Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Kill Bill – Part 1

by | Dec 16, 2021 | About Kill Bill, Kill Bill Resources, Payments | 0 comments

Kill Bill is a open-source subscription billing and payments platform. Fully extensible, you can build your business logic on top of it for a customized billing and payments solution.


>>>>>> NOTE: For Part 2 of the Kill Bill FAQs, go here! <<<<<<

It’s been quite a while since we’ve updated our Frequently Asked Questions. Even if you think you’re intimately familiar with Kill Bill, you might want to read over these answers! 

The section below covers general FAQs. Next month we’ll update the FAQs that deal with the features of Kill Bill.

What is the Kill Bill software?

Kill Bill is an open-source programmable platform that enables you to build custom billing solutions. That’s a mouthful, to say the least, but think of it as building blocks to implement your own billing workflows.

Similar to the Unix philosophy of composability over monolithic design, Kill Bill provides APIs to create various pricing models, manage subscriptions, generate invoices, integrate with various payment gateways, etc. Whether you are selling access to a digital service for $10 a month or selling a multi-tier cell-phone data plan, Kill Bill provides the primitives to do it so you don’t have to start from scratch.

Who is behind Kill Bill?

Martin Westhead, Pierre-Alexandre Meyer and Stéphane Brossier designed and developed Kill Bill in 2010 as part of an open-source project at Ning.

How long has Kill Bill been around?

Since 2010, Kill Bill has been running in production in private and public companies, invoicing billions of dollars and charging millions of credit cards. 

Can I really use Kill Bill for free?

Yes. The Kill Bill open-source software is completely free! Just make sure you follow the Apache License, Version 2.0

Is Kill Bill a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)?

Kill Bill is not SaaS. It is open-source software that you can run in your own environment, a private data center, or in the cloud (AWS, Azure, etc.). 

How is Kill Bill different from other billing software?

Contrary to any SaaS solution:

  • Kill Bill is open-source. Read more: Why open-source software?
  • Kill Bill has a pluggable architecture, allowing you to write plugins (i.e., custom code) to extend or change default behaviors.
  • Kill Bill is not a batch system by default. Instead, it uses an event-oriented architecture. Modules share and react to events. For example, whenever a new invoice is generated, the invoice module sends an invoice creation event on the message bus. The payment module reacts and triggers the actual payment. These events are available to plugins, so you can write custom logic the same way.
  • Because you host your own instances, you are in full control of your data

Can you run Kill Bill in the cloud?

Kill Bill has been successfully deployed in private data centers as well as in AWS, Heroku, OpenShift, Azure, etc. Our AWS deployments are offered here

Can I customize Kill Bill?

Yes—there are various ways to customize Kill Bill: 

  • System properties—These let you configure the core platform. Also, most internal modules have a second, more advanced, layer of configuration, usually through XML files. These let you configure the dunning (overdue) policy, the various plans and billing policies, etc.
  • Plugins—If you need more advanced (billing or non-billing) logic, Kill Bill has a plugin capability. You can write custom code to extend or even override Kill Bill’s default behaviors. We can recommend development partners to help you do that, if necessary.

Does Kill Bill work with [software name]?

Over the years, Kill Bill has been customized (either with plugins or additional logic) to work with many different types of software (for example, customer relationship management software (CRMs) and financial accounting software). If you’re interested in exploring this option, contact our software development partner for more information. 

Where is the documentation?

Our documentation lives here: https://docs.killbill.io. We have documented our API here: https://killbill.github.io/slate

How do I get started with Kill Bill? 

If you want to know whether or not Kill Bill would work for your organization, we recommend that you perform a Proof of Concept (POC) against your business requirements. If you have questions about Kill Bill, please start by asking them in the Kill Bill Community (mailing list). We monitor the posts and can usually answer questions within a relatively short period of time. 

To install Kill Bill, look over the Getting Started tutorial. If you want to review the software code, it’s available on GitHub: https://github.com/killbill/killbill

Can I contribute to Kill Bill?

We’d love to talk to you about this. Please get in touch with us. 

Can you help us get up and running with Kill Bill? 

We have short-term consulting and ongoing support packages that can help. Check it out here.

Can you develop customized Kill Bill logic or plugins for us?

The Kill Bill team does not develop customized logic or plugins. However, we have a partner who does that. In fact, they have successfully delivered many Kill Bill projects in the past for our clients, and they are very reasonably priced. You can find out more here

Is there a Kill Bill demo?

We have a self-directed demo that you can access here. You can click around in Kaui, the administrative user interface for Kill Bill. If you’re interested in a high-level overview, see these two short videos on Kill Bill and Kaui.

Why did you name your software after a famous Quentin Tarantino movie?

We were enamored with the idea of “killing the billing problem.” Secondly, we like the Kill Bill movie!

Why do you have a duck as a company mascot?

The duck seemed appropriate because what’s a duck’s main feature? Its bill! (Get it? Billing!). 

Kill Bill logo

P.S. His name is Killian!

Don’t forget to check out Part 2 of the Kill Bill FAQs here!