See also: hledger and Ledger
hledger is a Plain Text Accounting system, where your accounting data is stored in a readable plain text file, often version-controlled. Some strengths of the PTA approach:
- Runs on your local computer, keeping your financial data private and under your control
- Simple model of operation: put a log of transactions in, get reports out
- Simple, expressive, human-readable, future-proof plain text format
- Can be version controlled, eg with Git, to safeguard your data, track changes, or collaborate
- Edit with your favourite text editor, or a data entry UI, or import from other formats
- Easy to script, automate, and integrate into custom workflows
- Lightweight, fast, non-distracting to use
- Great for learning more of double-entry bookkeeping and accounting.
hledger comes with multiple user interfaces that just work:
A command-line tool (CLI). Transactions are stored in a journal file which you can edit with a text editor. From this hledger produces various reports, without changing your data.
A live-updating terminal interface (TUI), that lets you review account balances and transactions quickly. (screencast)
A zero-setup web interface (WUI), allowing terminal-free, point-and-click usage. Run it privately on your local machine, or on a server to collaborate with others. (demo).
A haskell library. You can write scripts, add-on commands, or financial applications as powerful as hledger itself.
- Reports normally take a fraction of a second.
hledger-ui --watchnormally updates instantly as you edit.
- On a 2021 macbook air, hledger parses and analyses about 12000 transactions per second.
Within its scope of Plain Text Accounting, hledger aims to be intuitive, learnable and highly usable, taking only the best from other PTA tools and leaving the rest. Here are some things it provides out of the box:
- Easy multi-currency double-entry accounting using only a plain text file
- Easy assisted data entry or CSV import
- Easy zero-setup command line, terminal, and web user interfaces
- Easy multi-period balance sheet, income statement, and cashflow reports
- Easy summarising of account balances to a desired depth
- Easy output to text, HTML, CSV, JSON or SQL
- Easy import/export/co-usage with Ledger CLI or Beancount
- Easy to download or build on all major platforms
hledger strives to be comfortable to use, to be absolutely reliable, to provide real-world value, and to never waste your time. It provides:
Robust installation: multiple options are provided for binary and source installation. Building from source is reliable and consistent across platforms.
Robust execution: hledger is written in Haskell, a modern, highly-regarded programming language. Runtime failures are minimised by Haskell's memory management and strong compile-time type checking. Failures caused by user input are reported clearly and promptly.
Robust testing: The software is continually tested by extensive automated tests.
Robust features: built-in commands and options combine well with one another, and are expected to do something sensible in all cases, with all kinds of input.
Robust calculation: results are expected to always perfectly match what you would calculate on paper, up to 255 decimal places.
Robust parsing: dated items, such as balance assertions and balance assignments, are processed in date order. Assertions/assignments with the same date are processed in parse order. Multiple assertions/assignments within a single transaction work as you would expect.
Robust reporting: reports are deterministic and not affected by the order of input files or data items except where that is part of their spec.
Robust documentation: all functionality is documented precisely, with a mnemonic permalink. User manuals for your hledger version are available online, and built in for offline viewing. General and command-specific command line help is provided. We favour documentation-driven development.
hledger is a rewrite of the pioneering Ledger CLI, aiming to build out the same core features to a higher level of quality, and to add new ones making it useful to more people. Ledger users will find the file formats and commands familiar, and with a little care can run both tools on the same data files. (You can read more about the origins and differences.)
Many tools exist for importing from other applications. Data can be exported as CSV, JSON or basic SQL.
hledger is free software, with no purchase price or monthly fees. It is licensed under GNU GPLv3, providing the strongest guarantee that you will always have the right to run, inspect, modify, or share it. It is actively maintained, with regular releases and a large chat room and other support resources.
What are some current limitations of hledger and Plain Text Accounting ?
The "GUIs" are minimalist; there is no rich GUI competitive with Quicken or GNUCash.
As a beginner you might feel there's too much choice, too much to read, yet not enough clear opinionated guidance. (We're working on it. A request in the chat will produce quick help.)