Forward Migration Kit: Check software for the Mac

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(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs -- or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A forward migration kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as dentistry, accounting, etc.)

This week we're looking at applications that let a Mac work with preprinted checks.

HeartLand Internet has created a complete check software package called QuickChex.

"It was created in-house for our own use, and we are in the process of enhancing the user interface before we commercially release the product," Chris Newsom of HeartLand told MacCentral. "We expect a beta to be available to users in the next couple of weeks and the final release to be available by the end of the year."

The software has two main parts. First, it can be used for check drafts such as checks by phone, fax or Internet. This allows any business or individual to accept checks for payments for products or services as easily as credit cards and without waiting for the check in the mail, Newsom said. All they need is the customer's permission and their checking account number and routing code. Unlike credit cards they don't have to pay for a separate merchant account and don't have charge backs, Newsom said. The second part allows anyone to create blank checks for their own checking account, complete with a custom logo and background.

"We have been using the software since 1997," Newsom said. "We created it because we couldn't find anything for Macs that created check drafts. Our solution is FileMaker-based, and we do all of our check drafts on plain paper with a computer generated background that saves purchasing expensive 'check paper' although it will also work fine with check paper."

If anyone is interested in receiving the beta version as soon as it is available, you can drop Newsom an e-mail. Beta testers will also receive a discounted price on the final release when it's available.

Heartland Internet was founded in 1996 and incorporated in 1998 to meet the needs of local and specialized small businesses. They offer a number of in-house Internet media properties and Internet development services.

Ken Watters has been using a FileMaker Pro template of his own design on the Mac for a number of years as an "electronic checkbook." (Of course, it runs in Windows too, as FM Pro is cross-platform). It prints on a NEBS blank check that already has the bank info (MICR encoding, etc.) on it. The template writes out the amount, as well as numerically, and keeps a running record and balance in a check register.

"I did sell a version of this for a while many years ago, but have not sold or supported it for at least 10 years," Watters said. If you'd like him to reconsider, drop him an e-mail.

For, Bryan Baker set up their check printing system in FileMaker Pro. He uses the check paper from Versa Check, but simply set up a check layout in FM Pro.

"I initially purchased Versacheck (we do have Windows systems here), but hated the clunky Windows interface," Baker said. "Of course having the system in FileMaker allows me to work up all sorts of custom reports quite easily and integrate them with our database. Although FileMaker is very good at being friendly in a cross platform world, we rely on it in the Mac environment, because we integrate many various tasks using AppleScript, such as the production of our shopping cart pages and more."

Robert Cooper said he used to work at a company that ran nearly every aspect of the business through their own database. They used a Helix Technologies database solution.

"The owner of the company did all the programming of the database, and we had all the check writing functions built into the database from routing numbers to the special fonts needed to print all the symbols," Cooper said. "We printed thousands of checks per month with this solution. It allowed renumbering of checks, sequential numbering, re-printing, everything that many of these other check writing programs do can be done with this database with minimal programming."

He said you should note, however, that if you plan on sending many checks through the banking system, you'll need to use MICR toner due to the machines at the Federal Reserve needing magnetic toner to accurately route the checks to the banks.

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This story, "Forward Migration Kit: Check software for the Mac" was originally published by PCWorld.

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