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GnuCash Gnome2 architecture


g1 - The gtk1 and gnome1 libraries.

g2 - The gtk2 and gnome2 libraries.

GTK2 Primer

In gtk2, an "action" is a g_object that represents some action that the user might want to perform. This object could represent opening a file, toggling the toolbar, etc. The action itself has no gui component. There is no way to directly display an action to the user. To do that, you assign the action to one or more proxy items. These proxy items are the regular menu items, toolbar buttons, etc. that you are familiar working with. There are several advantages to this new system. The first is that you no longer have to write multiple action routines; one for a menu selection and another for a button click. There is a single code fragment written for when the action fires, regardless of how it fired. The second advantage is that you no longer have to enable/disable the individual menu items and buttons. Enabling/disabling the action itself causes all proxy items to assume the same state. For example, if an account isn't selected in the account tree window, a single function call disables the "Open Account" command in the main application menus, the "Open Account" popup menu command, and the "Open Account" toolbar button.

A gtk2 "menu merge" takes descriptions of two sets of menus and merges them into a single menu that is displayed on the screen. The first menu must contain attachment points in it. These attachment points are specified in the seconds set of menus and control where in the combined menu the items from the second menu appear. This second "merged" set of menus can easily be removed at any time.

Gtk2 has deprecated the clist and ctree widgets. The replacement is a combination of a GtkTreeModel/GtkTreeView pair of objects.

In G1, most objects were based on a gtk_object, and were created, destroyed, signaled, etc. using functions on this base object. In g2 the base object was moved from gtk2 to glib2, so most objects now need to be based on the g_object object. There are still compatibility functions on in gtk_object but you cannot mix and match calls to g_object and gtk_object. You must use one function set or the other for any given item.

Windowing Architecture

In the gtk1/gnome1 (hereafter g1) version of Gnucash, the windowing was based on the "Multiple Document Interface" of g1. This code was hard to use in the first place, and has been deprecated in g2.

The g2 version of gnucash is a series of plugin modules designed around the g2 concepts of "actions" and "menu merging". These concepts will be integrated into gtk2.4 release.

The first level of this architecture is an object representing a "pluggable" window. This object is responsible for:

  1. the window itself
  2. providing a framework for plugins
  3. providing a base set of menus (and actions)

Plugins can be one of two types. The first type is simply called a "plugin" (e.g. gnc-plugin-register.c) and is used to add functionality to the base window. This plugin provides only a menu/toolbar description, and a way to create the second type of plugin. The second type of plugin is called a "plugin page" (e.g. gnc-plugin-page-register.c) and provides both a menu/toolbar description, but also a widget that is displayed in the containing window. This widget may be an account tree, a register, etc. The plugin page must also provide a standard set of functions to interact with the plugin manager code.

Model/View Architecture

API: GnuCash Tree Model

As mentioned above, the ctree widget has been deprecated in g2. Some parts of gnucash have been converted to the new style using either a GtkTreeModel/GtkTreeView pair of widgets, or using a GtkTreeModel/GtkTreeModelFilter/GtkTreeModelSort/GtkTreeView set of stacked widgets. The account tree is presented here as example of the latter.

In gnucash, all the accounts are stored in the engine. The account tree "model" (a GtkTreeModel) provides a representation of these accounts that can be used by one or more views presented on the user's screen. This code is designed so that there is only one single model for the accounts in a given book, and this single model drives all views. (This code should be easily expandable to multiple sets of books once engine support is added.) The filters and views are completely independent of each other, even though they share a common model, so you may see different accounts in each view, have different accounts selected in each view, etc.

The account tree model is designed as a tree and contains a "pseudo" account that is the root node of this tree. Whether the root node is visible is a per-view setting. Also in the model is code to display the contents of any row/column intersection in the tree. The GtkTreeView code drives the actual display, and pulls numbers from the account tree model as necessary to display them. For all intents and purposes, the model is the sole gui representation of the account tree. The overlaying filters and views simply limit what the user sees to some subset of the information in the model. There are very, very few instances where code interacts directly with the account tree model. All interaction should be done through the account tree view described later.

The next layer in the account tree is the GtkTreeModelFilter. This filter is automatically created when the account tree view is created. In most instances, this filter is used to install a "virtual root" on the model that hides the top level "pseudo" account from the user. At the time of this writing, only the account edit dialog leave this top node visible (so the user can create a new "top level" account.) This filter level is use in several places to install a visibility filter onto the model, controlling which accounts are visible to the user and which are hidden. These visibility decisions are made in real time as the user clicks the disclosure triangle on an account to see what sub-accounts it contains. This callback function for the visibility filter is the only place where the code should interact directly with the account tree model, and the only interaction should be to take the provided model/iter pair and ask the account tree model for the corresponding account. After that the callback may do whatever it wants on the account and then return TRUE if it wants the account to be visible, FALSE if not.

The next layer in the account tree is the GtkTreeModelSort. This layer provides the capabilities needed by a GtkTreeView to allow sorting by clicking on column headers. If a column has a non-alphanumeric sort, the GtkTreeView implementation must provide a sort function for each different type of sort. This function will be called by the GtkTreeSortModel for each pair of items it needs to sort. The account tree model provides seven different sort functions that are used by various columns.

The top layer of the account tree is the account tree view. The underlying GtkTreeView object provides all the standard tree manipulation functions; opening accounts to see sub-accounts, selecting an item, etc. The account tree view is the programming interface that should be used to manipulate an account tree. It provides the functions to create a new view, to set a filter on an existing view to control the visible rows, to configure the columns visible in the view, to get/set the selected account(s) in the view, etc. There is also a selection callback function available from the view, that may be used to decide whether or not the user can select an account in the view. It is used in the new account dialog, for instance, to limit the accounts the user may select for the opening balance to an account that has the same currency as the account being created.