xTupler #16 — When you want a new feature, why not incite a mob?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

xTupler #16  |  September 2010

Dear Community —

When you want a new feature, why not incite a mob? We invite you to join us and many fellow community members to add email integration into xTuple, and get a discounted license for the fast-growing xTuple Connect product in the bargain. Read below to find out more about what we're calling a "feature mob."

For those eager to learn more about xTuple, our chief trainer and video producer extraordinaire Mike Atherton has been hard at work. He's made new videos that highlight the xTuple Web Portal and xTuple Connect, two add-on products that can greatly increase your productivity with any Edition of xTuple.

We've also included in this month's news some previews of the upcoming version 3.6 - which is getting ready to go into beta testing.

I must be in a musical mood, because I've linked to three different music videos in the email below. See if you can find them... So, enjoy this month's edition of the xTupler, and thanks for reading!


BC Wilson
Director of Internet Communications

Join the Email Feature-Mob, and get xTuple Connect!

You might have heard of a flash mob. It's when a bunch of people send each other a text message to meet at a particular spot to do ... something (they seem to favor train stations...). We like this idea. We thought we could use something like it, with less singing and dancing, perhaps, to gather sponsors around a new feature in the xTuple application. We're calling our version a "feature-mob" and we're starting with the #1 most-requested feature that users would like to see added to xTuple.

Yes, it's full email integration into all the xTuple modules - particularly CRM, sales, and accounting.

First, the feature
We propose to set up a solution where you can sync selected folders from any IMAP mail server with your xTuple database. So all the email history you choose to include - sent and received - will be available in xTuple. The synchronization will run as a service in the background, so you don't need to worry about it.

We'll also bundle a lightweight email client with the xTuple solution. You won't have to use this bundled client to take advantage of the email functionality in xTuple, but you'll have the option.

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 acknowledgments, 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.

Sound good so far?
Our plan is to make this new functionality available as part of the ever-growing xTuple Connect add-in product - the foundation for the outbound email capabilities in xTuple software today. xTuple Connect sells for $1,995, 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).

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, starting at $950 and going down to as low as $500 each. The ball is already rolling--as of today 7 sponsors have paid into the program--so come join them and help drive down the price!

Ready for more?
To learn more about this program and to join the mob, visit the email feature-mob page on xTuple.org.

xTuple for service businesses (and Project Accounting!)

Over the past year we and our partners have added features to xTuple aimed at meeting the needs of service-oriented businesses. The core of this effort was the free Time and Expense (T&E) package, an extension that allows users to track time and expense per customer/project/task. The paid, "pro" version adds the ability to invoice customers directly and voucher reimbursement payments.

With the 3.6 release of xTuple, due out in October, we'll migrate that "pro" functionality into the free package, which will be distributed with the core xTuple application (all three Editions).

At the same time we've been hard at work on a bigger commercial package that we're calling xTuple Project Accounting. As the name suggests, this package will provide detailed budgeting and financial reporting by project, which will benefit not only services businesses, but also construction, distribution, and manufacturing as well. Particularly if you're doing any kind of government work, this is the package for you. Check out this detailed description.

Here comes the best part. Anyone who purchases the existing T&E Pro package, which sells for $399 on the xChange App Store, will be entitled to the new Project Accounting package when it becomes available in October. While final pricing for the Project Accounting package hasn't been determined, it will certainly be more than $399. So why not pick up T&E Pro today?

Doing the tighten up

Also coming in October will be xTuple 3.6.0, a significant update to the xTuple core. This is our tightening up release. We're not adding major new features so much as we are refining screens and functionality throughout the application.

Most of the advances in version 3.6 come in the form of consistency and ease-of-use, which will be of benefit to all users. Updates in this version include:

  • Autocomplete on all search clusters
  • Redesigned Setup menus
  • Jump to edit list from comb box lists
  • Edit and Delete Journal Entries
  • Adding Sub-Ledger functionality to General Ledger
  • Print Preview on report windows
  • Apply Credit Memos to Cash Receipts

We're in the preliminary QA phase on 3.6 now, and plan to release a beta of the software for the community to preview and test in the next few weeks.

Community Corner

Kudos to Dave Anderson, xTuple's leading light in beautiful New Zealand. One of his customers went live this month with xTuple and multiple e-commerce websites directly integrated into the ERP backend (via xTuple Connect). Dave reports from the front:

Having implemented SAP for many years, I have to say this was one of the smoothest ERP transitions I have been involved in. That is a testament to the openness, ease of customising and development, and quality of software of xTuple.

New user Salman Khan in Pakistan finds a lot to like in the core "green-eyeshade" functionality:

I am finding the accounting section to be amazingly easy, love it. It's amazingly easy to use and ... I'll slowly and confidently switch to the other modules as/when ready.

If you haven't checked out the new xTuple Desktop usability enhancement in version 3.5, veteran Colorado user Alex Khizver suggests you give it a look:

The desktop/dashboard and improvements in 3.5 is fantastic!!!

Thanks to Dave, Salman, and Alex for the kind words - and for helping us continue to move our community forward!

New YouTube Videos

xTuple Web Portal video on YouTube

The xTuple Web Portal allows you to connect a Drupal website to an xTuple database for managing customer support incidents via the web. Connect directly to your customers online.

xTuple Connect video on YouTube 

This video is an overview of xTuple Connect, the integration platform for xTuple ERP, which manages import/export of data from outside systems, including EDI, e-commerce websites, CAD/CAM/PLM, etc. You'll see a full cycle - from receiving a purchase order, to processing it as a sales order in xTuple, shipping and invoicing the order, and delivering an invoice back to the customer.

Partner Showcase

Groupe Concerti, Inc

Quebec-based Groupe Concerti, Inc. was established in 1992 and over nearly 20 years, they've implemented and supported over 50 customers on various enterprise systems. According to Concerti president Robert Charbonneau, the company "began our search for a new ERP partner because we found ERP solutions to be inadequate or too complex for SMBs."

After an exhaustive search and spending more than a year following xTuple's growth and development, Concerti "became convinced that xTuple's product offering was not only highly competitive from a price and functionality perspective but also, that xTuple was a highly innovative company." Robert goes on to say that xTuple is a "people company" and that we "listen to the feedback from their partners, customers and community of thousands of users."

Thanks, Robert! We've actually learned a lot from listening to him on the forums, and you probably have too. Concerti is actively involved in xTuple product development, and also works closely with fellow Québecois partner AS Plus on the traduction française du Canada. Most impressively, Concerti contributed an enhancement to the xTuple Translation Portal that provides for the translation of all printed report definitions - a key area that our initial tool did not cover.

Sales Mobility Survey

The analysts at The Aberdeen Group are conducting a survey on the subject of "Sales Mobility," by which they mean: organizational support of sales professionals whose work includes any component of out-of-office activity, including home, travel, on customer sites, etc.

See how you stack up against your peers and in comparison to Best-in-Class companies.

To take the survey, jump over to http://aberdeen.com/survey/0207-xTuple/