GUI - accounts vs. transactions

Bill Gribble
Wed, 4 Oct 2000 17:34:42 -0500

On Wed, Oct 04, 2000 at 03:15:03PM -0400, Terry wrote:
> Sorry if this posting becomes rather long. 

That's OK.  Your post was thoughtful and constructive.  I have a
somewhat different perspective on the issues you mention; I'd like to
hear what you have to say about my response and how it relates to your

First, I want to clarify a little the distinction between
transactions, splits, and journal entries.  This seems to be at the
root of most of the issues you brought up.

   A "journal entry" and a "split" are the same thing.  Internally in
   gnucash, "split" is the name that's used.  A split is a credit or
   debit to a *single* account.  In terms of paper accounting, a split
   is ONE entry in a "double entry" transaction.  Each split has some
   additional data associated with it, including a memo and a
   "cleared" flag.

   A "transaction" is a collection of splits whose credits and debits
   sum to zero.  For a transaction to be "balanced" (i.e. conformant
   to double-entry accounting) it must have at least two splits, one
   which is a credit and one a debit.  Transactions have other
   information associated with them, including a "description", a
   date, and a number.  Transactions do not have amounts (the splits
   contain the amounts; the sum of the splits is always zero) or
   "memos", although the transaction's Description is basically the
   same as a memo.

The fundamental unit of display in the register is the transaction.
In any display mode, the transaction's date, description, and number
are shown.  the key to understanding the register display is to note
that the register generally shows a single account, and for each
transaction, splits affecting that account ARE NOT SHOWN.  The only
time you can directly see the split affecting "this account" is from a
register for another account.  In double line mode ONLY, you can also
see the Memo for the split affecting "this account".  Toggling between
"multi-line" (which shows all splits except for the ones in "this"
account) and "double line" mode can be disconcerting until you
understand this.

I will let Dave address the rest of your issues since he knows much
more about the register than I do.  However, let me say that I
disagree with your overall premise that there's something
fundamentally wrong or conflicted about the way gnucash works right
now.  Splits, Transactions, and Accounts are all useful and valid
organizational units, both from the user's perspective and from an
accounting perspective.
Thanks for taking time to put your critique down in writing.

Bill Gribble