QuickBooks to Redshift

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from QuickBooks and load it into Redshift. (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 QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is Intuit's accounting software, which is available in both Desktop and Online editions. Targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, it manages payroll, inventory, and sales, and includes marketing tools, merchant services, and training resources.

Getting data out of QuickBooks

To load QuickBooks data to a data warehouse, first pull the data off of QuickBooks' servers using the QuickBooks Accounting and Payments APIs, which are discussed in the QuickBooks programming guide.

Sample QuickBooks data

QuickBooks' APIs return XML-formatted data, as in this example.

<IntuitResponse xmlns="http://schema.intuit.com/finance/v3" time="2017-04-03T10:22:55.766Z">
 <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>

Loading data into Redshift

Once you've identified the columns you want to insert, you can use the Redshift CREATE TABLE statement to set up a table to receive all of the data.

To populate that table, you might be tempted to use INSERT statements to add data to your Redshift table row by row. Don't do that; Redshift isn't optimized for inserting data one row at a time. If you have a high volume of data to be inserted, a better approach is to load the data into Amazon S3 and use the COPY command to migrate it into Redshift.

Keeping QuickBooks data up to date

It's great that you've developed a script that pulls data from QuickBooks and loads it into a data warehouse, but what happens when you have new transactions, invoices, and payments?

The key is to build your script in such a way that it can identify incremental updates to your data. Use fields like CreateTime and LastUpdatedTime to identify records that are new since your last update, or since the most recent record you copied. Once you've taken new data into account, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to keep pulling down new data as it appears.

Other data warehouse options

Redshift is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To BigQuery, To Postgres, To Snowflake, and To Panoply.

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 Redshift data warehouse.