Free accountancy

Generate balance sheets and more with this free General Ledger package.

The General Ledger has been the basic bookkeeping tool of double-entry accounting since the Green Eyeshade days. It records financial transactions as both Credits and Debits in balance sheets, which before the advent of software were bound together in huge volumes like something out of a Dickens novel. BS1 General Ledger from Davis Business Systems brings the General Ledger up to cyberspeed with a variety of easy-to-use accounting tools that can track budgets and financial data and generate income statements, balance sheets, and other reports. It's freeware, a good start, accountancy-wise.

At just 1.44MB, BS1 is a fairly small download for an accounting tool. The setup wizard let us choose to view sample data or enter our own; we started with the sample entry. The program opened with a very small control console, no bigger than a miniplayer. File menu entries offered sample data under Accounts, Journal Vouchers, Budget, and Reports, each displayed in a variety of compact spreadsheetlike views. An excellent Help file included everything from exporting data to Excel to accessing the program's Delphi source code. We clicked File/Companies/New Company to set up our own data, which involved entering a company name and selecting a directory for the database. We clicked Accounts/New Accounts, and BS1 walked us through the steps of setting up account data with a series of compact wizards. The program offers more than just flexible, attractive accounting sheets, though; under the General menu, we could compact and re-index tables with the Pack/Repair tool, import, purge, or back up data, and set security. The General Ledger menu accesses not only the accounts, JVs, and Budgets tools but also the Totals and History tables. We could also filter entries by date.

BS1 General Ledger proves just how much high-quality business software is available for free, though it's also available in a paid version that adds technical support and free updates. However, many businesspeople, entrepreneurs, treasurers, and others will appreciate what the freeware can do for both sides of the balance sheet.

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