Entries in the 'About open source' Category

Was Microsoft the Greatest Open Source Business of All Times?

Before you flame, take a look at this ad:

MS-DOS Emerges, courtesy RegMedia.co.uk

MS-DOS Emerges, 1983, courtesy RegMedia.co.uk

This is a historic document that shows the exact moment when Microsoft began taking over the world.  Its main products at the time were BASIC and DOS, but DOS was the indispensable layer of the Personal Computer (PC) industry.   It sat between the hardware and software of the IBM PC and its myriad of compatible clones.

What’s most amazing about Microsoft and DOS, though, is that everything above and below them were open sourced.  If you wanted to build an IBM-compatible PC (like Compaq and Dell), the architecture was openly available, as long as you built it for DOS.  If you wanted to write software for IBM PC’s and compatibles (like Ashton-Tate and Lotus), Microsoft and DOS provided you with open standards too.  As a result, millions of IBM-compatible PC’s were built and millions of programs were written for them — far more than ever was the case for Apple’s Macintosh.  They turned IBM and Microsoft into the standards of the industry and made companies like Dell, Lotus, and Intel wildly successful.

But not as successful as Microsoft.

Because through it all, Microsoft didn’t open source its products.  There were no DOS (or Windows) alternatives that a Compaq could package with its PC’s to run Lotus 1-2-3.   There was never an open “PC operating system standard” that would allow software and hardware vendors to write once (or build once) and run any operating system.   Competing operating systems like CP/M, Xenix, OS/2, and BeOS all failed because there wasn’t enough software written for them to attract hardware manufacturers, and not enough hardware manufacturers making computers to attract software developers.  As a result, Microsoft ended up controlling the entire PC industry, eventually even muscling giant IBM out.

Microsoft’s succeeded during the PC era came by making knowledge freely available, essentially open sourcing the architecture of PC hardware and software.  Decades later, Microsoft would stumble because it couldn’t make ASP.NET, Silverlight, and Windows Mobile the standards for web and mobile.  Today Google is trying the same strategy by making Android the platform of choice for both hardware manufacturers and software developers.  (Funnily enough, Apple didn’t play this game with Microsoft back then and doesn’t care to join Google now.  They just march to a different beat altogether.)

Moral of the story?

For open source developers: Open sourcing of software is just small potatoes.  There is so much information that, if made openly available, could create whole industries and make people’s lives better.  So isn’t it time we stopped thinking just about the code and started thinking about how to create openly available knowledge that could benefit the world — and build great businesses?

For everybody else: Do you still think open source is a charity?  Or are you thinking, “What kind of openly available knowledge could grow my business?”

A World of Possibilities for Open Source

Ten years ago we started with the (immodest?) goal of bringing open source to enterprise software.  Today, there are even greater opportunities for open source — not just in software, but as a fundamental force for positive change in the world.

Imagine a world where smart devices could be 3-d printed anywhere.  Further imagine all those devices connected, through the internet,  to every other person and organization in the world.  This should be a world where our homes could respond to our movements to turn appliances on and off.  We could grow food using less water because sensors would know when to turn the irrigation on and off.  Our physicians could know if we need to come in for a check up.

But will this be a world where a few large companies control all the devices, and only their chosen partners are allowed to provide us services?

Or will this be a world where the designs for smart devices will be openly available?  Where there are open API’s for many startups to innovate and create new business models?

That is the opportunity — and challenge — for open source.

Our Responsibility: Making the World Better with Technology and Open Communities

What do you say when people ask, “Why do you do your job?

Is it a mix of I’ve-done-it-for-years, I’m-good-at-it, and it-makes-me-money?

That’s all fine and good, but please take a moment to think about the bigger picture: Our world is heading to a peak population of 9 billion people within our lifetime.  More than two billion people have no access to drinking water.  Over a billion people live in urban slums.

The same skills that you already have — designing and building technology and online communities — could solve problems like these for billions of people.  So as important as your day job may be, think about how to use what you already know to make a bigger difference.  When you are part of something bigger than yourself, you’ll find it giving you a fresh sense of purpose and making you feel more alive as well.

That is what we are going to be doing as well.  Going forward, please go to opentaps.com to follow the development of our business application software.  Meanwhile, here we will be focusing on how technology — specifically open source software — and open communities could help solve some of the world’s bigger challenges, such as energy, water, and housing.

opentaps.com and the Next Generation of opentaps

When we started opentaps nine years ago, our goal was to create great business software from open source.  And have we ever!  Most people wouldn’t have believed that enterprise-class open source ERP and CRM was possible, but we did it — thanks to Linux, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL, OFBiz, JasperReports, and many others open source projects.

The world, meanwhile, has moved forward too.  It’s no secret that the future of software is mobile, social, and big data, and open source software is moving in those directions as well.

What does this mean for real businesses?

Imagine being able to capture all your interactions with customers as they happen: by email, on twitter/Facebook/pinterest, via text messages, or by phone.  Anywhere.  Any time.  Any how.

Then imagine being able to use that information to make your customers happier — and sell more.

That’s what we think a whole new generation of open source software could do for you.  And we’ve started by creating a whole new opentaps to do it.  Because it is built with a whole new different set of open source technologies and a different cloud-open source business model, we’ve created a new site at opentaps.com for this new product.  Meanwhile, the existing open source ERP and CRM lives on at opentaps.org and will continue to evolve.

We hope you’ll join for the next phase of our journey — the best is yet to come.

Has Google Android’s Open Source Business Model Failed?

Yesterday’s WSJ.com video “Tablet Wars: How Are People Using Tablets?” had a shocking statistic: 98% of the web traffic from tablets comes from Apple’s iPad.  Further, most of mobile commerce is from Apple’s iPhone:

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Mail Merge in Google Apps, Javascript, and Open Source

I followed this tutorial on how to do mail merge in Google Apps, and it taught me a lot about Javascript and the future for open source applications.

Doing mail merge in Google Apps was a lot of fun!  With a little copy and paste and about 15 minutes, I had was sending emails attached with customized letters as PDF’s.  Could programming always be this easy?

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Can NoSQL Databases Cure Us of Software Complexity?

If you’ve worked with Apache OFBiz or opentaps 1.x, you’ve probably had moments like this:

Q: What’s the difference between internal name and product name?

A: If your company wants to maintain an internal name for products that’s different than the standard product name, then you can put it in internalName. Otherwise you should keep them the same.

Welcome to software complexity.

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opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Update

The first proof of concept application is now available.  This new application is based on Apache Geronimo 3, OSGi Blueprint, and openJPA server side and HTML5/Javascript/CSS client side technologies.  Facebook integration is built into the application:

You can try the opentaps v2 Notes application at notes.opentaps.com or see a YouTube video for the new opentaps v2 user interface.  For developer documentation, please see our wiki pages about opentaps 2.

Fedex and Endicia Shipping Integration

The new opentaps OFBiz FedEx integration module provides FedEx web services integration for both opentaps and ofbiz.  Important: because the current Ship Manager Direct API will be discountinued by FedEx on May 31, 2012, you will need to get this module to continue shipping with FedEx.

opentaps Endicia integration module now supports generating USPS shipping labels from opentaps or ofbiz.  See shop.opentaps.org for this and other modules to improve the capabilities of your opentaps system.

opentaps In The Cloud now Available on Amazon EC2 m1.medium Instance Type

opentaps in the Cloud, our popular Amazon EC2 deployment option for opentaps, is now available on the Amazon m1.medium instance type.  This new instance type was introduced recently by Amazon and offers the equivalent of 2 processor cores and 3.75 GB of available RAM and can be used to host opentaps for a small organization.  To use this new instance type, subscribe to the opentaps Mini AMI and choose m1.medium on startup.

Let’s Mash It Up and Make Enterprise Software Fun Again

My New Year’s Resolution: Make building enterprise software fun again.

The Old Way

Almost all enterprise applications follow the same architectural pattern: a single all-encompassing framework housing the data, logic, and presentation layers.  When applied to large-scale applications such as enterprise software, which must cater to the needs of lots of users with many different features, it creates some problems:

  1. Everything that you use in the application must be written in this framework.  You might really like X, but if you want to use in your application, you’d have to re-write X in its framework.
  2. No framework is optimal for all possible features.  For example, order processing and accounting are highly structured, whereas web content management deals primarily with non-structured data.  A relational database driven framework that is well suited for traditional ERP could thus be poorly suited for web content management, and vice versa.

This is why we often hear enterprise users say “We chose [fill in name of your software] because it was good at [fill in the good features], but it’s really not too good at [all the other stuff].”  Conversely, because vendors think this is the only way to build software, they often have to bundle so-so features with their core strengths to create a competitive “enterprise offering.”

A Better Way to Do It?

Sometimes it just takes a shift in the perspective.

Could enterprise software could be built as mash ups of components based on open standards?

Would that make writing business software as easy–and as fun–as putting together blogs with videos, tweets, and maps?

Let’s Try it with Open Source

We’re going to try to do exactly that with opentaps 2.  We plan on building off the OSGi standard and the new Apache Geronimo 3 application server on the server side and the new HTML5 standard for client side applications to create this new kind of enterprise software.  Take a look at our plans for opentaps 2 and follow us.

opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Targets Europe, Latin America with VAT Support and Translations

European and Latin American companies looking for a fully-featured, low cost, and flexible business management system can now leverage the power of opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM, which now offers improved support for Value Added Taxes (VAT) and Spanish translations. These enhancements make it easier than ever before for companies in these regions to use opentaps as an alternative to expensive, inflexible, or outdated commercial ERP or CRM systems.

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