AccountEdge Plus 2008 full review

MYOB’s range of accounting software has been our perennial business-oriented accounting favourite for years. The three programs offer excellent features, make business accounting easy for the masses, and keep your accountant happy with a foundation of double-entry accounting.

Until recently the UK line-up of MYOB accounting products consisted of Accounting Plus, Accounting and Business Basics but MYOB has rebranded the latest versions in line with the US editions. Where we had three versions, the US only had two, so we lucky Brits now get an additional Account Edge version that sits between FirstEdge (previously Business Basics) and AccountEdge Plus (previously Accounting Plus). The UK AccountEdge Plus version is identical to AccountEdge in the US.

We will look extensively at AccountEdge Plus in this review although many of the new features can be found across the board. Like Accounting Plus before it, AccountEdge Plus is an excellent business accounting application. But the program’s appearance is different, and there are now better tools to handle employee sick and holiday leave. AccountEdge Plus is also better integrated with iCal and .Mac, and some features present in previous versions benefit from minor enhancements.

In good company

AccountEdge Plus sports a familiar but completely resurfaced Command Centre, the main interface you use to access all of the software’s accounting features. The program’s buttons have been redesigned, giving it an OS X-like look and feel. It also includes a new drawer where users can store shortcuts to all their favourite or most used AccountEdge features. While this new drawer has the potential to be really useful, at present it seems more like a ‘Hey, we’re programming in Cocoa!’ feature than something that adds any real value.

Three annoying design elements have been fixed in this release. First, at-N now appropriately creates a new transaction specific to the area of the program you’re working in. Type alt-N while you’re working with inventory or sales, or on any other screen where a new item is appropriate, and you’ll see a new window where you can create a new item or invoice. In older versions of the program, this key combination opened the New Company wizard, which most users would likely need only once or twice. Second, resizing the Command Centre window now resizes everything in the window. In previous versions, this enlarged only the borders around all of the Command Centre’s buttons.

AccountEdge’s best new features revolve around employees and payroll. The program now offers the option of emailing pay stubs to employees and makes it easier to track and account for an employee’s holiday time. There have also been minor changes to what you can view and the information that will print on cheque stubs and some reports.

Finally, AccountEdge Plus now has a completely revamped and truly useful help system. While it wasn’t as detailed with ‘how-to’ information as we would have liked, it was much better at helping us find useful information than its predecessor was.

Unfortunately, we still find the program’s form creation and editing tools to be less than optimal.

We’ve said in previous reviews of the MYOB line-up that form creation is a considerable weak point for these programs. They simply lack the simplicity you find in programs like FileMaker Pro or FileMaker’s new Bento database programs. With forms being the public face you present to your customers and vendors, these tools should more closely resemble the ones found in desktop publishing programs.

AccountEdge Plus now completes the program’s Apple iApp integration -– which began with Address Book synchronisation in an earlier release – in two ways. You can now configure AccountEdge Plus to automatically back up your company file to .Mac, and you can schedule tasks and create reminders for upcoming events using iCal. This means that you no longer have to open the program to view to-do reminders or other scheduled events. Also, AccountEdge Plus offers the advantage of selecting the events that you want to appear in iCal. So, for example, you can set up an iCal reminder for a recurring transaction, like paying you auto lease, while choosing not to set an iCal reminder for paying your utility bill.

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