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Do the Moneydance

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Apr. 9th, 2007 | 12:00 am
mood: pleasedpleased

This is an unsolicited testimonial for my [current] favorite personal finance software package.

Moneydance may be considered a competitor to Quicken and Microsoft Money, though it comes from a much smaller company. Moneydance costs about $30, or about the same as the "basic" version of Quicken. (You can try Moneydance out for free, though; it's available for download at http://www.moneydance.com/other.)

Unlike Quicken and Microsoft Money, Moneydance is written in Java. One implication of this is that it has the same functionality on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Quicken, by contrast, is a much less capable package on a Mac than it is on Windows, and isn't available at all on Linux.

Moneydance isn't "open source", but it does have an open API (Application Program Interface), which allows any Java programmer to write extensions to Moneydance. It may seem as if this is not important to you if you are not a programmer, but I think it is important to anyone, as an indication that the makers of Moneydance have a much more open attitude than do Intuit, the makers of Quicken.

Besides, there are already some extensions available: ten of them, as of today, and they're free. (The online list of available extensions lists only three of them; the only way I know of to get a complete list is from within Moneydance itself. One negative note: when you do that, you get only the names, no descriptions, which makes it hard to tell which one, if any, has the functionality you are looking for.)

This extensibility is one of many reasons why I greatly prefer Moneydance to Quicken. Caveat: this is not a formal review, because I've never done a head-to-head comparison of the same version of the two packages -- that is, of versions released at about the same time -- but I would be very suprised if doing such a head-to-head comparison were to change my preference.

As for Microsoft Money, it's not available on any platform except Windows. Other than that, I know little about it: I've never used it.

Disclosure: a project I have done some work on, and hope to get back to, is to create another Moneydance extension. I don't expect to make any money from doing this (at least, not directly ... ); you decide whether this involvement with the product nevertheless makes me "biased" in evaluating the merits of Moneydance versus its competitors.

I don't speak Marketing: it's not my style to drown you in superlatives. In my judgment, though, Moneydance is the best personal finance program now available. I'd say that's true for most users, and most especially for Macintosh users.

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