Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

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Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Christian Stimming
Dear all,

after years and years of being asked to implement an automatic saving of the
data file ("auto-save") http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=451889 (and
http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=107365 ) I eventually implemented
this feature last week.

Once you install r16627 or higher (which will become 2.1.5), auto-save will be
activated every 3 minutes by default (counting from the first change of your
data, i.e. when the "*" appears in the title bar). The very first time this
feature is run you will be shown an explanatory dialog that tells you where
you can change the time interval or switch off this feature. That dialog
won't be shown again.

I'd be glad to hear some feedback from users about whether this works fine or
causes problems. In particular, we're not yet sure whether there might be
issues with other time-consuming operations like running a report. Initial
tests indicated those operations would simply continue in parallel, but we're
not sure whether we covered everything. If you encounter any errors, feel
free to add that to the above bugreport.

If some weird problems occur, I'll happily disable that feature again so that
the upcoming 2.2.0 will not ship with this feature but be as stable as
possible. But if we receive mostly positive feedback, this feature will make
it into 2.2.0. Thanks a lot.

Regards,

Christian
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Nigel Titley
Christian Stimming wrote:
> Dear all,
>
> after years and years of being asked to implement an automatic saving of the
> data file ("auto-save") http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=451889 (and
> http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=107365 ) I eventually implemented
> this feature last week.
>  
Hurrah! I could have done with this on Saturday. Spent about 3 hours
entering various VAT return information, got to the end (not saving as
gnucash is so stable these days and I've got out of the habit), entered
last transaction.... gnucash crashed. No stacktrace, no core dump,
nothing... I know it's my own stupid fault. I know I shouldn't do live
work on the development version (but it is the best way of testing it).
I know, I know....

Tried the log replay facility. Worked splendidly, except that during the
previous three hours I had created various customers and this wasn't
recorded in the log (of course), so ended up with various orphaned
invoices. It seemed easier and safer to just do it all again. Sigh...

Nigel
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Beth Leonard
In reply to this post by Christian Stimming
On Sun, Jul 01, 2007 at 02:35:13PM +0200, Christian Stimming wrote:
>
> Once you install r16627 or higher (which will become 2.1.5), auto-save will be
> activated every 3 minutes by default (counting from the first change of your
> data, i.e. when the "*" appears in the title bar). The very first time this
> feature is run you will be shown an explanatory dialog that tells you where
> you can change the time interval or switch off this feature. That dialog
> won't be shown again.

Does it save over your current working datafile? Or does it save a
backup snapshot of the datafile that the next time you open gnucash
after a crash gnucash will ask you if you want to open the backup or
the real thing?

The reason I ask is that gnucash does not include an "undo" feature,
which I see as essential to having an autosave that overwrites your
most recent working datafile.  I fairly often try to import an OFX
or QIF file, make a mistake or change my mind, quit without saving
on purpose, then re-open the file to try again.  Sometimes I do this
with respect to reconciliation as well, because it's much easier to
go back to the last known-good state than it is to try to figure out
which things are half-done.

If gnucash had "undo" I could see having an autosave that is on by
default as a good feature, but without undo, I'd much rather see it
save a copy (like all those tmp files gnucash makes that don't
include business features) instead of overwriting the current working
file.  Right now the only chance a user has to undo things is to
go back to the previously saved copy.

--Beth
Beth Leonard
http://www.LeonardFamilyVideos.com
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Liz
On Tuesday 03 July 2007 16:40, Beth Leonard wrote:
> Does it save over your current working datafile? Or does it save a
> backup snapshot of the datafile that the next time you open gnucash
> after a crash gnucash will ask you if you want to open the backup or
> the real thing?
That's a good point, because I may do experimental things, and if I think I
have messed it all up I just close without saving and restart the work in a
new way.

--
Q: What do agnostic, insomniac dyslexics do at night?
A: Stay awake and wonder if there's a dog.
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Christian Stimming
In reply to this post by Beth Leonard
Quoting Beth Leonard <[hidden email]>:
> Does it save over your current working datafile? Or does it save a
> backup snapshot of the datafile that the next time you open gnucash
> after a crash gnucash will ask you if you want to open the backup or
> the real thing?

In that sense: Yes, it does indeed "save over the current working  
datafile", say, foo.xac. But the old datafile will be kept around as a  
time-stamped backup copy, say, foo.20070702121341.xac.

This fact is admittedly not at all obvious. Nevertheless the older  
data does exist. However, from the time-stamped filenames you can't  
tell which one was saved by pressing "save" and which one by the  
current auto-save implementation.

> If gnucash had "undo" I could see having an autosave that is on by
> default as a good feature, but without undo, I'd much rather see it
> save a copy (like all those tmp files gnucash makes that don't
> include business features) instead of overwriting the current working
> file.  Right now the only chance a user has to undo things is to
> go back to the previously saved copy.

Hm... the problem here is that this would require major changes in how  
the file saving works, and also the program has to keep track not only  
of the "book-dirty state" but additionally of the "book-manually-saved  
state" (to distinguish whether the book has been auto-saved, or  
manually saved, or both). From a programmer's point of view this is  
hard.

The main reason for me to implement this so quickly was that I  
discovered in the current way the implementation was surprisingly easy  
from a programmer's point of view. What I'm saying is that if the  
feature in the current form doesn't meet user's needs, we can very  
well disable this again... sorry for that.

Christian

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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Wouter van Marle-2
[auto-save overwrites current working file]

> The main reason for me to implement this so quickly was that I  
> discovered in the current way the implementation was surprisingly easy  
> from a programmer's point of view. What I'm saying is that if the  
> feature in the current form doesn't meet user's needs, we can very  
> well disable this again... sorry for that.

Auto-save sounds very useful to me as well. Maybe keep it disabled by
default, allowing users to enable it (tick-mark in the settings
dialogues), with strong warning about this over-writing behaviour.
Indeed I agree with the grandparent that auto-save should not overwrite
the current file (can't the auto-save function, when calling the save
function, automatically add .autosave to the file name or so? I haven't
read the source so no idea whether it is possible).

Personally I don't experiment very often; and when I do I usually first
save a copy to a different name, and play with that.

Wouter.

>
> Christian
>
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Bill Wohler
In reply to this post by Beth Leonard
Beth Leonard <[hidden email]> writes:

> On Sun, Jul 01, 2007 at 02:35:13PM +0200, Christian Stimming wrote:
>>
>> Once you install r16627 or higher (which will become 2.1.5), auto-save will be
>> activated every 3 minutes by default (counting from the first change of your
>> data, i.e. when the "*" appears in the title bar). The very first time this
>> feature is run you will be shown an explanatory dialog that tells you where
>> you can change the time interval or switch off this feature. That dialog
>> won't be shown again.

Hi Christian,

Emacs auto-saves every n seconds or m keystrokes. In addition to
auto-saving every 180 seconds, I'd also suggest auto-saving every 10
new or updated entries or so. That, too, should be configurable.

Emacs and other programs I've seen auto-save into a separate file. I'd
strongly suggest, and it would be greatly appreciated by the user
community, that the hard work be done to make it so. You will end up
surprising a lot of folks (not in a good way) by auto-saving over the
original file.

Thanks for adding this feature, by the way. It is an excellent one.
I've wished I had it in the past ;-).

--
Bill Wohler <[hidden email]>  http://www.newt.com/wohler/  GnuPG ID:610BD9AD

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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Eric Ladner-2
On 7/3/07, Bill Wohler <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Emacs and other programs I've seen auto-save into a separate file. I'd
> strongly suggest, and it would be greatly appreciated by the user
> community, that the hard work be done to make it so. You will end up
> surprising a lot of folks (not in a good way) by auto-saving over the
> original file.


Kind of like how 'vi' does it too.   Here's the rough logic...

(on startup)
if (alternate file exists)
  // something went wrong..  prompt user for option of reloading saved
checkpoint
  if (user says yes)
     load checkpoint
  else
     delete file

(timed) save to alternate file
if (user saves file)
   delete checkpoint

(on exit)
if (not saved)
   prompt user to save
   if (user says yes)
       save file
delete checkpoint

That way, you're not saving over the "official" data file, but saving to an
alternate file that always has the same name (<account>.ckpt" maybe).  When
loading account <account>, if a checkpoint exists, something bad happened
and you can restore to that checkpoint, or just load the original file
(rollback all the way to last session).

--
Eric Ladner
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Derek Atkins
Hi,

"Eric Ladner" <[hidden email]> writes:

> Kind of like how 'vi' does it too.   Here's the rough logic...
>
> (on startup)
> if (alternate file exists)
>   // something went wrong..  prompt user for option of reloading saved
> checkpoint
>   if (user says yes)
>      load checkpoint
>   else
>      delete file
>
> (timed) save to alternate file
> if (user saves file)
>    delete checkpoint
>
> (on exit)
> if (not saved)
>    prompt user to save
>    if (user says yes)
>        save file
> delete checkpoint
>
> That way, you're not saving over the "official" data file, but saving to an
> alternate file that always has the same name (<account>.ckpt" maybe).  When
> loading account <account>, if a checkpoint exists, something bad happened
> and you can restore to that checkpoint, or just load the original file
> (rollback all the way to last session).

Unfortunately the way GnuCash/QOF works makes this sort of autosave
process very difficult to implement.  QOF tries to make it's data look
like a "database", not a "data file", so it really does abstract out
these things.

-derek

--
       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL: http://web.mit.edu/warlord/    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
       [hidden email]                        PGP key available
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Beth Leonard
On Tue, Jul 03, 2007 at 01:50:30PM -0400, Derek Atkins wrote:
> Unfortunately the way GnuCash/QOF works makes this sort of autosave
> process very difficult to implement.  QOF tries to make it's data look
> like a "database", not a "data file", so it really does abstract out
> these things.

Gnucash does have a "save as..." menu item.  Is it possible for the
autosave to hook into that set of calls, insead of the save in order
to implement the logic Eric outlines below?  I do like that logic for
auto-save functionality.  If this is difficult, allowing
the user to turn off auto-save is sufficient.
--Beth

> "Eric Ladner" <[hidden email]> writes:
>
> > Kind of like how 'vi' does it too.   Here's the rough logic...
> >
> > (on startup)
> > if (alternate file exists)
> >   // something went wrong..  prompt user for option of reloading saved
> > checkpoint
> >   if (user says yes)
> >      load checkpoint
> >   else
> >      delete file
> >
> > (timed) save to alternate file
> > if (user saves file)
> >    delete checkpoint
> >
> > (on exit)
> > if (not saved)
> >    prompt user to save
> >    if (user says yes)
> >        save file
> > delete checkpoint
> >
> > That way, you're not saving over the "official" data file, but saving to an
> > alternate file that always has the same name (<account>.ckpt" maybe).  When
> > loading account <account>, if a checkpoint exists, something bad happened
> > and you can restore to that checkpoint, or just load the original file
> > (rollback all the way to last session).
>
> -derek
>
> --
>        Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
>        Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
>        URL: http://web.mit.edu/warlord/    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
>        [hidden email]                        PGP key available
> _______________________________________________
> gnucash-devel mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.gnucash.org/mailman/listinfo/gnucash-devel

--
Beth Leonard
http://www.LeonardFamilyVideos.com
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Derek Atkins
Unfortunately "Save As" repoints the current active datafile, so
hooking into there would change your datafile out from under you.
So, no, we can't use that functionality directly.

-derek

Quoting Beth Leonard <[hidden email]>:

> On Tue, Jul 03, 2007 at 01:50:30PM -0400, Derek Atkins wrote:
>> Unfortunately the way GnuCash/QOF works makes this sort of autosave
>> process very difficult to implement.  QOF tries to make it's data look
>> like a "database", not a "data file", so it really does abstract out
>> these things.
>
> Gnucash does have a "save as..." menu item.  Is it possible for the
> autosave to hook into that set of calls, insead of the save in order
> to implement the logic Eric outlines below?  I do like that logic for
> auto-save functionality.  If this is difficult, allowing
> the user to turn off auto-save is sufficient.
> --Beth
>
>> "Eric Ladner" <[hidden email]> writes:
>>
>> > Kind of like how 'vi' does it too.   Here's the rough logic...
>> >
>> > (on startup)
>> > if (alternate file exists)
>> >   // something went wrong..  prompt user for option of reloading saved
>> > checkpoint
>> >   if (user says yes)
>> >      load checkpoint
>> >   else
>> >      delete file
>> >
>> > (timed) save to alternate file
>> > if (user saves file)
>> >    delete checkpoint
>> >
>> > (on exit)
>> > if (not saved)
>> >    prompt user to save
>> >    if (user says yes)
>> >        save file
>> > delete checkpoint
>> >
>> > That way, you're not saving over the "official" data file, but
>> saving to an
>> > alternate file that always has the same name (<account>.ckpt"
>> maybe).  When
>> > loading account <account>, if a checkpoint exists, something bad happened
>> > and you can restore to that checkpoint, or just load the original file
>> > (rollback all the way to last session).
>>
>> -derek
>>
>> --
>>        Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
>>        Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
>>        URL: http://web.mit.edu/warlord/    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
>>        [hidden email]                        PGP key available
>> _______________________________________________
>> gnucash-devel mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> https://lists.gnucash.org/mailman/listinfo/gnucash-devel
>
> --
> Beth Leonard
> http://www.LeonardFamilyVideos.com
>



--
       Derek Atkins, SB '93 MIT EE, SM '95 MIT Media Laboratory
       Member, MIT Student Information Processing Board  (SIPB)
       URL: http://web.mit.edu/warlord/    PP-ASEL-IA     N1NWH
       [hidden email]                        PGP key available

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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Keith Bellairs
In reply to this post by Bill Wohler
A little problem I have with this idea is that it takes several minutes
to save my file. With > 16K transactions, there is just too much data to
grind out. I need to get my data into a database, I think. Of course I'm
just using a 1.8 GHz P6. It would help if I had a modern computer.

Bill Wohler wrote:

> Beth Leonard <[hidden email]> writes:
>
>  
>> On Sun, Jul 01, 2007 at 02:35:13PM +0200, Christian Stimming wrote:
>>    
>>> Once you install r16627 or higher (which will become 2.1.5), auto-save will be
>>> activated every 3 minutes by default (counting from the first change of your
>>> data, i.e. when the "*" appears in the title bar). The very first time this
>>> feature is run you will be shown an explanatory dialog that tells you where
>>> you can change the time interval or switch off this feature. That dialog
>>> won't be shown again.
>>>      
>
> Hi Christian,
>
> Emacs auto-saves every n seconds or m keystrokes. In addition to
> auto-saving every 180 seconds, I'd also suggest auto-saving every 10
> new or updated entries or so. That, too, should be configurable.
>
> Emacs and other programs I've seen auto-save into a separate file. I'd
> strongly suggest, and it would be greatly appreciated by the user
> community, that the hard work be done to make it so. You will end up
> surprising a lot of folks (not in a good way) by auto-saving over the
> original file.
>
> Thanks for adding this feature, by the way. It is an excellent one.
> I've wished I had it in the past ;-).
>
>  
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Bill Wohler
keith <[hidden email]> writes:

> A little problem I have with this idea is that it takes several minutes
> to save my file. With > 16K transactions, there is just too much data to
> grind out. I need to get my data into a database, I think. Of course I'm
> just using a 1.8 GHz P6. It would help if I had a modern computer.

Ouch.

OK, that gives me an idea--add another option to wait until Gnucash is
idle n minutes before auto-saving. That way, Gnucash will auto-save
while you're making coffee, for example.

For me, saving takes about four seconds. It's not enough to cause
hardship, but it would be a pain while I was actively entering
transactions. So, I might imagine a configuration like "(every 5
minutes or 10 transactions) and 1 minute idle".

That said, I would take auto-save over original file over no auto-save
at all. But it sounds like it would still be a good idea to keep an
alternate implementation in the queue.

Huge kudos, as always, to the Gnucash team for keeping us Windows
free.

For you Yanks, happy Fourth!

--
Bill Wohler <[hidden email]>  http://www.newt.com/wohler/  GnuPG ID:610BD9AD

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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Ian Lewis-3
In reply to this post by Wouter van Marle-2
I think either something as Wouter described, bury this in the settings and
give ample explanation for what it does, or disabling it completly (at least
in the stable versions) until it's really ready for normal use is needed. My
gut feeling is to do the latter. While it's useful for some it sounds like
it could have adverse and unexpected effects that outweigh it's benefits for
people if enabled.

2007/7/3, Wouter van Marle <[hidden email]>:

>
> [auto-save overwrites current working file]
>
> > The main reason for me to implement this so quickly was that I
> > discovered in the current way the implementation was surprisingly easy
> > from a programmer's point of view. What I'm saying is that if the
> > feature in the current form doesn't meet user's needs, we can very
> > well disable this again... sorry for that.
>
> Auto-save sounds very useful to me as well. Maybe keep it disabled by
> default, allowing users to enable it (tick-mark in the settings
> dialogues), with strong warning about this over-writing behaviour.
> Indeed I agree with the grandparent that auto-save should not overwrite
> the current file (can't the auto-save function, when calling the save
> function, automatically add .autosave to the file name or so? I haven't
> read the source so no idea whether it is possible).
>
> Personally I don't experiment very often; and when I do I usually first
> save a copy to a different name, and play with that.
>
> Wouter.
>
> >
> > Christian
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > gnucash-user mailing list
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> >
> >
>
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--
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Re: Auto-Saving implemented in r16227 (to become 2.1.5) - Feedback wanted

Paolo Benvenuto
In reply to this post by Bill Wohler
El mar, 03-07-2007 a las 21:28 -0700, Bill Wohler escribió:

> For me, saving takes about four seconds. It's not enough to cause
> hardship, but it would be a pain while I was actively entering
> transactions. So, I might imagine a configuration like "(every 5
> minutes or 10 transactions) and 1 minute idle".

With my data file savings takes more than 20 seconds, I agree with Bill,
we need a control on idle gnucash time.

I try to suggest an alternative, too. The developers say that during the
saving process gnucash can't permit data change. My suggestion is to
perform the saving in these steps:

1. save to memory a copy of the data file (gnucash doesn't permit data
entry) - fast operation, should't interfere with data entry
2. return the user the permission to enter data
3. save to disk the copy

What about implementing this schema for all saving operation?

--
don Paolo Benvenuto

http://guaricano.diocesi.genova.it
è il diario che scrivo, principalmente io, ma anche altri:
puoi trovarvi la vita della missione, giorno per giorno

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