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OFBiz Workshop Session at Apachecon EU 2015


Jacopo Capellato, Olivier Heintz, Hans Bakker, Pierre Smits, Nicolas Malin, Gil Portenseigne, Youssef Khaye, Nicolas Malin, Julien Nicolas, Nathan Boudou, Sharan Foga, Christian Geisert,


Corinthia Hotel, Budapest

Time: 10:30 - 13:00

Workshop Objectives

  • Retrospective of last year's meeting
  • Identification and disucussion of topics raised by attendees


The meeting started with a round table brainstorming of topics to be discussed. The following topics were raised:

  • Retrospecitve of the Apachecon workshop that had been held the year before and looking at what had and had not been achieved.
  • OFBiz Release Strategy
  • Minilang
  • OFBiz Framewoerk
  • Freemarker
  • OFBiz UX
  • OFBiz Business Demo
  • Automated Testing

Discussion Topic: Retrospective

There was a general discussion about all the topics raised during the previous Apachecon workshop in Budapest; Fourteen proposals came from that meeting:



1.Tidy up OFBiz Technical Framework or KernelIn ProgressSharan created diagrams based this proposal; The idea to start working has been raised several times on the mailing list but no work has yet been done of the proposal; Unsure of what is stopping progress on this
2.Define and implement a process to manage code that has been cleaned outNot Started 
3. Tidy or Clean Up OFBiz Business FrameworkNot Started 
4. Implement OFBiz Application DocumentationIn Progress

Sharan has asked for technical reviews of the Webhelp addon to see how this can be integrated into the trunk

Ron and Sharan are also currently doing a DITA proof of concept for some basic OFBiz application documentation to see how it could work; (if successful then proposals will be made to the community to look at introducing it)

5. Externqal Dependencies Refactoring  
6. Build a Project Roadmap / High Level Plan Sharan drafted some details LINK;
7. Ensure Business Success Stories are DocumentedIn ProgressWiki and mailing lists are currently being used to capture details; The new OFBiz website will probably consolidate this information a bit more for display etc
8. Marketing the OFBiz Demo to Business End UsersNot StartedThere have been several discussions on the mailing lists about this but no actual progress has been made. Julien's presentation on UX Design has highlighted some of the problems with the current user interface
9. Build a set of Common Core Marketing MaterialIn ProgressProgress on this has been slow but the French team have provided a template that could be used.
10. Housekeeping qnd Ongoing MaintenanceIn ProgressT to Sharan Foga from Jacques Le Roux (? (big grin))
11. Establish a group of mini subject matter experts covering business and technicalNot Started 
12. Work on a Strategy to encourage more business usersIn ProgressWebsite re-design and business based demo
13. Look at developing a full testing strategyNot Started 
14. Actively Manage OFBiz Branding and TrademarksIn ProgressQuite a bit of work has been done on this over the year. We have consolidated the OFBiz logo and removed 'the Open For Business Project' text. We are also in the process of registering Apache OFBiz and OFBiz as trademarks



  • Although some progress has been made the general feeling was that things happen at a slower pace because of the commnunity interaction and discussion that needs to take place
  • Some people are used to things being done quickly and may find this frustrating so we need to recognise this so that people do not become discouraged by the time it takes for things to get moving.
  • We need to continue to follow up proposals regularly

Discussion Topic: Freemarker

Jacopo mentioned that Freemarker is now an incubating project at Apache. Their main committer is based in Budapest and he arranged to meet him informally. Jacopo mentioned that the Freemarker team are keen to build up a user community around their project and as OFBiz makes use of Freemarker, it ,might be interesting to subscribe to their mailing lists to understand what is happening. He also highlighted that the Freemarker team are very interested in getting feedback about their produt and are happy to get any suggestions for improvements or notifications of bugs that need to be fixed;


  • This could be a good opportunity to build closer links between our communities that be very beneficial to both.
  • The Freemarker project is small so looking to build their community so anyone from OFBiz that has an interest in Freemarker would be welcome

Details of their mailing lists are as follows:

Discussion Topic: Framework

Several threads have been raised on the mailing list about the framework.There are different opinions about the state of the framework - some say it needs replacing whereas others say it just needs tidying up. Sharan mentioned that she had prepared some diagrams based on the previous years discussion but no-one had started to implement it. It wasnt clear whether people didnt implement it because they were unsure of consenus or they were waiting for the committers to begin or at least co-ordinate the work.

Jacopo highlighted that he thought the proposed diagrams of the framework re-organisation was a good idea and something that could be done easily that would give benefits. He said that the OFBiz Data Model was very stable and it is only rarely that any changes are needed. The OFBiz OOTB UI on the other hand was like a 'swiss army knife' trying to be everything to everyone which made it not very business user friendly. In some cases it was generic and in others quite specific. A lot of the screens work only for a specific flow so deviating from this can cause problems. There was also a 'mess of things' put together in one screen that perhaps needed to be separated better into a flow.

He thought that it is possible to provide 3 different 'products' from OFBiz;.

  • The existing releases as we have now
  • an OFBiz Framework + Data Model release for developers to build their own applications and UI;
  • The creation of a limited scope component with a nice flow and UI for Business Users (this could just be a hot deploy component that uses OFBiz existing functionality); It could be included as part of OFBiz by default;

After a brief disucussion this idea was very well supported. There was query as to whether the Framework + Data Model would (or could ) be a separate official release or whether it could be packaged as part of our existing release that could be easily separated.

Also the Business User component should be a very limited scope so that we can focus on showcasing what OFBiz can do using some standard or simple processes;


  • A key point from the discussion was that some work needed to start on the framework however small as it has been the subject of so many discussions that people were getting frustrated that no visible progress had been made.
  • Look at fixing the exisiting framework problems by internal re-factoring
  • Work towards delivering the "3" OFBiz products - OFBiz, OFBiz Framework + Data Model, OFBiz Business User Component (Limited Scope)

Discussion Topic: Migrating Minilang to Groovy

A topic was raised about migrating all the Minilang code into Groovy. Last year Jacopo presented Groovy as a DSL for OFBiz and this year Groovy became an Apache incubator project. There was a round table discussion about the pros and cons of trying to completely remove Minilang. It was acknowledged that some developers prefer it or are more comfortable using it while others prefer Groovy. With Groovy now an Apache project, it was thought that it would be good to make use of other Apache projects so both communities can interact with each other. Also in some cases the current Minilang code was fine and no benefit would really be gained by converting it

One suggestion was to set a deadline date and after this date only Groovy would be used. People thought this would be hard to implement and could put off people contributing if their preferred language was Minilang.

Another suggestion was to replace Minilang code as part of general ongoing patches and maintenance but still allow people to submit Minilang if it was their preferred DSL. In this way the Minilang code would be replaced gradually and the hope is that over time more people would change over to Groovy.

Nicolas, Gil and Julien volunteered to do a Groovy Weekend where they would go through converting Minilang to Groovy.


  • The main conclusion was that Groovy is the preferred DSL but we will not reject contributions just because they include Minilang code
  • We will start work on converting existing Minilang into Groovy

Discussion Topic: User Experience / Business User Demo

Julien's presentation highlighted some of the issues with OFBiz's current UI. It has been created by developers for developers and not for business users. Business users judge software by its look and feel; and not by its technical ability. It is also the business users that control the budgets for selecting ERP software. OFBiz is losing out to its competition because they look better but may not have the same depth of functionality or flexibility. Also we cannot rely on the technical people convincing their managers that OFBiz is the right choice.

The UX presentation suggested keeping the existing UI for developers but then creating a new one for business users. This theme ties in very well with the idea Jacopo mentioned in creating a component that would be the Business demo.

Hans mentioned that Stannah had developed a bootstrap backend theme that they would be willing to contribute back to the project with their logos removed. This could be a good start for the business user demo component.

The business demo would have a very limited scope e;g; simple shop; 2-3 users, 5 products (physical goods only), 1 currency, 1 company, 2 customers, 2 suppliers

Sharan mentioned EZBiz a project that David Jones looked at while ago around producing a simple version of OFBiz for small businesses. It was thought that this might push the scope to be more complex than we initially need for the Business Demo


  • Contact Stannah re their offer of their bootstrap theme
  • Draft High Level Requirements for Business Demo Scope (maybe looking at if anything can be reused from EZBiz....)

Discussion Topic: Release Strategy

Pierre raised a topic regarding the release strategy and the visibility it would give the community. Over the last few years since we changed the release naming we know that we will release one new branch per year (e.g 09.04, 10.04,11.04, etc) and also update releases for all our active branches. This means that we could plan our releases. We could put together a high level plan with an estimated month for each proposed release and then have the visibility about what could be included or not. Pierre wanted to see if it could manage our releases more efficiently meaning they could be available faster. This could help contributors and committers provide patches etc for specific releases.

Jacopo mentioned that the project tends to have 3 active releases ongoing. The life of each releases is 3-4 years.The project doesnt have to create new branch releases yearly but the discussion highlighted that regular releases shows that the project and community is active. Also the ASF use project releases as a measure of the healthiness of projects.

We currently have a details about tentative releases that are published on the OFBiz download page but it isnt getting actively updated when a proposed release date has been missed. Getting this updated regularly is a small thing that could really add value and give good visibility to the community;


  • Update existing provisional release page regularly

Discussion Topic: Automated Test

The topic around automated testing was discussed. Jacopo mentioned the idea of 'configuration by exception' which could be easier to implement and run. E.g the entitydef could be used for implicit naming.


? to Sharan FogaJacopo Cappellato from Jacques Le Roux "convention over configuration" is the same than "'configuration by exception", right?

Jacques Le Roux: yes they are the same!



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