Vocabulary – ERP Content Classification and tags

This post describes a concept called VOCABULARY. It helps iDempiere admins to categorise records from simple classification to  awesome multi-perspective catalogisation  or  modern  CMS tagging solution.

Background

After I analyzed our customers´ requirements about implementing multiple stores into Magento and iDempiere, the first important question was how should we categorise our products in a modern way. I’ve also asked some other people about their experiences on iDempiere´s forum thread. The top contributor Deepak from Logilite has recommended us to use Product Category for Accounting and Legacy categorization and  implement another solution for better categorisation. For better understanding: Product Category has one perspective to categorise products and it also has a Parent Category, which means that it is able  to implement a tree structure, but we can only define one structure. To make a long story short – we can´t implement multiple stores in this way.

Our requirements about the project

We´ve  made a requirement analysis and the following tools were classified as “must have”.

  • For eCommerce usage – each webstore should have its own tree category – so 1 product must be categorised into multiple trees
  • The solution should be implemented for feature usage by creating a so called “independent product”, which has to support any further database table.
  • Users want to assign products in batches – like “Mass Update”

Collect motivations

Some years ago my company implemented Alfresco (an open platform for business software) and Liferay (a free and open source enterprise portal software product). We also use WordPress, which works very well. My experiences from the world of CMS gave me a good starting point. However, there are the standards  – with the similar concept – where the content can be assigned to categories, which are organised into the tree structure.

The proof about the efficiency of the concept

We´ve designed 3 main new objects: Vocabulary and Classification and Classification Instance. Vocabulary defines new classification perspective  and then creates the root and the tree structure.

vocabulary-list

vocabulary-details

classification-detail

Example structure

Website Catalog 2015 Website Catalog 2016
  • cat11
    • cat 11A
    • cat 11B
  • cat12
  • cat13
  • cat 21
    • cat 21A
    • cat 21B
  • cat 22
  • cat 23

How to improve the usage of the Vocabulary by iDempiere

The application can be used in any possible way,  because it was designed for common usage. Common usage means: Simply create a new vocabulary, select the table you want, define classification entries and organise them into the tree.

Price Schema – to create a new price list schema, you just have to add a new line, enter sequence and select between Product Category, Vocabulary and the tree.

New Module tree for DMS – We are working on a DMS plugin (with Deepak from Logilite) – Yesterday we had a review about our concept and – in context of massive content classification –  we´ve found out that it could be applied with a high potential. Of course we need to some other requirement Analysis as well. It´s quite plausible that we don’t need to implement other new features here.

Mass Update Classifications –  hundreds or thousands of products can be classified and later searched by only a few clicks.

produc-mass-update

Select Classification Tree – As Vocabulary included hundreds of records we have made an another improvement – with custom field type – available here. To the users:  if you are searching a product then first select vocabulary named “Product Catalog 2015”,  then select the value and the exact category you want.

tree-fieldtype

When will it be available for the community?

The project is on its good way to publish it to the public, but it needs time and work.  By sponsorship/supported development we are able to make it available as a plugin or to apply further development. If you have got any questions about the commercial availability of the project, feel free to check my website www.cloudempiere.com

Use Mandrill BCC emails from iDempiere

Introduction

This week i was responsible for for supervising/designing  on an ongoing project dealing  with the iDempiere Dunning Process. Our customers required a software which is able to send e-mails quickly and without planning them too carefully (shooting emails).

Workaround

We did all necessary iDempiere Dunning settings (levels, formats..), and were ready to start sending emails. Customers use a 3th party local SMTP provider to send emails. I´d suggest to use a high transactional mailing system instead of the mentioned SMTP provider. My previous experiences have showed out that SMTP servers using for end user emailing time-to-time stay blacklisted.

Of course there are a lot of tools like mxtoolbox where the customers with admin rights are able to check their IP addresses, and remove their IP from the blacklist but this task is rather time consuming and the result of dunning can be pretty unpredictable.

To achieve the best email-shooting experience possible, I´d recommend to use Mandrill. This is a service, which is absolutely compatible with the iDempiere Mailing system.

What is mandrill ?


Mandrill ActivitiesMandrill is a transactional mail system provided by the popular Mailchimp authors. Mailchimp gives their customers solutions, which can solve both easier and more complex mailing problems. Mandrill supports SMTP or/and Mandrill API interfaces and it really works like a charm: You can quickly setup SMTP servers by including API keys.

Mandrill is free service to store 2000 mails. Of course the size of the storage can be upgraded for some extra charge (cca. 10 USD/month). See more details about pricing.

 

 

Requirement List


To give the best solution to this mailing problem, we also have to focus on our customers questions related to the topic:

  1. How will I know that the e-mail was sent to my customer ?
  2. After I send my mail, where can I find the copy of it ?
  3. Do I get a kind of notification if the e-mail was properly sent or it was returned?
  4. Customers want to send MULTIPLE E-MAILS but they also want to have a copy of those mails in their mailboxes

Customers, using CRM systems have got the same issues, so our solution could be universal…

Components & Setup


  1. Setup iDempiere ERP  – iDempiere has wide range of functionalities according to mass dunning process requirements. We need make some setups. First, we need setup two System Configurator. A. BCC emails to Sender (MAIL_SEND_BCC_TO_ADDRESS=Y) B. Use client level SMTP settings instead user level (MAIL_SEND_CREDENTIALS=C). C.)Next we need setup SMTP server details in Client window.
    As last we can make some mail templates users can select
  2. Setup Mandrill – STMP – as i mentioned above, i like this service because simplicity and good reporting options. When your account is done, then simple create a SMTP token, and for best deliverability you need to setup DKIM and SPF records make entitled and trusted to send emails from customer domain.
  3. Thunderbird as end-user Email Client – de-facto standard, people like it, I prefer it on my projects. Official guide is here. To achieve our goal is setup Apply filter when,

 

The Process


All emails created or generated by iDempiere be delivered by mandrill service to original recipient (customer) and BCC’d to sender email server. E-mails will be stored and are traceable on mandrill activity page. User copies will received in Thunderbird and routed by filter and  stored in Sent Messages Mailbox. 

Future Improvements and Vision

I’m thinking about develop a iDempiere Mandrill plugin, extend iDempiere email setup by features using Mandrill API and sending more detailed informations about emails to make it better filterable.

 

Why I write this blog?

During my studies of Sound Composition in Budapest, Hungary, I was fascinated by the laws of music composing and the rules of making the composition of tones to sound right. Although, we had been using some simple software systems for sound arrangements and production (cut, dramatics, effects…) in the university, it was millions of miles far from anything called business management or enterprise resource planning software.

However, when I started to think about opening my own business (that time a sound engineering studio) I started to look for and test various different, mostly CRM software systems (for managing my own clients) in combination with accounting for a small business.
The world of software was growing significantly day by day and while I was experiencing very often that many companies around me were failing to manage their operations, processes and documents, I started to think to focus rather on software consultacy services to help them out.

Marginally, I had also a chance to see presentations of the top notch CRM systems as Salesforce, SugarCRM, and DMS systems – e.g.Alfresco… and, of course, I first heared about big ERP players like SAP and Oracle.

Maybe it sounds little bit strange to someone, but the complexity and harmony of all the processes operating in one time within these software systems trully impressed me…

And then, back in 2004 I met with the Swedish ERP software system (HansaWorld Enterprise) Sales Representative, who presented me this flagship system of their company and showed me what it worth. „The nordic simplicity“ seemed really reasonably to me! So I decided to cooperate with HansaWorld Enterprise as a partner, supplier of their services, implementor and consultant and I did it for whole 10 years. Firstly, we operated in Budapest, Hungary and then we opened our premisses also in Czech Republic and Slovakia were I come from. I was lucky to work within international team of Hansa World Enterprise, to join them first time in Grand Canaria, Spain.

Before Apple won the world with his iMac in 2001…

One important thing I also appreciated with HansaWorld Enterprise was that it operates well on Apple computers.

You know, already in early 90´s I became a total fan of the Macintosh world and Steve Jobs. My personal experience with using Macintosh technologies started in 1995 when I started to use Apple Performa 5200. I started to study more and more and gone to the very botom spheres of software consultacy and implementation, having long and deep discussions with professionals throughout the world. The more deep and wide I got, the more active I was meeting people from the wide open source community.

I spoke with developers, implementators, software testers, users… And I was fascinated increasingly by the way these people think and work.
I met the fact that the freedom is the most important value for me and although great experience with stable proprietary business system I decided to bring something and participate for the open source community, I met lot of new friends ….Well, today, 9 years later, it is just natural for me to say, I am one of the evangelists of open source life style and that with open source I simply found my way… And,all the experience I gained and which I write about, are commercially used by company based by me and successfully sold to our customers .

And thanks to many great people from the open source community around the world and my company team members´enjoyment from saving resources, process optimization and putting things into the right order flows from me to everyone…