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Posts are primarily about QuickBooks, Xero, expense reports, and other topics useful to small business owners, CPAs, and ProAdvisors.


Import into QuickBooks: IIF v. QBWC v. Intuit Anywhere

August 10th, 2012

Various Ways to Take Information & Import into QuickBooks

In the early days of QuickBooks, for importing there weren’t a lot of options for importing information into QuickBooks. The earliest version of importing information – excluding  manual entry – has been the IIF file, but since has evolved to the QuickBooks Web Connector, and now, 3rd party applications are taking data and importing into QuickBooks using Intuit Anywhere.

IIF Files – The early days.

IIF files were first introduced into the QuickBooks universe sometime before 1997 (here is the oldest mention we can find).  Remember 1997?  Sales of 3.5″ floppy disks were still going strong.  Dial-up internet was all the rage.  The Netscape browser was hot stuff.  And, yes, the IIF file was considered a quite acceptable way to shuttle data from a 3rd party app, into QuickBooks.

IIF files were a manual process for importing information into QuickBooks. They were essentially CSV files, called Intuit Interchangeable Format, that contained your information in a format Intuit would be able to recognize.

The common process would be to have all of your information in a Excel document using a particular IIF format, then save the file with the .IIF extension. The next step is to import the information in QuickBooks; opening File->Utilities->Import IIF Files… then your information would appear in QuickBooks

However, there were major problems with IIF files (see IIF vs Cloud comparison) and knowing how to use IIF files and their intracies became cultish-like club (we were guilty of drinking the Kool-aid, too). IIF files didn’t let users export transactions, import/export Payroll data, and didn’t allow users to import linked transactions (e.g. a customer invoice matched w/ a customer payment of that invoice).

It was also very common to import the ‘wrong kind’ of IIF file. There were many different types of formats depending on what you wanted to do: add information as Write Check, Vendor Bill, Credit Card transaction, etc. all had their own unique format. Mixing up a format could result in some transactions being added to your books, while leaving others out – and of course no real way to tell what went wrong or how to clean up the mess.

Forutnatley, Intuit graduated to the next medium of importing data into QuickBooks; the QuickBooks Web Connect.

QuickBooks Web Connect – A Step in the Right Direction

QuickBooks Web Connect (QBWC) was first launched later in 2002 to make up for the problems of IIF files, but was never supported in QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks for Mac. QBWC allowed 3rd party applications to access QuickBooks to send/receive information over the internet.

For the most part QBWC worked as designed, although set-up problems plagued users with rough initial user-experiences. Up until recently, ProOnGo was supporting the QBWC in order to update credit card transactions from QuickBooks desktop versions and we had numerous problems with clients attempting to setup their QBWC and running into some type of error. While up and running, it did the trick, but the initial setup process was so painful for some users, they were turned off to using 3rd party applications with QuickBooks.

Intuit Anywhere

Finally, in August of 2011, Intuit announced Intuit Anywhere; a new method for 3rd party applications to import/export data from/to QuickBooks without having to convert information into a particular file type, or having to setup a new program.

This is when ProOnGo really joined the QuickBooks party. We first demonstrated our mobile and web application connecting to QuickBooks using Intuit Anywhere at the Intuit Apps Showcase on August 12th. Intuit Anywhere allowed us to connect to QuickBooks desktop versions, as well as QuickBooks Online, from a very simple SDK published by Intuit. Using Intuit Anywhere, we are able to interact with nearly every facet of QuickBooks, which truly turns our offering into a QuickBooks “application” because of its native interaction.

Instead of a program that just integrates with QuickBooks, where you would create a certain type of file, or you had to install another piece of software and keep running on your computer at all times, Intuit Anywhere let’s ProOnGo publish data to the Intuit Cloud and the cloud is responsible for updating the information to the user’s QuickBooks file. This makes the interaction between ProOnGo and QuickBooks feel much more natural.

Hopefully, this brief rundown of the various methods used to take information and import into QuickBooks was helpful.  If you have any questions, you’re always more than welcome to shoot an email to

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