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GNUe Traffic #85 For 14�Jun�2003

Editor: Peter Sullivan

By Peter Sullivan

For when a LAN party just isn't geeky enough - "cvs party my house $2 cover charge... sorry its free speech not free beer ;)"

Table Of Contents


This covers the three main mailing lists for the GNU Enterprise project, plus the #gnuenterprise IRC channel.

1. Double Chocco Latte and Debian packages

5�Jun�2003�Archive Link: "[IRC] 05 Jun 2003"

Summary By Peter Sullivan

Topics: DCL

People: Derek Neighbors,�Jeff Bailey

Derek Neighbors (derek) asked Jeff Bailey (jbailey) "think you can .debianize the latest dcl release?" He was still planning, long-term, to convert DCL to "a GNU Enterprise tool" . Alternatively, he suggested Jeff might like to help "me understand packaging enough to take it over so you arent wasting time maintaining something you are not directly involved with" . Jeff said that if "You can't upload it, so there's no point in you maintaining it. The ideal is that you should find a DD that cares about DCL." Derek said he was keen to become a Debian developer, and felt that maintaining DCL would be a good place to start. Jeff said that there were three steps to becoming a Debian developer - "1) Get your GPG key signed by a DD - 2) Read the packaging and policy manuals. - 3) Find a sponsor. I can do #3 if you have #1 and #2 done." . He noted that "The DCL packaging is annoying because it's a PHP app. What's the time frame for turning it into a real app" based on the GNUe Tools?

2. Workflow and GNUe

8�Jun�2003�Archive Link: "[IRC] 08 Jun 2003"

Summary By Peter Sullivan

Topics: Workflow

People: Charles Rouzer,�D Smith,�Derek Neighbors

Charles Rouzer (Mr_You) asked "anyone have any thoughts on how workflow is expected to be done in gnuenterprise?" - "Documents can TimeOut, be Rejected, Acknowledged, Auto Routed" and so on. D Smith (dsmith) noted "At the last place I worked" he "was trying to get time sheets automated" - "One big big issue is that the customer has to sign the sheet. We were thinking about ways to let the customer approve the sheet with a web based form. But then there are security issues. Cutsomers looking at other customers projects, etc. With a piece of paper, you can wave it under his nose and he will sign it, but try an get them to go to a web page with tricky authentication." Charles said "I'd like to get something started in GNUe so that my app is somewhat GNUe compatible. right now, I'm thinking the workflow engine would run in cron to automate/timeout/etc." One solution for this scenario "could be the user receives an email with a url to the document he must "sign".. no authentication really needed" as "of course the url to that document would contain a "random key" to make it a little more secure." D Smith felt that "The whole "customer calls; trouble ticket generated; worker logs time; time approved; bill generated" sequence ought to be fairly common. Any service industry." .

Derek Neighbors (derek) said he had "spoken ad nausem about" workflow previously - unlike others, he did not see it as "just another part of appserver" . Charles said he would like any work he was doing for himself to form the basis of (or, at least, be compatible with) whatever GNUe was doing on workflow - "I guess I'll submit some proposals and get ya'lls input then" . Derek said "the key pieces i see as being necessary for success - 1. highly flexible (non programmer) way to define flow - 2. multiple transport mechanism - for part 1 i think of xml based rule flow" , similar to the existing GNUe Forms Definitions (*.gfd) and GNUe Schema Definitions (*.gsd). "for part 2 i mean just like we are UI and Database agnostic, so too should we be 'notification' agnostic - i.e. we should support web, email, jabber etc etc etc. i had diagrams and docs somewhere - but its been a while" . He noted that GNUe Common "already has rpc communication necessary for 'notifications'" and "has strong xml parsing engines" .

D Smith said he was "thinking email, pdas, text messaging phones, and pagers" as possible notification methods. Derek said he was "thinking jabber would be interesting and have jabber embedded into GNU Enterprise framework (optionally) - so when you login to a GNU Enterprise application you have a little 'message' status bar" D Smith noted there were "sms and smtp trasports for jabber. Intresting." Derek said "i suspect we will support all of those things - i.e. even within a company someone may like IM more than e-Mail - or prefer both. i know most 'approval' things i would want email - as IM or a page is reserved for 'important' things" .

3. Developing applications using the GNUe Tools

9�Jun�2003�Archive Link: "[IRC] 09 Jun 2003"

Summary By Peter Sullivan

Topics: Forms

People: Dmitry Sorokin,�Christian Selig,�ra3vat

Dmitry Sorokin (ra3vat) said there were other people "using my forms under windows - so it is not just my tests" , but "there are no completed gnue-based ERP applications currently" . Christian Selig (lupo) pointed out "you forgot project papo - which is complete, but it is available in spanish only :( - it was written only with argentina in mind - but i heard something about papo people targeting whole south america in the long run" . GNUe allowed you to "develop data-driven applications quite rapidly" . Any programming needed to be done in python, but Christian had found this quite easy to learn - "it's more like javascript "done right"" . In any case, "usually, 98% of a gnue based application is written in XML - you don't "program" an app, you describe it" .

For people looking for an existing free software ERP, "nola is a web-based free ERP from noguska. development has stopped and some other group took it over." Where an application was "mainly about displaying and maintaining data" without "a lot of computations" , writing it in GNUe could be very quick - it would probably take longer to set the database up than to write the form definitions for GNUe Forms!

4. Writing plug-ins for Navigator

10�Jun�2003�Archive Link: "[IRC] 10 Jun 2003"

Summary By Peter Sullivan

Topics: Navigator

People: Derek Neighbors,�Christian Selig,�Jason Cater

Derek Neighbors (revDeke) admitted he had been dubious about Navigator at first "and really thought we needed extendable menu structures in the forms API" but, having seen how other ERP packages worked, "i think navigator is more the way to go" . Christian Selig (lupo) said "without a basic RBAC" (Role Based Access Control - the ability to set which users can see/use which menu options) "it is not usable for me" . Jason Cater (jcater) conceeded that "the original navigator was(is) clunky - navigator certainly isn't in its final form" . Derek suggested "maybe if you could dock it to the main form or have the forms open w/in navigator in an MDI type function - i think it will be HIGHLY usable - as of now its still usable" . Jason said "as with all things I see this as pluggable - I want an MDI-like interface that you describe (perhaps that will even become the default .. .I dunno) but the beauty of the .gpd -like definition" was that people could write their own Navigator client or Navigator plug-in to present the contents of the GNUe Process Definition (*.gpd) file any way they wanted to.

Christian asked "what do you think about "tabbed browsing" for forms within navigator?" Derek preferred trees, as he felt they were more intuitive for business people. Derek noted that both SAP and Peoplesoft had a menu system where end-users could build their own menu from the choices available - "i.e. its almost like a 'favorites'" . He would try something similar in the GNUe Small Business application he was developing.

5. Co-operation/merger between GNUe Small Business and Arias

11�Jun�2003�Archive Link: "[IRC] 11 Jun 2003"

Summary By Peter Sullivan

Topics: Financials (Accounting), Small Business

People: Derek Neighbors,�Chan Min Wai,�Josh Flechtner,�Jason Cater

Further to Issue�#84, Section�#5� (1�Jun�2003:�Arias, fork of NOLA) , Derek Neighbors (derek) said he "is hoping to slurp ARIAS" , the free software project based on NOLA, "and compare it to acclite" , GNUe's own version of the NOLA code tree. "with any luck i can run patches against acclite - hen beg you guys to kill ARIAS cvs and use Acclite instead - /me garners his evil laughter" . Later, he concluded it would not be as simple as that - "not impossible just will be time consuming" . Chan Min Wai (dcmwai) said "I've modified arias a lot .... really alot...." but noted that much of this was related to adding "Languages translation Modification" - ignoring these, "I think that the differenr will be alot more smaller."

Later, as the arias developers gathered on the channel, Derek said that the main issues for him with respect to co-operation were "item 1 for me is are you willing to assign copyright to FSF on all future works? item 2 is are you willing to break all NOLA compatiablity and dependencies" Josh Flechtner (jafgon) was fine on the first point, but more worried about the second - "i am willing to break for a better solution but not just for the sake of breaking " . Chan felt that breakage was not an issue, as long as there was an upgrade path. Derek said GNUe could help with this. He felt that incompatible changes were inevitable as "their inventory, invoicing etc is WAY too print shop specific" , reflecting the needs of Nogasaku, the original authors of NOLA, who wrote it as a GPL (free software) accounting package to sit alongside their proprietary print shop management software - however, "the HR and Base Accounting (ledgers) we might be able to not gut too severely" .

Derek emphasised that GNUe had a very broad vision - it was intended eventually to be a free replacement for full ERP systems like SAP and Peoplesoft, rather than a Quickbooks or Peachtree replacement. Having said that, the GNUe Small Business sub-project had a less ambitious focus - "i see gnue-sb as being a 2-tier small/medium enterprise base package - so you would get basic invoicing that works 80% of your needs - then a non programmer can modify forms/tables as necessary to meet the other 20% for the vertical industry you are in" - "we want something quickly - not something perfect - gnue proper (the official gnue ERP packages) are available for those wishing to over design a system - gnue-sb belongs to get something out to meet basic needs" .

Derek said he had gone off the idea of "porting all arias changes back into acclite" - assuming that the changes from NOLA to acclite had not taken too long, it would probably be easier to do this the other way around and apply the acclite changes to arias, "then check into gnue-sb cvs or some fresh cvs" . Jason Cater (jcater) said "I think I spent a saturday night on the restructuring" - both the directory cleanup and adding postgreSQL support - "so it's probably not a big deal to do it again if need be" . Josh said he would still keep the sourceforge page for arias up, and would answer any "SOS" support e-mails, but would focus his main effort on a joint gnue-sb/arias venture. Derek agreed - "i suspect it will take a little time to get gnue-sb up and usable so ARIAS still is an option until that time (another reason not to cut it off)" .

They discussed the practical steps involved in merging the code base - Derek said the priorities were to "get dir structure over" and "get schema converted to gnue schema format" . After that, the priorities, in whatever order people felt was urgent, were to fold in the existing Product and Contact support from GNUe Small Business, and adding the accounting functionality that Jason had requested. Josh and Chan discussed whether there were any urgent fixes they needed to apply to the arias code before the merge.

Sharon And Joy

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