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From "Andrew Ballantine" <acballant...@willowbrook.co.uk>
Subject RE: What does "OOTB front-end accessibility" mean to you?
Date Wed, 03 Jan 2007 17:38:08 GMT

I am familiar with both QuickBooks and Sage. Sage is quite awful, but sells
because all the accountants recommend it. Quickbooks is great apart from its
limitations and inability to be enhanced. The arbitrary limit of 27,000
customers is one, difficult import/export of data another.

There is no reason why we couldn't have several versions that support
different vertical markets.
Corner shop with POS and Ecommerce and/or ebay
Independent motor car workshop/repair/sales business
Simple box shifting wholesaler

The big, big point about OFBiz is that the architecture is right, and the
architecture should, hopefully, help young businesses do things the correct

BTW There is nothing wrong with stipulating which system, database etc that
has to be used in a package. The world is quite used to that already in the
proprietary world. The point is to have a package that works for a
particular style of business with relevant sample data that works OOTB.
There will be ample consultancy work customising the extras.

Hope this is of interest.

Kind regards,


-----Original Message-----
From: Jacques Le Roux [mailto:jacques.le.roux@les7arts.com]
Sent: 03 January 2007 16:07
To: ofbiz-user@incubator.apache.org; andrew@sykesdevelopment.com
Subject: Re: What does "OOTB front-end accessibility" mean to you?

Ian, Andrew,

I think that the problem here is more to compete with offers like
http://www.intuit.com/ (in US)
http://www.sage.com/ (in EU)
and convince end users that OFBiz is the right tool !

Anyway a good wide strategy is surely a very good thing !


PS : I did some comparaison between Sage 100 and OFBiz for a client (in
french including POS with multi-sites) and I was happily
surprised how OFBiz was facing the challenge :o)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Andrew Sykes" <andrew@sykesdevelopment.com>
To: <ofbiz-user@incubator.apache.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 4:54 PM
Subject: Re: What does "OOTB front-end accessibility" mean to you?

> Ian,
> A fascinating insight, perhaps you could go a bit further in explaining
> a strategy?
> I wonder how relevant OfBiz is to the very small end of the market,
> there's an awful lot to learn and (from a small business perspective) an
> awful lot that could go wrong.
> I almost think that you are talking about a different product perhaps
> "OfBiz Lite" or something...
> - Andrew
> On Wed, 2007-01-03 at 10:15 +0000, Ian McNulty wrote:
> > I've been having this email discussion with David which he's asked me to
> > move out onto this mailing list. I guess that probably means I'm in for
> > a good kicking. But here goes anyway
> >
> > First, some background to give some kind of handle on where I'm coming
> >
> > I started working with computers in the late 60s as a physicist
> > modelling plasma dynamics. I've switched careers several times since,
> > but my relationship to computers remains the same. As a user, interested
> > not so much in the tool itself, but with what it can do.
> >
> > I first came across OFBiz a month ago whilst researching a client's
> > request for back-end integration with osCommerce. As someone who was
> > raised in a generation that really did believe that 2001 was going to be
> > like Stanley Kubrick said it was going to be, I can count on one hand
> > the number of times a piece of technology has had enough wow to stop me
> > dead in my tracks. OFBiz would be one!
> >
> >  From the outset it was clear that it was way too big a leap for any
> > client I know of to contemplate making. But the technology looked so
> > sweet I just had to find out more.
> >
> > The more I looked the more fascinated I became. Platform independent.
> > Modular. Scale-able. Open Source. Wow! What a magnificent tool this
> > could be! Why would anybody ever want to use anything else?
> >
> > This is a tool for running any kind of business you like. None of us can
> > survive without connection to some kind of business or other. This could
> > be monumental. The next big leap forward.
> >
> > I didn't expect installation to be easy, and it wasn't! But then again,
> > I've just installed XP on new PC and that wasn't all that easy either
> > (what version of Windows ever was?)
> >
> > I managed to get pilot installations of OFBiz (opentaps flavour) running
> > on Windows and Linux without too much trouble. But then again, I do have
> > some experience of this kind of thing. When it comes to setting up new
> > tools, I have several magnitudes more patience than anybody else I know.
> > Which means that if an application is going to be of any use to anybody
> > else apart from me, I have to hone usability down to the point it's a
> > no-brainer!
> >
> > So I'm running opentaps and slowly working my way through the various
> > manuals and documents trying to get a handle on what this thing can
> > really do.
> >
> > Pretty quickly I discover at least one glaringly obvious problem. So
> > obvious that if I demonstrated it to a client they would laugh me out of
> > the building in minutes.
> >
> > The problem itself is trivial. A simple matter of somebody sitting down
> > for a few days and writing the necessary code. But who is going to do
> > that? Not me surely? I have the Java textbook, but still haven't found
> > time to sit down and read more than the first couple of chapters.
> > Finding other people with the expertise and the time to do that would be
> > the key. Or at least that's what I thought at the time!
> >
> > So I go back to the web sites and start looking at the organisation and
> > the people rather than the code.
> >
> > Who could fix this problem? How much would it cost? Why hasn't it been
> > fixed already?
> >
> >  From the outset it's obvious that the Apache Incubator site is a
> > marvellous resource for engineers. But looking it from the user's POV -
> > as someone who wants to contact an engineer rather be one himself -
> > there isn't much I can get a handle on here.
> >
> > Opentaps, Opensource Strategies and Undersun look much more like what I
> > need. Clean. Crisp. Elegant designs. Engineering 'talkback' mixed down
> > low in the background. You don't have to be an engineer to understand
> > that, for enterprise-level installation, these guys look like the
> >
> > But enterprise-level means high-end, expensive! Corporate lawyers can
> > charge thousands an hour. Maybe these guys know they're worth more? I
> > have seen odd references to multi-million dollar installations. Sounds
> > par for that kind of course to me.
> >
> > So where does that leave the ordinary Joe?
> >
> > All businesses I personally deal with are small. 1 to 50 employees max.
> >
> > OFBiz looks like it should be scalable, could be of value to all of
> >
> > But how much value, and how much cost?
> >
> > If I was running the IT department at the White House I'd be inviting
> > the OFBiz guys in and showing MS the door. With the prospect of
> > high-end, high-value contracts in the pipeline, I guess these guys just
> > won't have time to even think about making this stuff accessible to the
> > average Joe in the street. Oh well. Better start lowering my sights and
> > start thinking about cobbling together some low-level XSLT plugins for
> > the existing kit rather than thinking about a complete revamp of the
> > whole machine.
> >
> > Then I discover Si's Jan 09/06 blog - exactly a year ago! - meditating
> > on exactly these issues.
> >
> > "If open source is to gain popularity and move "up the stack", however,
> > open source software will need other advocates in the enterprise.
> > Somebody else besides the IT department must also be able to convince
> > enterprise users that open source software is indeed a credible
> > solution. Whether that advocate ultimately is a consulting firm, a
> > distributor, or an ISV using open source software, we don't really know
> >
> > What we can be certain of is this: whoever makes open source a credible
> > in the enterprise would ultimately win the "Linux wars."
> >
> > Aha. Now then. That's interesting.
> >
> > So credibility on the enterprise level isn't such a done deal after all
> > then.
> >
> > So who could those advocates outside the IT department be? Is it the
> > consulting firm, the distributor, the ISV? Or is it all or none of the
> > above?
> >
> > Rereading Si's blog, I was struck by this:
> >
> > "Most buyers of commercial software don't actually verify that its
> > features are bug free or check out its support lines. Instead, their
> > "due diligence" consists of making sure that there are other users using
> > the software, including, most importantly, their golf buddies."
> >
> > How important an insight is that?
> >
> > So the key to credibility in the decision making process lies with those
> > who know absolutely nothing about the technicalities and most probably
> > care even less!
> >
> > Why else would IBM spend many millions advertising enterprise level
> > technology on prime time television? How many viewers are actually in
> > the market for Blade servers?
> >
> > I doubt anybody in IBM marketing believes they're spending that money to
> > advertise servers. They're spending it to make sure that not only the
> > average golf-buddy, but also his wife, kids, and grandmother all know
> > that IBM is a credible player. Because they know that's how the big
> > decisions are actually made. Emotionally, by people who are so far up on
> > the bridge of the ship, away from the engine room, that they probably
> > know less about the mechanics of it than their grandmothers!
> >
> > So making OFBiz emotionally accessible to the average Joe Soap's
> > grandmother could be the key to unlocking both enterprise level and
> > wider markets.
> >
> >  From an outsiders perspective, it seems that Si in particular has
> > already done a considerable amount of work in this direction. As someone
> > with formal financial rather than technical training, he is perhaps more
> > focused on markets than most. But Si is in no way representative of the
> > average user. His blog tells me his parents were postgrad programmers
> > who taught him everything they knew. Most programmers would give their
> > eye teeth for a  background like that! How many management wonks would
> > relish the idea of lifting up the bonnet everytime they wanted to start
> > their car? They chose their roles in life precisely to keep away from
> > that kind of thing. As indeed did Si when he chose a career in finance.
> >
> > The moral of this would be that what is accessible to Si or most other
> > users on this forum is not necessarily even slightly accessible to the
> > average businessperson on the street.
> >
> > If you wanted to maintain an elite group of cognoscenti who are in the
> > position to charge highly for their services then you may want to keep
> > it that way - or not as the case may be.
> >
> > I would argue that the code is so radical and so deep that some levels
> > will always remain expert only. Increasing accessibility to a wider user
> > group would not threaten that core and could only lead to a wider user
> > base and larger market share.
> >
> > OOTB, front-end, user accessibility to me means minimising any factors
> > which take time and attention away from getting on with the job the tool
> > was designed to do. From a purely user's POV, these are nothing more
> > than distractions, irritations and ultimately objections to buying into
> > the programme. Noise drowning out signals on the marketing channels if
> > you like.
> >
> > As in all user applications, a proportion of time spent tooling-up and a
> > level of unwanted noise is to be expected. But in the job-efficiency
> > equation, this is a drag component to be optimised out. In the
> > development of sleek, user-friendly implementations, a zero tolerance
> > policy on noise, friction and drag is the only way to go!
> >
> > To me, OOTB accessibility means exactly what it says on the tin: I don't

> > need a degree in anything to install or run it. It does everything it
> > said it would do. Is easy to maintain. Has cost exactly what they told
> > me it would. A brilliant tool for the job. Wouldn't even think of using
> > anything else.
> >
> > But creating something like that means taking at least some of the focus
> > away engineering a better mousetrap, to looking at the way it appears to
> > the average mouse. Is it easy for them to get to the cheese, or are
> > there still too many wires and cogs in the way? Closing a sale means
> > overcoming all the objections. Making offers people don't see any reason
> > to refuse.
> >
> > The marketing proposition from Undersun and Opensource Strategies looks
> > fine - if you're only interested in high end, enterprise-level
> >
> > The engineering proposition on Apache incubator looks fine - if you're
> > interested in being an engineer.
> >
> > But where is the low-end proposition for the average businessperson in
> > the street? Something his golf playing buddie's grandmother might
> > understand?
> >
> > It could be concluded that what I'm angling for here is a series of
> > television adverts.
> >
> > If I thought OFBiz had a couple of mill lying around spare then this
> > would certainly be the case. If it's good enough for IBM...
> >
> > But I doubt OFBiz is anywhere near that kind of position at the moment.
> >
> > I just kinda don't see any reason why it shouldn't be at some time in
> > the foreseeable future.
> >
> > But there would need to be a will to go in this direction and the
> > deliberate diversion of at least some of the time, creativity and
> > resources away from strictly engineering matters, into making the
> > application more accessible - acceptable - applicable, to a wider user
> >
> > That would mean opening up whatever channels of communication with the
> > wider public are available and boosting the signal well above the noise.
> >
> > Almost everybody has need of OFBiz. They just don't know it yet!
> >
> > Ian
> >
> --
> Kind Regards
> Andrew Sykes <andrew@sykesdevelopment.com>
> Sykes Development Ltd
> http://www.sykesdevelopment.com

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