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Open source working for you
It's easy for us full time developers to get sucked into blogging mostly about our own achievements in a release cycle. However, as an open source project I don't think we should neglect shining the spotlight on contributions from our community. After all, these are the people using the software in the real world and trying to solve real world problems with it. In fact well over 100 contributions have been implemented in the core in the 3.5.x series already. Project Time & Expense, Support for electronic banking in Austrailia, saving files directly to the database, G/L Account mappings for cost elements, a new Incident report, more ubiquitous use of the Job Costing report, increasing price precision for P/O and an API view for accounts payable memos are some of my favorites.
This was an enormous contribution from our partner szuke at Core Services Group who was incidentally the winner of the 2010 haxTuple bug derby (final results here). He submitted the extension package for a Time & Expense tracking system for CRM Project that is now part of the xTuple core project on Source Forge (no pun intended). Core Services also offers a premium version that can used for billing purposes. Both the free and commercial versions are available for download from our xChange app. store.
We have had support for generating electronic checks for some time... but only for North America (NACHA format). Thanks to this contribution from dataforge we now support the ABA electronic check format for Australia. Implementing this one also forced our hand a bit to find a way to implement hooks to allow for users to create and implement functions to support any local banking format. Now those hooks are in the system as a configuration option. We're hoping more people will submit functions to support additional formats in the future.
Power user and xTuple partner benson liked our ability to link documents to each other using our Documents widget, but didn't like so much that we only supported URL linking for external documents. So he submitted code to enable saving external files directly in the database. That way users don't have to worry about links getting broken because of inaccessible file server paths (especially a problem in a mixed OS environment) or users moving a file and therefore breaking the link. We got so excited about this one that we even enhanced it ourselves a little further by adding a file watcher to the file when it's opened. When you open a file from the database the file is exported to a temporary directory; if you make changes to the file and click save, the file watcher sees the changes and quietly imports the new version of the file back into the database. That keeps the copy of the file in the database current.
This is another contribution by benson. We have supported user defined costing elements almost from the beginning, but one big shortcoming is they didn't really have any impact on the General Ledger. This got kind of ugly when they were used on a manufactured item because any cost attributed to one of these elements had no place to go so always ended up being recorded as a variance. Now you can specify a G/L account mapping on the cost element so costs associated with that automatically get expensed to the proper account when production is posted. Hooray!
U-Haul power user pallavi noticed a functional hole in that there was no way to physically print an Incident. That's kind of a problem if you've got a red hot one that you want to get on a piece of paper to show someone who may not have quick access to xTuple (say a shop floor worker... or a CEO? ;) ). Problem is now solved.
It used to be that the Job Costing report only worked for work orders that were for job costed items. xTuple Partner lcartee at Magical Custom Programming asked, "Why can't we see that job data for ANY work order regardless of cost method?" The answer is, there's no good reason not to allow that, so he submitted a change to remove that restriction. He's also put in a couple great POS enhancements too, such as magnetic swipe support and 40 column receipt formatting, that we need to get merged into the core of that package.
This is a prime example of something that dogged us for a long time but always seemed to sit on the back burner. To be honest most of our development is driven by users who sponsor it, or architectural changes we think will increase use and/or sales of our product. Increasing the precision of P/O price handling was one of those things that people often complained about, but just wasn't getting bumped up in priority. Power user and winner of the 2009 xTuple bug derby jstandring finally took it upon himself to address this one. This is the kind of contribution that reminds me why I first fell in love with the concept of open source in the first place.
This one from our Canadian partner asplus is a great example of the kind of thing that can help with 3rd party integration, and can also make life much easier for someone going live. Instead of keying in 1,500 open payables two days before you go live, why not just import them? It's also worth noting that asplus has done the lion's share of work on the french translation of xTuple.
I can't build a list like this without mentioning our power user and partner in Mexico malfredo32, the runner up contentestant in haxTuple 2010. Not only has he contributed about a dozen patch features and fixes, he resolved many more dozens of outstanding issues in the haxTuple competition. He also was the first one to reach 100% on the translation portal for translating Mexican Spanish. Finally, we also jokingly call him our Mexican QA department as he is always the first to jump in and thoroughly test beta and release candidate versions of our software. His bug finds are typically the best in our community, and I guarantee result in better software releases for everybody.
There are so many more people who have made great patch contributions. At some point I'd like to have a "Hall of Fame" page so they can all be listed and get credit. In the mean time I just want offer this public Thank You to everyone in the community who has submitted code, a bug or even a forum posting. All these activities are contributing to making xTuple the best open source business system available.
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Tue, 07/20/2010 - 08:02#1
Thanks to you too
It is very nice of you to mention some of us who have tried to make some contribution to the ongoing development of xTuple. A great big THANKS goes to you and your staff who have to insure all these individual ideas don't conflict with other ideas and keep the development moving forward. Each of us get to evangelize things we fell strongly about but you guys have to see that it all fits together correctly.
It seems to working just fine.