GNUCash Development Plan?

Jeff Kletsky gnucash at
Mon Feb 13 19:12:52 EST 2012

On 02/13/2012 02:10 PM, Phil Longstaff wrote:
> Budgeting is one area I want to work with.  What, specifically are you 
> fighting with?
> Phil

 From my perspective, which may or may not be well-aligned with other 
perspectives, and what I remember from the past years:

* Need a way that my wife and I can quickly see how we are doing against 
   - Scheme rendering is painfully slow --
   - Existing reports are hard to read and have poor usability, even on 
desktop screens
   - Single-user access means that you can't just "pop in" to see a 
report, even if it were usable

* Would prefer if we could access current actual-vs-budget numbers from 
any modern browser, including iPad, iPhone, and Android

* Budget creation UI has severe usability issues including:
   - Rendering/scrolling (column and row headers disappear is the most 
   - Can't "tab" to next cell for quick entry
   - Can't "fill right"

* Budget code is just messed up with respect to internal representations 
vs. UI display --

* Budget should distinguish between "no budget established" and "zero 
budget set" -- For example, I may have a budget on Expenses:Gifts at 
$100, but not have a budget set for either Expenses:Gifts:Alice or 
Expenses:Gifts:Bob. Having an expense in Expenses:Gifts:Alice of $50 
should not be an "over-budget" situation for that account, nor should 
having $60 in Expenses:Gifts:Bob of $60, but I should see an issue at 
the Expenses:Gifts roll-up level.

* In some cases it would be beneficial if a budget could either or both 
indicate a limit on the total at a roll-up point, as well as an 
incremental amount (You can spend $100 on gifts, in total, but no more 
than $10 on gifts that haven't been assigned to a sub-account)

* The ability to determine if a budget is balanced (and, if not, the 
residual difference and sign), especially while working on the budget, 
is difficult. The reports related to budget balance have the same kind 
of problems as the actual-vs-budget reports. I define "balanced" when my 
budgeted changes to assets, liabilities, expenses, and income are 
zero-sum in an accounting sense.

* Because the tools within GNUCash for budgeting are so rough, I end up 
working up my budgets in Excel. It would be on my wish list to have an 
import/export feature.

* As I recall, for example, budgeting income going into a non-cash 
investment account that increased in value (especially non-realized 
gain) was a puzzle that crossed my eyes and made my head spin. It is 
that funny mix of trying to deal with cash-flow budgeting when the 
budget is looking only at the change in the account's balance.

* Until there is a way to identify a set of transactions as book-closing 
transactions, either the last periods of the previous year, or the first 
periods of the current year will be "corrupted" by those transactions. 
Unfortunately, there "hack" of putting those transactions on January 1st 
doesn't work too well if you have "real" transactions on that day (as 
most individuals and some companies do).

I know it is a pretty long list, but I'd be happy to contribute thought 
or design feedback either here, on a wiki page, or directly, as it most 
makes sense. I've looked at the C code in the past and thought about 
some approaches, but the edict that everything needed to be backward 
compatible made things pretty horrendous. Especially after looking at 
the SQL schema in my current plan to implement off-line budgeting and 
reporting, I really dislike KVPs as ad hoc object extensions.

Let me know how I can help.

Jeff Kletsky

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