OpenERP and Ubuntu Unity Desktop Integration

Ubuntu has been in the news quite a lot recently with the release of version 12.10 including the Amazon shopping lens and next week some game shop thing called Steam is going to be announced. It isn’t all toys and shopping though, some of the new features make a heap of sense for serious business applications too. One really interesting area for me is the webapp integration, this is an extension for Firefox and Chromium that allows stuff running in the web browser to integrate with the Unity desktop in a variety of ways, making the distinction between a web application and a desktop application a bit more blurry – which is a good thing. There is built in integration for an assortment of popular consumer websites like youtube, twitter, facebook etc. but it isn’t limited to these single domain software as a service sites. Any web site or web application can test for the presence of the extension then export it’s menu items, do notifications and other actions.

OpenERP is probably my favourite web application to work on, and this is a typical application you might install to help manage a business, it is a modular framework that covers accountancy, logistics, sales process, project management, manufacturing, HR etc. The web server is largely python based, but as it happens this integration just uses javascript. After you install the module and visit your OpenERP server you should be prompted to allow integration, if you accept this you will get a notification (bubble in the top right of the screen) to say it is activated and from then you can use the alt key to bring up the HUD and type anything you might find in an OpenERP menu somewhere, such as “Invoice”. You don’t have to type all of the word, it will search as you type.

OpenERP Unity Integration

You can grab the code from here and the module as a standard module zip file from here. I am thinking of adding some more features, possibly messaging menu integration and notifications. I might do a separate theme module that is mostly CSS and cosmetically adjusts the user interface to match the unity desktop. Right now most of our customers running OpenERP use it on an Ubuntu server, but use a mixture of Windows and Mac on the desktop, what I want to show with this kind of integration (this is just the start) is that Ubuntu can simply be a better platform for business than other operating systems, especially as things move away from dedicated client applications to web based interfaces.

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