Comments on QuickBooks Online Edition
I’ve been evaluating alternate accounting packages for our firm for much of this year (we currently run QuickBooks Pro on a PC — we’re a Mac-based business, but QB for Mac just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard), since, as a user experience consultant and user interface designer, I can’t stand actually *using* QB.
I’ve been testing Blinksale for a few months and have been thrilled with its interface and usability (it’s actually *fun* to use), but its current major limitation (for us at least) is the lack of an export option to QB (sending our accountant a QB file at the end of the year saves us money, thus it is of great importance that we continue to do that, even if we don’t use QB for anything else). They are fixing that soon by providing an API to allow exporting and manipulation of the data, but that hasn’t been released yet (someone at Intuit should contact Firewheel Design and offer some funding to make sure an “Export to QB Pro” option will be possible, or maybe Intuit could develop a free solution based on the API — there’s an idea!).
So, when I finally ‘found’ QuickBooks Online Edition, I thought “terrific!” — true, the UI needs a *ton* of work to be considered “user friendly” or even “usable”, but no more so than the UI of QB running in Windows. Nonetheless, I thought it would provide the easy access of QB Pro without having to turn to a PC all the time (and make it easier to handle accounting on the road), but sadly, the lack of Mac support will prevent my firm from traveling down this path at all.
ActiveX is a poor choice to begin with (I’m sure the QBOE team must be tired of hearing this by now), but the bigger issue is that web-based applications should offer cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility. And relying on a browser-specific (and thus, client-side) technology for a web-based application is a poor choice, no matter what that technology may be (it can also be argued that relying on technologies such as AJAX is also a poor choice, but most developers implementing AJAX realize that, and provide some level of backwards compatibility for their users… exceptions exist — Basecamp and Backpack for example — but those choices have been made carefully, and those applications support multiple platforms and browsers, so they are far less limiting).
I would beg Intuit to focus their development efforts on making QBOE a true web application, cross-browser and cross-platform, instead of continuing down their current path (I mean, come on people — suggesting Virtual PC as an option for Mac users to access the Online Edition of your software is pushing the limit of reason), but I have a feeling they just won’t get the message (although I do hope they’ll prove me wrong, or better yet, hire me — I’d love to redesign the QBOE UI).
In the meantime, I’ll continue to wait and see what Josh Williams and the Firewheel team have in store for us when the Blinksale API is finally released, and hope that by tax time, I’ll be able to move my company’s invoicing data to QuickBooks Pro without too many caffeine-fueled late nights.
This item was posted byon Tuesday, November 1st, 2005.
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