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Some of you might recall my post from February 24 ("Goodbye Yellow Brick Road") where I described my dumping of Quicken as my home finance program of choice. At the time I switched to iBank, then up to version 3, and while it wasn't perfect, it was the best fit for my needs (one of the big ones being that I still need to print checks). There are quite a few other programs on the market, but many of them think checks are a thing of the past and so won't work for me. Also, in light of Apple's new stance on Java (short version – it may be dead), I'm glad I didn't switch to one of the Java-based finance programs. (I do hope Oracle takes up support, because I have a great Java database access program that I use all the time).

So what am I writing about? iBank released a paid upgrade to version 4 recently. I downloaded the trial, ran it for a short time, and paid for the upgrade. I wish I had put it through more transactions though – because after paying for it, I found out I couldn't stand it. For a company that is trying to capitalize on angry Quicken users who are riled up about losing features ("www.thequickenkiller.com" goes to the iBank page) they seem to have picked up some bad habits from Intuit (the makers of Quicken).

They took away their unique reconcilement (dragging and dropping transactions to reconcile). I liked it, and just wanted it tweaked, but apparently many others didn't like it. But then they took away the ability to filter your transactions by date (they had nice filters like "this year", "last 90 days", etc.). Now you have to load your entire history. And thattttttttttttttt'ssssssssssss reallllllllyyyyyyyyyyy slowwwwwwwww when you have several years worth (no, I don't want to archive it!).

Then they added a feature that allows you to open an account in another window (yay!). Now I can see transactions in two accounts at once, and it will be easier to move those that I put in the wrong account. Or not. You see, if you are in one of the secondary windows, you can't delete, cut or copy a transaction. OK, it's a new version, so it's a bug, just report it. Guess what? Say it with me now: "It's not a bug, it's a feature." Yup, a *feature*. Who would want that?

I have a ton of accounts (mostly old and closed) so I use the "hide" feature to keep them from showing in my list. One of them is my mortgage. When I tried to pay my mortgage, I couldn't select the account from the transaction drop down because it's a hidden account. Yes, another "feature." Swell.

So with the direction the software is headed – "features" that make it less useful to me – I decided it was time to take another look around. iBank was still the best of the field – until Quicken Essentials for Mac finally added check writing back in. So I decided to give it a try (no free trial, but a money-back guarantee).

I bought a copy, downloaded it, and ran into a bit of a roadblock. Quicken comes with a converter to read your old Quicken for Mac files,  your MS Money files, and Windows Quicken files. iBank can export to QFX format – but the new Quicken doesn't read it. Fortunately, the old one – my 2006 version – does. So I imported the transactions from after I stopped using Quicken 2006 into the program, and spent a good couple of hours cleaning up stuff that didn't quite come over OK. Then I let Quicken Essentials import my old Quicken 2006 files, and I had maybe another half-hour of cleanup to do.

But this version of Quicken is – quick! It *can* filter out to just the last 12 months (and other ranges).. It can open multiple windows and each one can do anything the other ones can. It can write checks. It backs up to MobilMe (not automatically like the old Quicken, you have to invoke it). iBank does to (and automatically) but only compresses the file – it doesn't encrypt it. Quicken encrypts the file first. 

So yeah – i"m back using Quicken. Even if iBank fixes their issues, I think I'll stay with Quicken (unless they start taking things away again too).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP5g9VZjxrI&feature=related

(No, it's not you – the video is not of this song in particular, just in-concert clips,  but this version has the best audio of the lot, and while fuzzy, wasn't filmed with a handy-cam from 2 miles away…)

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  • Mike

    I went to Quicken Essentials, too, a while back and was frustrated by a number of things, most importantly, the limited reporting capability. But I got involved in their Inner Circle forum and I saw the developers were committed to a next generation upgrade so I hung with it. Voila! The mid-October release fixed a LOT of the feature shortfall that was a problem and now I’m reasonably satisfied.