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When integrating with QuickBooks Online (QBO) there is one thing you better be prepared for: errors and lots of 'em. The qbo_rails gem is a Rails engine that is all about handling and responding to QBO errors. It does some other common things as well such as automatically determining and submitting create or update requests.

The qbo_rails gem depends on both the quickbooks-ruby and the quickbooks-ruby-base. In essence, it is a thin wrapper around the CRUD actions of quickbooks-ruby. The lib/qbo_rails.rb source is only ~100 lines of code.

Version support

  • Rails 4
  • Ruby 2

Quick Start Guide

  • Add gem 'qbo_rails'
  • bundle
  • rails generate qbo_rails:install
    • this creates:
      • config/initializers/qbo_rails.rb
      • db migration for the qbo_errors table
      • app/models/qbo_error.rb
  • bin/rake db:migrate
  • edit config/secrets.yml
development: &default
  qbo_app_consumer_key: <%= ENV['YOUR_QBO_APP_DEV_CONSUMER_KEY'] %>
  qbo_app_consumer_secret: <%= ENV['YOUR_QBO_APP_DEV_CONSUMER_SECRET'] %>

Configuration options

The gem assumes that you store QBO ids in a column/attribute called qbo_id. You can change that as so:

 QboRails.foreign_key = 'qbo_external_id'

Using QboRails

Usage: .base()

The quickbooks-ruby-base gem is composed into a new instance of QboRails and can accessed as so:

    qbo_rails =, :customer)

You can access the quickbooks-ruby instance through .base. See the docs.

Usage: .create_or_update()

You must keep entities in sync between your app and QBO. Using the create_or_update method qbo_rails will send a create or update based on if say customer.qbo_id is nil.


    account = Account.find(1) # this is the where the QBO OAuth access_token, secret, and company_id are found
    customer = Customer.find(1)
    qbo_rails =, :customer)
    qb_customer = qbo_rails.base.qr_model(:customer)
    qb_customer.display_name = customer.display_name
    address = qbo_rails.base.qr_model(:physical_address)
    address.line1 = customer.address_1 =
    address.country_sub_division_code = customer.state
    address.postal_code =
    qb_customer.billing_address = address
    qbo_rails.create_or_update(customer, qb_customer)

If customer.qbo_id is nil then a create request is sent to QBO. If successful the QBO Id for the new Customer record will be automatically recorded in customer.qbo_id. Therefore, the next time qbo_rails.create_or_update(customer, qbo_customer) for this customer is called an update request will be sent. Sending an update first involves querying QBO to get the latest sync token so it is nice to DRY up that procedure.

Usage: .create()

If you don't need to do an update and don't need to record the QBO Id in a model but still want the error handling goodness then the create() method is available


    qbo_rails =, :customer)
    qb_customer = qbo_rails.base.qr_model(:customer)
    qb_customer.display_name = 'Hockey Mom'

Usage: .delete()

The delete method takes either the ActiveRecord instance or a QBO Id.

Example: This deletes the QBO Customer with Id = 1

    qbo_rails =, :customer)

Example: Pass in ActiveRecord instance

    customer = account.customers.find(2)
    qbo_rails =, :customer)

Usage: Returned results

Use qbo_rails.result. e.g.

    qbo_rails.create_or_update(customer, qbo_customer)

Usage: Error handling

QBO API Errors are recorded in the QboError model. The column names are:

=> QboError(id: integer, 
            message: string, 
            body: text, 
            resource_type: string, 
            resource_id: integer, 
            request_xml: text, 
            created_at: datetime, 
            updated_at: datetime
Adding custom QboError columns

For example, let's say I want to record an association to a qbo_account model. Use the before_create callback to populate the column. e.g.:

class QboError < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :resource, polymorphic: true
  belongs_to :qbo_account
  before_create :set_qbo_account


    def set_qbo_account
      self.qbo_account = self.resource.try(:import_file).try(:qbo_account)


The columns resource_type and resource_id are for recording the ActiveRecord model and are ready-to-go for polymorphic associations.

Usage: Responding to an error

Let's say that you have a customer in Rails, Jane Riley, and you send her in as a create request to QBO. There is already a Jane Riley on QBO. Guess what? Duplicate Name Exists Error. But qbo_rails can handle this by simple adding the below method with the prefix handle_error. For example in your Rails app you could add a file in app/services/qbo_rails/error_handler.rb that responds to QBO API's Duplicate Name Exists Error.

class QboRails
  module ErrorHandler

    def handle_error_name_entity_already_exists(exception)
      if exception.message =~ /Duplicate Name Exists Error.*Another (customer|vendor|employee)/m
        display_name = Nokogiri::XML(exception.request_xml).at('DisplayName').content
        result = @base.find_by_display_name(display_name)
        if result.entries.size == 1
          @only_run_once = true
          create_or_update(@record, @qb_record)


It catches the error, queries QBO for Jane Riley, sets the customer record with the Id, and then calls create_or_update, which will properly send an update request. You have access to all QboRails instance variables such as:

@record: This is the ActiveRecord instance (only available if passed)
@qb_record: This is the `quickbooks-ruby` instance.
@base: This is the `quickbooks-ruby-base` instance.

See the source to get all the instance vars and methods available to you when crafting custom error handling.

Usage: Responding to errors ground rules

  1. Always return true after you have run a response action.
  2. Always set @only_run_once = true when returning true.
  3. If not 1 & 2 always return false.

These rules are for preventing infinite looping. See the spec/dummy code for more examples.


  1. Fork it ( )
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create a new Pull Request

Note: If you are going to adding new specs or modify existing ones that involve a transaction with the QBO API then they must be recorded using VCR. To do that set your test QBO app and sandbox credentials in spec/dummy/.env file (don't commit this in your PR). The .env file should be in this format:


To make it easy to get your OAuth information you can:

  1. cd spec/dummy
  2. bin/rails s
  3. Goto localhost:3000
  4. Go through the OAuth process and the .env variables for QBO_RAILS_ACCESS_TOKEN, QBO_RAILS_ACCESS_TOKEN_SECRET, and QBO_RAILS_COMPANY_ID will be displayed.


Rails engine that is all about handling and responding to QBO API errors.







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