I really have mixed feelings about DrTax Software Inc’s UFile Standard 2007. On one hand I welcome competition for Intuit’s QuickTax, especially considering how every year Intuit decreases the number of returns one can file while raising the price of the product. On the other hand, there’s a reason why QuickTax is a tax software leader in Canada — it’s a slick user-friendly product.

UFile Standard 2007 is not a slick user-friendly product. Actually, UFile is far from slick … it is a mess. Yes, UFile does get the job done. I successfully imported past QuickTax information, I successfully entered current tax information, and I found out I’m owed a small refund from the govvies. But here are some of the issues I faced along the way:

Getting Updates

Most tax software requires an update before starting a return. In fact, most tax software automagically starts looking for updates after it is successfully installed and registered. UFile is not very smart. After I installed and registered UFile, I followed the interview wizard screens and started my 2007 return.

When I tried to import my personal information from QuickTax using the UFile “CarryForward” feature, I was faced with a series of error messages stating I needed to download product updates. This was terribly annoying, as I was not offered an opportunity to update before the interview process began. I had to quit the UFile application twice to figure out how to update the software. After I was updated, I had no issue with importing my QuickTax info.

Update Error Message

 

Update Errors

Terrible User Interface

UFile’s user interface is poorly conceived. The interface is difficult to navigate, non-linear, cartoonish, does not employ many Windows standards, and is generally unattractive to view.

Confusing Interface

Unusual Icons

I actually got stumped several times just trying to perform simple Windows functions, like deleting an extra T4 slip by right-clicking it in the menu. Right-clicking does not work to delete in UFile. To delete the T4, I had to read the Online Help to find the special UFile delete icon. This drove me nuts, as deletion is a pretty standard Windows process. A simple X would have nicely identified a delete icon. Albeit, UFile went against standard Window’s icons in most of their functions … why I have no idea. Delete Icon is below:
Delete Icon

Terrible Translation?

The user interface and Online Help is poorly written and very verbose. It feels like UFile was written in another language, and then poorly translated into English. I struggled trying to find a sensible procedure on how to get something done. Everything is written in long paragraph form which prevents the user from quickly scanning the help and tip files, reading a listed procedure, and getting done with it. I honestly found it annoying to read endless poorly written interface instructions, tips, and help. Please UFile, hire a technical writer in 2008 and get some instructive help!

Click Here Must Die!

Another minor quibble I have with UFile’s interface is the abundance of “Click Here”. Just hyperlink to the noun you want the user to click!

Click Here Must Die

Medical Expense Entry

If you are like me and have a series of similar medical expenses to enter, you won’t like UFile’s medical expense interface. UFile groups dates and expense types into one box, forcing the user to perform mindless data entry without an auto-fill function. Auto-fill is pretty standard in Quicken and QuickTax. Furthermore, even after entering numerous dates and medical expense types, UFile still queried me for the date of my last medical expense. Why? Couldn’t the program do a check on my entered data and then verify this with me? Annoying, non?

No Autofill

Don’t Enter Zero?

While entering my T4 information, I couldn’t help but notice the number of times I was informed to not enter Zero. I recall being able to enter Zero numerous times in QuickTax without issue. In fact, a Zero can be a pretty darn standard entry in many people’s tax returns. I was intrigued with UFile’s inability to handle Zero and read the Online Help. Apparently, the smart analysts and programmers who designed UFile decided to use zero logic by allowing the program to calculate a Zero as anything other than nothing. BRILLIANT. There’s nothing like entering Zero in your return and having the whole thing miscalculate your taxes. This is abysmal and should be fixed. I shouldn’t have to understand the program’s suspect logic when doing my taxes. Entering a Zero should just work and calculate nothing, rather than “effectively telling the program that all EI premiums paid are overpayments that should be refunded to you.” Scary, non?

Zero
Zero Help

Conclusion

I wanted to love UFile. More importantly, I wanted to not miss QuickTax. This didn’t happen. Sure, UFile gets the job done. But I did not trust or enjoy the experience. O well. At least thanks to UFile, I know I’ll get about $250 bucks back from the govvies.

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