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GnuCash Android v2.1.5 Release

Posted on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in Coding, GnuCash

TL;DR – Today marks the release of GnuCash Android v2.1.5. This will be last release supporting Android devices running 2.3 (Gingerbread) to 4.3 (Jelly Bean). Starting from version 2.2.0, only Android 4.4 (KiKat) and above will be supported in newer releases.

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For many years, GnuCash Android has supported as many Android releases as possible. As newer Android versions get released, it gets harder to take advantage of newer features while maintaining backwards compatibility with older Android versions. The Android Support Library has helped much in that regard, but there are some features which become available in newer versions of Android which cannot be ported via the support library. A while back, the minimum API level was raised from 8 (Froyo) to 10 (Gingerbread) in order to take advantage of newer API features. Today we are taking another step in the evolution of GnuCash Android.

The Android Storage Access Framework (SAF) was introduced in Android 4.4 (KitKat) and allows Android applications to open and save files on any number of services without having to perform separate integrations with each one. The presents a uniform interface to the users of the platform and the same set of APIs to the developers for accessing and saving files irrespective of the file synchronization service.

GnuCash Android currently supports exporting transaction data using Dropbox, Google Drive and ownCloud, by having explicit integrations for each one. There are always more requests for integration coming in., but it is impossible to include the SDKs for all available file sync services.

Starting from v2.2.0, GnuCash Android will be using the Storage Access Framework for exporting files to third-party services. This should improve the reliability of the export and synchronization of the files.

However, the SAF only works when the 3rd party providers support it. And I must say I’m a bit disappointed by the level of support from the big players in file sync. As far as I can tell, as of today, the support for SAF is as follows:

  • Google Drive – full support, as would be expected from Google.
  • OneDrive – partial support. Ability to read/open files, but no ability to write files
  • ownCloud – read-only support
  • Dropbox – no support at all

GnuCash Android will keep integration with Dropbox since it is relatively popular with GnuCash Android users and has no support at all for the Storage Access Framework. All other explicit integrations will be removed and will only work through the Storage Access Framework.

All users with devices running Android 2.3 to 4.4 will continue to have access to v2.1.5 of GnuCash Android. I hope this change has minimal disruption for the most users.

 

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Bring on the comments

  1. Mark Hedges says:

    Thanks for a great app. I am always in awe of open source developers who produce such helpful tools for the public. I am curious though, why not use the same XML format as GnuCash, especially since the app can import GnuCash files? It would be very helpful if I could save from the app to Google Drive, run Google Backup & Sync, and then open with GnuCash desktop.

    It’s fine to jump through hoops of QIF export and updating both sources, but it seems like it would be easier if I could just work on the same file. With the new SAF in 2.2.0, is it possible to write the lock file that desktop GnuCash would expect?

    If it is possible to write in GnuCash format and write the lock file, maybe there can be an option in the app to turn on use of lockfile. That would require the Android device to have a live Internet connection. This is increasingly common though. Even if it is not connected, usually one user will use one book, and can remember to connect up to save the file before opening it on the desktop.

    I think this would help users tremendously, even if the app has a reduced feature set and does not use the whole file. Would it be possible to just ignore and preserve the parts of the GnuCash XML structure that the app does not use?

  2. Ngewi Fet says:

    Hi Mark, We do use a subset of GnuCash XML file format, which is why the desktop version can open the Android XML file.
    However, as you rightly mentioned, the desktop version has a lot more features than the mobile version. This makes any direct editing of the desktop file potentially error-prone (even if possible) and we do not feel ready to handle that yet.

    Using sqlite3 database format for sync might be a better option than XML, but there is still a lot of ground to cover before that is possible.

    That said, we are continually looking at ways of improving the migration between platforms when working with GnuCash.

    Thanks for the feedabck.

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