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The Almighty Buck Software

MoneyDance 2003 Reviewed 254

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the free-money-programs-but-no-free-money dept.
TheMadPenguin writes "For those of you who may not have heard, MoneyDance 2003 was released on March 28th, 2003 for general public consumption. It is available for Linux, MacOS X, and also Windows. Geared toward current Intuit Quicken and Microsoft Money users, MoneyDance 2003 is packed full of features. It's reviewed at MadPenguin.org."
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MoneyDance 2003 Reviewed

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  • Moneydance (Score:5, Informative)

    by lostchicken (226656) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:05AM (#5807230)
    It's not free. See Here. [moneydance.com]
    However, GNUCash [gnucash.org] will run on all the platforms listed, and is free.
  • Quicken for Mac (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:09AM (#5807250)
    There is a Quicken for Mac. I use it. It's right here. Really. I will resist swearing at you and calling you names because it's Friday.

  • conrad on gnucash (Score:5, Informative)

    by Renegade Lisp (315687) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:11AM (#5807256)
    More interesting than the review itself, here is conrad's comment from madpenguin.org (I'm including it below because the server is already slashdotted):
    For those of you who would be prepared to pay money for Moneydance, can I recommend that you look at Gnucash and save your money. MadJudu waves his hand at Gnucash and dismisses it, and then goes on to praise MoneyDance for now doing what Gnucash has mostly been able to do for several years.

    The Gnucash interface mightn't have the "lean and mean" look that MadJudu favours, but it is fairly simple and after a small amount of aclimatization (it is very different from quicken), you will (in my opinion) find it far more useful.

    Gnucash does most of the other things MoneyDance does, plus a few extras. Gnucash can interface with HBCI (the German online computer banking standard). Gnucash doesn't have the budgeting features (yet), but does have simple Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable functionality for people with slightly more complicated accounting requirements.

    Most of the complaints and comments MadJudu makes about MoneyDance also apply to Gnucash. In fact, I almost wondered if MadJudu was reviewing Gnucash at times.

    So, whats the biggest selling point for Gnucash over MoneyDance? Price! Why spend US$30, when the Gnucash developers charge you the princely sum of NOTHING in whatever currency you prefer. Same low price, always!

    The biggest disadvantage (for those so afflicted) is that Gnucash does not run on any Microsoft OS. Linux, MacOS-X, and FreeBSD are available. Probably others too.

    Get Gnucash from your favourite Linux distribution (its packaged by all major distributions), or visit http://www.gnucash.org/ for more details.

  • Mirrors (Score:5, Informative)

    by brejc8 (223089) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:18AM (#5807283) Homepage Journal
    Mirror [man.ac.uk] here.

  • by sultanoslack (320583) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:21AM (#5807298)

    For those of you who may not have heard, MoneyDance 2003 was released on March 28th, 2003 for general public consumption. It is available for Linux, Mac OSX, and also Windows. Geared toward current Intuit Quicken and Microsoft Money users, MoneyDance 2003 is packed full of features.

    This is more than a software release to the Linux world. It is a step forward. Until now, Linux had a fairly large hole which was void of proper personal finance software (aside from the obvious gnucash), but MoneyDance seems to be on the right track to bridging that gap. At one time, when the software was dropped by the company that owned it, the outlook appeared bleak... but since it's been given new life by it's original developer, Reilly Technologies, MoneyDance appears to have a bright future.

    On to the review...

    by MadJudu:

    When asked if I was interested in reviewing MoneyDance 2003, I jumped at the opportunity. As a long-time Windows user and Computer Applications Instructor I have been eagerly awaiting software such as MoneyDance to make my conversion from Windows to Linux complete. It has been a slow process finding quality, sophisticated Linux software that is comparable to their Windows counterparts. Fortunately in banking software I have found a keeper with MoneyDance and am one step closer to making this happen. Below are my observations on this great software.

    INSTALLATION

    The installation was quick and easy. I filled out the information on their free download link and that took me to the instruction page. The instructions were simple and few, just the way I like it. This was my first unsupervised Linux install. The only thing I needed an explanation for was the following symbol "%>" which is the Konsole prompt. At first I didn't realize that I wasn't supposed to type that along with the command.

    IMPORTING QIF FILES

    I created nine exported QIF files from Quicken, which contained all the info for my accounts. There were three bank, four credit, and two cash accounts. The first time you open MoneyDance the opening screen has three options: Create New File, Open Existing File and Import File. The program already knows that you're importing a QIF file once you click on the Import File button. All the accounts imported easily, however there were a number of duplicate transactions created in the process. The help files noted that this is a possibility and that you may have to "find and remove a duplicate transaction or two." In the case of a year's worth of transactions, it would be more than a few duplicates and wasn't worth the trouble. I ended up not importing the two cash accounts. All the other accounts imported without creating duplicates and with the same balances that were on the original Quicken accounts. As soon as I added the cash accounts, most of the account balances changed with the added duplicate files.

    I do not believe that this is a problem with MoneyDance as much as it is a problem with the originating software. It would be preferable if QIF files included all the bank accounts in one QIF instead of one QIF for each individual account. With this design it would seem that duplicates are inevitable. This is something to consider when trying to decide whether to transfer your account information to MoneyDance or just start fresh with a brand new file and go from there.

    As a side note, I noticed that there is also an option to import OFX (Open Financial Exchange) through the Menu Bar if your current banking software does not use QIF.

    EASE OF USE

    The program is simple and easy to use. All accounts are shown in your Root Account (Home Page) in a kind of "snapshot" format. It lists each name and account balance. From there you can select an account and go into that register.

    Whatever account you choose to use, each new transaction is shown as a blank check. You just fill in the appropriate blanks and select Record. There are useful features that are similar to Qui

  • by MCRocker (461060) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:27AM (#5807324) Homepage
    What? It's a Java application. It works the same on both systems. Heck, I've been using MoneyDance for years on OS/2 and find that it works just great. Platform should make no difference at all.

    You must be thinking of something else or using a really bad JVM on Linux. Some older linuxen use Kafe as their default JVM and Kafe has lots of bugs. Perhaps that's your problem. Try it with Blackdown's JVM instead.

  • by radio4fan (304271) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:30AM (#5807340)
    ... but it was from the free-money-programs-but-no-free-money dept.
  • by xiaix (247688) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:31AM (#5807341) Homepage
    I remember those days. However the install has gotten much easier (at least for the lazy.) The Red Hat RPM installs fine through up2date, and the gentoo install also works without a hitch. Not a single dependency / library problem, although if you want to use the stock updates you may need to add some things via cpan.

    I used to dual boot solely for Quicken, but that stopped years ago when they made internet explorer an integrated part of their product. I have been using Gnucash since, and with the new features in the 1.8 releases scheduled payments and billing customers for my home based business is easier than ever.

    Still plan to check out the new moneydance when time (and server load) permits...

  • by ravenwing_np (22379) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:37AM (#5807377)
    However, GNUCash will run on all the platforms listed

    How can you sleep at night when you tell us such lies? No where on the site do I see anything about running on Windows. If you are trying to move people from away from MS software, you have to do it slowly to give them a chance to cope.
  • Re:one of (Score:2, Informative)

    by mental_telepathy (564156) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:41AM (#5807396)
    When did you switch to Mac? I have had Quicken on my mac since 1999. They have kept pretty current, as well. Downloading financial transactions took some time, but is available in the most recent version.
  • by MCRocker (461060) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:41AM (#5807397) Homepage
    This release is a real coup for MoneyDance's author, Sean Reilly. A while ago, he sold MoneyDance to Apgen. At first this worked out really well because they added a lot of resources to the project and development really took off.

    Unfortunately, when Apgen's fortunes started to fade with the end of the .com bubble, the MoneyDance staff was slowly laid off until even Sean was let go.

    Like many other zombie probjects, the MoneyDance web page was not taken down and Apgen was still selling it even though nobody was home. There was no support at all. The mailing list was a scary place then. It took months for people to figure out what was going on. Apgen didn't respond at all to help requests and the list turned to a big discussion on what the alternatives were.

    Somehow, Sean managed to get the rights to MoneyDance back just a few months ago and started working on the new version that he just released.

    Lots of good ideas have sunk in the last year or so of economic trouble in the software industry. Most will never resurface and have been lost forever. This is a real coup for Sean and the MoneyDance users that Sean was able to resurect this fine project and produce a new version in such a short time.

    The Apgen folks have been very quiet about the whole thing for obvious reasons, but I think they are an example to follow. They made a valiant effort to promote MoneyDance, but when it didn't work out they set MoneyDance free instead of locking it up and throwing away the key. For some strange reason, this isn't the norm.
  • by scpotter (84436) on Friday April 25, 2003 @08:49AM (#5807428) Journal
    However, GNUCash will run on all the platforms listed, and is free. Actually, GNUcash doesn't run on windows, the third 'platform' listed. Unless you're using a more narrow definition of platform than most.
  • Palm version (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoorFrame (22108) on Friday April 25, 2003 @09:07AM (#5807505) Homepage
    One of the reasons that I'm able to keep track of my finances is that there's a Palm Pilot Quicken tool which allows me to track everything I do throughout the day, even when I'm nowhere near a computer to enter the transaction. Without this tool remembering every expense was getting extremely difficult and I was considering giving up on the project.

    Now, before I even consider looking at this program, does it have a similar attachment?
  • by LHN (599122) on Friday April 25, 2003 @09:13AM (#5807532) Homepage
    Actually, no password was displayed here, just a message letting everyone know that the account name is apache, and there is no password.
  • Re:Palm version (Score:2, Informative)

    by MCRocker (461060) on Friday April 25, 2003 @09:25AM (#5807593) Homepage
    No, it does not.

    However, there is an extension mechanism developer's toolkit [moneydance.com], so you could add a synchronization mechanism.

    Porting or creating a mini version might be difficult because Palm's Java support is somewhat lacking. It would probably be a lot of work to get a port of MoneyDance working on J2ME, MID Profile.
  • by Johann (4817) on Friday April 25, 2003 @09:26AM (#5807594) Homepage
    I have used MD for about 4 years. It was the final piece of software that allowed me to delete Windows for ever. I am happy to see it return back to the capable hands of Sean Reilly. Appgen did nothing with it.

    I have tried GNU Cash and while they have similar features, MD is *much* easer to use. MD has *way* better reporting and IMHO continue to have better support for on-line banking.

    Hard-core Linux users may like GNU Cash. I certainly support the GNU project and I am grateful that GNU Cash is a viable alternative. But, if you have been using MS Money or Quicken, you probably will feel more comfortable using MD, especially 2003.

    Another bonus for MD is that it is a Java application, so it will run on *any* platform. So, if you are still a dual-boot Linux/Windows user (why?), you can run MD on either one and not have to reboot simply to balance your checkbook.

    BTW - $30 is a small price to pay for organized finances.
    Jeff
  • Re:one of (Score:4, Informative)

    by mccalli (323026) on Friday April 25, 2003 @09:35AM (#5807642) Homepage
    Reading the comments in this thread I'm guessing you're UK-based. I can understand the other posters being confused about your comments as Quicken is available in the US.

    The lack of a UK Quicken version is the one thing stopping me getting a Mac. Seriously. I had other gripes before, but they've all been resolved one by one. I'm at the point where I'm considering getting one anyway and then running Quicken under VPC.

    In the meantime, please email Intuit and tell them you want a version. I've done that, and got a polite response back saying that if there's enough interest it will be done. Of course, they won't know if there's any interest if nobody tells 'em...

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • I use Intuit Quicken to track investments as well as my various accounts. Although Quicken claims to export data in QIF format, some information is missed or corrupted. The article warns of possible duplicate transactions, and the reviewer omitted two of his accounts because he didn't want to fix them up manually. He speculates that the problem is with the software that created the QIF files, and I have verified this by trying unsuccessfully to import a QIF file back into Intuit Quicken.

    It appears that the only reliable way to read Quicken data is by reading its native files. Considering the years of carefully-verified data I have entered into Quicken, I will wait for a replacement that reads these files. I regret that I do not know the format of Quicken's native files, or have any source for that information.
    John Sauter (J_Sauter@Empire.Net)
  • by Fished (574624) <amphigory@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 25, 2003 @09:45AM (#5807715)
    I particularly like Budget [snowmintcs.com]. Unlike GnuCash, Quicken, and MoneyDance the last time I tried it, it actually makes budgeting the central feature of the program rather than an afterthought. This is the foundation of managing your finances.

    Let's face it... if you just want to balance your checkbook, you can do that in a spreadsheet.

  • by pmz (462998) on Friday April 25, 2003 @10:04AM (#5807829) Homepage
    Actually, GNUcash doesn't run on windows, the third 'platform' listed.

    True. Actually, it isn't portable beyond systems that have GNOME 1.4 and a plethora of other libraries installed. It's also GTK-based. The huge number of dependencies in GNUCash are its greatest portability weakness, IMO. I doubt it would ever run on Windows without substantial re-engineering.
  • Re:Palm version (Score:2, Informative)

    by cyberassasin (4943) <bmfrank@gmai l . com> on Friday April 25, 2003 @10:09AM (#5807850) Homepage
    There is a Palm Sync Extension... Available here [moneydance.com]

    It will support a variety of palm checkbook apps, such as Pocket Money, Splash Money, and the Palm Expense app..

    Works well...

    Good Luck
  • by pmz (462998) on Friday April 25, 2003 @10:13AM (#5807879) Homepage
    Great program when running, but horrible to get it there.

    All the other responses to this post say "just use apt-get" or "up2date" or "emerge this or that". That's all nice and dandy, but part of the freedom of Open Source is being able to compile from the source from the authors! Getting GNUCash to compile on Solaris, for example, is absolute torture. I don't want to know how much pain and suffering the people at Debian, Red Hat, and Gentoo had to go through to make their one-shot commands actually work.

    IMO, the fact that GNUCash is so difficult to compile from source reflects badly upon its architecture and packaging. However, I do agree that it works well once it's in place.
  • by Tepar (87925) on Friday April 25, 2003 @11:57AM (#5808699) Homepage

    Um, the previous owner of MoneyDance, Appgen [appgen.com], has such a program. It's called MyBooks.

    $99 for a 5 user license. You can use it standalone on one machine, of course, but to get the most bang for your $99, you need to install the server version on a Linux box, and the clients on your choice of Linux, MacOSX, or Windows.

    I've been running it for a year, and it's been fantastic.

  • by ek_adam (442283) on Friday April 25, 2003 @12:01PM (#5808738) Homepage

    I started using GnuCash a couple of weeks ago. I'm running it on a PowerMac G4 350MHz with Mac OS X 10.2.5. I used MoneyDance for about one year in 2001-2002. Then it was discontinued. With some annoying file corruption bugs unfixed and apparently unlikely to be fixed I switched back to Quicken. The current release happened after the original programmer finally got rights to the code he wrote for Appgen.

    Now that I have it compiled, I am happier with GnuCash than I was with MoneyDance. One big advantage of GnuCash over MoneyDance for someone leaving Quicken? GnuCash is very good with QIF imports. MoneyDance produces way too many duplicate entries after a QIF import.

    On the other hand, the lack of a GnuCash binary distribution for some platforms will push some people to MoneyDance. It took my computer over 12 hours to compile GnuCash and all of its dependencies. Loading MoneyDance took a minute or two.

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