Tomáš Pospíšek's Notizblock
Gnucash is a fine piece of software. I have first used it in
- From this time however, it is not clear what has changed. Sure, the icons are nicer. There's a new splashscreen (an odious invention). At some point Gnucash gained a wizzard to set up accounts and predefined account hierarchy templates. Very nice.
However a lot of stuff that wasn't good still isn't, and there's a lot new stuff that isn't either and the world has moved too.
My task was to import account data in MT940 Swift format and find out what's happening with the money.
So first you start Gnucash. It asks you, since you are using it for the first time (I'm running Gnucash from new hardware), that it needs to change some files. Either outside your $HOME or import those files to your home and change them there etc. From the user standpoint these questions don't make any sense. Then why ask them?
At some point you can go about importing the MT940 Swift format files. Now I have about 40 of them. Gnucash doesn't seem to offer a command line interface to import them serially in a loop. Neither does it allow you to select more than one file. Neither are the shortcuts to entries in the menues noted there. So that means 40 times clicking through 3 levels of menus, scrolling down through the list of files and selecting the right file and confirming once. A lot of time is wasted.
Why aren't shortcuts noted in the menu entries? Gnome apps seem to have it by default. Why doesn't Gnucash have it?
Now I want to go through the transactions and fix them. But there's no search and replace to exchange ugly text with better one.
Nor can you select more than one transaction at once and apply the same operation to them.
One would think that one can at least fix Gnucash's accounting file by hand. But unfortunately everything in that file has got at least one level of indirection (very long, artificial, hexadecimal object id's). I tried but i could not figure out the semantics of the file format in a reasonable timeframe. So, no go.
That means again, very repetitive clicking and keypress-tasks. But when I Tab through the accounting entries, sometimes the text of an entry is selected, sometimes the cursor is put into the field without selecting the text. Thus behaveour is nondeterminstic and one can not go about mechanically replacing entries without a constant attention. Very strenuous again.
When changing entries only "Enter" will change it without Gnucash prompting "do you really really want to?" with a lot of options to select from. Unfortunately "Enter" will also put the focus back to the beginning of the line, so editing a whole column, field after field becomes a lot of hopping around through the columns.
If I want to rearrange my accounts I can not use drag and drop. I have to go to the context menu, select edit, expand the account hierarchy, since the branch where the account lives is not expanded by default and click on the new parent of the account.
There is a very powerful search feature, that gives you a new tab with the matching entries, however one can not refine the search expression afterwards. Thus it's all the time starting from scratch.
To close a Tab one has to go to the taskbar, the tabs themseves don't have a close-x as is usus today.
In the split view a transaction is splitted to three lines, where most of the fields are editable, but don't make much sense and actually produce errors when you do.
If you set a field - say the account name - to a wrong value, you can't simply press Esc, as would be expected, but Gnucash will ask you again and again some question "do you really want..."
There is no Undo and there is no Redo.
Changing the layout of the columns is very weird, full of uncomprehensible constraints and Gnucash succeeds to allway lay out the columns wrong - i.e. the columns that contain only very little text ("Num") and which are of low importance ("Num") are very wide and those that are important and contain a a lot of text are rather small.
There's a lot of reports to choose from, however there's no graphical impression of what they look like and so one has to click through them, again, very time wasting, and a few of the ones I saw are very ugly.
Allthough my locales are set and Gnucash doesn't complain about them when starting, the interface is still in English and not in German.
Most of these usability bugs have been in Gnucash since the beginning. They make working with Gnucash very painful.
Tomáš Pospíšek, 2009-11-11