This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Quickbooks and load it into Google BigQuery. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)
What is Google BigQuery?
Google BigQuery is a data warehouse that delivers super-fast results from SQL queries, which it accomplishes using a powerful engine dubbed Dremel. With BigQuery, there's no spinning up (and down) clusters of machines as you work with your data. With all of that said, it's clear why some claim that BigQuery prioritizes querying over administration. It's super fast, and that's the reason why most folks use it.
Getting data out of QuickBooks
If our goal is to load QuickBooks data to a data warehouse, the first step is pulling that data off of Quickbooks’ servers. You can do this using the Quickbooks Accounting and Payments API’s which are available to everyone who uses the service. The full programming guide can be accessed here.
Sample QuickBooks data
The API returns XML-formatted data. Below is an example of the kind of response you might see when querying the api.
<div class="codeDiv"> <pre> <code><p><IntuitResponse xmlns="http://schema.intuit.com/finance/v3" time="2013-04-03T10:22:55.766Z"> <QueryResponse startPosition="10" maxResults="2"> <Customer> <Id>2123</Id> <SyncToken>0</SyncToken> ... <GivenName>Srini</GivenName> </Customer> <Customer> <Id>2124</Id> <SyncToken>0</SyncToken> ... <GivenName>Peter</GivenName> </Customer> </QueryResponse> </IntuitResponse> </p></code> </pre> </div>
Loading data into Google BigQuery
Google Cloud Platform offers a helpful guide for loading data into BigQuery. You can use the
bq command-line tool to upload the files to your awaiting datasets, adding the correct schema and data type information along the way. The
bq load command is your friend here. You can find the syntax in the bq command-line tool quickstart guide. Iterate through this process as many times as it takes to load all of your tables into BigQuery.
Keeping QuickBooks data up to date
Ok, this is great! You’ve developed a script that pulls data from QuickBooks and loads it into Redshift, but what happens tomorrow when you have new transactions, invoices, payments and whatever else?
The key is to build your script in such a way that it can also identify incremental updates to your data. Some API’s include fields like ‘time’ that allow you to quickly identify records that are new since your last update (or since the newest record you’ve copied). You can set your script up as a cron job or continuous loop to keep pulling down new data as it appears.
Other data warehouse options
BigQuery is really great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Postgres or Redshift, which are two RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading this data into Postgres or Redshift, check out To Redshift and To Postgres.
Easier and faster alternatives
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.
Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Quickbooks data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.