Storing Extra Information in Transactions

We’ve defined some basic classes that represent what is commonly known as the general ledger or nominal ledger, the core of any accounting system. Accounting systems generally build layers and modules around the general ledger to handle things like sales and purchases, cash management, payroll, and job and project tracking. In a conventional architecture, these might each be extra modules (sold separately) that add tables, editing screens, and reports. When new items are added, these modules might post entries to the general ledger as well as keep their own records. Unfortunately, this is the point at which businesses start to vary from each other: it’s hard to predict in advance what facts companies need to keep track of.

Our transactions so far deal with the two dimensions of time and account. However, you may wish to store extra information in the future, such as the name of a customer or supplier, a check number for a payment, or a tax code for an invoice line; and you don’t want to be limited to a predefined set of attributes.

Python has an unusual and extremely flexible (but potentially dangerous) feature that enables you to minimize the number of these extensions: any class instance can be given any attribute, regardless of its class definition. Let’s look at how a transaction is initialized:

class Transaction: def __init__(self): "By default, you get a zero transaction with time = now" import time = int(time.time()) self.comment ...

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