The Quickening II

Like a bad sequel, I get to continue a story that should have ended.  As I discover some things in Quicken I don’t like, I check the opinions of blogs and Quicken’s own support forums and I am saddened by what I learn.  I guess none of my gripes are new, but they are mine.

I’m sure I’m going to have lots of fun matching transactions as time goes on.  I’m convincing myself that the real numbers matter starting next month – a fresh month of a fresh year.  But right now things are off.  One of my accounts had to have an adjustment posted to make it match with the last bank statement.  That worries me.  As I cleaned up the categories for my transactions, I found that when I would categorize a transaction as a transfer, it would helpfully create the other side of the transfer for me, duplicating a previously-downloaded transaction in another account.  So with all the credit card payments I categorized, I suddenly had a massively negative balance in my checking account.  More cleanup…

As I worked through these various screens I found myself missing a Microsoft standard: the Back button.  I remember years ago when I tried out the Zune at Staples, I thought to myself, “MS loves the Back button.”  The Zune has one.  And you know, it is the easiest concept for anyone to understand.  I also was a little weirded out at how some screens are windows of their own and some are in the main window.

And continuing with UI issues, I found the little things to be the most annoying.  Like being unable to resize columns.  The text in a column is truncated, but you can’t expand the column to see it.  You have to mouse over each row to see the tooltip.  I’m slowly getting used to Quicken’s way of doing subcategories – using a colon.  Money had that format as an option, but I turned it off.  The UI, overall, is definitely from another line of thinking – and not very much in line with Microsoft’s design recommendations.  I’ve had the argument before about how being consistent with Microsoft design helps a user understand your application quicker.  The additional time it is taking me to understand how Quicken works is a fine example of this.  Holy crap, I just discovered that some (4) popup windows I thought had closed actually didn’t.  They’re in a pseudo-taskbar at the bottom of the main window.  Good god.

Now the bigger issues.  The biggest being that the filtered view in the register does not maintain the proper running balance.  It shows a running balance of the transactions shown.  This makes the filtered view useless, but Quicken users have been living with it since the feature was introduced.  That’s nearly a deal-breaker, but I’m going to stick it out.  The other big one is there is no transaction entry form (that I can find).  You have to enter all your info directly in the register.  This brought back a very distant memory of when I first used Quicken and I didn’t like that method of entry.  Money provided a more presentable form for entry and it was a significant selling point.  Money also allowed the option to enter transactions Quicken-style.  Funny how Money tried to implement a more Quicken-esqe experience and ended up being the one that failed.

I feel a bit sad that Quicken is now the only major player in this software category.  Mostly because I know they can never make the changes needed to satisfy the MS Money crowd without ruining the experience of legacy Quicken users.

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