Category Archives: Maestro

Install SuiteCRM on FreeBSD

SuiteCRM is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web application, used by a company to store and organize information relating to customers and potential customers in a shared trusted environment. A CRM application may be stand-alone, or may integrate with other enterprise applications, such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system (CRM may also be a module within an ERP system).

Please visit the SuiteCRM demo on dalescott.net (login as “auditor” with password “guest”).

SuiteCRM was created by forking Sugar CE v6.5. The company SugarCRM provided several editions of its Sugar CRM application, including the open-source Sugar CE (for Community Edition), as well as several proprietary-licensed commercial editions. In 2013, SugarCRM released Sugar v7 to commercial clients but reported it would not be providing the new features in community edition release. SalesAgility, a UK-based CRM consultancy with expertise developing client solutions based on Sugar CE, responded by creating SuiteCRM using the Sugar CE v6.5 codebase. The first release of SuiteCRM was v7.0 in October 2013,  and in 2014 SugarCRM announced that it would not be releasing any further feature releases of Sugar CE. Since then, SuiteCRM has since gone on to become an award winning and world leading CRM application.

Setup

I will be installing SuiteCRM v7.7.9 on FreeBSD 10.3-RELEASE, using Apache 2.4 and MariaDb 10.0.

  • Download a SuiteCRM zip distribution archive and extract to /usr/local/www/suitecrm-6.5.2.
  • Change owner of the SuiteCRM directory tree to www:www
  • Create a soft link from /usr/local/www/suitecrm to /usr/local/www/suitecrm-7.7.9
  • Configure Apache virtual host suitecrm.dalescott.net
  • Create “suitecrm” database and database user with full permissions to the database. Use these credentials in the install screen.
  • Run installer (http://suitecrm.dalescott.net)

The first thing the installer does is to confirm your acceptance of the AGPL license used by SuiteCRM.

The installer then presents an overview of your system configuration, and identifies any issues preventing installation. In my case, I’m good to proceed.

Next, enter your database credentials and other configuration data.

  • Select install demo data.
  • Enter admin user password and email.
  • Accept default visible modules.
  • Enter SMTP server credentials required for SuiteCRM to send email.

The installer will setup the database and then let you login as the admin user.

The last setup item is to create a cron task used by SuiteCRM to run periodic internal tasks.

TODO show cron job

Login

Login using the admin user and password. After authentication the SuiteCRM dashboard will be displayed.

Summary

SuiteCRM is a mature powerful CRM application. Watch for a basic walkthrough tutorial based the Swift Construction Company’s “using SuiteCRM”, but a large number of on-line video tutorials already exist.

Install X2CRM on FreeBSD

X2CRM (also known as X2Engine) is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web application, used by a company to store and organize information relating to customers and potential customers in a shared trusted environment. A CRM application may be stand-alone, or may integrate with other enterprise applications, such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system (CRM may also be a module within an ERP system).

Please visit the X2CRM demo on dalescott.net (login as “auditor” with password “guest”).

I became aware of X2CRM after discovering erpBooks “Online Inventory Management” , reportedly forked from webERP and including CRM functionality based on X2Engine (aka X2CRM).

X2CRM was founded by John Roberts, who had previously co-founded SugarCRM. His goal was to develop a superior user interface using a new data model, and to use current web technologies, compared to the first generation of open-source web CRMs. Coincidently, X2CRM was developed using the PHP Yii OO RAD framework, which I had used for my Maestro project.

X2CRM also affirmed John’s faith in an open-source development and business model. X2Engine initially used a “Freemium” business model to support itself, and provided commercial Professional and Platinum versions. However, in April 2016, X2Engine announced it had achieved revenue self-sufficiency as a company, and it was now appropriate to release all premium features of the Platinum version as open-source in the then upcoming v6.0 release (fyi, I will be installing v6.5.2).

Setup

I will be installing X2CRM on FreeBSD 10.3-RELEASE, using Apache 2.4 and MariaDb 10.0.

  • Download a X2CRM zip distribution archive and extract to e.g. /usr/local/www/x2crm-6.5.2.
  • Create a soft link from /usr/local/www/crm to /usr/local/www/x2crm-6.5.2
  • Configure Apache virtual host crm.dalescott.net (the server directory root will be /usr/local/www/crm/x2engine)
  • Run installer (http://crm.dalescott.net/x2engine)

  • Set owner of X2CRM directory tree to www:www
  • Install package pecl-ssh2
  • Install package php56-filter
  • Set session.save_path in /usr/local/etc/php.ini to /tmp
  • Add path to mysql executables to the path used by the Apache daemon.
  • # mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/apache24/envvars.d/
    # echo 'export PATH=/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:' > /usr/local/etc/apache24/envvars.d/path.env
    # chmod 755 /usr/local/etc/apache24/envvars.d/path.env
    # service apache24 restart
  • Run installer again. Hurray! Requirements met! 

  • Create “x2engine” database and database user with full permissions to the database. Use these credentials in the install screen.
  • Check “Create sample data”.
  • Enter admin user password and email.
  • Accept default visible modules.
  • Create cron task. I selected “Create a cron task for X2CRM”, after which I was given the opportunity to select when to run the task, or simply hourly. I selected hourly, which resulted in creating a crontab file for user www (/var/cron/tabs/www). 
# DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE - edit the master and reinstall.
# (/usr/local/www/x2crm-6.5.2/x2engine/.crontab.tmp installed on Sun Mar 26 20:44:57 2017)
# (Cron version -- $FreeBSD: releng/10.3/usr.sbin/cron/crontab/crontab.c 293132 2016-01-04 03:20:41Z pfg $)

#<X2CRM>
@hourly curl http://crm.dalescott.net/index.php/api/x2cron &>/dev/null #@X2CRM@default#@X2CRM@Run delayed or recurring tasks within X2CRM
#</X2CRM>
  • Install!

Login

Login using the admin user and password. I have already logged in as admin and created a new user for myself.

Once authenticated, the X2CRM dashboard is presented. There’s a lot of information, and the bottom of the dashboard is the message feed.

Summary

X2CRM appears mature and fully featured, although I must admit I am by no means an expert on CRM systems. I will be spending more time exploring X2CRM features and usability, for stand-alone use and potentially to integrate with webERP. Watch for a basic walkthrough tutorial based the Swift Construction Company’s “using X2CRM”, but a large number of on-line video tutorials already exist.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) using webERP

This post is #2 in a series on using webERP, and is a work-in-progress. Search for “webERP” to find other posts in the series and please visit the demo on dalescott.net (login as “auditor” with password “guest”).

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the act of consciously managing a product from concept through design, into manufacturing and sales, supporting on-going production and sales through sustaining engineering, and finally winding down. PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems, and provides a trustable and transparent product information backbone for operations.

Features of using WebERP for PLM include:

  • Integrated data. Projects, people, hours, other expenses, purchase orders, production builds, bills of materials, etc., are conveniently managed in one controlled system.
  • A visible, trusted, change management process providing chain of truth.
  • Scales with number of users, items and complexity of item trees.

I will explore webERP’s PLM features using the Swift Construction Company’s development of the Aircraft Wireless as an example, following the SCC Product Management process

Goals

The goals of this exercise will be to:

  • Create child and parent items to model an assembly.
  • Define appropriate work centers.
  • Capture expected manufacturing labour.
  • Identify item vendor information for purchasing.
  • Identify item manufacturer information for purchasing through distribution.(manufacturer part number vs vendor part number).
  • Identify an appropriate change management or ECO process. COMING SOON 

Definitions

Here are some terms in the context I will be using them.

  • Revision Level. Each item has a unique revision level, indicating changes made to the item or its supporting documentation since it was initially defined. The revision level is changed following a well-defined sequence. 
  • Release. A release is the creation or update of a logical set of items and supporting documentation. This may be to publish information for review, to support processes such as purchasing or manufacturing, or to recognize a milestone in the development project.
  • ECO (Engineering Change Order). A well-defined process for making changes to a part or assembly, usually custom. 

Setup

Create Inventory Categories

The Swift Construction Company, like many engineering services and product companies, grew organizationally from a single-person engineering department to eventual separate mechanicals and electronics development teams. Knowing if a thing is a “mechanical thing”, or an “electronics, firmware, or basically anything but a mechanical thing” indicates which department is responsible for it.

As a result of the SCC’s organization structure, physical things are categorized as either either ELEC or MECH for raw materials and parts, or RADIOS for finished goods (currently the SCC’s only product line).  

Main > Setup > Inventory Setup > Inventory Categories Maintenance

ELEC Inventory Category

MECH Inventory Category

RADIOS Inventory Category

Create Units of Measure

An item’s Unit of Measure (UOM) specifies how the item is to be inventoried and consumed. webERP supports different purchase units, for example to purchase in US gallon jugs but inventory and consume in millilitres. 

A new unit of measure is typically created if needed when a new item is created, but using the SCC Aircraft Wireless development project documentation we can create all necessary units of measure now.

Main > Setup > Inventory Setup > Inventory Units of Measure

Create Vendors

A new vendor is typically created ad hoc, but using the SCC Aircraft Wireless development project documentation we can create each vendor now (vendors can also be imported from a CSV file). 

Main > Vendors > Add a New Vendor

Create Items

Create new items according to the SCC Aircraft Wireless development project. I will shjow details for creating sub-assembly 20000001-00 (a custom inductor), and the rest of the items and bills of materials will be similar.

20000001,"IND,830UH,AIRCRAFT WIRELESS"
|-- 90000001,"WIRE,MAGNET,38AWG,POLY"
|-- 90000002,"MAG,FERRITE ROD,1/4IN X 4IN,MATL=61"
\-- 90000003,"TAPE,ELECTRICAL,3/4"",BLUE,VINYL"

90000001-00 Magnet Wire

The unit of measure for the wire will be centimetres, meaning the wire will be inventoried and consumed by the centimeter. However, it will be purchased by the spool, which is the vendor unit of measure (the datasheet for the wire indicates a spool has 19,300 feet).

The consumption unit of measure will generally be the most relevant for any transaction other than purchasing or inventory control. When purchasing, the unit of measure will generally be determined by the vendor, and webERP supports a separate purchase unit when creating a purchase order. This means in an inventory audit that it will be necessary to convert from the counted number of full spools, add fractions of a spool for any partial spools, and convert to centimeters. However, the conversion factor can be found in the item master purchasing data, and the math is not too laborious.  

Items > Create New Item

Enter Purchasing Information

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Purchasing Data

Enter Standard Cost

The standard cost for cm UOM is C$0.00026308 per cm (C$154.83/spool x [ 1 / [ 19300ft x 30.48cm/ft ] ] ).

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Standard Cost

Upload Documentation

Upload the manufacturers’ datasheet to the Knowledge Base.

Items > Item Inquiries > Wiki Product Knowledge Base

I’m using the same template for each page. It is essentially a list of categories of typical documentation. It’s a judgement call at the time the part is created what is required though.

90000002-00 Ferrite Rod

Items > Create New Item

Enter Purchasing Information

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Purchasing Data

Enter Standard Cost

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Standard Cost

Upload Documentation

Upload the catalogue page, datasheet and application note to the Knowledge Base.

Items > Item Inquiries > Wiki Product Knowledge Base

90000003-00 Tape

Items > Create New Item

Enter Purchasing Information

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Purchasing Data

Enter Standard Cost

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Standard Cost

Upload Documentation

Upload the product datasheet and MSDS to the Knowledge Base.

Items > Item Inquiries > Wiki Product Knowledge Base

20000001-00 Inductor

Item 20000001-00 is a custom inductor that will be manufactured in-house using the parts listed in a Bill of Materials (BOM). An item must be explicitly specified as Manufactured in the Item Properties for a creation of an associated BOM to be allowed.

Items > Create New Item

Enter Standard Cost

Set the standard cost to be the total calculated cost including labor and any fixed overhead costs.

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Standard Cost

Enter Standard Price

Items which may be sold require pricing. It is expected field technicians may wish to purchase 20000001-00 for maintenance repair.

Items > Item Maintenance > Maintain Pricing

Create Bill of Materials

The raw material required to manufacture one item 20000001-00 are specified by creating a Bill-of-Materials, including quantities. The raw materials are also referred to as child items of the parent 20000001-00, and are set to auto-issue, which will simplify creating a manufacturing work order later.

Main > Manufacturing > Maintenance > Bills Of Material

Reporting

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Managing Change

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. 

Summary

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Installing WebERP

This post is the first in a series on using webERP. Search for “webERP” to find other posts in the series and please visit the demo on dalescott.net (login as “auditor” with password “guest”).

webERP is a mature open-source ERP system providing best practise, multi-user business administration and accounting tools over the web. webERP can be used with a wiki CMS to provide an integrated Knowledge Base. I will be installing MediaWiki, one of the supported wiki applications.

Goals

The goals of this exercise will be to:

  • Install webERP software.
  • Install MediaWiki software.
  • Configure webERP and MediaWiki for use.

Install Applications

I will be hosting webERP and MediaWiki on FreeBSD, a unix-like operating system (GNU/Linux is another popular unix-type operating system). The server has been previously configured with Apache 2.4 for the http (web) server and MariaDB 10.0 (compatible with MySQL) for the database server.

webERP

Copy the webERP software files to the server and configure the Apache web server.

  • Extract distribution to /usr/local/www/
  • Rename extracted directory webERP/ to weberp-4.13.1
  • Create soft link “weberp” to weberp-x.y.z
  • Create Apache virtual server e.g. http://weberp.dalescott.net

Access http://weberp.dalescott.net with a web browser to run the installer.

  • Language: US
  • Db user and password: root (only for install, future access will be changed to a dedicated user after installation)
  • Company name: e.g. Swift Construction Company
  • Install demo data: YES
  • User “admin” email: e.g. dale@dalescott.net
  • admin user password: (keep this safe)

After the installer has completed, change the database access user to a new database user with privileges to webERP databases only.

  • Create a new database user “weberp” with all privileges to the weberp and weberpdemo databases.
  • Edit the webERP configuration file weberp/config.php and change the database access user and password to the new dedicated user.

MediaWiki

Copy the MediaWiki software files to the server and configure the Apache web server.

  • Download a release archive.
  • Extract the distribution to /usr/local/www/ (which will create mediawiki-x.y.z/) 
  • Create a soft link “wiki” to mediawiki-x.y.z/
  • Create an Apache virtual server http://wiki.dalescott.net

Access http://wiki.dalescott.net/mw-config/index.php with a web browser to run the installer.

  • Name of wiki: webERP
  • User rights profile: Authorized editors only (public viewing is allowed)
  • Enable file uploads

Configure Applications

webERP

Log into webERP using the admin user credentials entered into the auto-installer and create new named user e.g. dalescott. The new user will be used for all subsequent work to identify the administration user specifically for audit purposes. 

  • email: e.g. dale@dalescott
  • system administrator privileges

The original admin user (created by the auto-installer) cannot be deleted due to a now existing audit trail.

Location

I will create a new location “Shopton” for the SCC headquarters.

Main > Setup > Inventory Setup > Inventory Locations Maintenance

Note: Delivery Address 1 must be given a value, otherwise a “missing delivery address” error will occur when later attempting to create a purchase order.

After creating the new location, change the location of the administration user to the new location (and of any other users). 

Currencies

I will create a new CAD currency as some items will need to be purchased in Canadian dollars. webERP will obtain currency exchange rates from either Google or the European Central Bank (Main > Setup > General > System Preferences).

Main > Setup > General Setup > Currencies Maintenance

“USD” is shown as the “Functional Currency” because United States is set as the SCC company currency in the Company Preferences.

Company Preferences

Operating practices for a specific company are configured in the Company Preferences screen (webERP supports multiple companies and the desired company is selected at login). 

Main > Setup > General > Company Preferences.

System Preferences

General system-wide behavior is configured in the System Preferences screen. I will quickly review some interesting parameters, and get into a bit more detail with a few specific parameters.

  • Date format: Y-m-d. I prefer ISO 8601 dates for clarity over familiarity (e.g. 2017-03-08 for March 8, 2017), which avoids the ambiguity of d/m/Y and m/d/Y.
  • Frequently Ordered Items: 0. I left this disabled but may experiment with it once the system has some orders entered.
  • Sales Order Allows Same Item Multiple Times: Yes. I will revisit this later, but at least initially I don’t want anything to block operation.
  • Languages to Maintain Translations for Item Descriptions: None. Don’t complicate things at least initially.
  • Picking note must be produced before an order can be delivered: No. I don’t want to complicate the process too soon.
  • Auto Update Exchange Rates Daily: Automatic. Source Exchange Rates From: Google. 
  • Create Debtor Codes Automatically: No. I want to use my own mnemonic codes, but set to Yes if you don’t care and would prefer to let the system assign a sequential integer.
  • Create Supplier Codes Automatically: No. I prefer to use my own mnemonic codes.
  • Country of operation: United States (used when calculating shipping costs).
  • Purchase Order Allows Same Item Multiple Times: Yes. I will revisit this later, but at least initially I don’t want anything to block operation.
  • Automatically authorise purchase orders if user has authority: Yes. I will disable this later so I can follow the approval process.
  • Financial year ends on: December (if only to avoid having to answer of why not calendar years).
  • Maximum Size in KB of uploaded images: 300. I left this at its default value, although some images and screenshots will likely require re-sizing before uploading.
  • Directory to store images: part_pics (directory already exists)
  • Directory to store reports: reports (directory already exists)
  • Wiki application: MediaWiki (I’m already familiar with MediaWiki), Wiki Path: http://wiki.dalescott.net/ 
  • Inventory Costing Method: Standard. webERP also supports weighted average, but Standard Costing behavior will be more obvious to start with.
  • Auto issue components: Yes. Automatically decrement items from stock according to the BOM for an Item when it is manufactured to reduce admin effort.
  • Prohibit Negative Stock: No. I’m pretty sure I will set this to Yes later, but prefer no blocking operations at least initially.
  • Log Severity Level: All, Path to log files: log. I want to see all possible log entries initially and can be reduced later (I also had to create the “log” directory and set ownership of the directory to the www:www, which is the Apache http server user on FreeBSD).
  • Controlled Items Defined At Work Order Entry: Yes. When set to yes, controlled items are defined at the time of the work order creation. Otherwise controlled items (serial numbers and batch/roll/lot references) are entered at the time the finished items are received against the work order
  • Auto Create Work Orders: Yes. Setting this parameter to Yes will ensure that when a sales order is placed if there is insufficient stock then a new work order is created at the default factory location
  • Default Factory Location: Shopton. This will be the default location for automatically created work orders.
  • Factory manager email: dale@dalescott.net, Purchasing manager email: dale@dalescott.net, Inventory manager email: dale@dalescott.net. I’m setting all email addresses to me for convenience so I see the traffic.
  • Using Smtp Mail: No. My server will route email from webERP out through my ISP’s mail server.

Main > Setup > System Preferences

Wiki Application

In particular, note the setting for “Wiki application”. When enabled by selecting a particular Wiki dialogue (MediaWiki, WackoWiki or DokuWiki), a link to the “Wiki Product Knowledge Base” will be shown in the Inquiries column of the main Items, Vendors and Customers screens (once an Item/Vendor/Customer has been selected).

You also need to set the root path to the wiki (that webERP will append to) in the system parameters screen. In my case, I needed a trailing “/” in the Wiki Path, but YMMV.

Database Maintenance

webERP can be configured to lock out users by setting Perform Database Maintenance at Logon to Allow SysAdmin Access Only. Only users with security profile “System Administrator” will be allowed to login or enter data when this is set, which is important when performing maintenance on the application code or database. A maintenance notice also appears on the login prompt when Allow SysAdmin Access Only is set.

Main > Setup > General > System Parameters

This parameter can also be used to periodically run the query “OPTIMIZE DATABASES” at set intervals. It is not clear how often this should be run, or even if there is a significant benefit. However, users will notice a slight delay during login when the it runs, it might have been a half-second with an almost empty Swift Construction Company database (on a older dual-core desktop PC with 4GB memory). If periodically running OPTIMIZE DATABASES is desired, you may consider creating an entry in the cron table to run the mysql command line interface, giving the query as a command argument.

MediaWiki

The webERP Knowledge Base, MediaWiki in my case, is a completely separate system from webERP, including separate users, user permissions, etc. webERP simply provides structured links into the Knowledge Base (with some variation depending on the wiki protocol selected in webERP Main > Setup > General > System Parameters > Wiki application).

I intentionally configured MediaWiki during install for public access, but required that a user be logged-in to create a new page, edit an existing page or upload a file. This allows anyone to see information, and in most cases get on with their job, without having to be concerned with logging into the Knowledge Base. For me, this is a nice balance of visibility and trust within a homogeneous organization. Users can also set their browsers to remember their login credentials and once set won’t be inconvenienced again (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this when there are shared workstations, but then again many people use shared workstations and don’t control who the user is, it all depends….).

Upload File Types

I configured the permitted upload file types to include OpenOffice/LibreOffice files, dwg files and zip archives (see MediaWiki documentation).

$wgFileExtensions = array( 'png', 'gif', 'jpg', 'jpeg',
 'odt', 'ods', 'odp', 'odg',
 'txt', 'pdf', 'zip', 'dwg'
);

Site Logo

I also uploaded the SCC logo as a media file and edited LocalSettings.php to use new logo.

Summary

This completes basic webERP and MediaWiki installation and configuration.