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How Intuit Manages 10 Million Lines of Code 304

CowboyRobot writes "Intuit launched QuickBooks in 1992, and it has grown into the best-selling retail software for small-business accounting worldwide. QuickBooks is available on multiple platforms with different feature sets (Pro, Premier, Enterprise), in specialized editions (accounting, contracting, etc.), is available on CD or via subscription, and is offered in localized versions for the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. How they manage so many builds is a case-study for large scale programming. 'The Windows version is about 80,000 source files, 10+ million lines of C++ code plus a little C# for the .NET parts. Plus help files, tax tables, files defining local accounting rules, tax and other government reporting forms, upgrade offers — a lot of files. Every customer gets the full version. Specific feature sets are turned on and off with the license key.' And the lessons are not just technical. 'One surprising lesson is that small teams work, even for very large codebases — especially, Burt says, in sustaining an entrepreneurial, creative culture.'"
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How Intuit Manages 10 Million Lines of Code

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  • by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:37PM (#40825181) Homepage

    As a QuickBooks user, who prefers it to MYOB at least, I ask this question in all honesty:

    What else is out there for small businesses that's better than QuickBooks and isn't a cloud-based service?

  • by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:51PM (#40825237) Homepage
    Gnucash is most assuredly not a replacement for Quickbooks, if for no other reason that ta some point you need to interface with a real accountant, and Handing over your files from Quickbooks or Simply Accounting makes that MUCH easier.
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @01:23AM (#40825601) Homepage


    I support Quickbooks as a consultant/sysadmin for SMBs. One of my biggest gripes about QB is that if the client PCs arn't configured correctly, it will attempt to take over the role of sharing out the file while the actual file is still on the server. And it's compounded by the fact Windows XP doesn't route data over the ethernet as a priority over WiFi connection. It can get ugly in the office real quick over "who has the file open". The proper way is to install over the server side hosting agent on the server, and clients arn't configured to host. Although some users get confused over the concept of "hosting" vs "multi-user mode". Bah!!! Curses!

    The other major problem is that Quickbooks accounting administrators are not performing backups. Sure, Windows Backup or Backup Exec may be capturing the file. But that's not the same thing. The transaction log will not flush until after Quickbooks itself is allowed to perform a full backup with verification. Sometimes if you wait too long, the entire damn thing gets corrupted. In fact, one of my clients is facing this very problem. She wants to upgrade to the latest version of QB. But until the data can be repaired (if possible) via special services at Intuit, she has no safe way of converting the file without it either bombing out or causing even more corruption.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @02:32AM (#40825835) Homepage

    Maybe Intuit does feed their programmers well. Now if they would just hire some decent support people. We used to use a multi-currency version of QuickBooks, and the errors were simply astounding in their stupidity. As one, minor example: it was completely clear that some conversions were handled using floating point numbers, with the inevitable decimal rounding errors. At the end of the year, we had huge currency conversion errors - far beyond what even floating-point errors could explain - and essentially impossible to justify to the tax authorities.

    There were lots of other problems as well. Trying to report errors was like talking to a black hole. The one time we really needed some real-time support, we spent ages on hold, or going around in circles with different people, and wound up getting no useful help at all. In the end, the only solution was to go back to a single-currency system, and deal with currency outside of QuickBooks.

    Still, as bad as our experiences with QuickBooks have been, there's nothing better in the same price category.

  • by ciderbrew ( 1860166 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @06:40AM (#40826705)
    because tax laws are mental and getting a database to do that would drive it insane. I had to spec out a tiny bit of function with an accountant and the amount of exceptions to the rule made it pointless to have a rule.
  • Re:Bah. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sebastopol ( 189276 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2012 @12:14PM (#40829865) Homepage

    What's the alternative? And don't give me some unix freeware crap, I've tried several, they are crap. Microsoft Money was the only viable alternative, but the conversion process sucked ass. I have 18 years of quicken data that I'm not about to lose, and until there's a real alternative for consumers (i.e., $100 price point), I'm not leaving, regardless of the weird interface, and periodic interface bugs. At least the database is rock solid. (runs to knock on some wood)

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"