After all the exceedingly positiveoh wait, it was incredibly negativeresponse to my, head of Intuit’s Quicken team, you think I’d run away from anything having to do with Quicken Essentials. But no, here I am again with a First Look at Quicken Essentials for Mac; I guess I’m a glutton for punishment or something. When I chatted with Patzer about Essentials, the product wasn’t out yet and I hadn’t seen it in person, so we spent a few minutes discussing the features of the new program. Now, though, I’ve had the shipping version of Quicken Essentials on my machine for two days, and have given it what I consider the ultimate test: I fed it my Quicken 2006 data file, containing every financial transaction I’ve been involved with since 1993—nearly 17 years’ worth of data!
(This is a depressing history to look through, so I try my best to avoid it. For instance, on August 22nd, 1994, I paid $753 for a 1GB hard drive—ouch!) What follows is not a review of Quicken Essentials—we’ll have that done in the near future. What it is is an overview of the new program, and my observations after putting it to use for two days. (For more on the history of Quicken and how Essentials fits in, read, by Jason Snell, about the release.) Overview As you may have read by now, Quicken Essentials is a ground-up rewrite of Quicken. Now developed in Cocoa, you get all the benefits of the best OS X development environment—Services work, for instance, and if you’re used to various text field shortcuts (Control-A to jump to the beginngin of a field), those all work too. The look of the program is completely unlike any version of Quicken ever seen—the default view looks much more like a program from the iLife suite than something from Intuit. In Essentials, the program opens to an Overview window that could easily be described as such.
Down the left hand side is a list of your accounts, along with some standardized tools at the top and reports at the bottom. Accounts are grouped by category, each identified by a unique icon.
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To the right is a summary of your recent spending (we had a tax bill due in January, which explains the large percentage to one item), along with a preview of upcoming bills and an overview of your spending against your budget (not yet set up in my screen shot). Quicken Essentials overview window gives you a summary look at your financesThe new interface is undeniably nicer looking than the old; nobody who has used Quicken would ever describe its interface as elegant. There are some useful tools, too—Transactions presents what is essentially a global account register; you can use this to enter transactions in any account.
At the top right of the Transactions window (and all registers) is a Spotlight-like search box. Type something in there, and Essentials filters the display to show only entries that match your search terms. The Category Explorer makes it really easy to see a summary of spending by category and drill down into a given category to see exactly where your money went. Accounts Summary presents a summary by account, though you can’t drill down into it. In the Reports section, the Spending Cloud shows your spending levels by displaying words of varying sizes based on the percentage of your spending represented by that word. You can drill down into a category by clicking on that word. Unfortunately, while I was playing with this feature, Quicken Essentials crashed, which brought up an application called Crash Catcher.
Crash Catcher informed me—via a window that floats over everything else—that it was creating a crash log file for sending to Intuit, and warned that the process may take “many minutes.” There’s no cancel button, but you can choose File -> Quit to bypass the Crash Catcher. Reports also contains a category summary and reports for “this month” and “last month” spending. At first glance, that’s it for reporting. It turns out you can create customized reports, but the process is far from obvious. First select the Spending Cloud or Category Summary report, click the Settings icon you’ll see there, and you can then create customized reports that can then be saved in the Reports section. Overall, I’m not sure what to make of the new interface.
It’s clearly nicer to look at, and many aspects of it work much better than they do in Quicken 2007. However, it seems to require more clicks to get certain tasks done, and some features of the program, such as creating custom reports, are far too hard to find. My observations I think Quicken Essentials will get different responses from different people, based on their own backgrounds. Those who utilize most of the features of Quicken 2006/2007 (especially related to investments, taxes, and paying bills within the program) will find Essentials disappointing. Those who found Quicken overly complex for their basic needs will probably find Essentials perfectly satisfying. My test import worked quite well—it took about 30 minutes, and brought over every single transaction without any obvious failures.
- суббота 09 февраля