Saturday, November 11, 2006

The GnuCash and Ledger Combo

For the past month I've been using the excellent GnuCash 2.0 accounting package to keep track of our (my wife's and mine) finances. It's a quality accounting package with a quick double-entry accounting style, but I found it lacking a quick and flexible querying and reporting feature. Actually this is not true. I understand the built-in reporting features are quite extensible if you are familiar with Guile, and I mean, who isn't?

Anyways, just yesterday, an article at pointed me to a package called Ledger. I'll not go into great detail about the package since the linked article does a pretty good job, but suffice it to say, that it is everything we've all grown to love in a powerful command line tool. It's very fast, and very powerful (with the use of regular expressions). Of course, it doesn't produce the prettiest of reports, but it does get the information you are looking for very quickly. It even has the option to output the matching entries to your query in XML format if you wish. I think I can see some Python report generating scripts in my future :).

As the article mentions, the package can read the data files that are produced by GnuCash. Instead of manually editing the Ledger data file as a method of entering transactions, I think I'll stick to using GnuCash as it has a very fast and efficient flow with autocompletions and all that goodness. The Ledger tool, however, is perfect for quick queries and reporting from one of my always open terminals. I think these tools will have a long and harmonious life on my desktop.

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