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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977


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 by Dan Rubin on Tuesday, November 1st, 2005.


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8 comments on “Comments on QuickBooks Online Edition”

  1. Posted by Kevin Tamura on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005.

    Boy won’t they be surprised when Active X is disabled in the next version of IE. Opps.

  2. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005.

    ActiveX will only be *mostly* disabled in IE7, at least according to this post in the IE Blog.

    Exactly what the restrictions will actually mean for a large web application like QBOE will remain to be seen, though I’m sure application development teams will be testing extensively using the IE7 betas (and are likely doing so already).

  3. Posted by Bobby Jones on Wednesday, December 7th, 2005.

    I run a small interactive firm as well and we currently use QB for the Mac. It has not been bad at all. Its freaking accounting software for christs sake. ha.
    We also use Creative Manager Pro (I think the link is creativemanagerpro.com) for our time management and they offer the full gamut so as of January one we are switching everything to CMP…it is also IP based so it can be accessed by my accountant anytime remotely so that is nice. I hear one of the key benefits is that having the financial component tied in with project and time tracking you really get more detail on your profitability.

    Bobby j

  4. Posted by John P on Thursday, December 8th, 2005.

    I am looking for someone with the experience to assist me in placing QB on a server that will allow us to have company managers access the books through our web site???

  5. Posted by P.J. Onori on Saturday, January 28th, 2006.

    I really dig this new design. Well done.

  6. Posted by Brad Estey on Monday, February 13th, 2006.

    I found this article on how to create a live link between a Microsoft Access Database and a Quickbooks Pro data file.


    Why not then, just build your own system with your own interface? ASP is an extremely easy language to learn and would allow you to edit the access db via your browser. Or if you’re more comfortable with PHP then there are plenty of My-SQL to MS Access converters out there aswell.

    Personally, I’m the type of person to want to build my own money management systems rather than entrust it to another company. Plus I’m cheap and wouldn’t want to pay those fees.

  7. Posted by Timothy Gray on Tuesday, February 21st, 2006.

    I couldn’t agree more about QB for Mac. I’ve been using Quicken for years and love it, but this year my accountant had me switch to QB. I thought it would be pretty similar to Quicken since they are made by the same company, but QB is awful! There are so many things that QB could learn from Quicken. I find that Quicken is actually more powerful in many ways. It’s a shame that Intuit was so short-sighted with the online edition.

  8. Posted by Tim Glinatsiis on Sunday, February 18th, 2007.

    It would seem that the author and I went down the exact same path. While waiting for a burrito yesterday, I browsed through the Intuit site, and was jumping up and down when I saw that they were offering an online version.

    I hopped on the iMac, and sprinted for the free-trial…only to find out they’re using ActiveX.

    Dude, Intuit…get the net. We want cross platform – and we CERTAINLY don’t want ActiveX. I don’t even want ActiveX on my PCs.

    Unfortunately, you keep staffing your online teams with idiots. I bailed out on your Quicken BillPay service after 3 days because the same idiots were incapable of building an interface that works.

    Congrats..they’ve done it again. I’m going to spend a little more time with my Freshbooks account, rather than fork out $200 to get Quickbooks on my Macs.