HBCI as networking protocol for distributed GnuCash

Derek Atkins warlord at MIT.EDU
Mon Nov 24 09:57:48 CST 2003

Christian Stimming <stimming at tuhh.de> writes:

> By the way, when using the PostgreSQL backend, is it possible for multiple 
> GnuCash users to access the same PostgreSQL database concurrently?

Yes.  The postgres backend provides multi-user access to the data.

>   If that is 
> the case, then in a secure environment networking issues are already handled 
> by the PostgreSQL database and the HBCI server-side code wouldn't give too 
> much additional benefit. 

Agreed -- with postgres you can use SSL to encrypt the postgres
connection and use a multitude of different authentication methods to
authenticate the client to the server.

>  But it could still be used for an Internet-wide 
> distributed setup, where encryption and authentication is needed 
> additionally.

I dont see how this leap of logic works -- Postgres could work over
the internet at large.  HOWEVER, the way gnucash uses postgres is
fairly chatty so performance wont work as well over a wide-area,
high-latency network connection.

> 2. Secondly, such a HBCI server-side library could enable someone to set up 
> his own OpenSource online *bank*. It would enable people to start their own 
> PayPal. The OpenSource Gift Exchange Registry idea by Christophe B. Browne 
> could actually be implemented with real working online transfers. The 
> donation jar of GnuCash could be set up to represent such a HBCI-accessible 
> bank, which means it can be managed by people all over the Internet. Well, 
> the possibilities are I think pretty much summarized by "setup your own 
> paypal".

While I think this sounds like a great idea, I really don't think
gnucash is the place to do it.

> What do people think? Is there a demand for such ideas? Who wants to setup an 
> Internet-wide distributed GnuCash?

I think it's definitely a worthwhile cause..  I'm just concerned about
the gnucash focus.  Having something that works _WITH_ gnucash is a
GREAT idea.  Even having some of the hooks in gnucash (which are
mostly there with the extant HBCI code) is a good idea.  But I think
that Gnucash needs to focus on what it's already doing, and make sure
it does that well.

Gnucash is a fine application, but it's still extremely rough around
the edges.  Let's hone the existing feature set before we go off in
completely different directions.

Not that I'm trying to discourange you; I think an open-source HBCI
online-bank server is a great idea, but I tihnk it deserves its own
package and shouldn't be part of GnuCash.

> Christian


       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL: http://web.mit.edu/warlord/    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
       warlord at MIT.EDU                        PGP key available

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