[GNC-dev] Using "main sections placeholder accounts" in chart of accounts' templates

John Ralls jralls at ceridwen.us
Sun Dec 13 13:07:12 EST 2020

> On Dec 13, 2020, at 2:13 AM, Giuseppe Foti <foti.giuseppe at gmail.com> wrote:
>   Good morning, devs
>   I'm opening a topic to discuss the practice to have main sections
>   placeholders accounts in charts of accounts.
>   In the embedded charts of accounts using those seem to be the standard,
>   so in every chart of accounts are there placeholder accounts for:
>   - Equity
>   - Liabilities
>   - Assets
>   - Revenues
>   - Expenses
>   This behaviour seems to be obvious but it can be counterproductive when
>   creating reports because all reports have sections header and only for
>   some of those you can choose if to show sections headers or not.
>   I am preparing a chart of accounts useful for Italian small no-profit
>   organizations, trying to comply with new  Government's rules and I'd
>   like to discuss this topic before committing the chart.
>   Ordering accounts can be made by assigning codes to accounts (I do this
>   starting the account code with letters and numbers used in the
>   Government report standard for sections and subsections)
>   More:
>   I think it could be useful to use colours to mark different kind of
>   accounts (or accounts in different sections) to help people to
>   understand what kind of account they are importing/using. I have just
>   found this company's work on the net but I don't think is there a
>   defined standard somewhere ([1]https://www.coloraccounting.com/) but it
>   seems Gnucash Documentations discourages to embed colours in chart of
>   accounts' templates.
>   As fell suggested
>   ([2]https://lists.gnucash.org/logs/2020/12/13.html#T04:11:12), let's
>   discuss this topic.
> References
>   1. https://www.coloraccounting.com/
>   2. https://lists.gnucash.org/logs/2020/12/13.html#T04:11:12


In most European countries there are two higher-level placeholder accounts, Active that contains Assets and Passive that contains Liability and Equity. I'd think that your Italian xea would require those. 

Income and Expense are special Equity accounts that are not usually displayed in reports like balance sheets that show the chart of accounts; they are instead summarized into a single line under Equity called Retained Earnings. GnuCash's balance sheet report will do that automatically or you may do it manually using Tools>Close Books. The Income and Expense accounts are also used to generate the Profit and Loss (aka Income Statement) report. Those two reports form the traditional financial period report. We have a place for localized reports but so far it contains only income tax reports for the USA and Germany. You're welcome to submit PRs for Italian reports.

Account numbers are a fine way to order accounts, though it requires the user to include the account number in the Accounts page display, set it to sort on that instead of the account name, and then optionally hide the number column.

Now to color: GnuCash already has the ability to set colors on accounts. It changes the background color for the account on the Accounts page and the account's register tab. It's a user preference and I think that it would require a change to the XEA format and parser; I'd suggest adding a 'color' attribute to the Account element and expressing it in the widely used #RRBBGG hexadecimal format.

Color Accounting appears to be a consultancy that offers accounting training for client companies using a proprietary account coloring scheme. Unless they've published their scheme somewhere and explicitly placed it in the public domain or offer it with a liberal and free license we can't use it. 

John Ralls

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