Register code question

Chris Shoemaker c.shoemaker at
Thu Oct 16 07:27:57 EDT 2008

On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 08:41:58PM -0700, Charles Day wrote:
> I am debugging the register code and trying to figure out why bogus message
> boxes can appear, and also why crashes occur in certain cases. I believe
> that I've figured it out the sources of these problems, but I have a
> background question to ask before proceeding with a fix.
> These problems seem to stem from the way that the "pending_trans_guid" is
> used when entering a brand new transaction. Can anyone explain the intended
> use of pending_trans_guid where new transactions are concerned?
> I came across some comments in split-register-load.c which appear to shed
> some light. When the bottom line of the register is created (where the user
> would start entering a new transaction), a new transaction with a single
> blank split is tied to it but not marked pending:
>     /* We don't want to commit this transaction yet, because the split
>        doesn't even belong to an account yet.  But, we don't want to
>        set this transaction as the pending transaction either, because
>        we want to pretend that it hasn't been changed.  We depend on
>        some other code (somewhere) to commit this transaction if we
>        really edit it, even though it's not marked as the pending
>        transaction. */

[disclaimer: This is totally from my poor memory.  Your best bet for
getting a deep understanding the register code is thoroughly studying
the code and history, and single stepping in gdb.]

pending_trans_guid is how the register keeps track of an open, edited
transaction.  From the user's perspective, navigating to the blank
transaction is not an "editing" operation (especially since it happens
automatically when the register opens) and should therefore not dirty
the book.

> So it seems the intention is to never mark a brand-new transaction as the
> pending transaction. 

Not exactly, the intention is to not mark a brand-new transaction as
pending until it is actually edited.

> Yet a few routines DO set the brand-new transaction as
> pending, such as the autocompletion routine
> gnc_split_register_auto_completion() in split-register-control.c, and a
> couple of other routines that perform split deletion.

That seems correct.

> So does anyone know why some forms of editing (autocompletion, deleting a
> split) cause the brand-new transaction to be marked as pending, while all
> others, including the typical practice of simply typing a transaction in, do
> not?
> What is the correct practice?

At a higher level, the ideal behaviors are:

  a) Opening and navigating in a register doesn't dirty the book.
  b) Editing a transaction doesn't dirty the book until it is committed.
  c) Closing a register while on an edited, uncommitted transaction will
     raise the modal commit/rollback dialog.
  d) Autocompletion counts as editing the transaction.

Hope that helps,


p.s. Please be especially careful with register code.  You probably
know this, but over the years, that code has seen a pattern of subtle
regressions that have taken months or years to fix (if ever?), and
those bugs have caused data corruption.  It is _extremely_ easy to
break in subtle ways.

More information about the gnucash-devel mailing list