Hi, I Have a Proposition

John Ralls jralls at ceridwen.us
Fri May 1 19:36:09 EDT 2015

> On May 1, 2015, at 1:35 PM, Roger Mustacich <roger at mustacich.com> wrote:
> Hi Developers,
> My name is Roger, and I have a proposition. 
> It's my belief that with a few changes to improve work flow, GnuCash could have widespread appeal for managing personal finances. I'm not talking about the next systemd here, just some well-thought-out things like shading newly imported transactions and recently modified accounts, and adding or refining a few wizards. The one notable exception is a rules-based system for classifying items, but I think I can help significantly with that. Everything I'd be addressing could easily be made an option.
> My primary contribution would be to help determine the changes needed to make GnuCash the superior program for personal finances, and to help implement them. Then, I would write and maintain a publication-worthy free guide on using GunCash for this purpose (and publicize the heck out of it). I would of course link to existing documentation throughout, and include just enough accounting background for this use. If the guide were released simultaneously with at least some of the features I have in mind, it could be an opportunity to get significant attention and attract a new set of users. It's easy to imagine a typically overdone Slashdot title like "GnuCash Takes on Personal Finances--The Quicken Killer?" Kindly note that I am not interested in a Quicken Clone--we can do better than that!
> Why focus on a niche when GnuCash can do so much more? First, there's benefit to familiarity. If someone knows how to use GnuCash for home finances, why learn something new for their aspiring new business? Second, every single change to facilitate my work flow should be of general benefit. Third, GnuCash is an impressively mature solution, but perhaps it's time to start challenging it to do more. Forth, increased use for  any purpose could encourage financial institutions to provide greater support. Hopefully that's enough.
> I could go on about the details, why I'm qualified for this, my motivation, etc., but my interest at this point is to find out if you folks, the architects of GnuCash, are at all interested. My ambitions are not modest--this is just a start--but for all I know you all are pleased with GnuCash as it is, and I couldn't blame you.
> I'd love to hear your thoughts,


Well, highlighting recent changes is certainly a small enough change that it's hard to imagine anyone objecting as long as it's an option. Adding wizards is also not too difficult, but you'd have to make the case that they'd be useful and implement them in a way that's consistent with the rest of our code. Rules-based classification is another matter that would require some elaboration: What are you proposing to classify according to what sort of criteria and at what point in the workflow?

Immodest ambitions are another matter entirely, particularly if they amount to changing the program's mission. We want GnuCash to serve people who want to keep their accounts, whether personal or for a small business, in a business-like way. That's very different from the target user-bases of Quicken, MS Money, iBank, KMyMoney, etc. We want GnuCash to be useful everywhere, not just in the US. That forces a fair amount of flexibility that other programs don't have. Finally, you must recognize that GnuCash is a volunteer project published under the GNU General Public License: You won't be compensated for your work and it will be published for all to see and copy as they like. Note also that we're severely resource-constrained, so you won't be "helping" implement changes, you'll be implementing them yourself and submitting them for code review.

Maybe we'll be interested and maybe not. You haven't provided enough information to decide.

John Ralls

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