Luca for Lion - An Accounting System for Mac OS X Lion Users
Luca is an accrual-based accounting system that runs on OS X. It has the ability to handle real-time double-entry postings and multiple currencies, yet we try to make it very easy to use, so that it will require minimal accounting knowledge to operate. It is designed for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Luca's Design Objectives
The primary aim of an accounting system should be to help its users understand the financial information better. And we believe there's no finer platform for understanding information design than the Mac.
So we're trying to take advantage of all the wonderful user-interface design technology that is available on a Mac to provide Mac users with an inexpensive, easy-to-use accounting system that has most of the standard accounting features (e.g., double-entry, multi-currency, real-time P&L reporting, the ability to drill down and verify the source of any piece of data), and yet is still recognisably Mac-like in concept and navigation.
We take advantage of multiple windows to allow the user to focus on more-manageable pieces of information at a time, while providing the ability to drill down into the details or bring up related information with just one click. And we take advantage of a Cocoa application's ability to keep all its windows synchronised when you make changes in any piece of data.
Luca also exploits the relational nature of the underlying database to allow the user to analyse the data from any angle – for example, by starting at the Profit and Loss Statement and drilling down to the specific transactions that made up an account, or by starting at a specific transaction (say, an invoice) and looking up all the payment transactions, comparing them against the debtor’s credit history.
Luca has been built on very strong foundations. It has an open architecture, which allows users to choose which database they want to use to store the accounting data. Luca works with the SQLite database, by default, but users can choose to use it with MySQL or PostgresSQL.
Also, Luca is written in Objective-C and can be used as an embedded database in mission-critical applications, e.g., in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or insurance systems.
Therefore, the way we've envisaged it, a user can begin to use Luca in a non-critical, entry-level setting. And we're hoping to make the data entry as streamlined as a Personal Financial Management Tool. Then if Luca proves to be useful, the user can look forward to exploiting the built-in scaleability of Luca's double-entry engine to handle the accounting requirements of even a large scale business.
The schedule for Luca for Lion's development is to add features like Inventory and Time Billing, and a feature for importing invoices to create associated vouchers automatically, etc.
Recurring vouchers can be created for General Vouchers, Cash Receipts or Disbursements, and Receivables or Payables.
Parameters can be set to repeat a voucher daily, weekly, monthly or yearly over a number of periods. Vouchers can also be set to repeat at intervals, e.g. at a bi-weekly or 6-monthly interval.
Printing and Exporting
The listings e.g. Chart of Accounts, Trial Balance, Journals and Statement of Accounts, etc. can be printed, saved as a PDF file or exported so that you may format it in your preferred spreadsheet application.
Currency display formats and decimal number precision can be set for individual currencies (e.g., the Japanese yen has no decimal places and you can set this, as shown below, by setting the Max fraction digits to 0) :
Luca is designed to make it very easy for novice users to establish an accounting system. When first launched, Luca displays an example Chart of Accounts and sample vouchers (e.g., payments, receipts, payables and receivables) for the current month.
The Luca for Lion Manual
There is a Luca Quick Start Manual that will use the example Chart of Accounts to show you how you could go about using Luca. You can go to work immediately, following the examples in the Manual. It describes one month's worth of accounting data that's already been entered into the system. And it takes you from the initial setup to handling a variety of common scenarios. The Luca for Lion Manual can be found here.
4.0 January 31st 2012. Luca 4.0 for Lion released.
4.0.1 February 14th 2012. Luca looks first for a Lucadb database containing the accounting data next to the app. If it can't find one, it looks for a Lucadb in the user's Documents folder. If it still can't find one, it creates a fresh Lucadb in Documents, with an example Chart of Accounts and sample vouchers (payments, receipts, payables and receivables) created for the current month. Luca can export the Lucadb to either MySQL or PostgreSQL. Changes have been made to simplify this. You choose which place to export the database to. Luca allows you to test the connection (the destination database must already been created, but which can be left empty) first. If the connection is OK, you're allowed to proceed with the export. Once the export finishes, the connection is saved in a pop-up menu, so you can switch to it. This is designed to give Luca only one place where the user can switch databases, so that all the set-up tables and the default currencies are all changed cleanly.
4.0.2 February 17th 2012. Added back the ability to export Lucadb to another SQLite database. Luca now has the ability to save and re-use any number of connections, for people who store different companies' data in different Lucadb's.
4.0.3 February 17th 2012. Luca can now handle exporting to PostgreSQL versions 8.4.x, 9.0.x and 9.1.x databases.