A while ago now, I stumbled across a web based double entry accounting solution called Luca (not to be confused with the Mac Application).
Unfortunately though, the documentation was a bit sparse. However with a bit of persistence, I have just about managed to figure out how to use it.
(note that for this little walkthrough I am using Luca 1.02, so don’t be surprised if you are using a later version and things look that bit different)
Assuming you have managed to download and install Luca, as well as log in, you’ll be presented with this rather interesting interface:
Whoah! Lots of options to choose from, but which of those do we need to start off with?
First things first, you’ll need to create a chart of accounts, so select the “Charts of accounts” option. You’ll be presented with a list of charts, which should be empty. Click on “Add new chart”, and your screen will look something like this:
The only 2 values which are of interest are “Description” and “Format mask”, the former of which can be anything you like. The latter is a bit more tricky, and it took me a while to figure out. It seems that the “Format mask” is basically a sequence of 9’s using dots as separators. The more dots you use, the more you can nest your accounts.
For reference, I put the following values in this form:
- Description: LucaCorp
- Format Mask: 9999.99 (i.e. 2 levels one using four digits, the other using two)
You should now have a chart you can use. But to be of any use, it needs to be assigned to an Organization. To do this, go back to the main menu, and select “Organizations”. Then select “Add new Organization”. Your screen should now look something like this:
Give your Organization a name, a remark if you like, and of course a chart of accounts. The values I used are as follows:
- Name: LucaCorp
- Remarks: blank
- Chart of Accounts: LucaCorp
Note that you will also need to give yourself (and anyone else you trust with a user account) permission to use the Organization when entering transactions. This can be done in the “Users X Organizations” screen.
Now would be a good idea to actually make some accounts. To do this, go back to the main menu and select “Accounts of the chart”. Then for the “Parent chart being edited:” field, select your chart of accounts. Your screen should now look something like this:
For each account you want to create, click on “Add Account” and fill in the form, which should look something like this:
The “Class” is the type of account to be created. You can make Accounts for Assets, Liabilities, Equity, Revenue, and Expenses (note that this list can be altered by playing about with the “Account classes”).
The “Std. journal” corresponds to an id of a “Standard Journal Description” which you can make in “Standard Journal Descriptions”. From what I can tell this allows you to save on typing repetitive descriptions when entering transactions, though I have not really found a use for it yet.
“Code” is the identifier of this account. It needs to correspond to the “Format Mask” you created earlier, e.g. in my case, “1234” and “1234.01” would both be acceptable.
“Parent account” is the code of the account you wish to be the parent. You can use this to create complex hierarchies of accounts, something which I assume Accountants love to do.
The rest of the fields are pretty obvious, apart from “Mobile clients” which I can only assume allows people using Luca’s bluetooth functionality to enter transactions on the account (note though that I have not tried this out).
So now you can create accounts at will. As for which accounts to create, it’s really up to you. However if you are a bit stuck, below is a table of values you can enter to reproduce a set of accounts from of one of my favourite tutorials on Double Entry Accounting written by Joseph Mack.
RocketScience LLC Accounts
||Joseph Mack, withdrawing
||Joseph Mac, capital
||accumulated profit and loss
||clo profit and loss
To enter transactions in Luca, you’ll need to first create a Batch. To do this, from the main menu select “Batches”. Then on the next screen, select your Organization and click on “Add new batch”. Your screen should look something like this:
As you might have noticed, there is not much to a batch. The only thing to look out for is the dates you enter, which need to be in the format “yyyy/mm/dd”, and need to lie within the organization’s active period (the default being 1970/01/01 -> 1970/01/01).
If you ever want to change the date range of the active period, all you need to do is select “Active Period” from the main menu, then click on “Edit” next to the relevant accounting period for your organization. Your screen should look something like this:
Then all you need to do is enter an initial and final date. It’s as simple as that!
For my first batch, I used the following:
- Description: First batch!
- Initial date: 1970/01/01
- Final date: 1970/01/01
- Checksum: 0
- Status: Open
- Type: Normal batch
Now you can start entering your transactions, which in Luca are referred to as Journals. To do this, from the main menu select “Journals”. Then on the next screen, select your Organization and Batch, then click on “Add new journal”. Your screen should look something like this:
So to sum this up:
“DB account” and “CR account” mean “Account to debit” and “Account to credit” respectively. I’m going to assume you know enough about double entry accounting to figure out which accounts you credit and which you debit.
“Std. journal” I already mentioned when creating accounts.
“Cost center” I have yet to figure out, best to leave this as 1 unless you really need it set.
“Date”, “Description”, “Value”, and “Status” are all pretty obvious.
You can enter as many journals as you like in a batch. It is also interesting to note that you don’t have to enter both a credit and debit for an entry – you can quite easily add multiple debit or credits in a row.
Profit and Loss
At the end of the accounting year, you’ll probably want to determine profit and loss, which usually involves folding revenue and expense accounts into a single profit and loss account. This is otherwise known as “closing out the accounts”.
So how does one do this in Luca? Quite simply in fact. Select “Balance closing” from the main menu, and your screen should look something like this:
So basically all you need to do is select your organization, enter in start and end dates, then click “Prepare to close balance”.
However you’ll probably bump into a few issues first time, as three conditions need to be satisfied:
- You need an account which contains “clo” somewhere in its description to store the closing values.
- The period you specify needs to be within the current active period.
- All batches in the specified period need to be set to “Closed”
The first condition is rather easy to satisfy. All you need to do is make an equity account named something like “clo Profit and Loss”.
The last two conditions we more or less went over when talking about batches.
Assuming you got the balance to close, your “Profit and Loss” equity account should now look something like this:
To sum it all up
Luca is a pretty promising accounting solution. It does accounting, reports, and also includes a bit of multiuser management too. In contrast to other solutions, it doesn’t try to do everything – which I believe is one of its strengths. It’s a relief not having to wade through a swamp of CRM to do something as simple as sorting out the accounts.
Sadly though Luca doesn’t appear to have a very active community, and from what I can tell Elvis Pfützenreuter puts most of the work into it.
Still from what I have been able to gather Luca is still under development so with any luck it’ll gain more useful features in the future such as multiple currency support.