xTupler #15 | July 2010
Dear Community —
We like that word, especially when it's applied to our software (by someone besides ourselves!) And we're getting a lot of that reaction when users see the latest feature we're releasing with xTuple 3.5.1, now available for download.
The first thing you'll notice in 3.5.1 is the application looks totally different: where once you were confronted with an empty blue space with a menu, now we put something on the screen. We call it the Desktop, and it's a package that we will distribute for free with our 3.5.1 quickstart and demo databases (and the installer of course).
To our delight, everyone who's seen this thing has been blown away (check John's blog for a preview of the Desktop and read the comments)--it's like they suddenly, for the first time, could see what it is that xTuple does. The Desktop illustrates the critical workflows in the application. There are screens for CRM, sales, accounting, purchasing, manufacturing and more. Each of these includes widgets that present critical information, as well as links to the most commonly used screens. The links are arranged in order to show the standard business process flow.
There's also an add-in for the Desktop which we're calling the QuickStart Wizard. Check out Anne's blog for a description of how the Wizard can help you build a new xTuple database from scratch in record time.
The Desktop and QuickStart Wizard are only two of several new products we are introducing this month. Read below for a description of some of the others. We hope you'll think they're all brilliant.
Director of Internet Communications
Time & Expense Tracking, Free in xTuple 3.5!
We know there's been a demand for Time & Expense tracking features in xTuple, particularly for service businesses who track employee hours by account, by project, etc.
The new Time & Expense package is an xTuple add-on that adds a full-featured T&E module to the xTuple application. A simplified version called TE Lite is bundled for free with the xTuple quickstart and demo databases, starting with version 3.5.0.
TE Pro, the full commercial version, includes all of the following features:
- Enter time or expenses associated with a particular customer or project.
- Manager approval of expense sheets.
- Generate customer invoices based on T&E sheets
- Create payment vouchers to reimburse employees or contractors.
You can purchase TE Pro, or download the free TE Lite package, at the xTuple xChange at any time. TE Pro and TE Lite were written by Core Services Group, an xTuple partner based in Michigan.
xTuple Web Portal now available
xTuple now offers an easy way to work more seamlessly with your customers, suppliers, and anyone else with whom you do business. Introducing the xTuple Web Portal - a simple, yet powerful tool to build deeper, more lasting business relationships.
Now your customers, suppliers, and partners can interact with you directly on your website.
The xTuple Web Portal is a great solution for:
- Customer Service
- Internal Helpdesk
- Partner or Supplier relationships
- Engaging end-users of your product in new ways
The xTuple Web Portal works with any Edition of xTuple ERP. It is built with the open source Drupal content management system, and you implement and host it yourself, or one of our xTuple Partners can host it for you. It doesn't matter whether your xTuple database is onsite at your location or hosted elsewhere, as long as there is a secure internet connection available.
The xTuple Web Portal retails for $5,000 and includes updates for the first twelve months. Future maintenance will be priced the same as other xTuple perpetual license maintenance (currently 18%). Special pricing is available for existing xTuple commercial customers. Please contact xTuple Sales for details.
Interested in integrated e-mail?
It's probably the #1 most requested item in the xTuple universe - but it's also proved maddeningly hard to define. We took a stab at a spec that was really more of a philosophical white paper some time ago.
Yes, we're talking about full email integration with xTuple, client and server. And no, nothing has happened.
But there's a new development that we think might break through the inertia - something that we think will be simpler and better than any of the scenarios we defined in that first spec document.
In short, we're looking at integrating with an open source e-mail application that could import the contents of user selected mail folders on a corporate IMAP mail server to a Postgres database. The end result would be that xTuple users could view all inbound and outbound mail traffic associated with specific contacts, customers, orders and other documents from xTuple.
We've also got some ideas about synching contacts and to-do's between xTuple CRM and various clients like Outlook/Thunderbird/etc.
This would be a big project, but for the first time, we think we have the beginnings of a way forward that will meet all our design goals, chiefly keeping the integration open and not tilted toward one particular mail client or platform.
We're reaching out to customers and other community members who have expressed an interest in this before, to see if we could put together a consortium of commercial sponsors for the project. If you'd like to be involved, please contact email@example.com!
xTuple Accounting Tour 2010
Over the last couple of years we've spent a lot of time rounding out the financial applications in xTuple ERP. All products, including PostBooks, have benefitted from the extra attention to financials, which was a direct result of feedback from our accounting community.
We've been showing off these features at accounting-oriented trade shows in May and June to a terrific reception. The May show, called the Accounting Software Expo, was in Atlanta and attended by accounting oriented managers looking for software solutions for their small and medium sized companies. We worked the show with local partner Mitch Rushing of OpenSurge Group.
The June show, The CPA Expo, or CPAx, was in Fredericksburg, VA and offered training and business development opportunities for CPA's in Virginia Maryland and Washington, DC.
The crowds were very receptive to the xTuple open source business model as they shopped for the holy grail: ANY alternative to Quickbooks.
If you know of regional accounting show that might be a good one for us to attend, please let us know. We get terrific input (and business leads) from these types of shows.
Community Corner: Gooooaaallllll!!!
The heroes of this issue's Community Corner are the dedicated translators of xTuple.
While the world has been watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, we at xTuple have been following another international competition which is unfolding on the xTuple Translation Portal. Which country would be the first to translate the xTuple GUI interface, 100% complete??
As you might have guessed from the above picture, while they had their hearts broken by Argentina on the field, the Mexicans are the winners of the inaugural xTuple Cup. ¡Felicitaciones!
As of this afternoon (June 30), here are the current standings for the top five projects:
- Spanish: Mexico: 100%
- French: Canada: 90%
- Turkish: 89%
- Chinese: Hong Kong: 88%
- Ukranian: 74%
And there are 21 other projects right behind the top five!
Stay tuned to the Translation Portal to see when the Canadians, Turks, Chinese, or anyone else will match Mexico's feat!
And of course, if you want to get involved, read more about xTuple translation.
Store docs in the xTuple database
The xTuple community continues to amaze and delight us. This is the first installment of a new regular feature highlighting notable improvements to the software contributed by community members.
In the most recent development cycle, xTuple.org member "benson" (aka Robert Levine of New Jersey-based RL Data) made a couple of significant code contributions that have been ported into the core of 3.5.1, including the ability to import a file directly into the database:
Issue 10796: a feature that saves the files in items-documents-files to the database rather than just saving a link to the file. In addition I use QDesktopServices to view the saved file, rather than just opening up the read only file viewing window when view is clicked.
This is something that a lot of people have been waiting for, and it's got to be seen to be believed. Not only can you store various types of Documents natively in the database (with the Documents tab and widget), when you open that document with the associated program (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) and make changes to it, you can save the updated document back to the database.
It's actually a fair number of steps down the road to a true document management system. If you'd be interested in working with us to take the concept further (including check-in/out, revision control, etc.), please let us know.
Ralph Walsh, R. Walsh Associates
Ralph D. Walsh (Sr.) of R. Walsh Associates Inc. (RWA) in Marion, Connecticut has 38 years of experience in the field of computer business systems technology at HONEYWELL, IBM, and 28 years as a consulting company.
Over the years, RWA has had many successful partnerships with IBM and Microsoft, and other ERP software vendors including MAPICS, JBA, Solomon, and others.
Ralph says a key to their success and survival has always been their commitment to customer service - "our hotline work hours are when you work."
Since 2000, they found themselves increasingly orphaned and uninspired by the manufacturing and vendor partnerships available in the marketplace. RWA tracked xTuple for several years before deciding to become a partner last year after an exhaustive technical product scrutiny. In that time, RWA has nearly completed the successful conversion of one of their long standing serious MRP customers, a company who manufacturers DOD precision machined parts and custom formed tubing for the Aircraft and Aerospace industry.
For RWA, xTuple is an exciting and logical replacement for applications on legacy platforms like the IBM AS/400 (iSeries) servers, which many of their customers are currently running. Ralph has been a resident of Connecticut for 38 years where he has raised his family of 5 grown sons (2 of which are employed in the business). His daily joy is usually relaxing at home puttering around outdoors whenever weather permits. Past passions include working with the Boy Scouts, fly fishing in Montana, and CT Professional Business Group trips to the far east (China, and Thailand/Malaysia/Singapore).
Should we put together an xTuple user conference?
It might be about time ... to bring together users, partners and customers from around the world to learn about xTuple, drive better business practices, share experiences and ideas, steer our software development, and eat, drink, and play together.
We'd love to have you come join us. But it takes a lot of resources to host a conference. Before we jump into this, please take a moment to tell us if you'd like to come to such an event.
The survey is like three questions, so really, it won't hurt a bit. Thanks.