Home | About Us | Contact Us | Seminars | Get Listed | Subscribe | Hotlist | Online CPE

Evaluating Accounting Software:
Customize A Data Input Screen

This article is part of a series entitled “Evaluating Accounting Software” in which J. Carlton Collins explains his quick and dirty 20-minute guide to evaluating an accounting software package. The article series starts here:



It is important to evaluate the ability to edit, change and add to the data input screens. You should ask the reseller to demonstrate the process of inserting a new data field and rearranging that field on the screen. You might also ask the reseller to re-label the data field and establish default settings for that new field. Some products provide full control over the data input screen design while others do not. For example, both QuickBooks Pro and Peachtree Complete Accounting allow you to set up a handful of user-definable fields; however, neither product allows you to change terminology or rearrange the fields on the screen. Other products such as Simply Accounting allow you to toggle between terminology typically used by accountants and terminology used by the layperson. Still other products such as Microsoft Solomon IV, Navision, and Exacts’ Macola Progression provide much greater customization capabilities. The more sophisticated customization tools allow the user to validate data as it is entered into the system, force data (ie: the user can not leave the data field blank), and even calculate data based on other data entered elsewhere in the system. Other sophisticated capabilities include the ability to set the tab order of the user fields, insert drop down boxes, and embed third party applications with the accounting software user input screen.

One of the more important features to look for is the blank user-definable field. Instead of requiring the end user to modify the product's source code to add new data fields, many of today's accounting software publishers have already added hundreds of unused fields throughout the accounting system. The end user need only assign a name to that new field and begin inputting data. You should make sure to inquire as to how many blank user-definable fields are included in the product. For example, Macola Progression provides a total of five blank user definable fields in most setup screens. Microsoft Great Plains offers two to ten blank user-definable fields throughout the relevant user screens. QuickBooks Pro provides ten blank user-definable fields in key places while Peachtree Complete Accounting provides five blank user-definable fields where pertinent to do so.

You can read my complete explanation of customizing accounting software here: http://www.asaresearch.com/articles/customizing.htm


Presented below is the Customizer module found in MAS 90. This screen allows the user to pull up virtually any data input screen in MAS 90 for customization purposes. In this screen we see that the user is in the process of selecting the Customer name and Address screen from the Accounts Receivable Customer Maintenance menu option. Notice that this customization will apply to one user only (Carlton Collins in this example); but it could apply to all users by simply checking the “All Users” check box. Another strong feature is how MAS 90 allows the user to apply these customizations to one particular company, or to all companies assuming that multiple companies are present. This is very powerful.

Once the data input screen is selected, the screen is displayed in customization mode as shown below. At this time, the user may easily drop and drag the data fields and other screen elements at will. Labels can be changed, fonts can be changed, text can be added, etc.

In the screen below, we see that the user is in the process of moving the URL Address label by dragging and dropping that screen element.

Next, the user right mouse clicks on the “URL Address” label and changes the label to read “Web Address” instead. The user has also changed the font to a red, bolded Batang font. 

n the next screen shown below we see that additional dialog boxes provide additional customization functionality. From the main tab, the user can set the default value (shown as initial value) to be displayed automatically each time a user accesses this screen. Other features include customizable tool tips, links to help text, key board short cuts, and a WYSIWYG preview of the data field.

The next screen below demonstrates MAS 90’s data validation features, which allow the user to establish validation parameters. Here the user can provide an options list from which the data entry clerk can select an option. In addition, the user can specify a valid range in which the data must fall before it will be accepted by the system.

The object properties dialog box provides yet more customization capabilities such as the ability to prevent the cursor from stopping on a given data field.

In my opinion, MAS 90 does a good job of providing the user with fairly easy and straightforward customization of the data entry screens. Accordingly, I think that this is a good product to compare all other products to when it comes to evaluating this feature.

- END -

Copyright © 1999-2011   

All rights reserved 
No part of this web site may be used for commercial purposes of any kind without our express written consent.


The following web sites are owned and maintained by Accounting Software Advisor, LLC: Accounting Software Advisor, Accounting Software NewsASA Research, Technology Advisor, CPA Advisor, Accounting Software Answers, Accounting Software Reports, Accounting Software Consulting, QuickBooks Advisor, Excel Advisor, Carlton Collins, and The CPA's Hotlist.


About Us

Read our Mission Statement
Read our Disclosure Statement
Read our Disclaimer Statement

Contact the Editor - J. Carlton Collins



 We would be happy to help you as little, or as much, as you need




QuickBooks hosting