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Supercharged command line interface for Beancount.

Project description


Supercharged command line interface for Beancount.

While Beancount provides a few basic utilities for creating transactions via importers (such as a bank statement importer), it does not provide a mechanism to automatically insert them into your existing account. Instead, it writes these transactions to a separate file and the intention is that the user must manually copy those transactions into their own account file. This manual operation is necessary because Beancount does not place constraints on how the account file might be organised. For example, the account file might be a single flat file, or a master file with a hierarchy of imported subfiles. Beancount cannot know for sure where these transactions should go, so it leaves it to you.

Pinto constrains the way in which the Beancount account files must be organised and in doing so provides the ability for reliable automatic transaction insertion. The main feature of Pinto is to use this constrained account file organisation to provide some tools to further automate your accounting.

The main new tool is pinto add which provides an interactive way to add new transactions to your account. This is particularly useful for those who fully track cash expenses, where the data cannot be scraped from a bank statement. The tool provides flags to auto-populate transaction files like payees, accounts, tags and dates, and also provides a YAML-based template mechanism to auto-populate entries involving frequent payees.

Other tools added to the pinto command are:

  • search, a way to search your transactions for previously used accounts, payees and templates;
  • format, a way to format your account files without having to call bean-format with the path to the files (using instead the environment variable);
  • check, a way to check the syntax of your files without having to call bean-check (using the environment variable the same way as format) and the date ordering of your transactions.

Expected account layout

Pinto expects your accounts directory to be arranged like this:

├── main.beancount
├── templates.yaml
└── transactions.beancount

The main.beancount file should use the include command to include the contents of transactions.beancount.

The templates.yaml file is where you can specify templates for commonly used transactions, useful for pinto add.

To avoid excessive typing, you should define an environment variable in your shell called PINTO_DIR pointing to the directory containing your accounts.


Adding transactions

You can start the interactive transaction insertion tool from the command line:

$ pinto add

This will first prompt you for the date:

Enter transaction date [today]:

This tries to allow any sane way of defining a date, such as "2020-06-14", "yesterday", "last week", "3 Mar 19", etc. (even future dates, like "in 3 weeks"). It uses maya as a parser. If you leave this empty, it assumes the current date.

Next up you're asked for the payee:

Enter transaction date [today]:
Date will be 2020-06-14
Enter transaction payee:

You can enter whatever you like here. Pinto will try to match this to a previously used payee. If your specified payee matches closely to one and only one existing payee, that payee is used. If it closely matches to other possible payees, Pinto offers up a ranked list of those matches to choose from. You can either choose to use one of these matches, or insist on using the exact string you entered. This way, Pinto tries to let you keep your accounts consistent, with the same payees being reused in the same forms, and allowing you to be lazy by entering lowercase or shorthand forms of your intended payees and having Pinto match them to the originals.

Enter transaction date [today]:
Date will be 2020-06-14
Enter transaction payee: BA
Non-unique or invalid payee.
Enter transaction payee ([1] BA, [2] Bamberg Bridge, [3] Kamps Backstube, [4] Bamberg market, [5] Bar Rossi):

You next get asked for a narration. This is simply a text entry, and does no fancy matching:

Enter transaction date [today]:
Date will be 2020-06-14
Enter transaction payee: BA
Non-unique or invalid payee.
Enter transaction payee ([1] BA, [2] Bamberg Bridge, [3] Kamps Backstube, [4] Bamberg market, [5] Bar Rossi): 1
Payee will be BA
Enter transaction narration []:

After this Pinto goes into line entry mode. This lets you add two or more transaction lines with smart matching of account names:

Enter transaction date [today]:
Date will be 2020-06-14
Enter transaction payee: BA
Non-unique or invalid payee.
Enter transaction payee ([1] BA, [2] Bamberg market, [3] Kamps Backstube, [4] Bar Soba, [5] Bar Rossi): 1
Payee will be BA
Enter transaction narration []: Flights to UK
Narration will be Flights to UK
Adding line 1...
Choose account: credit
Non-unique or invalid account.
Choose account ([1] Liabilities:DE:Deutsche-Bank:Credit-Card, [2] Expenses:Recreation, [3] Expenses:Recreation:Football, [4] Expenses:Recreation:Swimming, [5] Assets:UK:Reimbursements, [6] Other): 1
Account will be Liabilities:DE:Deutsche-Bank:Credit-Card
Enter value []: 250 EUR
Value will be 250.00 EUR
Adding line 2...
Choose account: flights
Non-unique or invalid account.
Choose account ([1] Expenses:Transport:Flights, [2] Expenses:Utilities:Electricity, [3] Expenses:Utilities:Internet, [4] Expenses:Utilities:Phone, [5] Liabilities:UK:Student-Loan, [6] Other): 1
Account will be Expenses:Transport:Flights
Enter value []:
Value will be empty
Add another line? [y/N]:

You may add as many lines as you like. If you want to leave a value empty, so Beancount calculates it for you, you can do so. Finally, you are shown the draft transaction:

Draft transaction:
2020-06-14 * "BA" "Flights to UK"
  Liabilities:DE:Deutsche-Bank:Credit-Card  250 EUR

Commit? [y/N]:

Entering y or Y or yes will save the transaction in the appropriate place of your transaction file (in date order).

Using templates

Templates can be used to further automate the account entry process. These must be defined in a file called templates.yaml in the account directory. The contents of this file should be in YAML format.

Templates support date, payee, narration, and lines keys on the top level:

  • date, payee and narration simply define the corresponding fields of the transaction. If they are not specified, the user is prompted for them when running pinto add.
  • The lines key allows a list of lines to be defined, each optionally containing account, splits and no_value keys:
    • The account key defines the name of a single account, or a list of possible accounts. If a list is defined, the user is prompted to choose from the list of possible accounts during pinto add.
    • The splits key defines a list of possible split accounts. This provides the ability to define accounts to which the value from the first line of the transaction is split into. This might be useful if you share expenses with someone else and wish to split a fraction (e.g. half) of the expense into an asset account representing what that person owes you. This supports account and value keys:
      • account is the account to split the value with.
      • value is the fraction of the transaction value to split. The resulting value is rounded to the nearest two decimal places.
    • no_value can be set to true (it's false by default) to define that this line should not prompt the user for a value.

The above definitions are illustrated by the following example showing templates for various German supermarkets, a pharmacy (DM) and a DIY shop (Bauhaus). See the notes following the example for explanations for what is going on:

  payee: &denns "Denn's Biomarkt"
  lines: &grocery-lines
    - account: &de-cash-accounts
      - "Assets:EU:Cash"
      - "Assets:DE:Deutsche-Bank:Current"
      splits: &de-partner-split
        - account: "Assets:DE:Reimbursements:Partner"
          value: -0.5
    - account: &de-groceries "Expenses:Food:Groceries"
      no_value: true
  payee: *denns
  lines: &de-groceries-partner-liabilities
    - account: "Liabilities:DE:Partner"
    - account: "Expenses:Food:Groceries"
  payee: &rewe "Rewe"
  lines: *grocery-lines
  payee: *rewe
  lines: *de-groceries-partner-liabilities
  payee: &edeka "Edeka"
  lines: *grocery-lines
  payee: *edeka
  lines: *de-groceries-partner-liabilities
  payee: &dm "DM"
    - account: *de-cash-accounts
      splits: *de-partner-split
    - account: &de-pharmacy-accounts
      - "Expenses:Toiletries"
      - "Expenses:Equipment:Kitchen"
      - "Expenses:Food:Groceries"
      - "Expenses:Household"
  payee: *dm
    - account: "Liabilities:DE:Partner"
    - account: *de-pharmacy-accounts
  payee: &bauhaus "Bauhaus"
    - account: *de-cash-accounts
      splits: *de-partner-split
    - account: &diy-accounts
      - "Expenses:Equipment"
      - "Expenses:Household"
  payee: *bauhaus
    - account: "Liabilities:DE:Partner"
    - account: *diy-accounts

Some notes:

  • The file uses YAML anchors to save yet more typing and make future updates easier. These are optional.
  • Each template has a corresponding -partner template which is used for when the user's partner spends money in those shops and wishes to split their expenses with you. When entering the transaction they made, you use the -partner template instead of the normal one which you would use if you had made the transaction. These -partner templates define the liability account to use the define the money that you owe them.
  • Some shops such as the pharmacy DM sell goods that would go into many different accounts in the example user's setup. In this case, the accounts key defines a list of possible accounts, and the user is prompted to choose one for the particular line they enter.
  • The value key in the splits section should in the case of liabilities be a negative number so that the split fraction of the negative expense becomes a positive asset.

Templates can be used by specifying either -t or --template followed by the name of the template to use when running pinto add. For example:

$ pinto add -t bauhaus
Enter transaction date [today]:
Date will be 2020-06-14
Payee will be Bauhaus
Enter transaction narration []: Wood for side wall
Narration will be Wood for side wall
Adding line 1 of 2...
Choose account ([1] Assets:EU:Cash, [2] Assets:DE:Deutsche-Bank:Current, [3] Other): 1
Account will be Assets:EU:Cash
Enter value []: -10 EUR
Value will be -10.00 EUR
Adding line 2 of 2...
Choose account ([1] Expenses:Equipment, [2] Expenses:Household, [3] Other): 2
Account will be Expenses:Household
Enter value []:
Value will be empty
Draft transaction:
2020-06-14 * "Bauhaus" "Wood for side wall"
  Assets:EU:Cash      -10 EUR

Commit? [y/N]: y

Templates can be searched by name using pinto search templates.


With Python 3 as the default Python interpreter, run:

pip install pinto


From a terminal, run pinto for available options.


The developer warmly encourages collaboration. Please submit feature requests, bug reports, etc. on the GitHub issue tracker. Pull requests are also welcome.

To set up your development environment, please run the following from the pinto repository root directory:

pip install -e .[dev]

After installation, run pre-commit install. This sets up some linting and code formatting pre-commit checks.

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