A little over six months ago I wrote a post titled MYOB – WTF is interaction design again?, in response to the frustration I was feeling over my ongoing battle with MYOB for Windows.
While that battle has continued, with neither of us giving way, I was very impressed that the MYOB team took the time, within 3 days, to find my post and respond. OK, it was just “call us”, but still. And I never called anyway, so I only have myself to blame for the ongoing problems right? No, because as I said in that post, these are really obvious problems that any developer or tester worth their pay would discover. Which makes me wonder if MYOB are so under staffed technically that they’ve had to live with a really high level of acknowledged defects, but I don’t buy that, because they’d have to be rolling in cash, seriously.
I don’t want to call MYOB and have them show me workarounds for my problems, or promise that they’re going to fix them. Just fix them!
Which brings me to my latest bunch of MYOB issues.
- The built in forms are crap. I don’t know any other technical way to describe them other than just plain old crap. If one of my developers delivered these to me, I’d be questioning them whether they have any problems at home at the moment, or whether they have a medical condition at all. Here’s a tip for MYOB: hire a contract form designer for two weeks, and have them provide some usable forms.
- The form designer is crap. For form design, its worse than Windows Paint is for graphic design. Here’s just a few of its problems:
- There’s no way to pin an axis when moving an object. One of the key things with form layout, is lining up of objects on an axis, but in MYOB, you click to select and drag the mouse, and you’ve just got to hope it looks alright when you let go. You can then double click the object to see its left axis offset, close it, then double click the other object and type in the same left axis offset, but try doing that with a whole bunch of fields. Tip: add a simple shift key lock to the axis that isn’t moved first by the mouse. This is how all layout programs work.
- When you double click on an object, you can’t select a position or size value and copy it to the clipboard. Likewise, you can’t paste from the clipboard. Considering all the values are of the form xy.abc, its a pain in the arse to have to remember 4 or 5 digits, close a dialog and then double click open another one and then have to type them value in manually from memory. If you want to copy the left axis and the width, then good luck remembering both. Tip: make the clipboard work in EVERY text field in MYOB. And I do mean EVERY field, because it doesn’t work in about half of them.
- If you add a jpeg with the picture object, don’t add any white, because white prints as cream. Which means that any logo with a white background will end up printing a cream coloured box around the image, instead of blending with the page. Also, nowhere in the documentation does it say which graphic objects are supported. From my testing, jpeg is OK, but has the lossy cream background issue, tif is OK for black and white but it completely mangles colours.
- The print preview doesn’t. i.e. what you see in the print previous is completely different line up wise to what’s in the form designer!
- The printing of a form with real data also bears no resemblence to either the form designer’s view or it’s print preview.
- The customise forms window is modal, which means if you want to change a form, probably because you’re tweaking the form and printing with real data is the only way to be sure, then you have to close and leave the form designer in order to get back into MYOB. This makes small tweaks to form painfully slow.
- There’s no way to line up objects other than by entering the position of the top left corner of an object, which means if your text field is right aligned, then you can’t line up your objects without doing a mental calculation of xy.abc + de.fgh, where xy.abc is the left axis offset, and de.fgh is the object width. You then have to calulate the other object as well, and compare them, then subtract the difference from the object you wish to move, and enter that into the dialog. That’s seriously insane! The workaround is to make both fields exactly the same width, and then put them at the same left offset, manually typing each. The problem with both of these methods is that you then can’t line up the position of the first character in a right aligned text field, with the start of a left aligned field, which you definitely want to do if you’re pinning fields to the left margin. Well, when I say left margin, I mean your manually chosen left indent, because the form designer doesn’t show or support print margins, it doesn’t even suggest that you leave margins.
- The process payroll screen shows an initial Select Pay Period panel, and none of the five vertically displayed fields are horizontally aligned, except for the two radio buttons which are on top of each other. The text field next to one of the checkboxes isn’t vertically aligned either. But that’s not the most annoying thing, its more the fact that: the pay leave in advance checkbox has a colon after it, which gives the impression that the pay start and end period is to do with paying leave in advance; and again the pay leave in advance checkbox only being enabled when you select to pay all employees and not just one. I should be able to leave in advance for an individual.
Here’s one more tip: hire a contractor who knows how build user interfaces, and give them a month to just go over the line up and layout of all the various screens, and do mock ups for the refactoring of some of the more braindead wizard dialogs. The next build will just pick up the new layours, and the developers can then recode the wizards at a later date, based on the mock ups.
Having said that, here’s a couple of the changes in the most recent version of MYOB:
- You can now record leave information when you process the payroll. Well, they don’t say that you can only do that if you’re paying by the hour, not a salary.
- New tax table validity tests. In other words, when MYOB supply you with new tax tables, they now validate that data to make sure its valid. Umm… I’d probably want it fixed at the source, but maybe that’s just me.
I’m still seeking an adequate replacement for MYOB, preferably for the Mac, but I’ll survive with a Windows application if the developers are professionals. If you know of such a replacement, then please let me know.