PlusAlpha

PlusAlpha is a new kind of accounting software.

Real, Actual Accounting
The point of any accounting software is (we hope) to do actual accounting.  This means that you should be able to do at least the stuff you learn at school in Accounting 101.  That means there should be some kind of ledger that keeps track of accounts and their balances.  There should also be some kind of journal where you make journal entries for transactions.  Of course the difference between doing these things by hand and with software is that things like posting should be automatic.

Some of the personal accounting solutions on the market today don't let you just "put in a transaction", or you can't just pick the debit and credit accounts (if they even use those terms) and enter a transaction manually.  Some packages call some things "Categories", other things "Accounts", etc., instead of using industry standard terms.

PlusAlpha will always use real accounting terms, do things the accounting way, and let you make vanilla accounting entries manually.

User Friendly
Part of the reason some software makes things so hard on experienced accountants is that they try to dumb things down for non-accountants.  
We personally believe that the answer is gentle education, not dumbing down.  
PlusAlpha provide education in the form of hints, tips, sample transactions, and warnings when you do something that doesn't seem right.  
We don't want to prevent you from doing anything, but we do want to set you on the right path.

Helping Hand
While we will allow you to make manual entries in order to allow for the full spectrum of transactions, we will also automate tedious and routine transactions and provide hints which make things easier.  For example, PlusAlpha will display whether a particular transaction will increase or decrease the balance of a particular account.  Instead of "dumbing down" our software, we will make it smarter - it should help you learn.

Use the data you have
One problem with normal accounting packages, even ones aimed towards the home market, is that everything has to be perfect.  Every transaction has to be entered, with the exact amount, or the ending balance will be off.

When it becomes an all-or-nothing proposition, people often eventually give up.  Let's face it, being perfect all the time is hard.  Also, there is no way really enter data you have now without entering all previous data first.  (Sure you can do it, but the balances will be off until you do).  You can enter manual adjustments, to make up the difference now, but later when you find and enter more receipts, etc., those adjustments will have to be... adjusted again.

PlusAlpha takes the work out of this process for you by introducing soft transactions that can be auto adjusted, as well as "Balance Checkpoints" that let you tell the system know the balance at certain points in time.  PlusAlpha will then auto-generate the adjustment transactions required to make everything match up.  What if you enter more past transactions later?  Great! PlusAlpha will re-work everything so it balances.  This lets you use the data you have now to get a picture of your finances, while encouraging increased accuracy through further entry - without demanding you be 100% perfect from the start.

Concrete Budgeting and Projections
Where many home accounting packages fall short is their budgeting features.  There may be a place to set an overall monthly budget like "$300 a month for food", but there is a weak link between that budget and the actual spending.  Too often, accounting packages show a cash flow projection that is no where near in synch. with actual spending.  Furthermore, there is rarely full support for things like knowing exactly how much this month's credit card will be based on spending.

This leaves people who want accurate cash flow management running back to spreadsheets they can control manually so they know what's going on.  Not with PlusAlpha!  PlusAlpha can calculate how much your card bill will be each month based on what purchases you made when, and budgeting is done on a concrete month-by-month basis based on a template with recurring expenses you define.  Once this template and card details are entered, you can easily extend the budget coverage a month at a time.  Further, any transaction in PlusAlpha can be controlled by the user manually, or automatically updated by the system (if applicable), but it will be clear which is happening.




Sync:
PlusAlpha is designed from the ground up to sync across multiple machines without fear of conflicts or data corruption.  You can use any service you like to keep the data in sync, including Dropbox, AeroFS, network drives, shared folders, etc.  You just tell PlusAlpha which folder to use for synching changes, and it will take care of the rest.

Reporting:
We believe that the primary purpose of any accounting software package is reporting, so obviously this is one of the early features on our list.

Other Features:
  • Multi-Platform: Supports OS X, Linux, and Windows.
  • Multi-Lingual: Interface and data is supported in any language you like.
  • Multi-Currency: Currency neutral multi-currency support is planned.
  • Multi-Interface: All major operations will be available via a traditional GUI and via the command line interface we use for testing.  This also means that PlusAlpha is scriptable!  A web interface is scheduled for version 2.
  • Import/Export: At a minimum, customizable UTF-8 CSV files will be supported for importing and exporting - which means that with PlusAlpha you can always get your data in and out.

Participate:
Implementation of this project has begun, and the source code can be viewed at: Github PlusAlpha page

You can read about the implementation status here: Github PlusAlpha Status Wiki Page

We are currently developing this project on a part-time basis, and releasing regular updates to the source code.  We will post binaries for download once we have decided that the database format is stable.


This project is generously supported by the fine people at PremiumSoft through their Open Source Navicat license program.  


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