Thursday, April 14, 2005

Data Lock: Money cannot convert my Quicken file

This is the computer equivalent of a metal door slamming shut: "Your Quicken file could not be converted."

I've given up on Intuit & Quicken. The alternatives are:
1. Abandon this category of software. Revert to a mixture of web apps and spreadsheets (back to the 70s, more or less).
2. Switch to Microsoft Money (update -- this was awful. Passport mania)
3. Try Moneydance (update -- this didn't work)
4. Try QuickBooks Pro (still considering, see Update 4/15/05)
Microsoft has a trial download of Money 2005. I took it for a spin. Whizzy install -- it's gone .NET (for better and worse). When I tried to convert my Quicken files, however, I got this helpful message: "Your Quicken file could not be converted." (Now that's a helpful error message!) My complex Quicken database evidently caused Money to keel over.

Researching this error message led me to a description of what someone with a dataset comparable to mine went through to convert: A User's Experience of Intuit Quicken to Microsoft Money Conversion. Brrrrr. I don't have time for all of that!

So the bottom line is that Microsoft Money's conversion capabilities are pretty limited. I guess they only work for the simplest setup. It's probably better for me to start over in Money and forget about what's in Quicken; I may generate a few reports as PDF files

PS. There are similarities between this experience and a vastly more complex and expensive worldwide problem -- but that starts to get into my work life.

Update 4/13/05: I decided I really didn't want to go with Microsoft Money. It wasn't the silly error message or the cutesy UI that got to me, it was all the 'Passport' stuff and the hardcore ties to Microsoft's online services. Like Intuit, Microsoft is trying to bind customers to a range of services -- rather than focusing on delivering profitable value.

Which led me to Moneydance ($30). Moneydance is a small company product (Java app) that runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. It doesn't have 1/10th the features of Quicken or Money, but I really liked this language:
Compatible, standards-based reliability
Moneydance uses industry standard technologies such as OFX, QIF, SSL/TLS, Java, and XML to ensure compatibility with other software and services. In addition, with our open API and Extension Developer Kit you can be sure that third parties will always be able to integrate their services with Moneydance.
I think I can live with this. I'll give it a try. If it works reliably it may be all I need for now. Quicken was never any good at tracking stock transactions anyway. There's a free demo version that can handle 100 transactions.

And yes, MoneyDance is actually pretty ugly. Compared to Quicken or Money, however, it's a joy to look at.

Update 4/14/05: I uninstalled Money and gave MoneyDance a light test with an OFX import. It failed miserably. Once again proof that I'm death on software. Despite the many glowing reviews on the net I ran into 2 significant bugs within 3 minutes and a bizarre usability issue. (Import 400 credit card transactions -- and find I have to approve them one at time.) I uninstalled MoneyDance.

Update 4/15/05: I have a copy of QuickBooks Pro 5.0 or so. I think it's mid-90s. It was a crummy accounting package, but as a personal finance product I thought it had some advantages over Quicken. It doesn't handle investments, but Quicken doesn't do well with those anyway.

No comments: