As many of you know already, our company Libertus Solutions does quite a lot of work with the open source CRM called vtiger. It’s a very competent and accomplished product made even more so by its well thought out extension capabilities.
In this post I’m really pleased to announce our first open source vtlib module for vtiger called GeoTools.
GeoTools introduces Geolocation features to vtiger in a standard vtlib module package. It adds the ability to perform distance-based searches on your data.
GeoTools uses the Google Maps API to gather positional data, that’s latitude and longitude coordinates, for the entity records that have been configured in the GeoTools Settings area. Once we have acquired this positional data we can then perform location-based calculations to display the results on an embedded Google Map, and as a list view of entity records.
Anyway enough of the words already! Here’s a video:
As soon as the forge site is up I’ll update this and provide links to the code.
Update: Here we are: This will be a moving target for some time yet – it’s still rather “beta” grade code…
Earlier this week, we had a bit of a road trip on our hands… A day discussing OpenERP in Cambridge and the next day vtiger CRM consulting in Milton Keynes which is not too far away, so we needed somewhere to stay to avoid driving a 200+ mile round trip.
We found a real gem of place! A very attractive country pub with extremely pleasant rooms, very friendly service, fantastic food (the Mixed Grill was really, really excellent), good beer and entertaining and congenial locals too.
If you happen to be working around the Bedford, Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell area and want somewhere to stay, I whole-heartedly recommend you check out The White Hart in Sherington.
I wanted to point any readers who may be interested to a new post I wrote over on our company blog. It discusses the latest release of a very popular business application we spend more and more time working with our customers on – vtiger CRM. CRM meaning Customer Relationship Management. Not only do we help others use vtiger CRM, it is also our own tool of choice for Sales and Marketing Automation.
The company behind vtiger CRM just released the latest version, 5.2.0, which has several major new features and lots of minor tweaks and improvements too.
We think this is the best truly Open Source CRM application currently available. There are other CRM systems that claim to be Open Source but are actually Open Core which is not the same thing at all.
There is a clear general trend towards outsourced software as a service, back when this first became a viable concept technically it seemed complete madness to me to have all your valuable data locked up on some server you never even get to see. You would be at the mercy of the vendor, subject to them raising their prices or going out of business and with very little recourse when they do. This remains a major business risk with proprietary software as a service, but the benefits of not requiring in-house hardware and expertise to install and manage a useful and scalable solution are still quite compelling.
With Open Source as a Service things are somewhat different, you still get to wash your hands of the installation and management of the hardware and software, upgrades just happen and they are someone else’s problem. You get the low cost of entry and prices that that are in proportion to the amount of users that are getting value from it. You also get Freedom instead of lock-in. You can take your hosted cloud based software and run the same code somewhere else. Either on another bit of remote hardware you never see, or on a box with flashing lights that sits quietly in a broom cupboard somewhere in your building. You are not at all locked in to Open Source as a Service, you are using it because it provides benefits you want at a price that is good value, as well as financially supporting the further development of the software.
So the announcement today is that The Open Learning Centre is partnering with vtiger CRM to bring the vtiger on demand Open Source as a Service to the UK market. This is hosted out in the cloud (Amazon EC2 to be precise) and managed on a day to day basis by the vtiger engineers. We can provide an optional on-site training day to complement the hosted service and of course at any time you can transition from the hosted CRM to one of our Ubuntu based Libertus servers (or the other way round if you like). This is just one example of how Software Freedom makes total business sense and it illustrates the difference between free as in no cost and the much more important free as in Freedom.
I just noticed that I hadn’t posted anything here for what feels like ages – since August the 15th.
So I thought, hmmm, better write something.
But what? A quick update on what’s been going on perhaps? That’ll do…
I’ve been working quite a bit with the brilliant free and open source vtiger CRM recently. Looking at some of the less widely used features and updating our training materials for the recent 5.10 release. I’ve also just submitted a small patch for the Customer Portal feature, to do with its web layout and have been thinking about how best to improve this, and the Webforms modules, to make them easier to customise.
I am also really enjoying using a great little python application called “Getting Things Gnome“. It one of those simple applications which does one job, does it very well and is easy to use. It’s basically an app for jotting down your todo list and making sure you get things done… Here’s what it looks like on my Ubuntu Jaunty desktop:
I also had a mail from those nice people at Packt Publishing suggesting two new books to look at and review for them, In fact a co-author of one of them actually requested that Packt contact me to do a review Flattery indeed.
So, we now have four books in the pipeline in no particular order:
Implementing, Administering, and Consulting on Commercial IP Telephony Solutions
- Written by four Asterisk Professionals, this book brings their years of experience together in an easy-to-understand guide to working with Asterisk in small, medium and larger Commercial environments
- Packed with hints, tips, and best practice – learn to avoid the pitfalls that can hinder an Asterisk implementation
- Focused chapters provide thorough, comprehensive, and self-contained instructions on how to deploy Asterisk across different commercial scenarios
This will probably be the first one I read when they arrive next week. It’s hot-off the press, just been released and can be ordered from Packt’s web site here.
My little Asus 1008HA netbook is running very happily with the Alpha build of Ubuntu Karmic Koala. I was at the swimming pool yesterday (not in it but taking my son to his lesson) and using 3G mobile internet to get on line. Battery life is good although not as long as is quoted by Asus. I reckon I get about 3 1/2 to 4hrs of good use. But that is mainly when powering a 3G dongle too – and they get hot. Karmic is shaping up to be a great release I think although to be frank I am really not sure about the new Gwibber interface, and the Empathy IM client hasn’t really floated my boat yet. But hey ho, never mind, at least we have a choice folks.
We are planning some new marketing activities over the coming months, what with the forthcoming release of the best desktop OS of all time and Microsoft releasing their rewrite of Vista, October should be a fun month. Hopefully we’ll have lots of interesting stuff to write about.
In fact I want to share with you a backup script I’ve written in Bash for my home office network and what may well end up being expanded and developed to support some of our commercial systems too. Well I think it’s pretty cool anyway. It wakes up machines in the middle of the night, uses – currently – rsync to back them up, then turns them off again. Configuration is easy and it seems to be working fine. When I get a mo I’ll publish the script source and let you all comment on my terrible bash skills. But I like it…
Recently I received a flattering email from Packt Publishing telling me about a new book entitled: “Asterisk Gateway Interface 1.4 and 1.6 Programming” – by Nir Simionovich. The author of the email refered to this blog and asked if I would like to review their book for my blog. Very flattering indeed.
[Update: Book review is done now. You can read it here]
I was, of course, already familiar with Packt. They do produce lots of books on Open Source technologies. What I wasn’t aware of, until I looked, was this (from their “about us” page):
Packt Open Source Project Royalty Scheme
Packt believes in Open Source. When we sell a book written on an Open Source project, we pay a royalty directly to that project. As a result of purchasing one of our Open Source books, Packt will have given some of the money received to the Open Source project.
In the long term, we see ourselves and yourselves, as customers and readers of our books, as part of the Open Source ecosystem, providing sustainable revenue for the projects we publish on. Our aim at Packt is to establish publishing royalties as an essential part of the service and support business model that sustains Open Source.
Now that seems like a fine scheme to me and is one that would certainly weight my purchasing decision toward a Packt book over another similar publication. I am aware that they will obviously get some free publicity from our review but having read the above I am quite happy about that.
Anyway, back to AGI.
Asterisk Gateway Interface (AGI)
The Asterisk Gateway Interface is an interface for adding functionality to Asterisk with many different programming languages. Perl, PHP, C, Pascal, Bourne Shell – it’s your choice, really.
- AGI may control the dial plan, called in extensions.conf.
- Async AGI Introduced in Asterisk 1.6, allows asynchronous AGI scripting.
- EAGI gives the application the possibility to access and control the sound channel in addition to interaction with the dial plan.
- FastAGI can be used to do the processing on a remote machine via a network connection.
- DeadAGI gives access to a dead channel, after hangup. Deprecated since Asterisk 1.6
Being a fan and user of Asterisk in our business, I think what we will do is actually use the book and create or modify an application that will be of use to us. This should allow us to give a decent overview of the content and how easy/hard it was to transfer the knowledge into a real world result.
But I am open to other suggestions too. Anyone got any good ideas for a fairly simple AGI application?