Leopard Bites My Beta

I apologize for the lengthy delay between posts, but I’ve been face down in code trying to get the next release of MoneyWell finished.

MoneyWell 1.1 has just entered its beta test phase. This is the final step before a software product is released, which means everything is complete enough to have customers test it and give feedback. It’s a bit of bad timing on my part, because Apple just shipped OS X 10.5 (a.k.a. Leopard) and customers found a couple of MoneyWell features that don’t work right under Leopard. The fixes for these are just time consuming enough that releasing a patch isn’t going to be much faster than adding them to the 1.1 release. This has added more pressure for me to resist adding one more feature and get this bad boy out the door.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the MoneyWell beta was opened up to members of the No Thirst Software User Forum. Feel free to stop by the forum and join. This beta shows off some very critical new features, including: OFX/QFX import, password-protected documents, per-month spending plan amounts, and a real reconcile mode—a healthy chunk of what I had planned and pre-announced. I think these features will help more people make the choice to buy MoneyWell. It certainly won’t capture everyone that looks at it though. I’ve found that many people expect MoneyWell to be clone of Quicken with a more Mac-like interface—it’s not.

MoneyWell is not a cookie-cutter finance package. It doesn’t look or act like most others and that fact alone causes some people to express disappointment with it and ask me to change the way it works. It’s tempting to cave and toss in poorly designed features, but that’s just not my style. I know there’s no way to make everyone happy, but what I can do is trust that the design I’ve started with is good and certain customer suggestions will fit with that design, while others will not. Certain customers will love MoneyWell and keep it, while others will decide to use something else. It’s so hard for me to say “no” and watch people walk away, but I truly believe the software I create is better because of it.

The upside to sticking to my guns and focusing on my design philosophies is that I can create user interfaces that work perfectly for my needs and, hopefully, many others will agree that it’s worth learning some new workflows to improve their lives as well. A good example is the new reconcile feature. It’s not all that radical, but—for me—it fixes all the complaints I had with Quicken’s reconcile.

I didn’t want to have to look at a subset of my transactions list in a separate window, but I wanted to easily see what transactions fit into the reconcile date range. I also wanted MoneyWell to tell me if those same transactions added up to the statement difference so I could just check them all—with one click please. Lastly, I wanted to be able to easily review previous reconciled statements.

Oddly enough, I got what I wanted. Clicking a single button switches the main transaction list into a reconcile mode that, instead of hiding transactions not in the statement date range, fades them to gray. It also uses red and blue rounded rectangles to show which transactions are reconciled and which open, respectively. Helpful graphics appear to indicate when I can reconcile the statement using one click and when I am done reconciling. It’s also easy to quickly pick a previous statement from the pop-up list and review it. It’s amazing: Almost like this developer could read my mind!

I’ve got to get back to coding, but know that MoneyWell’s release schedule will continue like this: rapid releases with significant, well-designed features. Keep sending me your requests and I’ll keep working to find a cool way to implement them.

Peace.

P.S.: One of the great rewards of being a Mac developer is being accepted as a member of the generous developer community. Code sharing is very common and I’ve learned so much from other developers. One such developer is Joe Goh. He liked my graph in MoneyWell and asked if I would share my code with him. I did, he made some massive improvements, and shared right back. Check out the video of his new release of Phone Journal. You’ll see a really slick rewrite of the MoneyWell graph that will surely affect future visuals in MoneyWell. Thanks Joe!

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