Frequently Asked Questions

The following list of frequently asked questions covers questions about the company and our commercial and open source licenses. If you are looking for answers about using our products, please see our community FAQ.
About xTuple

Good question. Renaming a company and launching a new brand is not something anyone should undertake lightly. But we felt that with the expanded line of products and services, and a broadening of our target audience to include companies who might not do much actual manufacturing, the time was right. We were looking for something exciting, that speaks powerfully to the possibility for exponential growth in the key business metrics that are important to our customers. Double (2x), quadruple (4x), quintuple (5x) ... xTuple.

There is also, we confess, a bit of a geek-insider joke (there always is, with software companies). In computer science and mathematics, a "tuple" is a name for any two or more points of data you wish to analyze. In fact, in database circles, rows of the database are often referred to as tuples. So it's ex-tuple, from the database. Get it? You don't? Well, never mind! :)

Not at all. The Manufacturing Edition of xTuple ERP continues to be our most advanced product, and our licensing and pricing for it is unaffected by all this excitement. Quite the contrary, our support of manufacturers has never been stronger - here's why. Very simply, it is the most advanced manufacturing functionality that constitutes most of the difference between the free PostBooks Edition and the paid Manufacturing Edition. (The Standard Edition, targeted at distributors and retailers, falls somewhere in the middle.) That has two very significant implications for manufacturing:

  • Many of our biggest paying customers will continue to be manufacturers, and we will do everything in our power to make sure they are deliriously happy with the Manufacturing Edition of xTuple ERP, and level of service they receive.
  • In order for us to continue to command a premium for the Manufacturing (and Standard) Edition, we will have to keep innovating - and adding advanced functionality that the larger PostBooks community might not find interesting or necessary.
Here is an explanation of how we manage all three products simultaneously, and a detailed comparison of PostBooks, Standard, and Manufacturing Editions of xTuple ERP.
Yes, all of it. Here on our xTuple ERP Pricing page.

Simple answer: they are more important than ever. There is a temptation with free software to think that you can do it all yourself - download, install, and have the business up and running on the new software before you know it. It's easy, right? Just read the documentation, follow the basic steps, and presto! That sound you're hearing is the gnashing of teeth by experienced ERP professionals around the world. You may be aware of the widely-publicized statistic that over 80% of ERP implementation projects - in companies of all sizes - fail, and often spectacularly.

We're software people with what we believe is a pretty strong product, so we like to believe that software choice has a lot to do with it. And it's certainly a significant piece of the puzzle; despite everything we say about rising commoditization of software, not all ERPs are created equal. And many get worse over time!

But the simple fact of the matter is that the human component of an ERP implementation is by far the most important. By that, we mean developing and following a firm project plan, with strong buy-in from management, and strong leadership of the overall project effort. Business process assessment, data migration and entry, configuration and setup of hundreds of details that supports the observed and desired business processes... these are the kind of things that xTuple business partners have been doing for decades.

Whether you're considering PostBooks or one of the commercial Editions of xTuple ERP, we'll work with our partners to put together the right combination of resources that fits your goals, and your budget.

How Open Source ERP Works

In all honesty - maybe. That's part of what a software vendor has to get comfortable with in open source, especially if they're pursuing a dual-licensing model like we are. Fundamentally, we believe it will come down to how well we do our jobs managing the PostBooks community. If we're unresponsive, don't give a good sense of overall roadmap and guidance, or needlessly antagonize community members, there's a good chance the project will be "forked" ... and maybe someone will start a PostPostBooks project.

But our hunch is that there's a much bigger interest in expanding PostBooks horizontally - into adjacent markets and with modular add-ins (more on that later!) - than in trying to duplicate the tested and battle-hardened functionality in the commercial Editions.

This is our favorite question. The answer is, there are lots of ways - but the most important thing is that we work collaboratively. If you've got the technical expertise, you can write new functionality yourself. You can pay one of our partners to do it. Or you can pay us. Sometimes, there's a big enough chunk of work that we put together a consortium, where several customers can split the cost of developing something new. This approach worked very well for the CRM module in version 2, and the Returns and Service functionality in version 3. Usually, a simple feature request in the issue tracker is the best way to get started. If we decide that a more detailed specification is needed, there is a template that we use as a starting point.

The best part? When you work with us to add new features into the product, you get exactly what you need, implemented into the core system - ensuring that your investment will be future-proof, rather than a one-off customization. Read about our "Greatest Hits" - 13 great examples of this process in action.

There are a number of elements that go into localizing an ERP system. The first, perhaps, is language. Each xTuple ERP client loads a translation file at runtime, so one user can see the application in US English - for example - while others see it in Mexican Spanish, Simplified Chinese, etc. Please visit our Translation Portal to see the current status of the many xTuple ERP international translation efforts. We'd welcome your involvement! The other major element of localization is the accounting, tax, or other local business requirements of a particular market. You might have a look at our wiki for an introduction to our multi-layered tax functionality. Perhaps the best place to start would be a discussion in our International Forums.

xTuple ERP includes powerful tools that can help you deploy an ERP solution that meets the exact requirements of your business.  For most major functionality, our preference is to include the solution in the main, supported product.  That way, no one has to worry about maintaining custom software.  But there are situations where an extremely narrow requirement exists, perhaps a unique business process that needs to be mirrored in the software.  These situations are good candidates for a scripted approach - custom screens built with the xTuple ERP Screen Builder and Qt's implementation of Javascript. We called these scripts "extensions."

Customers can develop their own screens and scripts; they can also have xTuple-trained partners do that work for them.  If the customer engages xTuple itself to develop custom screens and scripts, our policy is that they will be certified for the current release of xTuple ERP only.  That is, there may be minor tweaks required to keep custom scripts working 100% in future versions of the base product.  If xTuple were to do that tweaking, it would be a separate services engagement.

The same rule applies for custom reports built with the integrated OpenRPT report writer.  In both cases, the skills required to build and maintain these custom elements are fairly common - standard SQL for database reporting, and XML and Javascript for custom screens.  It's a good line of business for xTuple partners serving customers who do not have these basic IT skills in-house.  Our goal is not so much to have xTuple maintaining a multitude of customized enhancements, but rather to have as many people as possible using the tools to provide this last 1% of the solution.

Licensing and Payments

xTuple's license manager (in the commercial Editions of the software) counts only concurrent users connected to the database.  So while you'll want to set up accounts on the system for all of your named users, from a licensing perspective, we're only concerned with the ones that are connected at any given time.  It's generally a good idea to allow for one or two seats more than you think you need, to allow room for growth and unencumbered usage at peak times in your business.

The license manager also distinguishes between internal xTuple users connecting via the xTuple client or another xTuple GUI tool (CSV import, xTuple Connect, etc) ... and external connections to the database by other programs, including any web-based systems, database tools, and other custom applications you might have which need to connect to xTuple through the APIs.

For all onsite commercial Editions of xTuple, there is a five-user minimum purchase (although there are no minimums in the xTuple Cloud service).  And for every internal xTuple user license you purchase, you receive an external license at no additional cost.  So if you buy a five-user license, you can have up to ten concurrent connections to your xTuple database, of which up to five can be via the xTuple client.

Software maintenance - access to all upgrades, major and minor - is included in the annual license.  The annual license is like a subscription.  You are licensed to use the software as long as you are current on your payments (either annual or monthly).  If you're more than 30 days late, you could be in default of your license and support agreements.

The perpetual license is a one-time purchase of the then-current version of the software.  Software maintenance is priced separately - currently at 10% of the current per-user license cost, and required for at least the first year.  Direct support from xTuple is another 10% on top of the maintenance (which is a prerequisite for support).

Please don't.  For starters, you can't get support from xTuple or any certified partner if you're not current on maintenance.  Moreover, it's far more expensive to get back on, after you've gone off maintenance.  Not only do you have to make up all the back payments, there's an additional penalty as well, which starts at 50% of the amount owed.  So for example, if you were two years off maintenance on 10 users, and maintenance were priced at 10% of $3600, or $360, then you'd be looking at the following:

Back Maintenance owed: $7,200
Penalty: $3,600
Total Due to get right: $10,800

Was it worth it?  Just to avoid paying the $3,600 a year, or even $360/month?

And that's assuming your two-year old data was in a pristine state, and didn't need any consulting services to go in and clean up - which has never happened in the history of software.  So in short, don't do it.  If you're worried about cashflow, take advantage of our monthly billing option.  But there's rarely a happy ending to a broken maintenance agreement.

Then, as we said above, you're in default - and we are within our legal rights to remove the software altogether.
Partner Program Info
  Good question, that's why we put it at the top. Yes, the PostBooks Edition of xTuple ERP is free software – and many of our partners make a good living doing nothing but professional services and support for PostBooks. But there are two commercially-licensed Editions of xTuple ERP as well, and partners earn generous commissions on sales of those products. And other xTuple products and services – such as training classes, network services, even hardware appliances – are commissionable as well. Some of those things you might prefer to offer yourself; that's fine with us, and we don't get in your way.   With this range of offerings, xTuple partners have a solution for a variety of business needs and budgets. As one of our partners once told us, they have the best of both worlds!  
  No. xTuple is designed to meet the needs of small to midsized businesses who are not likely to have a programmer on staff. And we're not going to force our partners into programming if that's not their business. The fact is, xTuple ERP is easy to install because it has to be. And xTuple provides our partners with unlimited technical support through all phases of the customer engagement.   However – if you do enjoy digging deeper into the code, there are terrific additional revenue streams to be realized in developing new base functionality sponsored by a customer (our favorite kind), custom screens and scripts, and of course custom reports with the embedded OpenRPT report writer.  
  Absolutely. Both the client and the server software run on Windows – as well as Mac OS X, Linux, and even other Unix systems. You – and your customers – can mix and match however you like, leveraging investments in existing technology without having to buy all new systems. That of course frees up more money for you.    
  This is an interesting one. The answer is no – and in fact, there's a pretty good argument that Open Source systems are more secure than traditional software.   “Huh?” you say. It does sound a bit odd – that a product with freely-viewable source code could be more secure than something that's locked up and “hidden.” But in fact, with the enforced vigor and peer review inherent to open source, potential vulnerabilities are identified and fixed much more quickly and easily. In one well-publicized event, an application was open-sourced by a vendor who had been “supporting” this application to customers including large banks and the U.S. military for years. Within 24 hours of the source code being publicly available, a major back door security hole – which had been there for years – was identified and fixed by an open source developer looking at the code for the first time!    
XTN

 

xTuple Network offers 3 levels of service to help you manage your Upgrades, Backups and Database Optimization and Tuning.
 - XTN Basic - xTuple performs the upgrades on your database at a mutually convenient time.  Upon publishing a new version, we create a sandbox for you to test the latest functionality, and you let us know when you're ready to migrate to the next version.
 
 - XTN Backup - includes database upgrades (above) and adds a nightly backup service 5 nights a week.  The backups are stored on your server, as well as in our data center.  This redundancy provides peace of mind that your critical business data are protected and available for restore in the case of a disaster - natural or otherwise.
 
- XTN Premium - includes the upgrade service and nightly backups, and adds database tuning and optimization.  For larger databases, we recommend this service which is an iterative process based on how particular installations utilize xTuple ERP functionality.

 

All xTuple ERP installations are eligible for XTN Services whether running Manufacturing Edition, Standard Edition or Postbooks.

A copy of the backup is stored on your server and another copy is securely sent to our data center.  This ensures that you will always have the latest copy of your database available.

The backup is scheduled to run during the night and we coordinate it with other automated tasks that may also run over night, such as the Batch Manager.

 

Peace of mind.  
Protection of critical business data.
 
There are numerous backup and upgrade options available, but knowing that you have access to your backups at any time, along with the added protection of offsite storage is the ultimate disaster recovery plan.

 

We setup SSH (Secure Shell) encrypted tunnel.  We run the nightly backup, leave a copy of the file on your server and send a copy of the file to our data center.  We store one of the the backups for each week for one year.

xTuple handles the restore of your most recent backup to minimize down time and data loss.

 

Please contact Danielle Kerner for more information or to enroll in XTN.  
 
Phone - 757-461-3022 x 118
mead