Want to integrate your email with xTuple?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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.

Ned Lilly

President and CEO

In October 2001, Ned co-founded xTuple, originally called OpenMFG, with the aim of bringing the worlds of open source and enterprise resource planning (ERP) together to solve the unmet needs of small- to mid-sized manufacturers. In 1999, he was a co-founder of Great Bridge, an early business built around the PostgreSQL open source database. PostgreSQL is the core technology for xTuple today. Great Bridge was incubated inside Landmark Communications, a mid-sized media company where Ned directed corporate venture investments, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and startup activity. Prior to Landmark, Ned worked for a regional technology group in Washington D.C. and had a brief first career in political media — television, radio and a non-partisan news wire. He holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from George Washington University.