[GNC-dev] New Account Hierarchy Setup Assistant Questions

Adrien Monteleone adrien.monteleone at lusfiber.net
Thu Sep 13 08:09:57 EDT 2018


I agree on all points.


> On Sep 12, 2018, at 10:19 PM, David Cousens <davidcousens at bigpond.com> wrote:
> Adrien,
> While I agree with the concept David T is proposing to streamline the process for new users and the thrust of your
> comments about the new user experience, the new account heirarchy at least as it is currently implemented, will be used
> by anyone creating a new set of books, whether they are experienced Gnucash users, experienced accountants, total
> newbies or someone transferring from another program.
> As a newbie you can get a perfectly usable set of accounts for exploring Gnucash by simply clicking Next through the
> assistant then Apply and then saving the file. 
> Perhaps this needs to be made clearer to new users as well as informing them that any choices they make can be changed
> later (except for the very few cases where this is not possible - I can't think of any but I personally don't currently
> use the full capabilty set of GnuCash's features but I used more in the past). 
> If this was done up front, they could then easily skip through.
> The suggestion John made of creating a simplified new file option with defaults based on the locale and an advanced
> setup option using the NAHS Assistant seems to meet this need as well.  Even knowing what you want in a CoA requires a
> fair understanding of your accounting needs as well as the functionality of GnuCash. Alternatively in other posts I
> think both Frank and I have suggested a checkbox which by default disables selecting those options which a new user is
> going to find confusing and provides default values. 
> I would have thought the CoA setup is not too bad. It comes with the common accounts selected, it does perhaps give the
> new user a view that there is a lot more to explore. Some new users will be looking for business functionality and other
> "advanced " functionality from the get go. There will always be a few new users who will be confused by having to start
> the program.
> Personally when evaluating software, I jump in without reading manuals first because I figure if the interface isn't
> intuitive to a decent extent, I am not going to want to go too much further, unless I really have no other option.
> Intuitive for an experienced computer user can however be very different for someone with limited experience. My wife
> never reads manuals ever, she just asks me. I on the other hand consult my 5 year old grand daughter.
> I share Mechtilde's concern that in making things easier for the new user we don't lose functionality for the
> experienced user. We should hopefully look for mechanisms for doing both.
> David Cousens
> On Wed, 2018-09-12 at 10:33 -0500, Adrien Monteleone wrote:
>> As someone who has helped other people get started using GnuCash (and remembering my own first steps) I agree
>> completely with these points. Those book preferences are not self explanatory. (perhaps bugs in their own right) A new
>> user is left to either trust the defaults and move on, pause and revisit the startup process several times while they
>> track down help info and digest it, or give up in frustration. (I’ve seen the latter three times—you may or not be
>> surprised how many people do *not* want to read a book before they start using a piece of software, I chose the second
>> option personally)
>> Unless the startup assistant (wizard, druid, whatever) can be redesigned as an explanatory walk through to choose
>> these settings, that part should be removed and the defaults chosen for the user.
>> As for trading accounts, I turned them on after the fact for tracking commodities as additional currencies. I’ve never
>> bought or sold any since doing that, but I’ve played with turning the setting on and off to experiment with the
>> setting’s effect on some reports and I’ve never noticed any issues. (but again, I only have opening balance
>> transactions in each currency) If turning Trading Accounts off after entering buy/sell transactions is bad news, then
>> I would think the option to do so should be disabled.
>> Regards,
>> Adrien
>>> On Sep 12, 2018, at 9:38 AM, David T. via gnucash-devel <gnucash-devel at gnucash.org> wrote:
>>> 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, 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.
>>> David
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