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CSV import

May 14, 2014

aticon57 Today I got my first negative review for a long time criticising something valid(*). So infrequent is this event that I felt a response was due! 🙂 Well done to Steve Ives in the UK – if you get in touch I will send you a prize!

In his review he complained about the import capability of the app, specifically that I only support CSV and that it has to be in exactly the right format. I don’t disagree with his comments. So what are the alternatives and why haven’t I “fixed” this?

The main reason is that I don’t expect people to import transactions more than once. The app is designed to be used on the go, and many users tap in transactions in between paying for things and getting their change! The entire workflow is based around quick data entry where it only takes perhaps 5-15 seconds to key in a new transaction. And assuming I am a typical user, I enter less than 1 transaction per day.

I suppose the alternative is to download a statement from your online bank once per month. But surely that defeats the purpose of the app? For a start your data is always weeks out of date, plus the app can be used to track dozens of accounts not just the one (I track nearly 50!).

I could add support for the various financial data formats – its just a matter of my time, and I haven’t regarded this as important enough to implement above other things.

CSV is fairly common, however you do need to put it in the right format. Why? Because there are probably 1000s of different bank formats worldwide and I can’t support them all. I could adaptively learn, or ask the user to identify each column. Again its a matter of my time and priority. The most difficult thing to solve though is the date format. Not just whether 2/3/2014 is the 2nd March or 3rd February, but handling 1000s of other ways to express dates, across 100s of languages.

As I say, I am not disagreeing with Steve’s comments, just trying to explain my way of thinking.

* not saying there aren’t things to criticise – there most certainly are! However most negative reviews are from people who simply don’t read the documentation or are just complaining about the iOS 7 user interface!