The past couple weeks, Turtlesoft’s staff has mostly worked on breakdown tables. Tables are a big, complicated part of the interface for Goldenseal accounting software. Basically, it’s anything that looks like a list or spreadsheet. Last Spring, we estimated 5 weeks of programming time for tables on Macintosh, and another 3 weeks for Windows. So far, that seems about right.
In Goldenseal 4.96 and earlier, estimates, expenses and many other business transactions use 3 different layouts. There is an item breakdown with a list of Assemblies, a category breakdown where you type in line items, and a none layout with no table at all. Each transaction must use one of the three, so a popup button on the left switches between them. The system often confuses new users, and it was complicated to program.
Goldenseal Pro will be simpler. It will have just one main layout, plus an optional breakdown table. The breakdowns will slide out in a side drawer (Mac) or attached window (Win) when you click a button. Tables in Goldenseal Pro will combine the former category and item breakdowns. Just as functional, but less complicated.
The original plan was to release the first version of Goldenseal Pro without the Custom Layouts command, and then add it in the next update. We started to write code that reads existing layouts, but splits off the breakdown tables to a different window. That way, the old layouts still work in the new format. The code mostly works, but it’s an ugly hack.
Rather than waste more time on temporary code, we decided to rearrange the schedule a bit, and work on Custom Layouts next. That way, it will be possible to design better-looking layouts at the very beginning. This change delays the earliest possible release, but it doesn’t alter the overall completion date.
Back in the 90s when we started work on Goldenseal, Custom Layouts was one of the first things we finished. We used it to design the screen appearance, in parallel with the business and database code. I guess the same logic applies to Goldenseal Pro.
Custom Layouts acts much like a drawing program. Fortunately, there is already good sample code for that. We won’t have to re-invent anything.
This week, we also added a few things to the Goldenseal-to-Pro translator. It now merges category and item breakdown records, and also moves a few types of bank accounts and transactions. The conversion is necessary so we can use the Sample Company File for testing. It also will convert all user data, after Goldenseal Pro is released. So far, it looks like the transition will be completely seamless.