Archive for January, 2015

Account Tracker CSV file tutorial

January 31, 2015 Comments off

aticon57 atficon57 Account Tracker supports importing transactions from a CSV file, as documented here. The reason the format is relatively strict is because I only really expect people to import transactions once, and that it is quick and easy to convert CSV files in a spreadsheet like Excel or Numbers.

For those of you not familiar with spreadsheets, I thought I’d write this quick guide/tutorial about converting the export format from a sample bank (Nationwide in the UK) to Account Tracker format.

First of all, here is how Nationwide exports transactions …

Account Name:,Flexaccount ****12345
Account Balance:,£0.00
Available Balance: £0.00

Date,Transaction type,Description,Paid out,Paid in,Balance
29-Dec-14,Transfer to,ABC,£1.23,,£0.00

If you open your exported CSV file with Excel (or another spreadsheet application) you will see the data in table format, with columns (A to F) and rows (1-6 or more, depending on the number of transactions).

Lets get rid of the redundant rows and columns first. Click on the number 1 to the left of the first row and drag down to row 5. This will highlight the first 5 rows. Right click and select Delete. Select the sixth column (F) and delete that in the same way. Finally select the second column (B) and delete that. You will be left with one row per transaction, with four columns (date, description/details, paid out and paid in).

To fix the date format in column A, simply select the whole column and choose Format then Cells. Select Custom and enter dd/mm/yyyy in the Type box.

To convert the two separate columns for paid in and paid out into one, select cell E1 and enter the formula =D1-C1. Select cell E1 again, copy it (control c), select all the remaining cells in that column (one per row) and paste (control v). You now have a single column with amounts. To convert these cells from formulas to values, select the whole column, copy (control c), then choose Edit then Paste Special then Values. To get rid of the currency symbols, select the column and choose Format then Cells. Choose Number, set the right number of decimal places (2), don’t use a 1000 separator and keep the – sign for negative numbers. You can now delete columns C and D as they are no longer needed.

Finally you need to add in the five missing columns. First of all select column A and choose Insert then Column. Enter your account name from the app in cell A1, then double click on the little box at the bottom right of the cell. This will autofill the account name for each row. Alternatively you can select cell A1, copy it (control c), select the remaining cells in that column (one per row) and paste (control v).

Now select column D, and choose Insert then Column three times (to add columns for the category, notes and cheque number. Note that Nationwide includes the cheque number in their description field so you might have to find these and move the cheque numbers from column C to column F. This can be automated, but only if you are a more advanced Excel user!

Now select cell H1 (for the reconciled flag). Enter the text Y, then double click on the the little box at the bottom right of the cell. This will autofill the flag for each row. Alternatively you can select cell H1, copy it (control c), select the remaining cells in that column (one per row) and paste (control v).

To export your new CSV file, choose File then Save As, making sure you select the format Comma Separated Values (.csv).

iCloud syncing in Account Tracker

January 11, 2015 Comments off

aticon57This post tries to explain some of the more common issues related to iCloud syncing in Account Tracker (Pro), together with workarounds where known.

Note that as of v6.4 (December 2020), the old (legacy) iCloud is provided for backwards compatibility only. If you are starting from scratch, please use iCloud Drive instead. To do so, disable syncing (if enabled), disable iCloud (in my app), then enable it again, choosing iCloud Drive.

In the rest of this post, references to iCloud also refer to iCloud Drive.

First an iCloud overview …

iCloud is basically “cloud” based storage tied to a single iTunes account. Apps can use it to share data between all devices belonging to that user. It cannot be used to share data between different users and that is why I introduced Dropbox support – see the Alternatives to iCloud section below.

When an app writes a file to iCloud, the operating system (iOS) takes care of copying this to “the cloud” and from there to other devices. Apps have no control over how long this takes but it is usually a few seconds to a minute or so.

Basic things to check

You should check that you are running the latest versions of my app and of iOS itself.

To use iCloud, each device needs to be signed in and using the same iTunes account. This is done in the main Settings app, under iCloud.

And for iCloud to work, you clearly need network access, otherwise files can’t be copied between devices. This can either be WiFi or mobile data (enabled in the main Settings app). Note that devices don’t have to be on the same network. They just need access to the Internet.

Finally you need a few MB of free space on iCloud – you can check this in the main Settings app, under iCloud.

Problems enabling syncing

Step 1 is where you enable syncing on your PRIMARY device. This copies a new sync file to iCloud. If using iCloud Drive, you can see this by running Apple’s Files app to browse iCloud Drive. There will be an Account Tracker folder with a single sync file (from your PRIMARY).

Step 2 is where you enable syncing on your SECONDARY device. If it doesn’t give you the option of becoming SECONDARY, this is because the file in step 1 has not appeared on that device. It should do eventually, but you need to give it time (a minute or so). Use the Files app (or Finder on a Mac), this time on your SECONDARY, and you should see the same file as your PRIMARY.

Once enabled on your SECONDARY, step 3 is simply the SECONDARY waiting for an initial sync from your PRIMARY. Make sure my app is running on your PRIMARY device, and eventually you should see the “found a new SECONDARY device” popup. Again this can take a while (a minute or so). If it doesn’t appear, use the Files app on your PRIMARY and you should now see two sync files.

Step 4 is simply you initiating the initial sync from PRIMARY to SECONDARY. Leave the app running on your PRIMARY.

Finally step 5 is when the SECONDARY confirms the initial sync is complete (a minute or so).

In total this setup process involves writing 3 files to iCloud, and all the delays in copying them to “the cloud” and on to all devices. I have no control over how long this takes, however the 5 step process usually takes a minute or so in total.

Syncing has stopped working?

Once syncing is enabled, changes are tracked and when you close the app (by pressing the Home button or command Q on a Mac), that device’s sync file is updated. This eventually makes it to your other devices and you will see the Sync flag on the settings tab.

Sometimes it might appear as if syncing has stopped working. Often this is just iCloud being slow.

However …

Recent versions of iOS seem to prevent iCloud copies from working if your device is low on power. On the iPhone there is a low power mode in the battery settings, you might want to turn this off. Note there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent option on the iPad, however copies definitely don’t happen if you are low on power.

Try disabling and re-enabling access to iCloud for my app. This is done in the main Settings app, under your iCloud settings.

If all else fails, try to reboot/restart you device(s) as this often fixes bugs in iOS.

Alternatives to iCloud

In August 2014 I added support for Dropbox, to allow users with different iTunes accounts to exchange and share data. And because I am directly copying files to and from Dropbox myself, it is a lot faster.

The only drawback with Dropbox is that they now charge you to use more than 3 devices (called Dropbox Plus). You can manage the devices that can use your Dropbox account from the Dropbox app (or log in to Dropbox from a web browser). This is especially important after upgrading a device as the old one might need removing.

AppStore prices in Europe

January 10, 2015 Comments off

A few days ago, Apple adjusted all the AppStore prices throughout Europe. This is mainly due to changing VAT rules where sales tax now needs to be charged at the prevailing rate in the country of sale, rather than them using the lowest tax rate they could (15% in Luxembourg).

Apple have also made adjustments due to currency fluctuations, which they do from time to time.

In the UK, these price changes are as follows …

69p increases to 79p
£1.49 stays the same
£1.99 increases to £2.29
£2.49 increases to £2.99
£2.99 increases to £3.99
£3.99(?) increases to £4.49
£4.99 stays the same

Developers receive the sale amount minus VAT (Government’s share) minus a further 30% (Apple’s share), so a 79p sale generates 46p of revenue, a £1.49 sale generates 87p of revenue … etc.

For my own apps, Account Tracker is now £2.99, and Meter Readings and Hill Lists stay the same at £1.49. I have also reduced the price of the following in-app purchases …

Account Tracker “Personal Sync” is now £1.49 (the same as “Family Sync”)

Meter Readings “Power User” upgrade is now 79p