Still uneasy about the closed silo

Quicken has to be the financial management app that is the least flexible in importing and exporting data: because it can. Other programs can import QIF and CSV files, but Quicken can't. QIF and CSV are important to me because I have an account with a French bank that only offers QIF and CSV export. 

QIF export, with all its limitations, is still better than nothing. 

Isn't anyone else concerned that Quicken is basically holding their financial data hostage?
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  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Yes, sure. But does anyone expect them to devote scarce programming time and resources to building better exports so people can leave Quicken when they wish? 

    That said, I'd note that in Quicken Mac, you can export transaction registers to a CSV file. It would certainly take work to reassemble into something useful, but you can get a lot of your transaction history out of Quicken. 
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  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 13
    We've had this conversation before, @jacobs . My question was, "Isn't anyone else concerned that Quicken is basically holding their financial data hostage?" Doesn't that worry people? Although I find Quicken to be the best, I literally question whether it is wise to continue using it.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    You asked the question and I first answered your question that I thought yes, it's a concern. But you said that Quicken can't export data in CSV format, and I noted that's incorrect —  that you can export all your transaction data in CSV format. So while there may not be an optimal exit path from Quicken neither is it "holding your data hostage"; you can get your core data out.

    Now you're adding another layer to your question: should one not use Quicken because of concerns about how compatible your data will be with some other program in the future? Nearly everyone using this forum has made the decision to use Quicken, so if you're asking is it wise to use Quicken, almost everyone here has decided it's a program they consider worth using. I'm not sure what sort of additional response you're looking to get. 


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  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 14
    No, I observed that Quicken can't import CSV files. And the CSV export isn't configurable in any way.

    I also think that this observation:

    "But does anyone expect them to devote scarce programming time and resources to building better exports so people can leave Quicken when they wish?"

    is narrowly pragmatic, even cynical at best. It's not about making it possible to leave Quicken when one wishes but rather insuring that users' data is portable. Developers of third-party financial management programs with far fewer resources than Quicken have devoted scarce programming time to make sure that their user data doesn't remain locked in a walled silo. It's the right thing to do. 

    "Nearly everyone using this forum has made the decision to use Quicken"

    Most people don't give a thought to whether or not their data can be exported, Jacobs. It's a question that's more appropriate to ask here on a Quicken forum than on a Banktivity or Moneydance forum.


  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    I get your points. And apologies for misreading that you were looking for importing rather than exporting above.

    Since Quicken management isn't poring through the posts on this forum, this is just a discussion among Quicken users, right? So I guess I'm not understand what you're aiming to accomplish here. Are you trying to scare Quicken users? To convince people to use a program other than Quicken? I think most Quicken users are cognizant of various shortcomings in Quicken Mac, although which shortcomings impact each user are quite different.

    Lack of data portability is one such shortcoming. Some is by design, such as the lack of QIF or CSV importing due to problems with data integrity as well as circumventing the revenue stream of Intuit's OFX connectivity. Some is due to lack of human resources to implement every idea, such as being able to import security price history for multiple securities in a single CSV file. And some is likely strategic, such as not spending time adding features to make it easier for users to take their data out of Quicken to use a competing program.

    In terms of the specific problem you originally cited — having a foreign bank which only offers QIF or CSV export — you might find it worth spending a little money on a third-party tool which can convert a QIF or CSV file into a QFX file which can be imported into Quicken. I'm not suggesting that's ideal, but it's pragmatic solution to the problem you face.

    The other practical thing you can do is add to existing product Idea threads, or create new one(s), for any specific import/export features you think would enhance Quicken Mac.
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  • Jon
    Jon Member ✭✭✭✭
    odysseus said:
    Isn't anyone else concerned that Quicken is basically holding their financial data hostage?
    No, because I don't think they are. I just checked 4 other Mac finance programs (Banktivity, Moneydance, GnuCash, SeeFinance) and only one of them did not appear to have a way to import data from Quicken Mac. 

    And if I did want to switch to a program that couldn't import Quicken Mac data, I'd just start a new file & leave the historical data in Quicken. It's not ideal but I've found that I can live with it - I've done it before. So even if it is an actual problem, it's not one I'm going to worry about.
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    Thanks for the reality check. Banktivity and SEE Finance can take QMTF files (do those include investment transactions?), but Moneydance can only accept QIF, or CSV; QIF is out of the question, and the user has no control over what is included in CSV export from Quicken. 
  • Jon
    Jon Member ✭✭✭✭
    Moneydance claims that the QMTF formatting is close enough to QIF that you can just change the file extension & it will import it. I have not tried it myself so I don't know how well that actually works.

    QMTF exports do not include investment transactions.
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    @Jon Do you mean QDFM? I'm not sure about the difference between QMTF and QDFM, but the former is for export, and the latter for import.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    QMTF was a file format Quicken created after Quicken Essentials came out in 2010. Some users tried Essentials, didn't like all the things it was missing, and wanted to go back to Quicken 2007. So QMTF was created to export from Quicken Essentials in a format that could be imported into Quicken 2007. Since today's Quicken Mac is built on the code base of the old Quicken Essentials, the developers have left the QMTF export in the program. I'm not sure it's really useful to anyone at this point, and I wouldn't count on it always remaining present in the program. Note that because Quicken Essentials didn't have investments, QMTF doesn't handle investments. 

    QDFM is the file format for Quicken 2007 files. It's not a transfer format, but modern Quicken Mac can read Quicken 2007 QDFM files to import into the modern program. (Older versions of Quicken for Mac also used QDFM, but only those files saved by Quicken 2007 can be imported into the current program.) QDFM is apparently a very strange and difficult database format, so it's unlikely any other software will ever be built to decode the ever-dwindling number of QDFM files in the world. 

    QXF is Quicken's more modern transfer format. It was built to facilitate a transfer between Quicken Essentials and Quicken Windows. I believe it originally worked in either direction. When the modern Quicken Mac replaced Quicken Essentials, the Mac program added investment accounts. A QXF file exported from Quicken Mac will contain investment transactions, but the Quicken Windows importer was never updated after Essentials to read investment data, so going from Mac to Windows will only work for banking accounts. 
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  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 15
    So basically, there is no satisfactory, modern data transfer format designed for the same purposes as QIF.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 15
    QIF was designed for importing transactions from financial institutions intoQuicken, not as a file transportability tool. QFX/OFX was created as the successor to QIF.

    While nothing inherently prevents Quicken from still using QIF, there were problems with QIF which the OFX standard was designed to solve. And Intuit produces revenue because using OFX generates payments from some of the financial institutions which use it. (I don’t know if since the split of Quicken from Intuit, whether Quicken gets some of that money or if Intuit keeps it all.)
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  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    If OFX could be used to replace QIF as a file interchange format, than it would be *really* simple for Quicken to allow this, and they could presumably still charge the banks, no?
  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    Jon said:
    Moneydance claims that the QMTF formatting is close enough to QIF that you can just change the file extension & it will import it. I have not tried it myself so I don't know how well that actually works.

    QMTF exports do not include investment transactions.

    That is correct. QTMF is essentially QIF. But as noted, it was not implemented to handle investments.
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  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    Note too that QMac uses an open SQL database format. So, someone could theoretically develop a way to read that database for import into another program.
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  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    smayer97 said:
    Note too that QMac uses an open SQL database format. So, someone could theoretically develop a way to read that database for import into another program.
    Yes, a competitor could likely develop a way to read current Quicken Mac files much more easily than the proprietary database using in Quicken 2007.

    odysseus said:
    If OFX could be used to replace QIF as a file interchange format, than it would be *really* simple for Quicken to allow this, and they could presumably still charge the banks, no?
    Again, QIF and OFX were created as financial transaction formats, not for making entire databases portable among different vendors systems. In any case, Intuit drove the creation of OFX/QFX to replace QIF, so why would Quicken want to now go back to the older and less-capable technology of QIF? They don't. And they won't.
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  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 15
    jacobs said:
    QIF was designed for importing transactions from financial institutions into Quicken.
    I'm sorry, but this isn't true.
    But this statement is true:
    jacobs said:
     not as a file transportability tool. 

    QIF was created to support Intuit support staff help with data file problems.  Then later it was used to import transactions into Quicken.  Other competitors realized that they could use the QIF exports as a way to convert Quicken users to their personal financial programs.

    At no time was the QIF format standardized, and as such different companies, and even different countries put their own changes in it, and that included Intuit.  If they wanted to add something they did. What's more it isn't "maintained". The syntax is lacking to describe much of what is in a Quicken data file.

    So, even though QIF emerged as a quasi-standard for doing these conversions, but never designed for it, and Quicken Inc/Intuit has never really put much effort into this try to make it such.  It just isn't good for their business model, and they have much more important things to work on.

    Over in the Quicken Windows world where export/import of QIF is still "supported", it tends to be a major undertaking to actually try and get a good creation of a new data file from it.
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  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 15
    "It just isn't good for their business model, and they have much more important things to work on."

    I would argue that data interoperability is one of the most important tasks to work on. If it isn't good for their business model, then they're really operating on the model of the closed silo.

    Why do you think text-based formats such as Markdown are so popular for text editing?
    Microsoft may have control over the .doc/.docx specification, but so many other word processors have managed to read and write that format with relative success.
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta

    @smayer97

    Yes, the SQL database storage format could be read, but other developers aren't willing to do so because Quicken hasn't published it and could change it at any time, rendering their efforts worthless.
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 15
    "Again, QIF and OFX were created as financial transaction formats, not for making entire databases portable among different vendors systems. In any case, Intuit drove the creation of OFX/QFX to replace QIF, so why would Quicken want to now go back to the older and less-capable technology of QIF? They don't. And they won't."

    My quote proposes that OFX could serve the same purpose as QIF, not that Quicken should return to QIF.

    It's so frustrating to read the posts of people who argue from the point of view of Quicken and against their own best interests! @jacobs may recall that there was a long time during the development of Quicken 2016, 2017, etc., during which he continued to use Quicken 2007 because modern versions of Quicken didn't offer the functionality of Quicken 2007 and he wanted to be sure that he wouldn't lose his data. 
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    We’re only chatting among ourselves here; Quicken management isn’t reading this. As such, I was trying to describe the way it is and how we got here, not what would be great in an ideal world. I understand why you’d like there to be a standard to make it easy for user to move their data from one program to another, and I’m saying it’s not in Quicken’s interest and it’s not among the Top 100 features users clamor for the developers to tackle.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Jon
    Jon Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 15
    Hypothetically it would be nice to have a better way to get data out of Quicken, but it's pretty far down on my list of things they should work on. In 32 years of using personal finance software I've only moved 3 times: from Quicken DOS/Windows to Quicken Mac in '99, from Quicken Mac to Banktivity in 2011, and from Banktivity back to Quicken Mac in 2017. it's not a feature I'd get much use out of.

    Nor do I particularly want to get much use out of it. I'd rather have them spend their time working on making Quicken Mac better so I don't have to think about moving again. Not that I'm currently unhappy with it - it's getting the job done for me at this point, but there are improvements which I'd like to see.
  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited January 15
    @Jon You miss the point entirely. It's not a feature that anyone would use much -- but it's a lifesaver, a feature essential to have around. Everyone would prefer to have Quicken spend their time working on making Quicken Mac better, but what will you do if they run out of venture capital, get bought by someone else for its intellectual property? … Nothing is forever. Quicken was essentially dead for quite a long time, during which time data migration was possible thanks to QIF, and then fortunately resuscitated. Who is to say that it won't happen again?

    People are so shortsighted. I guess it's human nature.
  • Jon
    Jon Member ✭✭✭✭
    And as I pointed out above, many other Mac programs (at least the ones I'd consider using as an alternative to Quicken) already have a way to import Quicken data. My experience going from Quicken to Banktivity & back again was that it was OK. Not perfect - I had to spend some time cleaning things up in each case - but good enough. 

    If things change to the point that it's no longer possible to get data out of Quicken at all, then I'll be worried. But we're not there, and I don't see things getting any worse than they are right now, so it's just not something I can get worked up about. If that makes me shortsighted in your opinion, so be it. 
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    As I've mentioned, the ability to export all your transaction data from Quicken in CSV format exists. It seems like the escape path you're seeking already exists. 

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  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    Jon said:
    ...

    If things change to the point that it's no longer possible to get data out of Quicken at all, then I'll be worried. But we're not there, and I don't see things getting any worse than they are right now, so it's just not something I can get worked up about. If that makes me shortsighted in your opinion, so be it. 
    It is not possible to get your data out of QMac in a way that others can use at this point in time. That is the concern by @odysseus. And a legitimate one.

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  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    jacobs said:
    As I've mentioned, the ability to export all your transaction data from Quicken in CSV format exists. It seems like the escape path you're seeking already exists. 

    The issue is not just about getting data out of QMac. The issue is about getting data out in a format that is usable to transfer into another financial program. CSV is not such a format.
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  • smayer97
    smayer97 SuperUser, Mac Beta, Canada Beta ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 4:24AM
    Chris_QPW said:
    ...

    Over in the Quicken Windows world where export/import of QIF is still "supported", it tends to be a major undertaking to actually try and get a good creation of a new data file from it.
    With all the shortcomings QIF is, it has still been used successfully to transfer data from Quicken to other programs, and even from other programs into Quicken. The problem right now is that there is nothing equivalent at the moment for QMac, which leaves some people feeling vulnerable.

    It was and continues to be one of my concerns (among several) that keeps me back in QM2007, because as has been pointed out, Quicken went through a near-death experience, especially QMac. So, there is legitimate cause for concern and contingency planning.

    That said, again, QMTF is essentially QIF (not sure if it is identical) so is the closest thing available, though it lacks investment data ATM.
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  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited 3:36PM
    With all the shortcomings QIF is, it has still been used successfully to transfer data from Quicken to other programs, and even from other programs into Quicken. The problem right now is that there is nothing equivalent at the moment for QMac, which leaves some people feeling vulnerable.

    As I see it in a lot of ways Quicken Mac users have a step up from what Quicken Windows users have.
    You can actually export your data in QXF format and import it into another data file to get around data corruption.  Data corruption is the number one reason people want to do a "full copy" to another data file and start over in Quicken Windows.

    If you do a QXF import in Quicken Windows it totally ignores all investment transactions, making it pretty useless for this purpose.

    odysseus said:
    My quote proposes that OFX could serve the same purpose as QIF, not that Quicken should return to QIF.
    You are proposing going from a standard (OFX is a standardized protocol) to QIF which isn't a standardized protocol.  Not going to happen.

    What's more the two have completely different goals.
    The OFX standard is all about a program interacting with a financial institution.
    As such it has much more syntax/commands for things that QIF doesn't support.  It has commands for doing bill payments for instance, which the QIF format knows nothing about.

    On the other hand, the OFX has no support for categories or tags, or split transactions.

    The two aren't comparable or interchangeable.  They have some overlap in functionality/use cases, but that is about it.

    What's more as time goes on this is becoming more and more irrelevant.

    It would have been nice if the US/Canadian financial institutions all adopted a standard, but they didn't.  The OFX/QFX format only reached about 4000 financial institutions at its height of support.  That is out of more than 35,000 financial institutions in the US alone.  That number is now down to about 2,000.

    This has forced the financial institutions and programs like Quicken to go to "aggregation".  As in Quicken Connect, Express Web Connect, Express Web Connect +, Mint, ...

    And now there is a push to at least standardize that connection between the aggregator (like Intuit) and the financial institution.  That is what you are seeing in the changeover for both Capitial One and Schwab.

    This is where Quicken Inc sees the future, the Quicken CEO made that pretty clear in his last email it sent out apologizing for all the problems that have come up changing over to this with Schwab (mostly on the Windows side).

    Back to the subject of exporting the data:

    If you believe that you are alone in wanting "some way to get at the data/recover data" as might seem from some of the posts here, you are wrong, every customer would on the surface be for it.

    I say on the surface, because any such project would be a huge undertaking.  That developer time won't come from the "void".  Try stating an Idea like this.

    I believe that Quicken Mac should support a way export my data in an open format and can be fixed and reimported, and they should do this before adding any other features like business features, credit scores,  ..,

    That is when you will get push back from other users.  People usually all for new features as long as two things are true:
    1. It doesn't break anything they use.
    2. It doesn't delay them getting features they want first.
    As for what the management of Quicken views about this, I think you have rose color glasses on if you think that they view everything in "the best interest of the customer".

    Have the "ads" for renewing the subscription in Quicken when the subscription lapsing gone away even though hundreds of votes for it?

    Quicken Inc and Intuit before them have no problem using the stick over the carrot.
    There used to be two major players in this space, Intuit and Microsoft.

    There isn't any doubt in my mind that they purposely didn't create a format that is standardize and accessible for exporting data.  Because the moment that happened the competitor would have created an import for it, but not done the same for an export.  Creating a one-way conversion path.

    And if you don't think that happens, has happened in the past, and Apple is the master of that.

    BTW I think creating the QIF format was a "learning experience" for Intuit (and remember the start of Quicken Inc is the Quicken department of Intuit).  It taught them that if they create a generic export, competitors will take advantage of that.  Intuit tried really hard to kill QIF in Quicken Windows from Quicken 2004 onward.  It really couldn't get it done without upsetting a lot of things, so that is why it is still here.

    But they certainly applied that learning to the rewrite of Quicken Mac.  And there you have another big learning experience.  I doubt they ever thought the rewriting Quicken could be such a big project.

    When you create something incremental over lots of years, you really forgot all the effort it took to get you to that point.
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  • odysseus
    odysseus Member, Mac Beta Beta
    edited 4:49PM
    You more or less completely misunderstand my posts. I never said that I thought Quicken management views everything in the best interest of the customer. That would be naïve at best.

    "That is when you will get push back from other users.  People usually all for new features as long as two things are true:
    1. It doesn't break anything they use.
    2. It doesn't delay them getting features they want first."
    Right, and that is why I concluded that people are shortsighted. Why would anyone have the wisdom to insist that Quicken implement a feature that most people would use once or twice at best?