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The accounting quest: Ledger

The accounting quest: Ledger

Posted Jun 14, 2012 19:21 UTC (Thu) by tbm (subscriber, #7049)
Parent article: The accounting quest: Ledger

As a user of ledger, I wanted to add some comments:

  • If you want to try out ledger, make sure to get the 3.0 development version from git. While 3.0 has not been released yet, the ledger 2 series is considered as obsolete since the upcoming 3.0 has tons of new features and has changed some of the syntax.
  • John Wiegley, the author of ledger, has always said that ledger will stay a simple accounting "calculator"; but he has always encouraged other people to build full accounting applications/GUIs on top. At the moment, this doesn't exist (but see bkuhn's comment). In order to use ledger for a business, a lot of accounting and business logic needs to be built on top and this is definitely an area lacking today. ledger works pretty well to keep track of your personal finance, though.
  • Related to the above: I think the current situation is that getting data into ledger is easy but doing something useful with the data is hard at the moment... some people have written some scripts on top of ledger (for example to create PDF invoices and nice charts) but this needs more work (and cooperation among ledger users). ledger 3.0 has a Python interface that can be used to write scripts that do interesting things with your data.
  • In addition to the Emacs mode, there's also a vim mode offering syntax highlighting and other features.
  • GnuCash support won't be in 3.0 but is planned for 3.1 afaik.
  • I don't see ledger files with "hundreds of thousands of lines" as a problem: a ledger file can include other ledger files, so you can neatly put data from different bank accounts into separate files.
  • I'm not sure what you mean by lack of support for "recurring transactions": if you mean that there'll be e.g. a phone payment on your bank statement every month, then this would be handled by whatever way you're getting your bank data into ledger. I have some Perl scripts that convert my bank data to ledger and they will recognize payments to specific vendors as such and fill in the details correctly. Furthermore, ledger has an xact command that will add a new transaction based on information from previous transactions.


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The accounting quest: Ledger

Posted Jun 19, 2012 22:39 UTC (Tue) by eternaleye (subscriber, #67051) [Link]

To elaborate further on the ability to include other files, I use a system where my ledger is kept in a git repository with the following layout:

main.dat
global
global/00-defaults.dat
global/01-accounts.dat
by-date
by-date/2012
by-date/2012/2012-01.dat
by-date/2012/2012-02.dat
by-date/2012/2012-03.dat
by-date/2012/2012-04.dat
by-date/2012/2012-05.dat
by-date/2012/2012-06.dat
by-date/2012.dat

main.dat includes global/*.dat, and then by-date/*.dat.

by-date contains 2012/ and 2012.dat (and another such pair for each year, when I've finished entering older years), which includes by-date/2012/*.dat (which are monthly).

accounts.dat is all of the accounts I deal with, and defaults.dat is for stuff like setting the default currency.

That puts a nice limit on the size of each file, and I find it superior to dividing things up based on accounts because that can be icky when entries involve multiple accounts. In order to classify entries, I just use tags. It also makes importing from a monthly CSV even easier, since it can just go in its own file.


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