Category/Item Breakdowns (July 8)

From 1989 until 2007, I taught classes for our estimating and accounting software. It was a good excuse to visit most parts of the US and Canada. The classes covered the Excel-based MacNail, then the current Goldenseal. Over 1000 users attended, and learned how to improve their businesses. I also learned first-hand what people found most confusing.

One problem area in Goldenseal was the two different ways you can itemize things in estimate and expense breakdowns. There are category breakdowns, where you just type stuff in. Also item breakdowns, where each line pops up a list of unit costs (Assemblies or Cost Items).

With hindsight, the split isn’t as useful as we first thought it would be. There still has to be a way to type unlisted things into a item breakdown. And category breakdowns still have to reference items like Bids and Allowances. They really aren’t different enough to be worth the extra fuss. Even worse, the names are rather confusing.

With Goldenseal Pro, we have a chance to fix some of the design flaws in the original Goldenseal. The category/item split is one of the worst. Goldenseal Pro will have just one type of breakdowns for estimates, expenses and sales. That’s one less thing to think about. One less thing to explain.

In Goldenseal Pro, if you want to pop up a material cost item, you’ll use a Material Item. If you want to type in a material, it’s Material Text. Ditto for labor, subcontractors, equipment or other costs. The names are revised from the current version, but they act the same otherwise.

This week we finished the code that converts old-style breakdowns to the new format. That way old data will still be usable. It probably will take a few more weeks to get all the little quirks working for breakdown tables. We can link into existing code for some of them, but some will be easier to just redo in Qt.

At first, testing showed weird errors. Eventually our staff discovered that for expenses, the menu doesn’t include the option to type in materials. For 20 years our testers never noticed it, and nobody ever reported it as a bug. I suspect it was because the whole category/item thing is so confusing. Nobody ever realized it was just a bug with an easy fix. Anyhow, it works properly now for Goldenseal Pro.

Breakdown tables are already further along than we ever got in our previous efforts with Cocoa and MFC. Progress is looking good. It’s just a matter of time.

BTW right now is the perfect time for users to tell us about any other frustrations with Goldenseal. It’s not too late for us to make design changes to improve it.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director

Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.

3 thoughts on “Category/Item Breakdowns (July 8)”

  1. Hi Dennis-
    Glad to see the progress being made on GS Pro. One change I would like to see in GoldenSeal Pro is, when doing Time & Material invoicing, the ability to breakdown a material receipt Cost Item by Cost Item and assign a different Job Cost code to each Cost Item. This is not possible in the current version of GS when invoicing for T&M and because of this we stopped using the accounting and job costing portion of GS and switch to another accounting software that allows this. I still use the estimating side of GS every week, it does everything I need for estimating and has allowed me to customize it over the years to how we work and for the types of work we do. Its a great piece of software!

    Hope you can make that change to the accounting side for T&M as it would be nice to have estimating and accounting in one package as opposed to our current system of GS for estimating & SAGE for accounting.

    Thanks – Jud

    1. Ask again on this one, after Goldenseal Pro is shipping.

      It’s not a big interface change. We’ll have to add another option in the report, and then some code to loop through each breakdown. But to test it, everything else will need to work first. D

  2. Actually, it may already be possible to do what you want.

    1. Choose Custom Layouts from the Option menu, and choose Reports.
    2. Enter Itemized T&M into the Report popup at upper left.
    3. Click on the report table.
    4. Choose Field Properties from the Format menu.
    5. Turn on the Show Breakdowns checkbox. Click OK.
    6. Save the report. Try it and let us know.

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