Issue with Empty/Blank Category

whitedavidp's Avatar

whitedavidp

12 Feb, 2018 11:03 PM

In my install of MD, there is a category within income that is blank, empty, a null string (it seems). I am not sure if this somehow got imported into MD from my Quicken data or if it is a standard item in the MD list of categories. Regardless, I really want to use this for items that I choose to NOT categorize. This can be done by finding/selecting it from the popup list. But it seems that it CANNOT be done via typing/auto-completion.

I can see how typing a null/empty string presents a problem. So I edited the category name so that it is a single blank space, not a completely null string. I can close and re-open the category edit window and I see the single, blank space remains so it seems that it is not being "trimmed" out of existence. However, I still cannot seem to use it when editing a transaction category and trying to enter a single, blank space. If, however, I edit the category name to be 10 blank spaces I can get auto-completion after typing in at least 3-4 blank spaces into the transaction's category field.

I wonder if there is some better way to handle this? I have also created a "Not Categorized" category planning to use it the same way as I have always used the empty/null string in Quicken. This works. But it sure produces UGLY results and I suspect it takes up more space in the database files. So I am still looking for a better way.

Thanks!

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Ethan on 12 Feb, 2018 11:29 PM

    Ethan's Avatar

    Hello,

    Moneydance is based on double-entry bookkeeping, meaning that every transaction must have a second account or category associated with it, showing where the money came from or is going to. In your situation, usually we recommend someone make an "Uncategorized" category and use it in the way you describe. Usually though this will result in incorrect reports, unless you are just using this category as a default holding category until you give a transaction the proper category. Without this, it's difficult to account for your spending on these items. That being said, not accounting for all of your purchases is your choice through such a workaround, but the program is not designed to enable this.

    For what it's worth, I think the only extra space that would be taken up by a category with a longer name would be the length of the name itself.

    I'm pretty hesitant to provide any support for making this 'blank' category work. It's possible it is the result of some sort of import error, as you've suspected. That also may mean there are serious problems with how this category exists in the data file, meaning continuing to use it may lead to data corruption of some kind, since again, the program really isn't designed to work with a blank category. Normally I would recommend deleting it after verifying that there are no transactions in it. I think you're entering the 'at your own risk' territory with continuing along this path.

    Ethan
    Infinite Kind Support

  2. 2 Posted by whitedavidp on 12 Feb, 2018 11:46 PM

    whitedavidp's Avatar

    Thanks Ethan. I can see your point. I decided to create a new MD file without importing anything and there is no such blank/empty category in the list associated with that file. So I can only infer that the presence of this in my original file is an artifact of import from Quicken.

    I understand, from a technical accounting perspective, that failure to specifically categorize everything does not follow the rules of the discipline. But in practical terms it doesn't make sense to make sure that every small thing get into a "proper" category. So in my case, it just never seemed worth the effort/extra steps. This is especially true if one's main reason for using MD or Quicken is NOT for budgeting (heaven forbid!). In my case it is mostly just for keeping track of the $ in general and for items with impact my tax returns.

    I have many, many transactions with such a category. I guess I will have to find a way to bulk convert them to a Not Categorized category or something like that and then I should be able to delete the empty/blank category from MD.

    Thanks

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by Ethan on 13 Feb, 2018 12:21 AM

    Ethan's Avatar

    Hello,

    If you right-click on one of these transactions with the 'blank' category and choose to 'show other side' of the transaction, it should open this category in a new window. You can then select all the transactions in it, right-click on the selection, choose Batch Change -> Account, and then choose the correct category that you will be using for these transactions. You should then be able to delete this category from Tools -> Categories. Unless for some reason this category showing up blank prevents any of this from happening. But that's how one would normally do this.

    I'd recommend making a backup of your data file before moving large numbers of transactions around like this, as it's easy to make a mistake that can be very hard to undo.

    I understand what you mean about only tracking what you need to, but I think most people seem to use the program to track income and expenses more generally. Maybe not down to every little thing, but more comprehensively than what you describe, even if they don't use the budget part of the program. We're not going to add something to the program that upsets double-entry bookkeeping, so hopefully this workaround meets your needs. Setting your uncategorized category as the default category for each account should make most of your transactions automatically appear that way unless you assign them a different category.

    Ethan
    Infinite Kind Support

  4. 4 Posted by whitedavidp on 13 Feb, 2018 12:36 AM

    whitedavidp's Avatar

    Thanks again Ethan. I am really starting to get a good feeling about the support to be had on this program. Between comments from staff and non-staff, I feel like I am getting heard and responded-to. Not quite that way with Quicken.

    I also am impressed by the availability of an extension API. In my experience, that is often a sign of good forward-thinking. I have written many extensions for many programs and I look forward to having the time to poke around in there.

    Cheers

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