[GNC-dev] New Account Hierarchy Setup Assistant Questions

D sunfish62 at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 13 08:41:33 EDT 2018


Having raised yet another ruckus on the lists regarding documentation, I will back off altogether, and work to write documentation on the assistant as it is, taking care to balance the needs of the different user groups.

My only final comment is to note that it is unfortunate that this assistant is what all users see when they click File->New. Perhaps the idea of adding buttons on the first screen for Business and Personal setup (along with a modification in sequencing for the latter option) could be implemented with minor developer effort?

I have a greater appreciation for the many different perspectives in the community, and thank everyone for their input.


On September 13, 2018, at 8:10 AM, Adrien Monteleone <adrien.monteleone at lusfiber.net> wrote:


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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