Price Editor vs Security Editor

John Ralls jralls at
Thu Oct 14 19:41:48 EDT 2010

On Oct 14, 2010, at 1:37 PM, Geert Janssens wrote:

> GnuCash has both a price editor and a security editor.
> The distinction between these two is not so clear to me. I can see that the 
> security editor doesn't allow to enter exchange rates between currencies. The 
> price editor is currently required for that.
> On the other hand, you can use the price editor to enter stock quotes, 
> although not really as flexibly as in the security editor.
> This is confusing (from a user's point of view). So what's the story ?

Why is it confusing? 

You can't enter prices in the security editor. 

The security editor is for creating new securities or for editing the less mutable values, like the stock symbol or the company's name. AFAIK, and I think unfortunately, there isn't an automatic way to do that. (It would be nice to be able to just enter a symbol and have a helper program go get the details from Yahoo! or someplace similar instead of having to fill in the form.) 

The price editor lets one record a security's price for a certain date; this can be done manually or automatically via Finance::Quote. (To be absolutely correct, it should collect the time as well as the date --  bid and asked prices are valid only at a given moment, not for a whole day.) One could have thousands of quotes for a security over several years. It's not terribly useful for accounting, of course, where only the buy and sell prices really matter (with occasional exceptions, like price on the date of death for an estate). I suspect it's there mostly because people want to know what their portfolios are worth rather more often than they actually trade securities.

If you think of currencies other than the default as securities, then the exchange rates for that other currency is just a funny name for its price. There being a market in currencies, the price changes every time there's a trade, just like stocks and bonds. Currency exchange rates matter rather more for a lot of accounting purposes than do stock prices, though. One can envision having multiple transactions in a single day (invoices, credit card purchases, any number of things) all of which may have different exchange rates for a variety of reasons. It doesn't appear to me that the price editor isn't going to do a good job of keeping track of that, but I haven't studied the code so I might be wrong about that.

John Ralls

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