Is my data going effectively to be stuck in Quicken forever?

odysseus
odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
I've raised this question with the Quicken PM, and it worries me greatly: just about every other financial management program can import and export via the admittedly limited .qif format for data interchange, but Quicken cannot. In particular, there is no way easily to export all my data from Quicken losslessly (yes, there is csv, but it must be done on a *per* register basis, and then what happens to transfers?).

Will Quicken be around forever? What will? While it would obviously take engineering resources, why can't the Quicken team create a new file interchange format and publish its specifications? This would also acknowledge that Quicken is part of a financial management community and not a walled garden/prison for personal financial data.

Answers

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @odysseus  I understand your concern, and it's a valid one, but what is the motivation or business incentive for Quicken to create a robust way to export data from Quicken? Would such capability help sell more Quicken subscriptions? Maybe a handful, but generally not. Would it make it easier for people to leave Quicken? Definitely yes. So you're asking them to invest in their potential future demise, putting resources into building a feature for both Quicken Mac and Quicken Windows which has zero return on investment and can only help them lose customers. I understand why we as consumers might like to see this, but I can't see why they would do so.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    I see your point (yet other, smaller developers, have had no qualms about making it easy to export data from their programs), but by creating an effective, modern file interchange format, users of other financial management software would have an easy way to switch to Quicken since developers would almost surely embrace it. It works both ways 😊 

    But I'm curious as to whether you or anyone else on these discussions is concerned about the difficulty that they would have switching to another financial management program.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Yes, it concerns me that should I ever need to move off the Quicken platform, it would take a bit of work to get started with something else, and I’d likely have to leave some of my history behind. I’m not disagreeing it would be good to have an exit path. I’m saying I’m not sure I see Quicken ever investing time and money building a way to make it easy for their customers to move to a competing product.

    Not all software developers do this, either. I’ve used Adobe InDesign in the past, but I can’t open those files in other designs software.  Generally, it falls to competing developers to reverse engineer the file format of a category-leading product in order to draw in customers.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    In some way Quicken Inc has never dropped their "Intuit attitude", and this is one of such cases.  Another is the banner if you don't renew your subscription.  They aren't afraid to play hardball.  And frankly neither was their biggest competitor, Microsoft.

    Both Quicken and MS Money have closely guarded file formats.  Other than the entirely inadequate QIF format converting between the two was never possible until Microsoft dropped MS Money and an old Microsoft employee was allowed to write a converter between MS Money and Quicken.

    History note. The QIF format was created for Quicken support people to help customers.  It was never intended to be a format to move to other financial programs, and it was never standardized.  If anything I think it taught Intuit (and note that a lot of the Quicken Inc Windows developers and probably marketing came from the Intuit Quicken group) not to put anything like that out in the public.  They are been trying to get rid of it since 2004.  And of course they put just the minimum support into the new Quicken Mac so that they can get data from other personal finance software.

    BTW the database software that Quicken Mac is using is very "well known".  And at one time there it was mentioned that Quicken Mac's biggest competitor had "reverse engineered it".
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  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Chris_QPW said:

    BTW the database software that Quicken Mac is using is very "well known".  And at one time there it was mentioned that Quicken Mac's biggest competitor had "reverse engineered it".
    Chris, thanks as always for some of the long-ago historical background. 

    As for the database in modern Quicken Mac, yes, there's no secret about it: it's the very standard SQL Lite, which is used extensively by the Mac operating system. Any SQL programmer can access the database and could figure out its basic format (although deciphering all the nuanced details would undoubtedly take some work). At this time, there's probably not a big enough market of people looking to exit from Quicken Mac for competitors to put effort into building and constantly updating an importer from Quicken Mac. If Quicken Mac were to suddenly cease to exist, then it likely could be done.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited August 2021
    Chris_QPW said:
    BTW the database software that Quicken Mac is using is very "well known".  And at one time there it was mentioned that Quicken Mac's biggest competitor had "reverse engineered it".
    I think that third-party developers are wary of reverse engineering the database since the folks at Quicken could change the way the data is stored at any time.

    I'm not aware of any competitor to Quicken Mac that has reverse engineered the database. Who is it? They all seem to rely on QIF for file interchange.

    Coming up with a file interchange format is just the right thing to do (sigh). Besides, while I do think that Quicken is the best overall financial management software for the Mac, its dominance is due to the features and quality that it offers, not to the fact that it effectively prevents its users from migrating their data!
  • Jon
    Jon SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    odysseus said:

    I'm not aware of any competitor to Quicken Mac that has reverse engineered the database. Who is it? They all seem to rely on QIF for file interchange.
    In addition to QIF files, Banktivity can also import QMTF files (which Quicken for Mac can export). I don't remember how well it works, it's been a while since I last played around with Banktivity.
    Quicken Mac subscription. Quicken user since 1990.
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