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Tartan Systems - User Manual

Author:Paul Malherbe
Copyright:Paul Malherbe (C) 2004-2015.
Licence:Free use of this software and all it's modules is granted under the terms of the Licence.
Note:This document is not intended as an accounting manual. It is primarily a manual for people with some accounting expertise to learn how to use Tartan as an accounting tool.

Table of Contents


Tartan Systems started out in 1981 as a suite of programs I wrote in COBOL and until 1994 ran on various platforms including CPM, RSX11M, MSDOS, AT&T UNIX and SCO.

In 1994 I discovered LINUX and when iBCS2 became available I modified the systems to run under LINUX and continue doing so until today.

In 2003 I started looking around for another programming language in which I could rewrite the systems to run under LINUX as well as Windows without having to recompile etc. Also I was getting irritated with having to compile using SCO.

Eventually I decided on the following:

In 2005, version 3, I changed the graphical user interface to PyGtk, a python wrapper for the Gtk library.

In 2011, version 4, I dropped support for windows 9x and also replaced reportlab with pyfpdf.

In 2015, version 5, I replaced PyGtk with Tkinter and ttk.

Installation Procedure

Linux and Source

Ensure that the following dependencies are installed on your system:

  • python >= 2.7.5 and < 3.0.0
  • python-tk >= 2.7.5 and < 3.0.0
  • python-imaging >= 2.3.0
  • python-pil >= 2.3.0
  • python-pil.imagetk >= 2.3.0

Additionally, the following dependencies should also be installed using pip:

  • odfpy >= 0.9.6
  • markdown >= 2.0
  • Python-Chart >= 1.39
  • xlrd >= 0.7.1
  • xlwt >= 0.7.1

And, depending on your database needs, one of:

  • Pysqlite >= 2.6.3

or one of:

  • Postgresql >= 8.4.0
  • Psycopg2 >= 2.0.4

or one of:

  • Mysql >= 5.0.1
  • Mysql-python >= 1.2.0

Download the following file from

  • Tartan_5.x.x.tar.gz

Extract Tartan_5.x.x.tar.gz into a directory of your choice as follows:

  • cd && tar -xvzf Tartan_5.x.x.tar.gz

Tartan should now be installed on your computer and you can continue with the Startup Procedure.

Windows Binary

Download the following files from or if you are in possession of a CD this is not necessary.

  • Tartan_full_5.x.x.exe

Install Tartan_full_5.x.x.exe by browsing to it and double clicking and then accept the defaults, except, also agree to creating an icon on your desktop.

Tartan should now be installed on your computer and you can continue with the Startup Procedure.

Startup Procedure

Linux and Source

Start Tartan by entering the following command:

python -OO program_path/ [options]

To find out what the available command line options are, use the -h option.

Windows Binary


Users must first perform the following steps:

  1. Right click on the Tartan shortcut icon.
  2. Select Properties on the menu. A dialogue box will appear on the screen.
  3. Click the Advanced button under the Shortcut tab in the dialogue box.
  4. Check the Run as administrator box.
  5. Click the OK button (or press Enter on your keyboard if the button is highlighted by default).
  6. Finish by clicking Apply and then OK. Your preferences have been saved. Next time you open the shortcut to the application you performed the task for your computer will no longer require administrative permission.

Start Tartan by clicking on the shortcut icon on the desktop or by navigating to the C:\Tartan\prg directory and double clicking on the ms0000[.exe] file.


The first time you run Tartan you will automatically be taken to Preferences where you will have to enter various parameters relating to your installation. After saving the preferences and restarting Tartan you will be prompted to create the database. Once the database has been created you will have to create the System record as per System Record Maintenance as well as a Company record as per Company Records Maintenance.

Status Line

Please note that when using Tartan your available options will be highlighted on the status line at the bottom left hand side of the screen. Please read this carefully before asking for assistance.

Common Keyboard Functions

Throughout the various modules comprising Tartan Systems the following keys are used to perform certain functions. These options will always be highlighted in the Status Line at the bottom of the screen. The most common ones are:

  • Enter - Accept keyboard input.
  • Esc - Exit a module or go to a previous entry field.
  • F1 - Record Selection used with most data input routines.
  • F5 - Record Deletion used with record maintenance routines.
  • F9 - Input Termination used with multi-line text input.

In addition to the above keys all underlined characters on notebook tags and buttons can be used, in conjunction with the <Alt> key, as shortcuts e.g <Alt-s> to open the System menu.

Common Routines

There are various common routines. Rather than continually describing them they will be described once here only.

User Validation

If no users have been created using the User's Maintenance routine on the System menu and no password has been allocated to the admin user, the system will automatically log in using admin as the user name. In all other cases a user must log in by entering a valid name and password. If no password exists for the admin user a password should be created as soon as possible using the Change Password routine on the System menu.

Company Selection

For every routine which is company specific and where you have more than 1 company, you will be required to select the relevant company. In some cases you will also have to enter a financial period. Please note that you will not always be prompted for the financial period as this only applies to routines which require it. Also note that for both selections there is a F1 Record Selection option as per Common Keyboard Functions.

Batch Details

Most data capture routines require you to enter batch details. The reason for a batch is ease of balancing and the resolution of errors made during data capture. After you exit a data capture routine a totals summary will be displayed. If there is a discrepancy between the expected and entered values all the various systems have a routine to print the batch details thus enabling you to determine where the error is and therefore to correct it.

  • Batch Number - Any 7 character unique alphanumeric code.
  • Capture Date (CCYYMMDD) - The date that this batch was first created.
  • Current Period (CCYYMM) - The financial period of this batch.
  • Number of Entries - The total number of entries comprising this batch, if known, else 0.
  • Value of Entries - The total value of entries comprising this batch, if known, else 0.
  • Batched By - The initials of the person who pre-listed the batch.
  • Captured By - The initials of the person who created the batch.
  • Multiple Date Allocations - Whether or not the postings are to be allocated according to the transaction date and not the current period.
  • Bank Control - For all batches in general ledger and other systems integrated with the general ledger, that affect the bank accounts, enter the bank control code.

Ageing Transactions

While capturing transactions for various systems you will be required to allocate the amount to existing outstanding transactions for ageing purposes.

There are four different methods of ageing a transaction:

  • Normal - This will display a list of all outstanding transactions on the account and you will be able to allocate at random until the full amount has been allocated.

    • Select a transaction to allocate against by either clicking on the required line or moving the cursor to the required line and hitting the Enter key.
    • Enter the allocation amount.
    • Accept the allocation amount by either clicking on the Apply button or by hitting the Enter key.
    • The amount will be allocated and the Balance will show the unallocated portion.
    • Continue these steps until the full amount has been allocated. In the event of a balance remaining which cannot be allocated, hitting the Esc key or clicking on the Exit button will exit the routine leaving the balance as unallocated.
  • History - This is identical to Normal above but the available transactions will include previously fully allocated ones thus enabling you to reallocate transactions.

  • Oldest - This will automatically allocate the amount against outstanding transactions, starting from the oldest transaction, until either the amount has been fully allocated or there are no more outstanding transactions in which case the balance will remain as unallocated.

  • Current - This will leave the full transaction as unallocated.

Printer Selection

Whenever a report is being produced you will have the opportunity of deciding on the output method i.e. viewing, printing, exporting and, in some cases, whether or not to email it. Please note that the option to email the report will only be available if there is a valid SMTP Server in the System Record Maintenance record.

  • Output - Select the required output option.
  • Printer Name - If you selected Print, enter the printer name.
  • E-Mail Report - If available, select whether or not to email the report.
  • E-Mail Address - If available, enter the email address, if more than one, comma separate them.

Error Messages

Should an error message occur and there is a file named errors.txt in the Work Path as created in Preferences. Please email the file to after which you may delete it.

Source: readme.rst, updated 2015-04-06