some thoughts on splits

Charlton Rose
Mon, 28 May 2001 15:41:01 -0700 (PDT)

First of all, let me say that I have been using GnuCash since January
2001, and in particular have been enjoying its wonderful dual-entry
methodology to manage two businesses with combined assets and about
twenty-five different accounts.  I used Quicken throughout 2000 and have
no idea how I could have managed in Quicken what I am now managing in
GnuCash.  Developers, please accept my gratitude.

That said, I'd like to respond with some thoughts that came to me after
reading K. Ridder's recent post (quoted at the end).

It appears that GnuCash understands two kinds of transactions:  1) split
transactions and 2) non-split transactions.  And it also appears that
GnuCash deals with both types in a completely different manner.  While
this observation sounds trivial and stupid, it really does have

If I had my druthers, I would have GnuCash support only one kind of
transaction:  The split, and nothing but the split.  In this model, what
users traditionally enter as a non-split transaction would simply be
entered as a split with only one part.  In my opinion, this would simplify
both the model and the view greatly.

As it stands now, you really can't use both at the same time anyway,
because the available views seem to favor one or the other in an exclusive
manner, and switching back and forth is a real pain.

For that reason, I have GnuCash defaulting to split-view all the time.
Rather than switching back to double-line mode for "simple" transactions,
I simply enter those transactions as one-part splits.  The problem that I
encounter appears when I switch to double-line mode (just to see a
summary) and can no longer read any of my split entries (i.e., all of
them), even though most of them are just one-part splits.  It would be
nice if, in double line mode, you could still read split transactions that
are composed of only one part.

Also, as Ridder discovered and explained in his earlier message (quoted
below), GnuCash's split transactions appear to not have been designed with
the knowledge that a split transaction might contain multiple entries
transferring into the same destination.  Ridder is using the multiline
feature not to document a true split in the purest sense, but rather as a
way of itemizing the individual components of a simple, non-split

I do this all the time, too.  Some days I like to just write "groceries"
with the total, and other days I like to split it up into eggs, milk, and
bread -- so that GnuCash can compute the total for me.  But when I look at
the other end of the transaction, I see the same transaction listed
multiple times, as does Ridder.  When the split contains many items, the
wrong end of the split looks absolutely horrible and is quite confusing.

I am glad to hear that 1.6 will not show multiple entries for the same
transaction when you are looking at the "wrong" end of the split.  This is
a much needed improvement and I applaud the developers for taking care of

> From: "Klaus Ridder" <>
> To: <>
> Subject: Problems with splits
> Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 19:41:23 +0200
> I encounteres this problem in 1.4.11, so I don't know if it still exisits in
> the current version:
> Make a booking "XY Store" in the "Bank" Account, with the splits
> - Computer $500
> - Phone    $100
> - Printer  $200
> Books these 3 things to the expenes Account "BusinessExpenses".
> Now open the account "Business Expenses". It now shows
> - XY Store $500
> - XY Store $100
> - XY Store $200
> Instead of
> - Computer $500
> - Phone    $100
> - Printer  $200
> OK, I switch to mult-row mode and see the following:
> Store XY            $500
> Bank       $800
> Phone               $100
> Printer             $200
> ---------------------------
> Store XY            $100
> Bank       $800
> Computer            $500
> Printer             $200
> ---------------------------
> Store XY            $200
> Bank       $800
> Computer            $500
> Phone               $100
> --------------------------
> I don't think this is how it shoud be ... I would really love to see that I
> bought a Cpmputer, a phone and a printer - and that's just what isn't shown.