Want to integrate your email with xTuple?

 

ned's picture

UPDATE:  12/17/2010, 5:00 pm ET:  The Feature-Mob is closed!  Thanks to all 56 of our sponsors - we will be moving this discussion to a dedicated forum for xTuple Connect early next week, with details on the upcoming beta, and how Feature-Mob sponsors can get access to the current release of xTuple Connect.  And, of course, details on the rebates - everyone will end up paying the final price of $700.

Original blog post following the jump, for posterity's sake:

We're going to try something new, and hopefully exciting - in order to facilitate getting some cool new functionality into xTuple. 

The feature is one that we hear, and talk, about all the time:  better email integration.  We've agonized publicly about this in the past, particularly over the fact that we don't want to be tied to any one particular client, server, or platform - in keeping with our overall design philosophy here.  But we think we have an answer, which I'll detail below.

We also have an idea about how to make it happen, sooner rather than later.  We're taking a page from some of the social network activity and local coupon businesses - we're calling it a feature-mob.

We've built-in a way for you to get the xTuple Connect product (where the email feature will live) for less than half-off the current price.  And the more people participate in the sponsorship, the less it will cost per person.

OK, first the solution:  We propose to set up a solution where you can store designated emails in the PostgreSQL database, and sync selected folders from any IMAP mail server with that database storage.  So all the email history you choose to include - sent and received - will be available to the xTuple application.  The syncronization will run as a service in the background, so you don't need to worry about it.

Finally, we'll have an Email tab available in a number of places in the application, so you can associate particular email traffic with activities in the ERP system - both EDI-style documents you might mail out (quotes, order acknowledgements, invoices, purchase orders, etc.) and regular email correspondence that might be relevant to a particular customer, vendors, other CRM account, contact, or any other such object in the ERP system.

Here is the updated specification document - please post any comments on that page after you've read it.

Sound good so far?

Our plan is to make this new functionality available as part of the ever-growing xTuple Connect add-in product (which is already a powerful integration platform that supports multiple means of real-time import and export from external systems, including EDI, websites, CAD/PLM, and much more.)  It's the foundation for the outbound email capabilities in xTuple software today.  xTuple Connect sells for $1995, and that price won't be going down - it may well go up, with the additional email functionality.  It works with all three versions of xTuple (PostBooks, Standard, and Manufacturing).

But what we're going to do, based on the strong demand we've heard from our community, is throw the doors open so that everyone who contributes to the sponsorship of this new functionality gets the full xTuple Connect product at no extra charge.  And the more people that participate, the lower the entry cost.

Here's what we're thinking:

  • Up to 10 sponsors: $950 apiece
  • 11-20 sponsors: $900 apiece
  • 21-30 sponsors: $850 apiece
  • 31-40 sponsors: $800 apiece
  • 41-50 sponsors: $750 apiece
  • 51-60 sponsors: $700 apiece
  • 61-70 sponsors: $650 apiece
  • 71-80 sponsors: $600 apiece
  • 81-90 sponsors: $550 apiece
  • 91-100 sponsors: $500 apiece

That means you could get the current version of xTuple Connect, priced at $1,995, for only $500!  And for feature-mob participants only, we'll include the first year's maintenance - so you'll get the updated version with the new email capabilities as well!

So, how will it work?

This page will always display the current number of sponsors (and hence, the current sponsorship cost).  To make this as easy as possible, we'll do this via credit cards.  We'll process the initial charge for the sponsorship, and when the project is complete, we'll rebate everyone's cards for the difference between what you paid and the final price.  So if you were an early sponsor (bless you), and paid $950, and the final price ended up being $500 apiece, we would rebate your credit card the full $450.

Please feel free to post a comment here with any questions about the development, or the feature-mob process.  Our hope is that this can be a way for people to get some advanced functionality for less - and of course, we'd love for you to spread the word and get more people involved in the feature-mob.

 
rcharbonneau's picture
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Joined: 11/17/2007
?

Hummm,

Does this mean, Susan will be able to send the Sales Order Acknowledgment to TTOYS by email, get a response from TTOYS and Mike will be able to follow the communication in the Sales Order email Tab and answer TTOYS even if Susan is vacation?

Robert C.

 
jrogelstad's picture
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Joined: 12/10/2008
Yes, that is exactly the

Yes, that is exactly the idea.

 
zak
zak's picture
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Joined: 07/13/2008
Very smart all around. We've

Very smart all around.

We've been using google apps with email delegation and labels to similar effect but *nowhere* near this level of integration.

 
megabill's picture
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Joined: 10/06/2009
annual maintenance

Any thoughts on how the continuing maintenance will be priced? Some folks will want to know their financial encumbrances going forward.

 
ned
ned's picture
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Joined: 10/20/2008
Maintenance

Maintenance (which is optional after the first year) will be priced like any other perpetual license - 18% of the current list price. So 18% of $1995 would be $359.10.

 
kenk's picture
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Joined: 02/19/2009
visibility for all of all?

We are envisioning the best, but am concerned about the worst...
Will someone be deciding which email addresses are to be routed to SQL or will all emails automatically go there (including spam)? If not all, does each person decide which of their email addresses are routed, just for their communications? or is there just one list of emails to be housed on SQL and anyone can add or remove email addresses from that list or do specific permission levels decide what email addresses are integrated, or what?

When a customer calls us, will we be able to quickly access all email contact from all sources, or will we have permission level access to emails depending on the department that the communications came from/to? Will there be a way to make individual emails confidential (not integrated with SQL)?

 
jrogelstad's picture
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Joined: 12/10/2008
The idea is that users will

The idea is that users will be able synchronize IMAP folders of their choosing to xTuple. Users may already have rules to push their mail into specific folders. Outlook, Mac Mail, Thunderbird and pretty much all mature mail clients have pretty sophisticated rule management systems to direct mail to folders based on very specific criteria. If that is the case, then just choose which folders have content you want to go to xTuple. Alternatively, a user could have only one folder set to synchronize called "xTuple" where he or she manually drops mail they specifically want to go to xTuple. Or they may have a series of folders, one for each customer, that they organize their mail in. In that case, a user would just synchronize all their "customer" folders. It will be completely up to users what gets to xTuple and it can be as automated or as manual as they want it to be. Obviously companies will want to train and coordinate with users regarding this setup to ensure that the useful information people expect to be in the database gets there.

Once the mail gets into xTuple, it will be visible by all users that have access to a particular document type such as Contact, Customer, Sales Order or Incident. So for instance a user who has access to Customers will be able to see any mail associated with any Customer. It's hard for me to imagine how a row based security scheme for mail could otherwise be manageable in the xTuple client, so security issues really need to be thought out when setting up the mail folders to synchronize. Synchronizing your Inbox, for example, would probably not be a wise thing, because then ALL your mail would wind up in xTuple unfiltered!

The most important aspect to this entire project is it is completely predicated on leveraging IMAP mail servers. POP is not going to work here.

We have actually just begun the specification for this project. You can see the beginnings on line here:

http://www.xtuple.org/EmailIntegration/Solution

 
xikar's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2007
Google Apps

This should be extremely simple in Google Apps, Gmail. Just have everyone setup a Label called "xTuple" and use Gmail's auto filter option to apply the "xTuple" label to all emails from a customer. It will take a little while to apply the auto-filter to all of your customer's emails in Gmail, but should be an easy habit to get into as new emails roll in.

Once an email is labeled "xTuple", it will automatically show up under that customer's account in the xTuple client if you have the customer's email address assigned via a contact under that customer's account.