It has been great to chronicall the evolution of X2EngineCRM this past year. The company is off to a great start and I find myself being fully consumed with it now. So…I have decided to continue this blog on our main site, X2EngineCRM where I belive it better belongs now.
This is the end my friend, thanks for the great start.
Everyone is working really hard on X2Engine CRM 1.6 for release next Tuesday or Wednesday. We now have X2CRM servers running in over 108 counties now with 10 – 30 new servers coming on-line every day. We also just surpassed 100 customers on our X2VPS hosted service - thank you for your business and trust in us.
I believe the idea to combine five, fat and bloated CRM modules into two slim, high performance CRM modules has been a success. Simular to the way WordPress compares to Drupal. X2CRM 2.0 is slated for late August release.
The evolution of a brand is a curious thing to watch. Over the past 20 months that I have been working on X2Engine…one thing I have intentionally let slowly come to the surface is the brand behind the company. Starting with a the word ‘engine’ as the center point of the software but then what? Colors..graphics….what’s going to resonate?
Sales can be a race against time and your competition. I like the feeling of going fast, closing a lot of transactions and making customers very happy. Unlike most accounting systems, which only tell you what has already happened…sales systems require a different mentality at the controls – someone who likes to go fast and enjoys the competition for a sale. For this reason I decided to add car racing ‘rally stripes‘ to the brand. I think it works.
From a different perspective, I have always felt that great brands are the most genuine brands. As X2Engine has grown over the last year it has given me time to let the real nature of software define the brand, not the other way around. As for the choice of green, I for one am really sick of red and blue websites. And I think green does a good job representing new green-field opportunities.
So, this is the big excuse for X2Engine.com looking so lame right now. Hopefully by next Wednesday morning it will have a new look, one that best reflects the X2Engine CRM brand.
With live X2EngineCRM servers deployed across 106 countries now its become clear that we (I) can no longer rely soley on our reference guide and forums to support the growing X2CRM open source community. So…this week we took a break and went to the lumber yard and custom built a stage for soon to come…weekly X2Engine webcasts and interactive meetings. Hopefully in the next week or so we’ll start posting business user, admin and developer videos.
It was just over a year ago that I moved X2Engine out of my home lab, GVL and into a tiny (but very cool), 60 square foot single office in the Cruzio Internet shared workspaces building. One year later and now with eight employees I decided to go big and sign a long term lease for X2Engine Inc.. Same building but much larger space with plenty of room to concentrate and relax. We always enjoy meeting X2Engine CRM enthusiasts, feel free to visit us the next time you are in the San Franciso Bay Area. Office Location.
We also kicked out a new release of X2Engine CRM 1.3. Its a big release with tons of new features and enhancements.
These past few weeks have been very interesting and exciting. After over a year in development including eleven beta’s and a February GA release, we put X2Engine to the test with a 35 user SFDC replacement. Over a couple of days Jake loaded over 40,000 contacts and 500,000 actions into X2CRM. The 35 person sales team was switched over in one day. Smooth sailing, and they really like new X2CRM user experience which is great.
So, I’m very happy. It is great to see X2Engine scale so well. We’ve been incorporating all sorts of user feedback and bugs into a new release we are planning to ship next week. Including a new full screen skin. I think it is safe to say X2Engine is now a very finely tuned CRM system.
We are also adding more servers in our datacenter and will be offering serval X2Engine Virtual Private Server packages in the coming weeks. In the interim we have added several very low price ‘Server’ not ‘User’ based customer support packages to our online store. These support packages are great way to get the most out of your on-premise X2Engine CRM system.
It’s been over four weeks from 1.0 GA. I wish I could call it a GA…but after receiving a lot of great feedback and several weeks for feature enhancements and bug fixing, X2Engine 1.2x is now a very stable, production ready release.
We are spending most of our our time now working on a new Marketing module, perfecting existing features, fixing bugs and helping our first large production customers go live. It is incredibly exciting after 18 months of development to see X2Engine being put into production.
It has been a few weeks since we released X2CRM 1.0. I always plan to write a lot on release day but often end up just taking some time off while watching the forums for bug posts and feature suggestions. Spending a week sitting back waiting for bug reports after a long release cycle (11 beta’s) is a good thing. Thanks to the efforts of several contributors across the globe who are testing the release X2Engine has become a much stronger, production grade code base.
We are so close to X2CRM GA and it feels great! It has been a long development project, but I am incredibly pleased with how much we have accomplished in the 1.0 release. I think the key to this release has been the luxury of having more than eighteen months of peace and quiet to simply think, design and code.
Compared with my previous software projects, with X2CRM there was no rush to design functionality that I had not completely thought out. No board members calling me everyday stressing me out with time-consuming distractions. No revenue targets to hit with an immature, incomplete product. No huge PR push designed to convince the world that my software is better than everyone else’s while knowing it might not yet be. This is what you get when you have to rush software to market in six months and it’s not a very fun life to lead. More importantly, it also does not generate very good software either.
Yes, eighteen months of peace and quiet to think, design and code a completely new and different open source CRM app. Now that this stage is coming to an end I am truly happy with this 1.0 GA release.
Everyone has been working really hard these past few weeks to complete X2CRM 1.0. Today we are finally at feature complete with next week dedicated to QA and scalability testing. Jake and Matthew have built a super cool no-code visual studio tool that makes modifying X2CRM incredibly fast and easy. DJ has been working on a new Products and Quotes module that is also very powerful. We are planning one final beta next week with the GA release on track for Febuary 14th or 15th – stay tuned.
Screen shot of the new X2Studio form layout editor.
These holidays have been great and I have really enjoyed spending time with family and friends. For the most part buying gifts has been fun and easy with the help of ecommerce engines and usually super friendly local retail store clerks.
Yesterday though…for about the fifth time in a matter of weeks when I entered a local store I was greeted with this statement – “How can I help you BOSS?” Actually the second time in less then an hour at two different stores. Yes, I know the clerks used ‘boss’ in a positive way…but it still irritated me every time. Being a boss for a living isn’t all that fun at times, as in bossing people around. And when both young and old guys refer to me as their boss I can not say it encouraged me to think positively about them or the shop they own or work for.
So..when I stopped by this Hot Dog stand for lunch yesterday and was immediately welcomed with a “what can I get you BOSS?” my subconscious took control and I responded with “I’m not your BOSS, but I would like a fat bratwurst and a side of chili.”
Good CRM or Customer Relationship Management isn’t for free. Taking time to ensure that all customer interactions are “good customer interactions” will in the end turn simple transactions in to long term, loyal customers.
The question of which open source license to ship with your new code is a difficult one. The days of the GPL or LGPL as ‘goto’ licenses are over I believe. My license preferences have evolved from the first days of SugarCRM and our choice to use an MPL variant license and then switching to the GPLv3.
For X2Engine, my new open source, customer relationship management application I have initially chosen to license the code under the moderately restrictive OS license the GPLv3. I am starting having second thoughts about this now as we get closer to the GA release in January. I am thinking of using an even more open license.
The thoughts in my head revolve around the good and bad tradeoffs of pinning your code to a license. In principle I still like the GPLv3. I think its one of the best licenses – but broad support has been limited. I am starting to favor the Apache, MIT and BSD licenses. This opinion stems more my personal experience from founding and running open source projects then it does for consulting, expensive legal advisors – which is important before committing to a license.
So….I am starting to think about abandoning the GPLv3 in favor of the BSD license. Yes, it is certainly a much less commercial or corporate in its flexibility, which is a disadvantage to the software developer – but in the end I really do not think people care about open source licenses. If this is correct, then why alienate open source users and developers with sudo OS licenses?
I thought it was very interesting that recently, and quietly the Ruby on Rails team relicensed Rails to MIT license. Yes I think this has more to do with competition from Nodejs which used the BSD license. In fact Nodejs just surpassed Rails on Github – I wonder if this had anything to to with Rails licensing.
Most corporations have been scared out of there minds about the liability of using the GPL software – which is frankly pretty sad and unfair in my opinion. But perception is what it is….and I think GPL licensed projects are going to suffer slow meltdowns of their communities in the coming years.
Net, net I am 99% certain I am going to ship X2Engine GA under the BSD license in January and I feel great about offering even more open source license flexibility to our community.
It has been just over a month from our first X2Engine beta release. Considering how little, (none really) marketing that we are doing right now I am super excited at the speed at which X2 his spreading across the planet. Its great to see so many X2 servers popping up in so many countries so fast.
Based on everyones great feedback, we have been keeping X2 in perpetual beta until we complete a few more powerful features. We are now looking at early December for 1.0 GA. Stay tuned…
It’s been great starting out with a small office in the Cruzio Works building. But over the past month it has been clear we need more space. After a week looking at about ten spaces, I decided on this second floor corner suite in the University Town-center building on Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz. After having spent the last few days building custom workstations we finally move in tomorrow morning. More to follow…it has been a busy few weeks…this is also an excuse why I have yet to spend quality time updating x2engine.com. Checkout the new beta5 this afternoon.
Accidentally left my iPhone in my pocket and tossed it in the washing machine for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes underwater plus a 10 minute spin cycle the phone was obviously dead. Two days later, I charged and hard rebooted it – and it came back to life. Amazing! I will miss you Steve. You are the best of the best.
Thank you Apple for my wireless touch mouse and wireless keyboard. Love them both. But I have stopped using both of them because I am tired of changing batteries all the time. And the sync issues….I never thought I would reach for ancient gear but I have, and I feel better about it because both devices are greener and work 100% of the time.
It has been over 15 months in the making, but last week I finally released the first beta of X2Engine, a new open source, sales management application. I have been pretty excited with the initial press coverage. The software is quickly making its way onto Linux servers across the planet. Good thing we translated it into six languages. Checkout the site and take the demo server for a spin if you can. Thanks everyone for your great feedback – stay tuned!!
Software is a curious thing. Born of ideas and built of sweat, in the end great software I believe creates it’s own being. A being the tells you when its done, not the other way. So…to see x2engine today, to see it so close but also so far from being complete. If I could only stop adding features….we could actually ship it.
A year ago, I seriously got started designing and building a new cloud based, commercial open source startup. Implemented as a two phased engineering project, the first being designing, testing, buying and building a new linux based virtual cloud. This included spending months testing every major linux distro available and then matching a distro and cloud operating system to new virtual machine optimized processors, network routers and storage hardware in a brand new datacenter. More on the design in later posts, but after six months of development we have built a cloud that supports over 10,000 virtual machines and its been rock solid.
Two weeks to ship. After over a year of R&D and six months of development – we are two weeks from posting the official first beta release. Stealth mode has been great…in that we have had the quite time to design and code. But….I am looking forward to getting this new app out the door!
Last week I stumbled across this recent talk by Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners. No, new news here – HTML5 and iPads are the future of computing. Still Roger gives an excellent talk that I highly recommend watching.
This weekend I attended the TechRaising developer session in Santa Cruz. It started on Friday evening with over 150 engineers geared up for three days of impromptu coding. The agenda was pretty straight forward, all attendees were given 90 seconds to pitch thier ideas and afterwards we broke up into teams and spent the weekend together creating prototypes.
My idea was for a social cycling meetup type site, where riders could hookup on the road for training rides. Most of the bicycle sites on the web are focused on providing routes and scheduling formal events. But in my experience I was just looking to hookup with like minded riders on an informal basis.
In other words, usually when I go for a training ride I pass by five or ten other riders on similar rides. But, usually I ride alone, because Ive not met these other riders and thus have not had an opportunity to schedule a social training ride. So.. the idea being to create a website where you can view in real-time riders in your neighborhood and hookup with them for informal training rides.
Todd Shafer and Doug Ross spent the weekend working to build this initial prototype site. I can’t say we took the project too seriously, but it could have potiential and I may invest more time building it for real. We’ll see. It’s been a great weekend to explore the idea.
Marketing optimization, (better lead management) is gaining a lot of traction and might finally be climbing to the forefront of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) innovation. Eloqua, the first and market leader of lead gen optimization I hear is being successfully challenged by Marketo, (my favorite) a new marketing optimization startup that appears to have more the customers in just a couple of years – scary and perhaps a wakeup call for Eloqua. Or Salesforce.com could simply add better EMM functionality to its core product which would cause major pain for both companies I suspect…just a matter of time.
The gist of this new category of marketing apps rests on email and website landing pages as their primary campaign management tools. I always enjoy reading tons of marketing emails in my inbox each morning. And yes, I still do email for my primary communications.
As my interest in these apps has grown in the past few weeks, I decided to look behind the online demos of the primary proprietary vendors and took a quick look at Sourceforge and found EMM a German open source based project. Compared to Elequa and Marketo, EMM could be the open source alternative to marketing optimization. It still has a ways to go, but they appear to be gaining momentum and could become the linux of marketing optimization in a few years. I’m sure other new MO projects are on the way.
My general feeling is that apps from most closed source vendors are overly marketed and the functionally cool, but too complex and super expensive relative to engineering costs to build them. The functionally and cool demos sell the products but customers hardly use less then 10% of the fuctionality in normal operations I believe. I mean how many marketing rules based actions do you want to associate with your campaign. I think a max of five or six marketing rules. Most companies have a good idea of who their buyers are, and yes the pain of making sure the no leads are lost and are prioritized correctly is critically helpful in increasing sales and justifying marketing costs, but usually only a couple of rules (or unique emails based on individual user behavior) is all that is requied to optimize lead flow.
Now if you look at the pricing of the proprietary, closed source vendor offerings vs. the actual use of the functionality I think open source apps over the next few years are going to surpass them certainly in global adoption, perhaps with smaller revenue streams if they are commercial open source based. We’ll see its an open question for now.
Souceforge.net has always been ‘the’ place to find and evaluate open source projects. It is also the place that great open source projects do battle with one another. Daily downloads are what counts and these DL numbers can only increase with the backing of serious developers who are actively developing the software and nurturing their projects.
My interest has always been in open source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications. The evolution of this category has grown in strength, quality and numbers over the past 10 years. Today there are a number of open source CRM apps that are equally as good as grossly expensive, propriety, cloud based CRM products.
As of today the top open source CRM apps on Sourceforege.net are the following. I believe this list is going to change this year – we will see.
VTiger – fork of SugarCRM others, I need to keep my mouth shut on this one. 400+ tables, necessary? OMG! 9000+ downloads a week
Milbrew Messinger – chat
Open Bravo – fork of Compiere, now dead
PHP list – email spam (campaign management) engine
Good music and good software are one and the same. I not sure how I would have survived the thousands of hours in front of my keyboard without a thumping beat keeping me going. Thanks to internet radio the days of managing mp3 files and playlists are obsolete at the workdesk.
My favorite two radio stations are M2Radio France and SomaFM in San Francisco. What’s great about both stations is that they are free, commecial free and the streams can be recorded and converted into off line music files.
Checkout M2 – my favorite work channel is Purple. M2 on the weekends. They also have a free iphone app.
The further away from an office suite the better, but that said, they are still important for a while longer but clearly the justification for commercial development is no longer valid. I think Oracle has made a great decision to let go of Open Office and to give it back to the open source development world.
“Given the breadth of interest in free personal productivity applications and the rapid evolution of personal computing technologies, we believe the OpenOffice.org project would be best managed by an organization focused on serving that broad constituency on a non-commercial basis,” said Edward Screven, Oracle’s Chief Corporate Architect. “We intend to begin working immediately with community members to further the continued success of Open Office. Oracle will continue to strongly support the adoption of open standards-based document formats, such as the Open Document Format (ODF).”
Now its up to the emerging Open Office forks like Libre to duel it out for supremacy.
Hummm….. Neo4j Community abandons the Affero open source license in favor of the less restrictive GPL. This is interesting, I mean it is not every day you read of a project relicensing to a less restrictive license. Especially after adopting the Affero license, a very new and controversial license. I have never been a fan of the Affero licence not because I do not think that hosting providers shouldn’t be exempt from the GPL, but more from the standpoint that by limiting the use of the software to such limited scope the software itself becomes somewhat useless.
There is nothing more frustrating then finding great open source software to discover you can only use it for non-commercial purposes. I think the Neo4j community figured out it is best for the project for developers to also be able earn a commercial living from the code base. And the best way to do this is by offering unique cloud services.
Perhaps another way of looking at it, is that most great open source projects use the ideas from smart people around the world. They all contribute in different ways but can earn a livings in others, including selling the code and cloud based solutions based on modifications that they do not want to open source, at least not yet.
I believe projects that are more liberal in allowing others to also benefit economically are stronger then those that try and restrict partner revenue choices by using Affero style licenses. Net, net, I think Neo4j made a great decision dropping the Affero in favor of the GPL.
“That means that in every scenario where you can use MySQL for free, you can now also use Neo4j Community for free,” writes Neo Technology co-founder Emil Eifrem on his blog.
More on Neo4j:
Neo4j is a graph database, a fully transactional database that stores data structured as graphs. A graph is a flexible data structure that allows for a more agile and rapid style of development.
These days the further away from a word processor I can get the better. The whole notion of writing a single user document is not a good use of time. Might as well just write the doc in html or on the web to begin with.
As the features they offer become less applicable to everyday life. There are still times when a good document is needed. I’m not sure why I’m focusing on the word processor vs. the spreadsheet or the powerpoint like app. At this point they are all fallback tools. But all still important for a while longer.
One product Microsoft has had on everyone is office. PPT.DOC.XLS. I do not understand why it is still necessary to spend so much $ per person for these everyday tools. Open office has been around for a decade and has tried its best to compete while being controlled by multiple owners. When Sun was bought by Oracle I assumed Open Office was dead….
But to my surprise open office is not dead and it has a new life as LibreOffice. It’s clear the project team have worked incredibly hard to fork Open Office and surface the office suite that is every bit as good as Microsoft Office today. And it’s free under the LGPL v3.
Libreoffice.org “The Community Bylaws, developed by our own community members, guide the way we work, and encourage new members to contribute in a way which benefits the whole community as well as themselves, while protecting your rights as a developer under the Open Source Lesser GNU Public v3 license. To see who has already contributed to the LibreOffice project, please visit our credits page. Will we see your name there soon?”