Forum OpenACS Q&A: personal finance module

Posted by finn knudsen on
Hi everyone

I'm currently working on a personal finance module to openacs.

Basicly I have build a datamodel of about 40 tables ( in english ),
and made some functions to create accounts and register transactions.

The code is not very clean but the general functionality is there. So
if somebody is interested in this, they can contact me and we could
work together on getting the basic functionality up and running.

When it's finished you should be able to have a mixture between and

So if anybody would like to contribute feel free to send me a mail.

Posted by Bill Millikin on

I'd be very interested due to building a site for network marketers, most of whom could use some book-keeping/accounting help.  I have 30+ years of business accounting system programming experience, and can be very helpful to you, I'm sure.

I look forward to working with you!


Posted by Fred Yankowski on
I may be naive about this, but it seems like an Open Source small business accounting package could become very popular.  The major advantages would be 1) the visibility of the underlying data, making it possible to export any/all of the data to any other application; 2) the ability to integrate with any other application, such as creating a web front-end that would feed data into the business management systems.  This is as opposed to products like QuickBooks, which keeps _my_ business data locked up in _their_ proprietary system, making it hard for me to get my data back out for use with other applications.  OTOH, QuickBooks does make critical business operations -- like payroll, and tax reporting -- fairly easy to do.  And I've yet to encounter any QuickBooks bugs or crashes.

There are dozens of "accounting" projects at SourceForge, but only SQL-Ledger seems to have gotten beyond the planning/alpha stage, and it is based on Perl <cough>.

Posted by finn knudsen on
Hi Fred

It might be worth a thought to extend the functionality of the personal finance module, to actually become a small business accounting module.

I tjecked and it looks pretty interesting. I could be pretty neat to follow some of the same design idears so it might be possible at a later date to integrate the two of them. However, it doesn't seem quite as ambitious as and the datamodel of sql-ledger is not so big. It would also be natural to build it together with the ecomerce module.

Anyway, I need to show some results with my own project pretty soon so I will probably keep working on that, but we could fold some of that work into the model at a later date.

However, I think the biggest problem would be to aggree on what kind of data model we should implement. If we, GnuCash, and SQL-ledger could all agree on the same basic datamodel layout we would just develop different front ends to the same datamodel.

1 layer
SQL: common data model

2 layer
FINANCE API: pqsql functions to take care of transactions
FINANCE API: views to extract data

3 layer
GUI front end, perl, tcl, web, xml etc.

I can post some a very limited scripts that implement the above architecture. However, my datamodel is somewhat different than both GNUcash and sql-ledger. I seem to have read somewhere the Phillip Greenspun is actually working or have been working on collaborative datamodelling, so mayby he has some thoughts.

Anyway, getting it all tied together will be a pretty big project. We could start out doing smaller stuff and working towards a module that could be tied into openACS 4.

Looking forward to your comments.

Posted by finn knudsen on
Hi all

When I posted here just a few days ago, I was thinking in the lines of building af personal finance module for OpenAcs, because I need some of the functionality myself.

However, Fred's posting got me thinking that there could also be a need for a general accounting module. Looking around the net, I found that there where many projects going on currently, and we might be able to integrate some functionality with these.

However, as often happens on the net, I began surfing around, and happend to come by  Turns out, that there is many communities, where people are creating their own money, which facilitate cooperation and sharing work. Our community relies exclusively on the good will and spare time of the members, as well some free capital in the form of the software that Phillip Greenspun contributed ( and AOL ).

However, this may not be enough for all projects, and therefore it could be extremely relevant for the community members to buy services of each other. However, this would not have to be in the form of actually paing $ but it could be in the form of exchanging a community currency.

Going back to the communities around the world, that are using these forms of alternative currencies, they are currently functioning by people phoning in there trades to a central phone number ! Wouldn't it not be much more practical to view accounts, register trades etc. over the internet ?

I'm not aware that such a model currently exists for the openacs system ( or anyware else for that matter ), and I think it would be better to try and build such new functionality, rather than trying to replicate software ( i.e. business account system ), that may already exist plenty of. Anyway, the general functionality would be easily converted into more traditional forms of an accounting system, which would always have had to be customized anyway.

Let me here your thoughts on this turn of events. I will try to write up a paper outlining the functionality in more details, for the people who are unfamiliar with economics.

Posted by Chuck Rouzer on
I have been looking for ways to integrate the future GNUe software and OpenACS.  GNUe is going to be a full fledge ERP package and will contain an accounting module.

Here are some comments:

GNUe is coded in python.  Creating a GNUe python module for aolserver may be an option.  GNUe is still in early development and this is not in the works yet.
OpenACS could provide a web interface to GNUe applications.  In the past we have discussed creating a GNUe Apache module to extend GNUe interfaces to web clients.

It may be as easy as integrating all these pieces together, I've yet to find out.

Posted by Don Baccus on
There's already a python module for AOLserver, but I don't know if it is still being maintained...
Posted by finn knudsen on
Great input Chuck

I have been looking at GNUe and it seems like a very ambitious project. It goes far beyond anything I had planed. It might be better to spend some efforts there, and then port the datamodel and functionality to OpenACS later.

However, I have continued to look into the possibility of building a community currency module. For people not familar with the concept, you can check out for some background on the project.
I have created a conference at called software to discuss this topic. You will have to get a login at

Anyway, I have started doing a datamodel and hope somebody else will be interested in trying this out. The functionality we create could form at basis for porting existing/future accounting modules to OpenACS, since we will need almost the same functionality anyway.

Posted by Ryan Campbell on
After some digging with Google, I found Greenspan: He used the gnucash datamodel on oracle to implement a light quicken type application in ACS 3.x. It's been in "pre-alpha state" for the at least the past 8 months (by my recollection).

I agree wholehartedly that the OpenACS4 will be ripe for Enterprise applications. GNUe would definitely be the way to go, if there is a workable integration scenario. If I remember correctly, GNUe uses CORBA to interface with it's datamodel and is designed for seperation of presentation & busines logic, so it seems likely.

Posted by Frank Bergmann on

the Link has disappeared
and I wasn't successfull looking around in Google.
Does somebody still have the code (ACS/OpenACS)?

I'm currently evaluating the old Intranet module of
ACS 3.x as a candidate to manage the internal processes
of a translation business (
Any links/hints welcome.


Posted by Jade Rubick on
Frank, our company is currently using the old ACS 3.4 Intranet module.

The dotWRK project is creating an OpenACS based Intranet, and I'm going to be porting our data from the old Intranet to dotWRK. I'd recommend this route, as it has a better future, and the upgrade effort involved is pretty substantial. Are you already using ACS? If not, I'd definitely go with OpenACS instead.

If you are already on ACS, and decide to upgrade, I'd be happy to share my scripts for upgrading from the old Intranet to the new one. They won't be perfect, however, and will require testing. 😊

Our company would be much more interested in software to link together our current accounting system with our Intranet than writing a Quicken like application. I may work on this at some point in the future.

Posted by Frank Bergmann on
Dear Jade,

we have decided to go ahead and start customizing starting with the old ACS 3.4 Intranet. The main reasons is that there are already customized Intranet components, such as project costs and budget.

So we will have to upgrade to OpenACS some day in the future (even though I current don't see exactly why...).

FYI, there is a similar application ("Espresso") running online (ASP) at You can check it out with a free registration. My intention is to add more or less those components to the ACS Intranet module.