How 'do' QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop differ when it comes down to more than features and functionality? OK, I know you are thinking that is all that matters, but really, is it?
From an Application, and a Database, perspective the two programs are like 'night' and 'day'. While the fundamental purpose of both products is the same, they are both 'accounting software,' and the core purposes of both are the same, 'to record debits and credits', that is pretty much were the similarities end. From a purely technical standpoint they are drastically different.
One way to see these differences is to examine their respective safeguards and limitations; so let's look at the 'safeguards first'.
QBO-QBD Safeguard Comparison
Now let's contrast these safeguards with the 'limitations'. Again let's remember that we are talking about the two products in terms of a database perspective.
* - these areas (functionalities) are improving.
So let’s ignore QuickBooks Desktop and just look at a summary of the Safeguards and Limitations associated with QuickBooks Online:
* - these areas (functionalities) are improving.
The real basis for both these safeguards and limitations came as a result of the complete re-design of QuickBooks Online a few years ago in the project known as ‘Harmony’ (which was also the code-name for the ‘new’ QBO we know today.)
Intuit’s Harmony Project set out to create a platform built on cohesive design principles, frameworks and patterns. Functionally, the QuickBooks API provides a link to the open platform. In reality there are two APIs: Accounting and Payments. Developers can use either, or both, APIs depending on their needs.
The Accounting API is the core API for integrating with QuickBooks Online. Developers who want their app to access a customer's QuickBooks Online company, make use of the Accounting API. (All of the Apps listed in Intuit’s App center make use of the Accounting API.)
The Payments API is used for eCommerce functionality and credit-card processing, but it must be combined with the Accounting API if a developer is going to also link those transactions to QuickBooks Online.
The Accounting API is a set of coding components and web services that enable an app to securely connect to a QuickBooks Online company file. App users can connect to their QuickBooks Online company file from a QuickBooks Online API enabled app, sign in with their Intuit Account, and instantly have their QuickBooks Online data available to them.
It is the API that provides the safeguards' we admire in QBO, but also imposes the limitations that many user would prefer their 3rd party developers not be limited by. With that said, I must mention that several of the areas limited in terms of functionality within QBO are improving with regard to data accessibility.
Without getting too deep into the API, let's get back to some of the ways that QuickBooks Online Differs from QuickBooks Desktop.
Desktop, while loved by millions, is what might be described as ‘clunky at best’; n so many ways it is a hodge-podge of 'application this code', and 'application that code', and 'database this' and 'database that.'
On the other hand, QuickBooks Online, as we now know it today, was completely re-designed a few years back, and it has been growing in leaps and bounds ever since, but always within the same platform design, because the platform was designed with functionality related growth in mind.
Additionally, the QuickBooks Online platform was built with the premise that outside developers should be able to easily establish Apps that could work with and extend QBO features.That is why much of the platform is open via the QBO API.
So let's look at some of the ways that QuickBooks Online differs from QuickBooks Desktop, 'deep down.' The graphic below shows differences in some of the various tables used in QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.
QBO-QBD Design Differences
While the particulars of the specific tables are not really all that important, I would call your attention to the Table in the upper right corner of this graphic.
Now the fact that QuickBooks Desktop has more than 150 tables, and QuickBooks Online has only 83 tables, (at the time I prepared this graphic), shouldn't automatically be considered a ‘bad thing’. While we all recognize that QuickBooks Online does not contain all of the feature set of QuickBooks Desktop, one of the primary reasons that the number of tables can be lower in QuickBooks Online is because of the improved design as well as the list and table variations permitted in QuickBooks Online that are not possible within the database structure of QuickBooks Desktop.
These modernizations, of what we all loved best about the original QuickBooks desktop, in the New QuickBooks Online are changing ‘QuickBooks’ for the better.
If you would like to learn more about the 'under the hood' ways that QuickBooks Online differs from QuickBooks Desktop, you are just going to have to attend my Scaling New Heights course titled "QuickBooks Online Errors - Error Identification and Troubleshooting.". I look forward to seeing you in class.