I was pointed by Thomas, of KMyMoney fame, to an LWN article talking about Skrooge. While it is great to see some blog posts about a tool that is, after all, not so well known, this one contains a few incorrect statements. To the author's credit, I must admit that Skrooge's User Interface is maybe a bit too packed to allow discovering these functions easily... Until we find a way to propose something slickier, I will try to provide some clarifications here.
This is true. However, if you do not specify any sign when entering the amount, Skrooge will deduce it from the category. If the category is mostly used for payments, it will add the minus sign for you. You can of course force the sign of the operation by adding a + or a - before the amount. Overall, we feel that one field for the amount, be it a payment or a deposit, is more effective than two distinct fields. It's possibly a matter of personal taste, though :).
Automatic Check Numbers
The handy shortcut of hitting "+" to get the next check number does not work
This is also true. Again we are doing things differently, and I admit that hitting "+" to get the next check number is a good idea. It has, however one drawback: what happens if you own several checkbooks for the same account ? My wife and I have our own checkbooks for the same shared account... To work around this, Skrooge will automatically propose the next check number after you entered the first check numbers. But I like the author's idea better. Maybe when pressing "+" a drop down list with all possible numbers for checkbooks could appear ?
Keyboard only mode
This is not correct. Use Tab to navigate through the fields, and press Ctrl+Enter to enter as a new operation, or Shift+Enter to update an existing operation.
Some other details are missing as well. For example, when importing transactions, Skrooge is unable to detect duplicates - though it does have a facility for manually merging duplicates after the fact
It also suffers from the scourge of "tooltipitis" - it can be difficult to actually see what is going on in the window because there are always tooltips in the way.
Conclusions, and a call for help
In summary, Skrooge just doesn't seem to have benefited from years of optimization for everyday use like some other programs have. That said, it seems to be a capable tool that will be more than adequate for the needs of a large group of users. Once upon a time, Linux users had no real choice when it came to capable personal finance managers; at this point, there are several entirely acceptable options. At this level, at least, free software developers have managed to scratch this itch in an entirely satisfying way.
All this is of course correct, even though I do think that Skrooge is a bit more advanced than the author thinks. Again, we should take this as an indication that Skrooge's power remains largely unknown due to UI issues. I have a long standing action to sit with Björn and discuss usability. This article shows us where some improvements can be found.
One other thing that prevents Skrooge's adoption is that the documentation is very outdated. We need to spend some time refreshing screenshots, adding new functions, and so on... Does anyone feel like helping ? If yes, contact us !
I would like to thank the author, Jonathan, for taking the time to review Skrooge, and for providing us with some improvement ideas. This kind of constructive feedback is always useful for us :)