Fishbowl's design is based on a need for intense inventory-control software. We include features for outstanding business management, for example, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Manufacturing, Customers, Vendors, Picking, Shipping, etc., and flawless integration with QuickBooks accounting software.
Fishbowl has two parts, the Client and the Server. The Fishbowl Server also includes a QuickBooks connector application that runs automatically called Nexus.
As illustrated above, your database (the server part of Fishbowl) is separate from the client (the software you see and use at the workstation). It's similar to telephone service.
A telephone, (the client in the above example) is what you see and use, but the heavy work of switching calls, making connections, and tracking charges is performed by a telecommunications company (the 'server'). This division of functions within Fishbowl provides several huge advantages, such as having all of your data in one location (on the server) while allowing multiple clients (users) to connect with the server over the Internet or a Local Area Network.
Fishbowl Hardware Setup
Setting up your hardware is an important part of getting Fishbowl functioning efficiently. Depending on the number of users and the complexity of your system, Fishbowl client and server software may reside on one or multiple computers. These three scenarios illustrate different ways Fishbowl may be configured to best serve your needs.
Fishbowl also provides a service called Fishbowl Hosted Services that puts Fishbowl in the cloud, allowing customers to connect to Fishbowl from anywhere with an internet connection, even from a mobile device.
Download the installer
The Fishbowl installer can be downloaded from the internet or you may request a physical copy.
- Download - You may download and install the Fishbowl and try it FREE for 14 days by clicking here. Once purchased, you may enter your license key which will convert your trial version of Fishbowl into an unlimited use installation.
- Request a physical copy - You may have a copy of the latest Fishbowl installer shipped to you by contacting us directly either via email (sales or support) or by calling 1-800-774-7085. Shipping charges may apply.
- Existing customers - Existing customers with a license key can bypass the contact information page, by clicking the Download Fishbowl link in the Check for updates window. The Fishbowl Client has a Check for updates option in the Help menu, but the recommended process for updating Fishbowl is to right-click the server tray icon, and select Check for updates.
See Fishbowl Hardware Setup and System Hardware Recommendations to identify the hardware setup that will work best for Fishbowl. See Supported Operating Systems for the list of operating systems supported by Fishbowl.
Before installing Fishbowl, please turn off all firewalls and anti-viruses on your computer. They may be turned on again immediately following the install. If you are performing an upgrade of Fishbowl, the Server and Clients must be shut down during the install.
- 1. Double-click the Fishbowl installer.
- 2. Read the warning regarding the compatibility of versions between Fishbowl and QuickBooks and then click Next.
- 3. Read the License Agreement and choose I accept the agreement. Click Next.
- 4. Fishbowl offers three methods of installation with several optional features. If you select either of the 14 day trials, the installer will complete automatically and the following steps will not apply. Otherwise, select an installation mode and click Next to proceed through the installation wizard.
- Trial - 14 Day with Manufacturing: This option provides a free 14 day trial of Fishbowl with the manufacturing features. If this option is selected, choosing Next will automatically install the Fishbowl Server, the Fishbowl Client, and SalesPoint. By default the programs will install to C:\Program Files\Fishbowl. After completing the installer, double-click Fishbowl Trial on the desktop to launch the Fishbowl applications.
- Trial - 14 Day without Manufacturing: This option provides a free 14 day trial of Fishbowl without the manufacturing features. If your company does not manufacture items, this is likely the better fit for you. If this option is selected, choosing Next will automatically install the Fishbowl Server, the Fishbowl Client, and SalesPoint. By default the programs will install to C:\Program Files\Fishbowl. After completing the installer, double-click Fishbowl Trial on the desktop to launch the Fishbowl applications.
- Current Fishbowl User
- Client Only: This option will install the Client version of Fishbowl, which is the option to select for every computer other than your server. These clients will connect to your server through a network or internet access. This option allows you to specify a different install location if you wish.
- Server with Client: This option installs both the Fishbowl Server and Fishbowl Client. It is recommended to install only on your Server computer, since work stations generally use just the Client Only install. This option allows you to specify a different install location if you wish.
- Configure Advanced Settings: This option offers an Advanced installation with a few additions such as adjusting memory allocation for the Client and Server.
- Download and Install iReport: iReport is a Jasper Software program used to configure custom made reports. This software is available to users; however it is not supported by our Fishbowl Training or Support Team. By choosing this option, iReport will be installed in addition to the Fishbowl software.
- 5. Select the installation location for Fishbowl and click Next.
- 6. Choose which programs should start automatically when logging into Windows. Automatically starting the Server is recommended. Click Next.
- 7. Choose which desktop icons and quick launch icons should be created and click Next.
- 8. Select a trial version or enter a permanent license key (including dashes). You should have received your license key when you purchased Fishbowl. If you do not have the key you may select the Request updated license key option and enter your email address to request a license key. Click here for details about updating your license key instantly online. See Change license key for instructions on changing a trial license key to a permanent license key. You may also contact your sales rep or our support team at 1-800-774-7085 ext 3, or support.
- 9. Once the installer finishes, you will need to manually start the Fishbowl Server and Client. The Fishbowl Server always needs to be running before any Client will be able to connect. A welcome screen will be displayed the first time you connect your client to the server. This is informing you that you are on an example database. If you would like to create your own database please review how to Change your Default Database. A product overview and tutorial will also be displayed when you connect your client. We recommend browsing through this wizard to become familiarized with the Fishbowl processes.
Congratulations! You are done with the basic install. If you have any further questions or concerns please contact our support team at 1-800-774-7085 ext 3 or email support
Updated versions of Fishbowl are released several times a year and include new features and improvements. It only requires a few minutes to update Fishbowl and take advantage of the latest changes. Follow the steps below to update Fishbowl on the server computer. Fishbowl Clients will be updated automatically when connecting to the Fishbowl Server.
- When a new version of Fishbowl is released, a lightning bolt icon will appear in the top-right corner of the Fishbowl Client.
- On the Fishbowl Server computer, double-click the backup.bat file (default location is C:\Program Files\Fishbowl\server\bin\backup.bat) to backup the database, images, reports, and plugins to a folder on the desktop. This is a precautionary step. In most cases, these backup files will not be needed.
- To download the update onto the Fishbowl Server computer, right-click the Fishbowl Server tray icon and select Check For Updates.
- Click Next to proceed through the wizard.
- Once the download is complete, click Next.
- Select Yes, run the update now and then click Finish.
- The installer will open automatically. Click Next to advance through the wizard and select Server with Client on the Installation Mode step.
- Install the update into the same directory where Fishbowl is currently installed.
- Major updates, such as Fishbowl 2015 to 2016, require a current support contract and an updated license key. A new license key can be obtained instantly by clicking here. Minor updates such as Fishbowl 2016 to 2016.1 will continue to work with the previous license key.
- Complete the installation and on the final step, select Run Fishbowl.
- Click OK to complete the database update.
- If there are Fishbowl Clients installed on other computers, they will be updated automatically when connecting to the updated Fishbowl Server.
Running multiple Fishbowl Servers
Follow the instructions below to run multiple Fishbowl Servers on the same network, or on the same computer.
Multiple Fishbowl Servers on the same network
- Complete the Fishbowl Server installation on each computer that will run a Fishbowl Server.
- Open any Fishbowl Client on the network and click the Find Fishbowl Servers button to search the network for Fishbowl Servers that are broadcasting their location on the default port.
- Select a database from the Server Address dropdown or enter the computer name or IP address of any computer that is running a Fishbowl Server.
- Enter a valid username and password and then click Login.
Multiple Fishbowl Servers on the same computer
- Repeat the Fishbowl Server installation on the computer that already has a Fishbowl Server. It is important that each Fishbowl Server be installed in a separate directory.
- Open any Fishbowl Server. Then right-click the Fishbowl Server icon in the system tray and select Options.
- Click the Server tab in the Fishbowl Server Administration window. Then enter a different Server Port and click OK.
- Right-click the Fishbowl Server tray icon and select Start.
- Open any additional Fishbowl Servers. Each server must have a unique Server Port.
- Open any Fishbowl Client on the network and enter the computer name or IP address of the Fishbowl Server in the Server Address field.
- Change the Server Port to designate which Fishbowl Server the client should connect to.
- Enter a valid username and password and then click Login.
Move an existing installation
Moving an existing Fishbowl installation to a different server computer requires a way to transfer files, such as a USB thumb drive or a shared network folder. Files will be copied from the Fishbowl installation folder of the existing server computer to the new server computer. By default, the Fishbowl installation folder is located at C:\Program Files\Fishbowl, but this can be customized in the installation wizard.
- Complete the Fishbowl installation on the new server computer.
- On the old server computer, browse to the Fishbowl\server\bin folder and double-click the backup.bat file. A black window will appear showing the progress of the backup.
- When the backup is complete, browse to the desktop and copy the newly created Fishbowl_Backup folder to the new server computer.
- Browse to the Fishbowl\database folder on new server computer, delete the data, images, and plugins folders, and then paste the data, images, and plugins folders from the Fishbowl_Backup folder.
- If there is a Custom folder in the reports backup folder, paste the Custom folder into the Fishbowl\server\reports folder on the new server computer.
- Start the new Fishbowl Server and follow the steps to connect to an existing database.
Once the new server is running, it may be necessary to change the server address when logging in from Fishbowl Clients. If applicable, the Fishbowl Server will need to reintegrate with QuickBooks, and any ODBC connections may need to be modified to point to the new server.
Follow the steps below to uninstall Fishbowl.
- Close the Fishbowl Server and the Fishbowl Client.
- Run the backup.bat file (default location is C:\Program Files\Fishbowl\server\bin\backup.bat) to make a backup of important files to the desktop.
- Run and complete the Fishbowl uninstaller (default location C:\Program Files\Fishbowl\uninstall.exe).
As a safety precaution, the uninstaller will leave the database and server folders in the installation directory, but these can be deleted manually if desired.
To install Fishbowl on multiple computers with the same settings, complete one install with the desired settings. Next, go to the installation directory that was selected (default is C:\Program Files\Fishbowl in Windows, /opt/Fishbowl in Linux) and copy the installSettings file to the same directory as the Fishbowl installer on the other computers. Rename the installSettings file to match the name of the installer and add the .varfile extension (for example, if the installer is named fi-installer.exe, the installSettings file should be renamed to be fi-installer.varfile). This tells the Fishbowl installer to run with the values stored in the varfile. The installer will still display all options, but will default to the values stored in the varfile (Note: Not all options are compatible with the varfile). A varfile can also be specified from the command line in this format: -varfile [fileName]
Running Fishbowl as a Service
It is possible to run Fishbowl as a service, however, we do not support integrating with QuickBooks while running Fishbowl as a service. This is a limitation with QuickBooks and we have done extensive testing and have found there is no reliable way to integrate with QuickBooks if Fishbowl is being run as a service.
The following articles explain some of these limitations:
- Cannot connect to QuickBooks when add-on is a service
- QuickBooks Principal Engineer says not to run as a service
We have tried running Fishbowl and QuickBooks as scheduled tasks, this however is not the preferred method as the results vary and the Fishbowl Server can be difficult to restart, debug, etc. We strongly recommend running the server on a user account. One possible way to do this is to login to the account on reboot using the Sysinternals Tool autologin.