OpenMFG — founded in late 2001 — came together as a live, in-production enterprise software solution at a customer site, a business chosen deliberately due to its large size and multiple locations with both process flow and discrete manufacturing operations. OpenMFG was written to be a full-featured ERP (enterprise resource planning) and MRP (Material Requirements Planning), product, as industry-generic as possible, adhering tightly to APICS-standard definitions and processes.
OpenMFG software, well received by small manufacturers, also created an opportunity to form partnerships with value-added resellers (VARs) servicing manufacturing customers, accounting and consulting firms, software developers and systems integrators. VARs hungry for more powerful, flexible and affordable solutions to offer their customers were tired of being taken for granted by other software vendors. Technical end-users at customer sites and the VARs found themselves contributing to the collaborative development of the software. Who knows the requirements better than the people who actually implement and use the system?
For five-plus years, we focused exclusively on mission-critical ERP software for manufacturing. The goal was to build a lasting, sustainable company around a product which people could literally entrust their business. We developed a hyrbid business model and approach to product licensing that allowed us to experiment with open source, while not exposing our young company (and customers) to undue risk. That initial business model leveraged the power of open source in two ways:
- By building on top of open source pieces such as PostgreSQL, the world's most advanced open source relational database, and
- By sharing the OpenMFG source code with a growing community of partners and customers, any member of the community could sponsor new development, fix bugs or contribute new code. Many did, and still do.
With the launch of the fully open source PostBooks® application and the renaming of the company as xTuple in 2007, we deepened our commitment to customers, partners and the larger open source community; expressly broadened the scope of our ambition; and along the way, ushered in a new day for business management software.
There is no longer any doubt — if there ever was — that collaborative "open source" development by global communities with shared interests is simply a better way to make software. The growing power of open source has worked its way "up the stack" of information technology — from operating systems, to programming tools, Web servers, databases, reporting tools and business applications.
xTuple has grown steadily as a company, a product, and as an open source community.