[GNC-dev] New Account Hierarchy Setup Assistant Questions

David T. sunfish62 at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 12 12:01:40 EDT 2018

> On Sep 12, 2018, at 11:19 AM, Geert Janssens <geert.gnucash at kobaltwit.be> wrote:
> Op woensdag 12 september 2018 16:38:42 CEST schreef David T. via gnucash-
> devel:
>> Hello,
>> As I begin the process of migrating text from the Help to the Guide (cf. Bug
>> 796855), I am working on the Help information regarding the New Account
>> Hierarchy Setup (NAHS) assistant, and I have a couple of questions about
>> the second screen of the assistant, the “New Book Options” screen.
>> First off, while I respect the intent to allow users the option to set these
>> preferences from the creation of their file, I wonder whether this is
>> misguided. To wit: all of these options are quite technical in nature, and
>> all of them can be set at a later point by opening the appropriate
>> preferences. Adding these options here adds complexity that can easily be
>> deferred to a later point. While it is true that this assistant runs
>> whenever a user chooses File->New (meaning that an experienced user might
>> wish to add these settings from the assistant), I am willing to hazard a
>> guess that most users will invoke this assistant *only* when they first
>> start using GnuCash, and *only* when their heads are already swimming with
>> the overwhelming experience that is GnuCash. Asking a new user to choose
>> whether to use Trading Accounts or to Use Split Action Field for Number is
>> IMHO pointless. They aren’t going to be able to make an informed decision.
>> <aside>I’ll note that this becomes an obvious issue when I attempt to write
>> the help section for the screen. I am left either with writing a huge
>> explanatory section on the details of each of these settings, which
>> detracts from the flow of the NAHS narrative, or with adding a generic note
>> that advises users to accept the defaults and read about the details in
>> other sections of the Guide.</aside>
> So now the challenge of writing documentation will be shaping the functioning 
> of the application ? ;p
> More seriously, your point is well taken, though I don't know the best answer.

I am sure you understand that my observations are meant as supporting elements for my proposal, not edicts from the docs writer.

>> So, for the new user, the only real effect of this screen is to introduce
>> confusion and questions. Can it be removed from the assistant?
>> Related to this screen, my second question has to do with the “Use Trading
>> Accounts” setting. Can it be turned off once it has been enabled in a given
>> GnuCash file?
>> ISTR that this option is a one-way street—i.e., that, once turned on, it can
>> not be turned off again. Is this still the case? If it is still true, then
>> I would strongly suggest that this option shouldn’t be placed on the NAHS
>> Assistant, since a new user won’t be aware of this.
> My memory is failing me. I remember these options got introduced in the new 
> book dialog for a specific reason. Something had to be decided at the start of 
> a new book. But for the life of me I don't remember what that was. Perhaps it 
> was exactly the trading accounts ?

But the question remains: does a new user (who won’t know what this means or signifies) need to make this decision at this point? 

Or, to put it another way, if a user accepts the default setting, will they be unable to change it at a later point*? 

> As for num-for-action I think you can indeed switch this on an existing book. 
> However I'm not sure a user would want to do this: if the num field had been 
> used for transaction numbers (for example copied from a bank statement) 
> switching the number would suddenly move all of these to the split action 
> field and hide them from the register. This is usually not what the user 
> wants. So again this is an option that's better defined upfront to save the 
> user lots of corrections afterwards.

But the same question holds: does a new user need to make this decision at this point? 

Again, if a user accepts the default setting, will they be unable to change it at a later point*? 

* Understand that the issue of _changing these settings back and forth_ should be discussed in the Guide at the spot where they are discussed in full—that is, in the proposed “Configuring GnuCash” chapter. 


> Geert

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