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Apache OFBiz User Stories

We implemented OFBiz in 2004 to replace our existing ASP site which we had outgrown. Since adopting OFBiz we have become the UK online market leader in supplying Christening gifts. OFBiz has provided us with a reliable and flexible e-commerce solution with enhanced customer functionality e.g. customer product reviews, gift selector, special offers and cross selling capabilities.

Our content management system is simple and effective allowing administrative staff to update content easily and rapidly on a daily basis. In addition the Customer Relationship Manager allows us to communicate effectively with our customers via email newsletters, the success of which can be measured from the management console.

Since adopting OFBiz for our e-commerce software solution we have seen our administrative costs reduced considerably; this coupled with our strong position in the major Search Engine results has ensured our business has grown from strength to strength and hopefully will continue to do so.


Dr James Wilson MD (jim@borngifted.co.uk)
www.borngifted.co.uk


 

I am amazed at what OFBiz can do now and what its promise for the future is.
We use OFBiz to tie our projects together with sophisticated task management designed for the amateur homebuilder (built on the WorkEffort module). In fact, our entire organization, from top to bottom, is run on OFBiz.
I wouldn't have it any other way.


Stephen Loosli (stephen@partnerhomes.com)
President, Partner Homes (www.partnerhomes.com)


 

We exploring OFBiz in 2003 and are now running our entire online retail business with OFBiz, from online and phone sales to inventory, purchasing, shipping, and accounting. We've found that OFBiz is an extremely advanced and flexible platform that is well-suited to the ever-changing needs of a growing company.
Just as importantly, we've found that there is a strong development community which is actively moving OFBiz forward, and becoming a part of this community has been critical to our success with OFBiz.

 

Si Chen (sichen@opensourcestrategies.com)
Co-Founder, Gracious Style (www.graciousstyle.com)
Founder and Principal, Open Source Strategies (www.opensourcestrategies.com)


 

See the Case Study from Integral Business Solutions about their projects based on OFBiz, especially recent work they have done for the US Air Force.
Here is a quote from the document:
"Integral started using OFBiz to develop a web-based Document Management System and has subsequently used it to deploy a number of automation solutions to the United States Air Force. This case study focuses on one of our recently deployed applications that went from prototype to production in six months. The primary enabler in deploying the application so quickly was OFBiz."

 

Download the complete document here.
Chris Chesney (cchesney@go-integral.com)
Chief Systems Architect, Integral Business Solutions (www.go-integral.com)


 

Codesquare Helix is a complete warehouse inventory and sales system. It takes the power of the OFBiz backend and adds a Java based desktop client interface. This provides an easily installable client that lets customers determine what aspects of OFBiz are made available to its operators. By making use of a chat client to traffic serialized inventory processing requests, Helix can support multiple client installations asynchronously.
The main aspects of the Helix client are management of warehouse items, locations, use of hand-held scanners, point of sale, and order fulfillment. The user interface can be highly customized for each type of business and allows the addition of a business logic layer that makes decisions before any information is sent to or retrieved from the OFBiz backend.
Codesquare Helix has also made use of the OFBiz web site capabilities to provide an online sales portal that is linked to the warehouse inventory. The web site content delivery system has been modified to provide greater support for stylesheets to improve customization of sites.
Finally, another application, Helix RNA, synchronizes the web site and warehouse systems to provide integrated order fulfillment capabilities. At specified intervals, it replicates the inventory and order data from the central OFBiz database and any satellite databases used to support Helix based web sites. This allows for truly scalable and distributed data management and delivery.


Jeremy Stanton (jeremy@codesquare.com)
Codesquare (www.codesquare.com)

 


 

We are a multi channel retail services business selling through stores across the United Kingdom and over the Internet. We have ambitions to extend this to television, mobile phones and gaming consoles in the future. We have been using OFBiz to provide key services for our business for some years with lots of success. We combine it with Postgres and run it on legacy hardware and have consistently had very high availability from the earliest days.
We originally started working with OFBiz because it provided us with the full e commerce services that we needed at the time. Since then, as extra functionality has been added, we have incorporated it into our enterprise as fast as possible. We are still doing this and try to keep up to date with stable releases for our live system. We have some in house technical support but have made regular use of the services available (both for free and at a cost) within the OFBiz community. We contributed both documentation and some of the localisation for the United Kingdom. This has been built on by others in the community.
We also run the OFBiz.co.uk community group although this is not too active at the moment. Our technical efforts tend to be concentrated in bursts as we are dedicate a time period to the business. Besides our own implementation we have managed two other company implementations which are currently live. We are strong in project management and business analysis with experience within financial services, telecommunications, retail and channel management. We are constantly looking for partners with whom to deliver new and interesting projects.


Ian Gilbert (ian@ethicalshopper.co.uk)
Ethicalshopper (www.ethicalshopper.co.uk)

 


 

Powerful, flexible, and free...what more could a developer ask for? When I began work on sharing information between retail Point of Sale systems and online stores, my client had already selected a commercial shopping cart. We quickly dropped it and went with OFBiz because it was much easier to import and export data, and access to the actual code made making modifications a breeze.
For our first OFBiz project, we uploaded over 4000 products from a POS system. We added 4 variants to each product for a total of over 8000 products. The category structures and keyword search allow users to quickly find the products they are looking for.
www.SignatureNutrition.com was our second OFBiz project. We uploaded over 700 products from a POS system with products having multiple price values such as MSRP, default price, and sales price. Through the backend administration tools we were able to easily add promotions and dynamic pricing. We also added complex shipping calculations that start at a base rate and shift to a percentage of the order total, with free shipping if the order total is over $200.
I find it a little ironic that the support I've received for OFBiz is usually better than support for commercial products. Co-founders David Jones and Andy Zeneski respond quickly to most messages posted on the project mailing list, and they actually know their product (unlike many helpdesk agents I've been stuck on the phone with). I love that the project is based on Best Practices data models and programming patterns. I have worked with several different eCommerce systems, including IBM's net.commerce, and I believe OFBiz is right up there with the best of them.

 

Live site: First Endurance
Sterling Okura (info@nowpulse.com)
President, NowPulse (www.nowpulse.com)


 

I like to take a little credit for OFBiz. The project had its beginnings in a company that I founded a couple of years ago. We really had no idea about the direction we wanted to go until we hired David Jones as our chief software architect. He took care of us then and he continues to take care of us now. Unfortunately, our little startup had the same problem as many others - it didn't last. We have all moved on to other things.
One thing remains constant however - we are all using OFBiz in our new pursuits.
David and his team have taken those snippets of code and built a sophisticated project that can run just about any business. I am amazed at what OFBiz can do now and what its promise for the future is.
My company, Partner Homes, builds houses with the direct involvement of our customer in a homebuilding role. Many of our clients have no experience in building homes - we"re training them the whole way. We use OFBiz to tie our projects together with sophisticated task management designed for the amateur homebuilder (built on the WorkEffort module). In fact, our entire organization, from top to bottom, is run on OFBiz.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

 

Live site: Partner Homes
Stephen Loosli (stephen@partnerhomes.com)
President, Partner Homes (www.partnerhomes.com)


 

We first started using OFBiz for a music retail and wholesale site combined and was so impressed with it that we decided to build a hosting and service company based around the OFBiz platform. It's ease of customizations, development and design were just some of the key factors that lead us to working with OFBiz. The ability to offer our accounts a feature rich eBusiness suite out of the box is making us look like heroes to our small and mid size business customers.

Most of our accounts had the need and desire for sophisticated eBusiness applications, but just could not justify the cost of other business suites. They were very receptive to the OFBiz value and were excited to have eBusiness tools to offer their customers and sales staff.

We highly recommend web developers and web designers that have cost conscience customers to develop OFBiz sites. The future looks very exciting.


Robert Stewart (rhs@angleparktech.com)
President


 

I (we) are currently using at least the Entity Engine portion of OFBiz in a production application. I have planned to evaluate/include other portions of the project as soon as I have the time to do so. My company, Vision Information Services, is in the supply chain management, Vendor managed Inventory, and Retail systems management. Unfortunately, all of our current web sites that utilize OFBiz are not public. The public site is not written in Java and is very old (not too exciting). If anyone is looking for supply chain/retail solutions though, feel free to contact us! Our customers range from large home entertainment suppliers to large retailers.

We really appreciate everything that you've put into the OFBiz package, and hopefully as we get more familiar we will be able to make some valuable contributions to the project.


Tim Kosacek (tkosacek at domain visioninfo.com)
Software Architect, Vision Information Services (www.visioninfo.com)


 

I have noticed that the deployed shopping cart has needed minimal upkeep from us.
It has been argued that OFBiz is "too much framework for what we need", but one of the greatest benefits that I have seen is that when multiple modules are using the same framework and data model, a common vocabulary develops. I can go and ask about a module I have no experience with, and as soon as they start talking about "work efforts" and "contact methods", I immediately understand 90% of what they are doing. They don't have to spend time developing/explaining their data schemas. I believe that it has saved us time already, and that it will save us more time as projects mature and new projects deploy.
One of our key marketing points is our ability to quickly "brand" a product with a new customers look and feel and then deploy it fairly quickly. The OFBiz framework has much of this ability already built in.
We could have developed the things that OFBiz offers, but if a tool exists, why build the tool from scratch? We have been able to concentrate on new features rather than concentrate on whether or not the controller we just built is working correctly.
Deployed Shopping Cart (in use since Q1 2002) - $60 Million Company
Deployed Shopping Cart and User Tools - $40 Million Company

 

Live site: Discovery Toys
Ken Fultz (ken.fultz@icentris.com)
Vice-President of Information Technology, iCentris, Inc (www.icentris.com)


 

I am working for a service company called Telaside, just created (www.telaside.com).

I started studying and using OFBiz 3 months ago, while building a proposal for an e-commerce site here in France (budget between 250 000 - 350 000€). Our answer was a mix between OFBiz for the e-commerce 'plumbing' and an opensource content management solution for the visual front office parts. The customer was a big company, we were short listed, but they preferred a 100% Microsoft/.NET solution.

Nevertheless, I was convinced enough of the huge OFBiz potential that we built another proposal, for a customer selling on-line lessons mainly to people who would like to learn about arts, food, wine and so on. The budget is quite different, the global envelope is about 15000 Euros. We won the deal, so I started developing on the OFBiz platform.

So a first point I would like to emphasize is that whatever big is the targeted site, OFBiz can be an answer.

How have I overcome the obstacles and supported the important things for my organization?

  • The site I am developing www.labelleecole.fr is a mix and match of the principles found in OFBiz, so I did not have to change a lot of things. The big difference is mainly that a product is a lesson, and there is a schedule attached to it. I am linking a product to a fixed asset (already existing) but modified a couple of things here and there in order to be as close to my needs as I can. For example I've modified the order cancellation process in order to decrement the seats occupation in the fixed asset calendar, the checkAvailability() of the ShoppingCart not to compare with now() but with the fromDate of the fixedassetproduct, otherwise my future lessons are never available (the same apply for the createOrder() dates filtering), the filterByDate method of the EntityUtil class to include the given date instead of using only after or before, for the same reason...etc.
  • One important thing that I know now is to always look at what has been done in the code before trying to do it from scratch. Often, somewhere, there is a bsh file, a service, a static method or something else probably waiting to be called and that will do nearly what I am looking for. And if it does not, then a combination of elements will probably answer my question. 'Study a lot, code a little' is in one of the docs. I totally agree with that!
  • Also, the fact that I was involved with Si in the entity test engine suite helped me a lot discovering the entity engine features. Need less to say that it was a great help. So helping the community helps you also. That is a very important point I think.
  • The book 'The Data Model Resource Book' is also a must have, in order to understand the data model.
  • There is quite a learning curve, that is sure. But the efforts really worth it. There is so much to win using all those technologies.
  • This community model is really interesting. It's very pleasant to work and share with people all around the world.

 

Manuel Meyer (Manuel Meyer)
Telaside (www.telaside.com)


 

Businessesnetwork.com developed a SAS service between Suppliers and Users.
It was based on MS SQL and Access ADP.
The MS SQL was very procedure oriented to perform task that fetched data, imported data, and allow user to format and export data to their Stores.
In 2000 I started looking for solution that freed me from Microsoft but was powerful enough to accomplish my goals.
I selected Java as the language and started doing OO programming.
In 2001 I ran across OFBiz and liked the design. At that time it was not really what I wanted but kept my eyes on its development.
I evaluated many other java-based systems over the next few years. I kept coming back to OFBiz.
With the release of version 2.0 I finally had something to sink my teeth into and became serious on using OFBiz as my framework.
I admit the Ecommerce side was my attraction since I have 5 domains.
The Main attraction was that I could define data (entitities) and have the database taken care of as well the UI. As well the UI was web based, which meant it was usable across all the platforms that had a browser, and I did not have to worry of upgrades of platform to break my system.
So I set about converting my MS-SQL/Access apps to OFBiz., and putting them on linux based servers with Postgresql db's. I created a swing UI that read the OFBiz WebPages and converted them to a swing presentation. The Swing UI has a parser that takes care of communications between OFBiz and the Swing app This way they did not have much learning curve from the ADP User Interface they were use to and the New UI.
I am currently running 5 OFBiz systems. One handles my 5 domains, one handles the Services I had On MS-SQL/access ADP clients, and a few handle my Online Game.

OFBiz handles each situation well.


BJ Freeman (bjfree@businessesnetwork.com)
www.businessesnetwork.com


 

Just a note to let you know that we recently released an eCommerce site. Check out www.purityproducts.com.

Launched a couple of weeks ago, to very little fanfare, this is a complete replacement of an existing site, with no upgrades to the UI or basic eCommerce structure. A straight conversion to OFBiz as a platform change to allow for future changes, enhancements and growth.

This is on the back of a very successful ERP release last year for the same customer, our first OFBiz implementation. Challenging, to say the least, but very successful in terms of laying the same platform for the back-end processes, with a specific focus on a very intense and customized CSR layer.

Of interest to some, particularly given recent posts about community-driven OFBiz and various discussions about the lack of process and documentation I thought I'd share our experience of using OFBiz during the last 2 years. First a little background on Salmon LLC that I think is relevant:

Our background:

  • we have released open-source framework software in the past
  • we have developed many custom J2EE solutions
  • we have adopted other ERP solutions prior to OFBiz (Compiere / Adempiere - before bailing because it was not really open-source)
  • we have adopted other packaged solutions in other business areas
  • we're a technical company, with business savvy
  • we can figure stuff out

OFBiz, the good:

  • nice architecture, we were generally impressed with the service based approach
  • the services work. For us, OFBiz is a starting point, the services are available and they work!
  • the community support is amazing; the commitment of everyone monitoring this thread and providing responses is commendable

OFBiz, the not so good:

  • UI ootb: not the best. BUT, we understand the objective (framework) and we understand the ERP domain to realize that OFBiz is a starting point; and a pretty good one
  • architecture: next level of concepts was harder to grasp, as you dig more into the code the more confusing it can get; the lack of good coding standards can make it very confusing as to what exactly is the best practice (particularly when looking at "older" code)
  • the devil is in the details, and there are a lot of them; be prepared to make mistakes, having to figure stuff out for yourself, lots of trial and error
  • community support: when it gets a little tricky it's much more difficult to explain the issue and get a good community response. Perfectly understandable but this is where the risk comes into play . We spent countless hours on some very tricky payment processing issues (credit, card, returns, refunds) and inventory processing
  • what a pity that the documentation cannot encapsulate all the knowledge from the user-group. Yes, I know we can search through email postings. Yes, I know that the documentation is improving. But there are still problems in this area, perhaps I can share one specific example:

One specific example:

  • Product A is put with product B in order to offer product C
  • Product A and B may (or may not) have inventory associated
  • When assembled into C, this can also carry inventory
  • When the item is returned, it may be put back into inventory as product C, OR may be disassembled into products A and B
  • Fairly straight forward and not uncommon, and I'm sure that OFBiz can handle this but we couldn't find ANY document that would clearly explain product configuration and it's impact on other areas of the ERP solution
  • I remember being amazed that a thorough product configuration guide was not available that would explain all the product attributes and a high level description of the impact throughout OFBiz. What's more important is that if you guess wrong then you can cause all sorts of problems
  • BTW: since this was a while ago I did review the current documentation, the only item I saw that described setting up a product was the "Business Setup Guide (for users)", the content for Product Setup is pasted below. The best looking resource is I understand that there may be more documentation available that is more appropriate . BUT, if I'm new to OFBiz and cannot find something decent after a few minutes then I'll move on very quickly

So, where are we now? Well, I think we can safely say that we are OFBiz adopters, it took much sweat and tears to get to where we are now but I consider my team to be well versed, near expert, with ERP and eCommerce implementations using OFBiz. I'm very comfortable offering this service to our clients, and very comfortable with our ability to deliver scalable ERP and eCommerce solutions.

HOWEVER, our first implementation was very stressful. And in hindsight, very risky. Remember that ERP solutions are "bet your business" propositions . We cannot make mistakes. If we do, we jeopardize our business and the business of our clients. In our first implementation we are processing 5000 orders per day. For the first 3-4 weeks of go-live the background jobs were taking more than 24 hours to run (build orders from a recurring order list, process orders for fulfillment, manage incoming inventory, process credit card transactions, PLUS any new orders for that day). Saturdays and Sundays were used to make-up the time while we figured out solutions! As you can imagine we had a very stressful time working with our client, tuning our processes and working with our client to keep OFBiz as the ERP solution. I'm happy to report that everything is perfectly fine now, but this is not the way we like to do business.

I consider my team to be extremely committed, technically excellent and business savvy. I wonder how small companies or small integrators adopt OFBiz without these resources?

Conclusion:

  • As I re-read my comments and gather my thoughts it basically boils down to documentation
  • We did not have the luxury of being able to hire a certified "guru" to help out (we did have David Jones spend a week with us initially and used a couple of committers for specific tasks) but there is generally no "corporate" option to ensure success
  • Best practices / coding techniques etc are exposed because of the open-source nature of OFBiz; it's probably better written than other proprietary software; this is not an essential issue
  • So everything hinges on community support. Lots of it is required for early adopters and we see these postings every day. For folks that have moved into more complex areas (like we were 12 months ago), the community support is not enough-the issues are too complex
  • As an open-source project, without formal corporate backing, the key is documentation, not just technical. And I suspect that we need more than Oracle and SAP because of the community nature of the project


Nick Rosser (nrosser@salmonllc.com)
Salmon LLC


 

Most of our accounts had the need and desire for sophisticated eBusiness applications, but just could not justify the cost of other business suites. They were very receptive to the OFBiz value and were excited to have eBusiness tools to offer their customers and sales staff.

We highly recommend web developers and web designers that have cost conscience customers to develop OFBiz sites. The future looks very exciting.


Vincey "Kanip" Hall CEO, ie08.com


 

OFBiz Content Manager Rocks

I recently implemented OFBiz using pieces of its vast framework to build a site for a major Research Funder. Major modules used in my implementation are: Content, Project (and WorkEffort by implication). The response has been great. Working with the Content module has been challenging but rewarding. I love this framework and the freedom it gives me to customise on a solid, elegant framework.


Gavin Mabie (gavin.mabie@urbannex.co.za)
Emerging Researchers Network



I was hired to add inventory control for a POS written in Ruby. The decision to use OFBiz was made prior to my coming on board, but nothing was done except for the ruby calling add product and physical inventory control services. When a food ingredient is added in the POS it would add a product to OFBiz, and when it was sold it would use physical inventory control to remove it. I was asked to implement purchase order and receiving as well as to modify the physical inventory adjustment screen. The first few weeks were spent doing any tutorials I could find online and reading up on how to get a environment. Once I got used to using OFBiz it made a great deal of sense, so take the time to learn the components available and the structure of the directories. I found a great deal of documentation available. The Wiki has a great tutorial, and some good examples. Google will give you what is available online and the mailing list is also invaluable resource. I also decided to purchase all available books. There are some good ones from lulu press and Pact. I especially found the developers guide handbook and the accounting book helpful. I decided to use the MRP module to look at minimum quantity to make requirements based on quantity on hand. These can then be made into purchase orders and received. I was able to understand the technologies in use fairly quickly. The best way is to learn the components and what screens are available. You can view the source of the screen which will let you know what in OFBiz is providing the screen. you go to the components folder and find the controller.xml. This tells you what screens are being used. You can find the screens.xml in the component and it will set the data up for use in the action area and call the screen parts. Some are in forms.xml (widgets) and some are FTL. The data is usually made available using either an entity call in action or a call to groovy, some use a service. I used grep to find where these items lived. I created a hot-deploy project to house my version. In this way when I moved from 12.04 to 13.07 it was easier than if I had modified the original code in the component folders. Using my hot-deploy I would copy the controller.xml for the screens I needed to modify. I did screens parts from MRP (the generate requirements button), the requirements, purchase order, receiving. and a few others like shipping and company address and add supplier. I also did inventory control. OFBiz screens after a few months made great sense but my boss wanted very simple screens, so I removed much of the detail and made very simple screens. I was able to convert the unit of measure when going from a requirement to a purchase order, and back again when I received, so purchase order had supplier quantity. Not only is it fairly easy to modify the existing components, OFBiz gives a robust platform for building your own applications. I was able to write an EDI module and integrate to the purchase order screens. I was able to create a easy to use front end. I used groovy and FTL, but there are many tools that make it easy. OFBiz has a component called webtools (i used interactive entity alot and xml import and export) that makes it clear what is OFBiz expecting giving you the names of the entity and the fields in a format used by the Database (I used postgres) and what to use in groovy or xml, or java.

 My experience was very positive. I highly recommend OFBiz. I finished my project in 6 months working solo. My only advice is to spend the money for the books. I waited till about the second month and it would of been a big time saver to have read them first. Be careful on modifications especially if you move stuff to your hot-deploy. Some of OFBiz functionality is through what is call SECA and this is like a trigger reacting to actions taken. Just be sure you move those as well. It is extremely logical in its layout. The entity engine is very easy to understand and use for your own tables. There is a data folder in each component that had two forms of data. Demo which I recommend you set this up in a non development place. I was using a windows host and Ubuntu for my dev, so I did a demo version on my windows box so I could reference their examples. there is a OFBiz-component.xml file that lays out what is where for that component and you can use that to add additional demo or seed data. I used seed to create my initial admin user, and initialize stuff like accounts used, and suppliers, and my edi configuration. There are some important folders like servicedef and entitydef. These details what OFBiz expects and where. Some times you do not see a path in controller.xml and the servicedef folder will detail that. It can be tricky as sometimes the services are call from one component but live in a different component and this help clear it up. I found great support available through the mailing list in 2014. Use google and mailing list and  most of grep OFBiz itself and you will never not figure out how to accomplish your goals quickly and easily. I loved my experience in this very cool robust platform.


Joel Fradkin (joelfradkin@gmail.com)



We have been working with OFBiz for 2.5 years and plan to rollout OFBiz to 5 companies across 8 countries and a total of 1800 users.

 

So far we have completed 1 company which comprises of these applications:

  • Telecentre System and lead management
  • Sales Orders
  • Invoicing
  • Product configurators
  • CRM
  • Human Resource
  • Purchase Orders
  • Stock Management
  • Hand Held

 

All of the above applications have taken the OFBiz components as a starting point and then we have extended and added our own customisations (some quite heavily) to get OFBiz working how we want it to.

Going forward we are looking to introduce:

  • Service Management, this will allow us to make planned warranty visits and breakdowns. We have a network of 11 branches around the UK and 250 service engineers out on the road.
  • MRP – We manufacture in 2 different countries
  • Installation Scheduling – We install our products and need a way to optimise our installations team.
  • We are also continuing to make changes to the current live OFBiz components, as we remove more of our legacy systems.

 

Most of the above will be introduced into the remaining 4 companies and we feel confident that each company/country will be quicker than the previous as our code base builds up.

My view on OFBiz is that it’s a great product once you have taken time to really understand it and it's probably this that is the biggest barrier for companies taking it up. When we first started looking at OFBiz almost everyone outside of IT was against it, we had to do numerous presentation and explanation as to why we should go with OFBiz as opposed to going with a product like SAP.  Now we have got it working for one company and people can see the benefits,  we are now being asked to delivery it into the business faster(Now our presentations are setting expectation on when it will be delivered)

Anyone wanting to introduce OFBiz, should be prepared for the difficulties at the beginning of the project but I am sure by the end of the project they will be more than please they chose OFBiz.

Just like to thank all the committers and contributors who have worked on producing a great product.

Simon Maskell (Simon.Maskell@Stannah.co.uk)

Stannah



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