The Open For Business Project released version 2.0.0 of its business automation tools, components, and applications on Monday the 20th of January 2003. This is the first stable release of the project and offers a new option for organizations of all types that have asked the question of Build vs. Buy. More information about Open For Business can be found on the web site at ofbiz.apache.org.
The vision of the Open For Business Project is to embrace and enable the 5 E's: Ease of Cost, Ease of Installation, Ease of Customization, Ease of Integration, and Ease of Use.
Organizations using OFBiz can shorten enterprise information project cycles by months through a well designed architecture and corresponding framework and through pre-built components and applications. The goal of the Open For Business project is to provide useful, standards compliant tools and applications. These standards will include: XML; J2EE; WfMC; BPML; ebXML; UNSPSC; GAAP & FASB; OMG's GL, Party, Workflow, etc; ArapXML; OAGIS; and many others.
The OFBiz Core Framework consists of the following tools: Entity Engine, Service Engine, Workflow Engine, Rule Engine, XML Mini-Languages, and a web application framework.
Applications and application components (including entities and services) in the project cover the following business areas: e-commerce, products, orders, parties, facilities, work efforts, content, marketing, accounting, human resources, and so forth.
The most mature and deployed application in the suite is the e-commerce application with functionality that measures up to the largest available commercial alternatives and many live sites, including the award-winning ReturnBuy.com site (see www.internetretailer.com/article.asp?id=8137).
Other OFBiz applications and components are stable and being used by various organizations and in various commercial products. More details are available on the website.
OFBiz has received great attention in the open source and IT communities. The project has been featured on SourceForge and release notices have appeared on FreshMeat.net, TheServerSide.com, and JavaLobby.org. The SourceForge project site shows around 100,000 downloads and 700,000 page views. Dozens of users of the project have contributed feedback, new ideas and even code and designs. Special thanks to the many users who have contributed to the project. Without user contributions the project could not be what it is today.
Question: What is the scope of the OFBiz applications, and how will vertical markets be targeted?
Answer: We realize that we cannot target all functionality that will be needed by all organizations, or even all markets or industries. Our goal for the applications and application components is to include as much generic functionality as possible. This will allow many medium and large size organizations to get something useful running quickly and make it possible to concentrate resources on organization specific customizations. Software companies will be able to affordably create products for narrowly targeted markets or industries and spend time and effort on the needs of that market or industry instead of all of the generic functionality and framework components that can be generalized among all users of the software.
Question: If there are no licensing fees or corporate backing for OFBiz, how is the development and support of the project financed?
Answer: The project is financed by providing for the needs of users of the project. This is done by offering services such as analysis, design, implementation, customization, training, mentoring, support and even prioritization of planned features. Much of the functionality in the project has been paid for by commercial adopters of the project and the rest has been contributed by generous developers from their own personal time. For more information on services offered, see the OFBiz.org Services Page.
Question: This seems like a pretty big project, how much of it is actually done, or rather how far along are the various components and applications?
Answer: At this point all of the framework components are very stable, and many of the applications are too. This is why we have chosen to do the 2.0.0 final release. From here on out releases will be done more incrementally as the current framework and applications are improved. The e-commerce and related applications such as the Party, Order, and Catalog managers are the most stable and mature. Following close behind is the Facility Manager which handles all aspects of warehouse and inventory management. The Work Effort Manager has many useful pieces in place, but there is still a lot of work to do there. Other applications such as Accounting and Content Management have only recently been started. The Data Model is very complete and mature. It has been reviewed and improved dozens of times and by many different people. It is cleaner in the areas where corresponding applications and components are implemented, but we have put a great deal of effort into making sure that there was a master plan for the data model that would not have to change much as applications are added or improved.