[GNC-dev] New Account Hierarchy Setup Assistant Questions

John Ralls jralls at ceridwen.us
Wed Sep 12 23:06:18 EDT 2018

> On Sep 12, 2018, at 5:18 PM, David T. <sunfish62 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> On Sep 12, 2018, at 7:03 PM, John Ralls <jralls at ceridwen.us> wrote:
>> Most individuals who aren’t familiar with formal accounting should probably be using something other than GnuCash. If all you want to do is keep track of your credit card, demand bank account (“checking account” for us fogies who remember checks), and a couple of mutual funds then GnuCash is swatting flies with a sledgehammer.
> I think that’s a little disingenuous; the user base for GnuCash is broad, as reflected in the mailing list archives. Perhaps we should put a banner across the top of the Home page that reads: “Abandon Hope, All Ye Non-CPAs.”  ;)
>> That said, I think the only immutable parameter in setting up a new book is the root account currency, and that can be derived from the locale. How about renaming the NAHSA the "Advanced New Book Assistant" with its own menu item and have File>New just create a bare “Common Accounts” book for the current locale? We could pop up a dialog for opening balances on each of the bank accounts, cash-in-wallet, and the credit card.
> Well, I imagine the idea behind the NAHSA was to try and streamline at least the creation of basic account hierarchies; shunting this aspect off to this ANBA then puts most users into the bidn of having to create all their accounts manually. If you take out the “New Book Options” step (and optionally the "Choose Currency” step as well) in the existing NAHSA, well, then, you’re giving users a means to create all those accounts automatically—without burdening them with these Advanced settings. Or, as Graham suggests, have the Advanced options be a secondary popup from the main assistant.
> I guess in the meantime, I will attempt to write generic help text that will point out to the user that they can defer decisions on these settings, and cross reference them to (as-yet-unwritten) sections in the new Configuring GnuCash chapter.

It’s not a bit disingenuous. Consider the millions of mostly satisfied Quicken users out there, some of whom wander our way and wonder why they should have to learn about accounting just to track their bank accounts. IMO most of them would be happier with KMyMoney, which operates a lot more like Quicken does. GnuCash is a formal accounting program for people who want that. No need for a CPA, Accounting 101 at the local community college will suffice. There’s no reason for GnuCash to cater to people who don’t have that knowledge when there are alternatives that 

So maybe the first thing to change in the T&CG is the first paragraph of the Introduction:
"GnuCash is the personal finance software package made for you. It is versatile enough to keep track of all your financial information, from the simple to the very complex. It is one of the few financial software packages that supports global currencies, and it is the only open-source program of its kind. Best of all, GnuCash is easy to learn and use!”

GnuCash isn’t at all a personal finance software package and it isn’t made for everyone. It’s a formal accounting software package and it’s made for people who run small businesses, are fiduciaries of some sort, have complicated finances, or are compulsive about using formal accounting. If it was easy to learn and use we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Now back to creating a new book.

I didn’t propose shunting off creating the basic accounts to the ANBA. I proposed that File>New would create the accounts currently created by the set of accounts selected by default in the current NAHSA. It contains two bank accounts (“savings” and “checking” in the en_US one) and cash-in-wallet under Assets:Current Assets, A range of income and expense accounts, Equity:Opening Balances, and a single credit card account under Liabilities. The other add-ons are mostly trivial or insufficient (for an example of the latter, investment includes dividend income but not capital gains).

John Ralls

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