September 2013 - New Features

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September 2013 - New Features


Welcome to the Zuora September 2013 Release (R168, R168.1). This release includes new features, enhancements, and resolved issues.

Zuora Highlights

Billing Period Options for Rate Plan Charges: Now you can choose from a range of billing periods for each new product in a subscription. No need to modify the Rate Plan Charge of the product to change the billing period. You asked. We delivered.
Chart of Accounts enhancements: We continue to extend our Chart of Accounts feature. This go-round, we've added Z-Finance permissions and a new SOAP API object to create, update accounting codes.
Z-Force Data Sync: Last release, performance. This release, usability. We enriched your user interface experience with more Sync Mode options and new Sync History filtering options.
More, expanded support for REST APIs: We continue to grow. We extended our custom field support to more REST APIs.

New Zuora Features and Enhancements


View Bill Run Errors from New Subtab on the Bill Run Detail Page

A convenient new feature in this release alerts you to any failures that may have occurred during a bill run. This helps you to check whether all invoices have been generated or not, and ensures that you don't miss out on any revenue that is due.

A new tab has been added to the Bill Run detail page, which appears if any failures have occurred (you won't see it otherwise). This tab displays a list of the accounts that produced errors, and the individual subscriptions of those accounts in which the billing run error occurred.

After a bill run has finished, go to Billing Operations > Bill Runs, and click on the name of completed bill run. If any errors have occurred, at the bottom of the page you will see a third tab called Failed Accounts or Subscriptions, to the right of the Generated Invoices and Selected Customer Accounts tabs.

We are constantly improving Zuora to help you save time, and this new feature enables you to quickly and easily identify and correct bill run issues yourself without the need to contact Zuora support. Of course, we are always there if you need us.

New option to optimize Bill Run performance for accounts with many subscriptions

We are pleased to announce a new feature that could save you a lot of time if you have many customer accounts with multiple subscriptions.

Performance Issues on Large Bill Runs

In previous releases, bill runs which processed large numbers of accounts (e.g. 5000) that had multiple subscriptions each, and invoiced each subscription in an account separately, could take a considerable amount of time. This was due to the fact that when generating multiple invoices per account for large numbers of accounts, any errors that occurred would terminate the processing of all subscriptions for that account, and negatively impact the overall bill run completion time.

Significant Speed Increase

In this release, our engineers have included a performance enhancement that tells the system to skip any errors and continue processing bill runs if the generation of individual invoices fail. In tests this has resulted in performance increases of 30%-80% depending on the number of accounts, saving a huge amount of time.

How to Enable the Feature

This feature is optional, and you need to enable it yourself. It is designed to increase performance for Zuora users who have many accounts with multiple subscriptions each, and only for those users who already enable the "Invoice The Subscription Separately" option for subscriptions. If you don't invoice your customers for each subscription separately, have a large number of accounts, or haven't experienced any performance issues, then you are advised not to use this feature.

To activate this feature you need to look for the option entitled 'How should errors be handled when generating multiple invoices for a single account via bill run?' and enable the new billing rule "Skip error and continue processing".

  1. Go to Settings Z- Billing Settings > Define Billing Rules
  2. Click Edit.
  3. Enable the "Skip error and continue processing" option.

New options to override the Billing Period on a Rate Plan Charge

Greater Flexibility

In previous releases, when creating a subscription you could modify aspects of any Product Rate Plan Charge such as Price, Quantity, Trigger Condition, etc. You could not, however, modify the Product Rate Plan Charge Billing Period. 

In this release, it is now possible to change the Billing Period of each individual Product Rate Plan Charge as it is added to a subscription. These changes will not affect the Rate Plan Charge of the product in the product catalog. This choice can be offered to a single customer, or to all of your customers, who can themselves choose the billing period that suits them when first subscribing to a product. Once the subscription has begun, the chosen billing period cannot be changed.

Easily Override Billing Periods

For a particular subscription, the billing period of a product's Rate Plan Charge can be set in a number of ways:

  • Zuora user interface. You can manually select a billing period through the Zuora UI, when creating a new subscription or when adding a new product to an existing subscription. This gives you ultimate control, and allows you to modify the billing periods of individual customers' subscriptions.
  • SOAP API. Alternatively, you can call the Subscribe() method in the RatePlanCharge SOAP API and specify the custom billing period in the call.

More Options For Your Customers

You can also open up the option for custom billing periods to all your customers, by adding a new pick list selection box to the user interface of your website. In this way, your customers can choose the billing period that suits them, at the time they subscribe. 

Amend Existing Subscriptions Too

Also, it is now possible to add additional products, possibly with each having a different billing periods, to an existing subscription. This can be done either via the Zuora UI, or through a SOAP amend() call. Behind the scenes this creates an Amendment business object of type NewProduct, which in turn adds a new product to a particular subscription.

You must be on WSDL version 50.0 or higher to use this SOAP feature. See The Zuora WSDL for information about downloading the current version.

It's Your Choice

Both user interface and API enhancements are optional. Their introduction does not automatically affect any existing implementations. Should you choose to allow your end customers to modify their billing periods, simply implement the new pick list in your user interface, or include both BillingPeriod and SpecificBillingPeriod fields in your SOAP API calls.

Find Out More

To learn more about this and other useful features, visit the billing section of the Zuora Knowledge Center.


New Z-Finance permissions for Chart of Accounts

We've added two new Chart of Account permissions to help you better manage who can create, update, or deactiviate accounting codes:
  • Create Accounting Code
  • Manage Accounting Code

​These permissions are automatically applied to Z-Finance Administrator and Z-Finance Standard User roles, and to any existing custom Z-Finance roles. 

Note: These permissions are available only if you take advantage of Z-Finance.

See Managing User Roles for more information.

New SOAP APIs for accounting codes

We continue to extend our Chart of Accounts capabilities. In this release, we have added the AccountingCode SOAP object. You can now create and manage accounting codes through SOAP calls:

  • Create and activate an accounting code
  • Update an accounting code, including deactivate
  • Query and view an accounting code

You must upgrade to WSDL version 50.0 to start using this new SOAP object.

See AccountingCode for more information.


Payment Method Updater enhanced usability

The Payment Method Updater (PMU) enables merchants to automatically incorporate changes made to a customer’s Visa or MasterCard data, including:

  • expiration date
  • new card number
  • account closure
  • brand migration.

The PMU has an enhanced user interface that makes it easier to view batch statuses. Use data sources to export PMU data, including exporting your old Updater data. Lastly, we made CyberSource Account Updater faster and more reliable. 

See Payment Method Updater Console for more information.

Invoice Item Adjustment now exported through Datasource

The export feature for Invoice Item Adjustment (IIA) has been removed due to its inaccuracies. Now use datasource to export your IIAs, which provides more detailed and accurate data exports.

When clicking the Export Invoice Item Adjustment link on the Billing Operations > Invoice Item Adjustments page, you are redirected to datasource with a default setting for IIA data export.

See Invoice Item Adjustment Data Source for more information.

New Notification and Callout options added to External Payments and Refunds

In addition to your existing customer notifications for electronic payments and refunds, you now have the option to have a notification added for external refund and payment processed events. 
You can now configure automatic e-mail and callout notifications for:
  • external payment refund processed
  • external credit balance refund processed
  • external payment processed actions.

All three options are inactive by default. Previously, each payment profile had the option of one payment processed notification for electronic payment and two refund processed notifications for electronic refunds, consisting of one credit balance refund processed notification and one payment refund processed notification. These notifications are for electronic payments and refunds, but were not marked as "Electronic". In this release, we added an "Event Parameters" section to show notifications explicitly, and set the default value to "Electronic" in the "Payment Type". Additionally, we added three new notifications that by default are inactive, listed in the above bullet points.

To activate external payments processed notifications, go to Z-Payment Settings--> Setup Profiles, Notifications and Email Templates, go to the Edit page, and check the box "Active". We added a new section "Event Parameters", with a "Payment Type" field set to the "External" option to mark an external payment notification. We also provide another default email template, "External Payment Processed Default Email Template", for this notification. You may have up to one External or one Electronic notification per profile. The rule is the same for the refund notifications discussed below. 

To activate external credit balance refund processed or external payment refund processed, go to the Z-Payments Settings > Setup Profiles, Notifications and Email Templates pages and then go to the Edit page for the respective action. You can activate the notifications on the detail page of each profile in the "Event Parameters" section, with the "External" option chosen in the "Refund Type" field. There are also new email templates: "External Payment Refund Processed Email Template" and "External Credit balance Refund Processed Email Template." Lastly, you can edit or remove the notification, or add a newly configured, customized email template for the notification after the removal of the old notification.

Note: If there is one external payment processed notification in the profile, updating the event parameter of the electronic payment processed notification from electronic to external will fail.

See Notifications and Callouts for more information.


Z-Force Data Synchronization sync mode and sync history enhancements 

Z-Force Data Synchronization just keeps getting better. In this release, we've given you more Sync mode options, and improved Sync History usability with new filtering options.

On-demand Sync in controlled release. Contact Zuora Global Support to learn more about enabling if for your tenant. Real-time Sync is in the works and coming in the near future. Keep your eyes open for its debut.

Sync Mode Enhancements

Easily switch among Sync Modes and select the one that best fits your needs.

  • Improved usability by distinctly separating Manual Sync options from Recurring Sync options. 
  • New Scheduled Sync frequency options. Choose now between Daily Sync or Every 2-hour Sync.
    Note: Contact Zuora Support for information on how to implement a 2-hour sync.

Sync History Enhancements

  • New filter options help you zero-in on the sync information you are looking. Gone are the days of scrolling through pages to find critical sync information. Filter options include: start and end dates, operation (Manual Sync, Scheduled Sync, On-demand Sync). 
  • Easily refresh sync history with our new Refresh button located above the Sync History table. No need to refresh your browser to get the latest information.
  • Sync Results pop-up window improvements. We added a Refresh button in the pop-up window. Now you can sync results without having to close and reopen the pop-up. For improved scanning, we are now sorting sync results of all objects by the sync object type.
  • On-Demand Sync results are now available from the Sync History table.

See the following for more information:

Zuora APIs


WSDL Version

For Release 168, the WSDL version is now 50.0. See The Zuora WSDL for information about downloading the current version.


New support for client-side JavaScript calls for REST APIs

REST API calls can now be made directly to Zuora via AJAX calls, via the Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) mechanism, enabling Zuora customers websites to directly accept credit card information without storing this information on, or transmitting it from, your servers. .

This feature for client-side JavaScript calls in controlled release. Contact Zuora Global Support to learn more about enabling it for your tenant.

REST API calls via CORS

Our iFrame solution was designed to help you quickly and easily integrate Zuora payments into your sites without storing credit card information on, or transmitting it from, your servers. . However, some of you have asked for more customization and configuration options than the iFrame solution can provide, and we listened. With this new release, our REST APIs are accessible directly from your customer's browser, via the CORS mechanism.

Find Out More

For full details on how CORS works and how you can begin to implement customer calls to the Zuora REST APIs, visit the Zuora CORS REST page.

The Zuora REST API and related Java and Ruby Sample Code Libaries s are designed to help you easily build web-based subscription storefronts. For more about what can be achieved using our REST API, see our REST API Knowledge Center page and REST API reference page.

To learn about our REST-based software development kits, and links to extensive Java and Ruby code samples, see our REST Sample Code Libraries page.

Enhanced custom field support in REST APIs

Previously there were only a few business objects that custom fields could be added to using the REST API (Products, Product Rate Plans, Subscription and Accounts). With this new release we have greatly expanded the number of objects that support custom fields.

Here is the full list REST API calls that have been enhanced so that you can use custom fields with them:

The format is <HTML method> /<API name> -- <object name(s)>

  • POST /accounts -- account, subscription
  • GET /accounts/summary -- account, subscription
  • PUT /accounts -- account
  • GET /products -- product, product rate plan, product rate plan charge
  • POST /subscriptions -- subscription
  • GET /subscriptions -- subscription
  • PUT /subscriptions -- subscription
  • GET /invoices -- invoice, invoice item
  • GET /payments -- payment
  • GET /usage -- usage

To learn how to use custom fields, check out our Knowledge Center article: How Do I Use Custom Fields.

Resolved issues

The following issues were resolved in this release.


New error message shown if the quantity of a Rate Plan Charge is set incorrectly

Previously, a SOAP API call or REST API call to amend() UpdateProduct would allow RatePlanCharge.Quantity to be set to any value, regardless of whether this quantity was contained within a specified price tier. Setting a value outside of any specified price tier would result in any query of the price of the RatePlanCharge to return a value of zero.

This issue was resolved in this release. If any value other than one specified in a price tier is set by an API call, an error is thrown.


Updater batch not processing Updater batches

During Updater batch processing, if the status of a batch was in a processing state during a production release, the batch would be frozen in the processing state. 

This issue was resolved in this release. During a production release your batches are put on pause, and the processing is resumed automatically after completion of the production release.


New error message for POST calls with missing custom fields

Some objects have custom required fields for which information must be specified in order to for instances to be made of them.

In previous releases, no error was returned if a POST call to create an instance of such an object via the REST API failed to specify any of the required custom fields. 

This issue was resolved in this release. Now, if the required custom fields are not specified in the REST API call, the request will fail and produce an error message such as:

'txt__c' is required.

Maintenance Release R168.1

The R168.1 includes internal fixes.

  • API Sandbox release, September 25, 2013
  • Production release, September 26, 2013
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