XTuple Releases 'hybrid' Open-source ERP

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XTuple has released the 3.0 version of its ERP (enterprise resource planning) application, with new features including a screen-builder tool for designing dashboards and a product configurator for processing custom orders.

Other improvements include better internationalization, JavaScript support for additional customization, and the ability to define user roles and groups.

The company, formerly known as OpenMFG, is often referred to as open source but, in fact, employs a hybrid approach. Its entry-level PostBooks product is released under the Common Public Attribution License. Meanwhile, its mid-level standard edition and flagship OpenMFG product are commercially licensed but allow users access to the source code. However, any improvements made must go back to xTuple for review and possible inclusion in the main code base.

Pricing for OpenMFG begins at US$1,000 per user per year and drops from there, depending on the number of users.

Other open-source ERP vendors include OpenBravo and Compiere.

Frank Scavo, president of IT research firm Computer Economics, said he sees two types of buyers for applications like xTuple.

One is the "cheap tinkerer," typically found in very small businesses, "where they don't want to spend any money and have one or two techies on their staff that like to play with stuff," said Scavo, who also writes the Enterprise System Spectator blog. "That's one extreme and not a serious market to build a business case around."

The second segment consists of companies that know they're going to have to add a lot of business-specific enhancements for their ERP and can use xTuple as a starting point, he said: "Those organizations can get a lot of value from the data model and processing that's already in place."

XTuple has about 100 paying customers, and its software has been downloaded roughly 150,000 times, said CEO Ned Lilly. Its users are "all over the place in terms of market focus" and include many niche manufacturers, he said.

One of them is Admotec, a Lebanon, New Hampshire, maker of magnetic encoders. The company is in its third year of using xTuple and has found it well-suited for its needs, according to Mark Lindberg, director of operations.

"I've used other [ERP] packages that just don't get the manufacturing side right," Lindberg said. "There are all the bells and whistles on accounting side, but they don't get the manufacturing."

Meanwhile, the general ledger function in xTuple is "not real fancy" but has never been problematic, he said.

Lindberg's shop is using the 3.0 version, but he could not speak to new features, such as the screen builder.

"I haven't had the time to play around with it," he said. "At some point, I'll go in and see if it makes a big difference."

Lindberg said he looks forward to trying the product configurator, because the shop frequently does custom work.

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