Archive for October, 2006

Download library, friends

October 23, 2006

We already let you download a spreadsheet of your financial transactions. Now we also let you download a list of what things you own (including what is checked-out), and your friends (including their email addresses and how much you owe them or they owe you). With this, you can back-up all your BillMonk data, and do with it whatever you like. After all, it’s your data.



Rails Podcast

October 18, 2006

A while back, Geoffrey Grosenbach interviewed us for a podcast about the nitty-gritty details of building a production web site using Ruby on Rails. Topics include: scaling, when to diverge from Active Record, our approach to software design, SMS integration, the mobile phone user experience, how to receive email, customer support, generating dynamic graphics server-side (the badge) and client-side (the friend-page money graph), and international users. Listen to the podcast (32 minutes) on

BillMonk speaks your language

October 17, 2006

The site is now available in multiple languages. Choose between German, French, Spanish, Polish, and English (with US and UK flavors). Lots of others are in the pipeline: Telugu, Czech, Dutch, Portuguese, Slovene, Swedish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and whatever other languages you, the noble volunteer translator, can offer!

Yes, all this hard work was done by volunteers. They put up with our constant additions and frequently cryptic phrase fragments to produce over 4,000 high-quality translations in less than two weeks. Meet the heroes!

We didn’t put up the entire site for translation because it is huge. We focused our efforts on getting the most commonly accessed content out now, and will fold in the less vital pages and emails over time.

The translations you see are a work in progress. Feel free to dive in and contribute, wiki-style. If certain phrases on the site are grammatically wacky, please blame us, not the translators. ­čÖé

We’ve learned a lot about translations and languages in this process. Major kudos to Adam for educating us about Polish and its cases, accusatives, and pluralizations (yup! there’s more than one plural!) And, once again, a big thank-you to everyone who so generously gave their time to make BillMonk available around the world.

American public radio, Australian radio

October 16, 2006

The airwaves are buzzing with BillMonk! The producers of the American public radio show Future Tense did a great job explaining why you need BillMonk:

You go to dinner with five friends. You pay the bill with your credit card and everyone agrees to settle up later. The next day you go to a movie with two of those same friends and they pay for your ticket and popcorn and tell you to take it out of what they already owe you. It turns out two others at the dinner are roommates and you owe them for last month’s cable bill. At this rate, you’ll need a spreadsheet to keep track of the money flow. Or you can use the free, online service BillMonk.

Listen to the 5-minute show here.

Starting this week, we will also be the lead story for Cyber Shack, Australia’s most successful radio show about gadgets and games, broadcasting across the entire continent. We had a great time chatting with their host Charlie Brown, and can’t wait to hear the show (it will be available for download later this week).

Best privacy policy ever!

October 13, 2006

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lauded our privacy policy, calling it the “shortest, clearest, and most substantively protective policy we’ve read in a long while.” Wow! When we were getting off the ground, we wrote and re-wrote many drafts of our privacy policy because we wanted to be as clear as possible to our users. (Also, our alpha testers were fantastic nit-pickers). We never thought we’d get props for it, so it’s cool to have the EFF, the authority on such things, point it out as the: Best Privacy Policy Ever?

Help translate BillMonk

October 2, 2006

Many of our users have asked for BillMonk to be available in their language; what’s cool is that so many of these same users then offered to help translate. Wow! Ok, let’s do it!

Check out It lets anyone enter, fix up, and discuss translations.

Other web 2.0 sites have taken a similar user-collaborative approach to translations, and report their delight at the how fast the community produces high-quality translations. Our home-grown translation tool, Parselmouth, embodies the Wiki philosophy of letting anyone provide information, but we hope you find it even easier to use than a wiki. (And, yes, the Harry Potter naming scheme does prove we’re big ‘ol nerds).

We add languages according to user interest. If you want to see your language, just contact us or leave a comment below.

So please, help us translate BillMonk; just sign up and start clicking!

[UPDATE: Oct 3] In less than 24 hours, Carina finished the German translation. WOW!  Four other languages (Spanish, French, Dutch, and Japanese) are in progress.

[UPDATE: Oct 3] We’ve added a wiki-area for┬ástyle suggestions, resources, and translator discussions.