Idears for improving the Busines GUI

Derek Atkins warlord at MIT.EDU
Thu Mar 17 17:06:32 EST 2005


Please be sure to CC gnucash-devel on ALL replies....

Christof Donat <cdonat at> writes:

> Hi,
>> > - Have another tab in the main window like for the reports called
>> > something like 'customers & suppliers'.
>> We have one..  It is called "Business".
> Oh. Is that new or did I just not find it?

Or perhaps your English confused me and I assumed that you meant Menu
Item just like the Report menu..  If you actually mean "tab", then no,
such a thing does not exist.  You could always create a "Customer List
Report" which would show up as a tab just like any other report.
Indeed there are already reports that do this, e.g. Reports ->
Business Reports -> Receivable Aging.

>> This has been discussed.  Unfortunately it is something that doesn't
>> scale very well.  Imagine 1000, even 10000 customers!  Try putting that
>> number into a list and trying to find it.
> OK, I didn't think about such a number of Customers. It's a long time with 
> really hard work before I will have so many customers - depends on the type 
> of business of course :-).
> Maybe then a Hirachical Order or Categories of Customers could help. What is 
> in your 'busines' tab?

Nah..  No point.  See the open bug list and the archives over the
last, oh, 3-4 years for commentary.  In particular search for "phrase

>> > - doubleclicking a customer or a supplier opens a book similar to an
>> > accountbook with all the invoices for that company in it. A Invoice then
>> > could look like a multi part booking.
>> Nope.  This wont ever happen.  An invoice will look like the current
>> invoice. Now, having a double-click open up a list of invoices for 
>> the customer -- that I could consider.
> Actually that is what I meant. The difference is just that I'd like to be able 
> to input my invioces at least nearly as easy as a multi account transaction. 
> I guess there are really good reason why not to do that - i just can not see 
> them now.

I think the issue is the "searches".  See above regarding the "phrase
wheel".  This would let you type in partial names and it would then
pop up a menu of matches to that name.  It wouldn't be a full search,
just a very limited search, but for the general case it would probably
simplify the input.

The problem is the lack of a phrase-wheel widget.  I've got an
implementation in python, but I don't know python and don't want to
learn python.  I've asked on this list several times for offers for
someone to translate the python widget into a C widget, but nobody has
offered to do it.  So the code sits in my directory waiting for
someone to translate it.

>> > - in the 'customers and suppliers' tab e.g. red color could point to due
>> > invioces.
>> there's already a list of over-due bills.  Expanding that to overdue
>> invoices would be somewhat straightforward.  There's also the Aging
>> reports which detail all of it together.
> The Idear here was, that you could easily see which customer has not paied his 
> bills by scanning through the list like you can see the red color scanning 
> through the accounts. Well that maybe is not so usefull with 10000 customers 
> then. The 'overdue invoices' window is less consistent with the rest of 
> GNUCash - it doesn't feel good.

English lession: The word is "Idea".  :)

The "Receivable Aging" report tells you this now.  It's easy to see
who hasn't paid based on which customers are listed in the report.  If
they're not listed, they don't owe you anything.  Then you can see
which columns are non-zero.

Have you tried this report?

>> > That would make many things a lot easier:
>> > - Bulk input of invoices would become a lot more efficient.
>> QSF will fix this.
> I didn't mean an import of invioces that are already in digital form. Usually 
> I dont input every single bill as soon as i have it. I wait untill weekend 
> and then sit there typing my bills and invoices into GNUCash. Currently it 
> takes quite a time and it would be great to make that faster.

See above re: phrase wheel.  Beyond that I don't see how entering an
invoice is any harder than entering in a bunch of transactions.

>> > - If you have similar invoices for one customer e.g. every month that
>> > could be easier done with duplicating the Invioce with a new date and
>> > Invioce number.
>> Bug #114421
> Sceduled Invoices is also a great idear, though in my case, duplication would 
> be the better aproach, because most invoices change e.g. in number of hours 
> every month. When duplicating an invoice I just have to adapt the dates and 
> the concrete number of hours. I guess, that the reason for Jamie Caplan's 
> comment to that bug is similar to mine.

Duplication is a preref of 114421.

>> > - Adding a supplier or a customer is almost like adding an account - a
>> > lot more intuitive and more consistant with the rest of GNUCash.
>> Umm, it IS like adding an account.
> Not to the User: To add an account I select the parent and use the right 
> mousebutton to chose 'new account'. To add a Customer I go to the main menu 
> and select 'Busines'->'customer'->'new customer'. Not that that is somehow 
> problematic. It is more about consistency.

Sorry, I just don't buy this argument.  You're comparing a context
menu to the top-level menu; that's comparing apples and avocados.

Look at one place at a time.  In the main menu there's File -> New
Account and there's Business -> Customer -> New Customer.  I don't see
how that's any less consistent.

Just like there are multiple ways to create a new account, there are
multiple ways to create a new customer.  There's a "new customer"
button in the customer search window.  There's the menu I just
mentioned.  There's probably something else that I'm not thinking of.

The point is that:

a) an extra menu level is not inconsistent
b) the fact that there are different means to the same end is ALSO
   not inconsistent
c) The fact that there is an account tree with account-specific context
   but no customer list with customer-specific context is ALSO not

There's very limited screen real-estate.  We can only have so many
toolbar items or top-level menu items.  Also, adding customer-specific
items to the account-tree context menu WOULD be inconsistent!

IMNSHO we've done an excellent job of making data entry fairly
straightforward and intuitive.  Sure, it could use more glitz.  Go
find me several hundred thousand dollars so I can go pay a bunch of
devs to work full time and I can add lots of glitz for you.  :)

>> > I know that this does not cover everything of the busines module, but it
>> > may be a start for improving the UI.
>> > What do you think about these idears?
>> Send in patches.
> :-) Actually I'd do that if I wasn't bussy working on integrating the german 
> electronic Tax system. That is not a technical problem but an organisational. 
> They don't really whant to give Information to free projects, etc.

Well, there ya go.  It's a volunteer effort and users/devs are
expected to scratch their own itch.  :)

In the meantime, you're welcome to file bug reports / RFEs for the
various things you want..  But make sure there's not an existing
request already.  However keep in mind that there's a
near-zero-percent chance that your requests will get handled in
anything you'd consider a reasonable amount of time.

> Christof


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

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