[GNC-dev] book currency is what ... question mark

Wm wm_o_o_o at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Feb 21 09:15:10 EST 2019

On 18/02/2019 06:43, David Cousens wrote:

> I must admit I don't use trading accounts much at present. I'll check out
> how they handle it.

I like trading accounts, they make sense to me.  If you don't do a lot 
of stuff outside of your home currency you probably needn't bother 
unless you are interested in the actual value of things.

have a look at
gnc is but one implementation though we do get a mention! :)

[snip agreed]

> I don't think this is what Alex was proposing. My reading of a use case he
> might be trying to address  is that in a case of a multisplit transaction
> where more than two foreign currency accounts were involved, the balance
> condition for the transaction would be checked in the book currency.

If that is what is proposed it is bad thinking.  I do understand that 
for people that rarely encounter anything outside their own bubble this 
would be a convenience, but if, at the end of the tx there is something 
left over (some shares, some currency, anything) then this is just 
painting over the cracks.

> I will
> have to check the data structures but I think from a brief look some time
> ago there is only one price associated with a transaction, whereas if what
> Alex is proposing is what I think he is, it would require a price from the
> currency of the account the split is to to the register account currency to
> be associated with each split to enable that transaction balancing to occur.

I think we agree on the proposal, I think it is a bad idea.  I 
specifically do not want all my tx rewritten into a single currency.

I really do have 1.00 ZAR and 2.00 USD and 3.00 GBP and 4.00 EUR.  I 
only have some equivalent value in AUD when I report on it, my accounts 
should recognize what I have and what I owe in real (i.e. world) terms, 
e.g. I owe my girlfriend 100 EUR for dinner not however many GBP it was 
at the moment I asked her to pay because they wouldn't accept my card.

> Ideally I would think a transaction should not be specifically associated
> with any specific account other than through the splits to the accounts.

It isn't, a transaction is the sum of the splits, the splits have 
accounts, not the tx.  The tx is the human convenient glue that keeps 
the splits (the actual transactions) together.

> I
> think that is the case in GnuCash but I haven't explicitly checked the code
> but a single price for a transaction if that is the case may break that.
> Geert, John or Derek may be better able to comment on this

I think I must be misunderstanding again.  In many cases there *can't* 
be a single price for the tx.

> If you are recording a change in asset value in the register there should be
> a specific transaction to do that. 

accounting practice allows for (usually non-traded or infrequently 
traded) assets and liabilities to be valued and revalued by explicit tx, 
that is never going to go away; in most jurisdictions there is a whole 
bunch of tax related stuff saying when you should or shouldn't do this 
but gnc isn't going to stop you :)

> No problem perhaps for a report, but even
> then  I would always prefer to know explicitly the basis for any difference
> between what is in the register and what appears in a report, i.e. it should
> be part of the report.

The general rule is that an actual price (i.e. that implied from the tx) 
overrides a price from the prices db.  I think gnc does this correctly.

It is the reports that are getting muddled and not being examined 
sufficiently because a diminishing number of people understand them. 
They're in Scheme, a language that was old before my time and I am in my 
50's.  <-- That's a fact not a crit of our seniors.  I know they want to 
move on and allow people like me to write reports for others.

> I think we all have a tendency to think the whole world runs the way things
> are run in our local environment until we experience a situation that
> disabuses us of this false notion, usually travel.

A good observation.

> I can't say that my
> experience of the GnuCash development team indicates that that this
> particularly a problem. 

I am not saying bad things about our seniors.  There are  number of them 
that are aware of more than one currency and certainly not isolationist 
people.  I think (someone may correct me) that most of the gnc trading 
account stuff was implemented by a USA-ian [1]

[1] I might have made an enormous mistake by mixing Canadian and 
American <-- joke!  USA is not America, duh!

> When something new is developed it is likely to at
> least initially reflect what the developer is most  familiar with and it
> requires wider input to then generalize it to other requirements. GnuCash is
> not a commercial effort where there is a definite financial incentive to
> provide adaption to different jurisdictions so it gets down to individual
> motivation and enough users with some development skill taking on the tasks
> to do that adaption.

I disagree with that slightly, there are definite jurisdictional 
adaptations.  The good ones are generalized,

consider: there are only so many ways to add a tax to an invoice so 
let's generalize it, this is progress, gnc does this well

and there are bad ones: Reports / Tax Schedule Report & TXF Export
this means nothing to me, should it be removed?  no; should it be put 
somewhere less prominent? yes.  why should one country's tax filing be 
OK and another country's not be allowed?

Some people have put some effort into tax filing in European (or soon to 
be ex-European) countries, the general report would probably cover 90% 
of the rest of the world.  The gnc seniors don't see this. Grrrr!

> That unfortunately is not that easy. I found it very
> difficult to get to the point where I could even begin to develop any code.
> My wife (who was the daughter of a USMC second lieutenant) but was brought
> up in Australia is much tougher than I am on US cultural imperialism.

Does she think of herself as an ex-pat or not? :)

> Unfortunately we are faced with governments being unnecessarily prescriptive
> about how things should be done in cases where they have minimal expertise.
> Making Tax Digital is a case in point in the UK. 

Yup, other countries too, but making the report can be made easier.

> I am hoping the ATO here
> does not catch a case of the HMRC bloody mindedness as we still have a fall
> back to a web portal into which we can cut and paste the required
> information.

It gets worse in some places where you theoretically have to have been 
using approved software to be able to file a report :(


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