Besides Ecco, Quicken is really the last app that I still need Windows for. (Quicken for the Mac is way inferior.) So I thought I’d finally figure out which of the Mac personal-finance contenders would best suit my needs: simple budget and expense tracking on several checking accounts and a credit card or two. All evidence pointed to iBank. I downloaded the program on free trial and checked it out. The register worked nicely, the interface was smooth, and it seemed like importing my 12 years’ worth of Quicken data could be accomplished. So I plunked down the not inconsiderable charge for the program, spent an hour or two figuring out how to avoid having transfers appear twice after the import, and thought I’d solved my problem.
Then I tried to create a report. And the program that had until that moment seemed well-built and -designed turned to sand between my fingers. Report? iBank basically says. What’s that? Oh, you have to create a chart and then you can generate a report? That seems silly — I don’t need a pie chart, it doesn’t tell me what I need to know, but if I have to pay the pie chart tax before I can get to my report, OK! I’ll make some pies! So finally I click the button to make a report and wait for the program to ask me some questions about, you know, which categories and dates and accounts I want to include in the report. But there is no dialogue box. The program grinds through its data and a minute later it spits out a clumsily formatted PDF. Wait a minute; I can customize the chart, and that should then change the report, right? But no, that would be too logical. Whatever I do to the chart, the report is still the same useless, largely unreadable junk.
This is a problem, because, really, the only point to the tedium of entering all these transactions is that at the end of the labor you can click a few buttons and actually gain some insight into where and how you are spending your money. iBank is like a financial-software roach motel: you can get your data in easily enough, but just try getting useful information out the other side!
My guess is that coding up a useful report generator must’ve fallen off the developers’ feature list somewhere along the way and keeps dropping off the upgrades list. Obviously I’m hugely disappointed, particularly since the trial version of iBank doesn’t let you enter more than a handful of transactions, so you never really have the chance to test out the report quality.
I think the next step is to give up on this category altogether and experiment with the online/cloud-based alternatives. Of the available choices, Wesabe, which I’ve begun playing with, and Mint appear to be the likeliest contenders. I’ll let you know how it goes, and welcome any tips and experiences you may have.