty services. In that case you need to assign each incoming item to the customer to whom it is to be delivered. Or the customer comes back one year after a purchase and has a warranty issue. In that case you want to track where you bought the device, and you will need at least one new journal of vouchers “warranty issues”. Or your activity is not about electronic devices but about small objects, which you buy in big quantities and sell them after having them packed into smaller parcels.

Use case 4

And a last use case, e.g. in Lino Amici where you don’t speak about money. But you have a collection of books and other things, which you happen to lend to some friend. And you might want to keep track of these. It’s not about money, but about asking them back after some time.

The plugin

The trading plugin would be used in all these cases.

It would define a choicelist TradingStates, which describes all states of the workflow. In use case 1 this choicelist would have only one item, “delivered” or “to be invoiced”. In use case 2 another state “ordered” or “to be delivered”, etc.

And then a model TradingRule (or Transition), which describes the possible ways of getting from one state to another state. It will have the following fields:

  • from_state

  • to_state

  • journal

In use case 1 you would have a journal SDN (“Sales Delivery Notes”) and two rows in your TradingRule table:










But that’s not all. Don’t we also want a separate model for storing the individual items that are in one of these states? Each row of a delivery note would generate a row in that table. In TIM this table was called VNA. And e.g. when you de-register a delivery note that has already been invoiced, TIM had a special warning in that case, it said something like “This will mess up your invoicing workflow because the operations of this delivery note have already been invoiced”. In Lino such a table seems not needed because we have the invoiceable field, a GFK on the invoicing.item_model.

I also need to consider the other “philosophies” of generating invoices, as used in Lino Voga or Lino Presto where they have subscription-style orders, which are a completely different way of invoicing. They are related, though. For example when a customer orders 10 times a same product, you manage to order 6 of them from your provider, deliver them to the customer, maybe write an invoice. What about the four remaining ordered items? The customer may decide to cancel them. Or their price may change.

Actually we don’t need another plugin. We just add TradingStates and TradingRule to the invoicing plugin.