Using SQL-Ledger for Your Business
Those of you who follow my writings know that I consider security to be job number one. Accountants out there should be pleased to know that security in SL can be implemented on a user-by-user basis. Therefore, one user can see only Accounts Payable while another can see only Accounts Receivable.
SL also can be configured to comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Most countries have their own version of GAAP, but these practices are similar. You therefore can configure SL so users can't go back and delete transactions but must post reversing entries instead. You also can close periods so nothing can be edited in prior periods.
All this is accomplished in the administration section where you add users and basically tell the system how you want it to act. After that, it's up to you. The FAQ contains information to assist you in tightening security on your system. Basically, you decide how secure or open your system will be.
SL is easy to use and fairly simple to customize in any way you need. Everything in SL revolves around its Chart of Accounts. When you set up SL, you choose one to load. But making changes to that one or even creating a new one is not difficult. In fact, many businesses probably will want to sit down and make some modifications.
The way SL's tax system is set up, almost any tax system can be configured easily, simply by linking from one table to another using the tax percentage. The ease with which this can be done makes it ideal for locations where the tax structure might require two or three separate taxes be applied to a sale. The Default Chart of Accounts is set up with three tax accounts just to show how it is done. Tax tables contain multiple links to customers, vendors, parts and services, and a match determines whether tax is applied or not. AR and AP are independent from one another, and in combination with tax settings for customers, vendors' parts and service, you have a very flexible model to calculate tax. You even can set up negative taxes to calculate tax withholdings at source or tax on tax. The tax system here requires that I charge taxes on services tied to the sale of a taxable item; otherwise, I don't charge tax on purely a service offering. So I had to create a service call that was nontaxable and one that was taxable.
So that customers don't notice that I sometimes charge tax on a service but other times I don't, and because the taxable service always was tied to a hardware sale, I simply created an installation package that included the hardware and taxable service with the entire bundle being taxed. I haven't seen a single other accounting package for Linux that offers me this kind of flexibility.
SL can be accessed from any system with a Web browser, text or graphical, from anywhere you can reach the SL server by HTTP or HTTPS. If, like most people, you're using a graphical browser, after login you see two frames. The one on the left contains a menu broken down into several sections with items below them, and the one on the right contains a main screen where you can enter data.
One of the first things I do after each upgrade is cd into the bin/mozilla directory and edit menu.pl to widen the menubar. For me, it's a little too narrow, and making it about 35 pixels wider makes it more pleasing to my eyes. For those of you who use a text browser, like Lynx, that doesn't render frames, the menu headings are at the bottom of the page.
The major headings that show up depend on the user's configuration from the admin page. Entire menu headings can be removed or only specific items. So any given user's menubar may look a bit sparser than that shown in the screen captures, depending on setup and version in use. The screenshot in Figure 1 clearly shows this is Version 2.3.1, a development version. It is slightly more feature-rich than the stable version, but its designation as unstable warns you it hasn't been as thoroughly tested as the stable version. Major menu headings include AR, POS, AP, Cash, HR, Order Entry, Shipping, Quotations, General Ledger, Goods & Services, Projects and Reports.
You also can see some menu items followed by ellipses. Those bring up even more detailed submenu items. In the case of System..., a long list is brought up in later versions.
Taking a quick look at AR Reports, selecting Reports expands the menu list. Then selecting Transactions provides a screen to define the transactions we want to see and the information we want presented; see Figure 2.
Notice the Customer window at the top of the browser window in Figure 2. In a number of screens, this can be either a drop-down list or a pick list in a separate window. Better yet, this presentation is configurable by each user. So users who like drop-down lists and don't mind that the list scrolls 16 pages off the bottom of the screen can put a large number in their pick-list preference. Those that want a smaller, more sane list, can get a drop-down list unless the number of available items for the drop-down list exceeds the limit. Then, they simply can put in a few letters of the name for which they're searching, refresh the screen and get a small pick list, as shown in Figure 3. This particular pick list came up from an invoice screen after entering maint in the part number window and selecting Update.
For those of you interested in playing with SL without going to the trouble of setting it up, I suggest you head over to www.sql-ledger.com. A few demo systems are available, so folks can try before they install the software.
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