The story behind the Ofuz vision

June 7th, 2011 by philippe

Since starting my IT career in the ’90s, I’ve seen how open standards (http, html, javascript) and open source technologies (Linux, mysql, perl, php) have pushed humanity fast forward to the future.

Today, open source is king and the once rulers of the closed software world are now irrelevant with levels of innovation close to null.

As an hardcore open source advocate, I woke up one morning and realized that my mission was done. I didn’t need to push open source in businesses as even the smallest ones knew what MySQL or WordPress was.

Web and open standards are the norm for all new applications businesses would uses.

So, is it all good?

Well, technology has changed in 15 years. It moved from personal computers to the cloud. Personal and business information that once was on your own computer is now on servers [spread] all over the world.

Servers are much more reliable than your own computer and often more secure, so they will do a better job at keeping your information.

So, with the cloud is it definitely all good?

Yes, except you do not own your information. Naturally, all those new services have emerged as closed standards.

As an individual, you may not care that you do not own your data on Facebook or Twitter, but as a business you should care about all your data being locked up by an online service.

What if Intuit, Google Docs, Constant Contact, Freshbooks, Harvest, Basecamp or Highrise went offline? What will you do when they will increase their fees by 200%?

The answer is nothing, there is nothing you can do. The invoices, documents, mailing lists and projects you create and manage are not yours as long as they are locked in your service provider’s system.

We have created Ofuz to give businesses their data back.

Ofuz works by giving you a choice on where you want your business data to be hosted. It guarantees you that the application that runs your business will be available forever.

You can use Ofuz on the cloud and benefits from its convenience, but we are also an open source project, which mean Ofuz is available for download and can be installed and hosted by a third party or on your own server.

You can export all your account data and re-import them on your own self-hosted version of Ofuz whenever you want.

If Ofuz ever goes out of business, the application will still be available and chances are that our open source community will keep improving it.

WordPress also follows that same principal and dozens of other new open source projects are coming up offering that same freedom and ownership of your data.

A new open source revolution is starting and it will again spur innovation and move us forward.

Ofuz review, to increase efficiency in a small business

February 3rd, 2011 by philippe

Nice article on how others are using Ofuz to manage projects.

http://smallbizontheweb.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/using-ofuz-cloud-computing-to-increase-efficiency-in-a-small-business/

Ofuz 0.6.2 is out … the Twitter release

December 14th, 2010 by philippe

Good news today: We are releasing a new version of Ofuz.

Online and for download on your own server.

The Twitter Release

There aren’t many new features this time because we are working hard towards the Version 1.0 release: full, stable, and getting out of beta. So hundreds and hundreds of hours have been spent in fixing bugs and improving features that weren’t fully working. The next major release will probably follow this trend as well.

One of the things we are doing to reach the goal of a very stable system is to move all the experimental and not yet ready for production features to plug-ins.

So for releases 0.6.3 to 0.7 we will have fewer features but more plugins.

A big improvement on the Open Source / community release is that we actually tested the Open Source download version; it is much more stable than the previous one.

New features includes:

Source code highlight

It’s a cool feature for developers when sharing source code snippets in notes & project discussions.

To use it, add <sourcecode> </sourcecode> around your source code.

If you have a specific language, add it in the tag like:  <sourcecode php>, <sourcecode javascript> or <sourcecode css>

Twitter full rewrite
Our initial implementation of the Tweet import was using the Twitter public RSS feeds. The issue was that they were down most of the time, creating tons of unexpected problems.
So we went for a full rewrite with the Twitter API.
The main features are:
- Broadcast private messages to your followers.
- Follow the tweets of your friends or followers.
- log in with Twitter.

Ofuz is not a replacement for Twitter UI or some of the great Twitter application out there. But it make sense to be able to follow and record the tweets of some of your professional contacts. Specifically, the ones you need to follow when you are working.

Broadcasting private messages is an experiment. It comes from our concept that a Customer Relation app should be able to use all channels of communication, not only email.
So when you decide to send a mailing, if your contact doesn’t have an email address and is following you on Twitter, the message will be sent to his/her Twitter private message inbox.

Twitter login will let connect your Ofuz account with your Twitter account, so you can then forget your Ofuz password and always log in with your Twitter credentials.

This release includes a lot of bug fixes and adjustments like usual, including:
- bug fixed on the VCF import
- bug fixed when updating the Settings information page
- bug fixed in the Google login
- New process and start page for new users
- Improved the co-worker invitation process; it’s simpler and smoother
- utf8 bug fixed in tasks & tags
- bug fix when adding multiple phone numbers or email addresses to contacts

You can follow our development and progress on the version 0.7 at:
http://www.ofuz.net/PublicProject/361

Video tutorial on sending personalized mailing with Ofuz

November 19th, 2010 by philippe

This is a quick video to present how to send personalized mailing to your Ofuz contact.

WebResourcesDepot post

September 21st, 2010 by philippe

Web Resources Depot mentioned us this past weekend, and the news got picked up by other blogs and Twitter.
The result was that the Ofuz sites were very slow during mid-day on Sunday.
We are catching up with the traffic and things should be fine now.

Web Resources Depot is a great blog for Designers and Developers — tons of good and useful stuff.

Ofuz is Open Source; what does that mean?

September 17th, 2010 by philippe

Ofuz in an Open Source project.

For developers it’s clear what that means but for most of us it doesn’t. There is a lot of confusion on what the benefits are of an Open Source application.

So I will try to describe the four benefits that matter most for a freelancer of small business.

Long term stability

When you need to select an application for your business, you want to know that you’ll be able to use it for the long run … like forever.

All the software companies — at one point or another — phase out their applications, force you  to upgrade, or even go out of business entirely.

By selecting Open Source software like Ofuz you have the long term stability guarantee. Even if the current developer gets purchased or goes out of business entirely, you will be able to take all your data and the application itself to run it on your own.

This is unique, and the great advantage of Open Source applications over all the Software as a Service you can find online today.

Openness

By definition we are open; more than any other proprietary company, our development process is open and accessible to all, our source code is readable, and our documentation is open to all.

The open source model will guarantee we stay true and honest.





Security

Our source code is open to thousands of eyes to review and give feedback. Overtime Ofuz will have a more secure design than our non-open source competitors.

This is critical as security problems and confidentiality issues of online software has just started.

Personalization and customization

I put it last because this is the most important of all.

Every business is different and we all have our secret sauce that make us serve our customer better than anybody else. By creating our base application with the core features that work for most businesses and then adding a simple but elegant feature to customize and extend it:  the plug-in API.

We invite other businesses all over the world to customize our base and make a Plug-In that will sculpt Ofuz to fit their specific needs.
Those businesses will get a custom application to perfectly fit their business model.

Customizing Ofuz by creating a Plug-In costs a fraction of what is involved in building a custom application from scratch.

The result will be — over time — thousands of extensions and Plug-Ins available to enhance Ofuz and make it fit perfectly into any business model and give you maximum productivity.

This model is not new; it has already been proven by other types of software. Take for example WordPress.
Look at all the plug-ins available: over 11,283 plug-ins available today.

Each of those plug-ins is a specific feature that will make your WordPress blog unique and fits your specific needs. Now look at the non-open source blogging alternatives and let me know how much you can customize them?

That what it means being Open Source. It means you will get an application with long term stability, security, openness and that’s customizable.

Ofuz 0.6 available online and for download

September 15th, 2010 by philippe

It’s been two years since we started the first mock-ups and prototypes for Ofuz. We have now implemented all of the base features that we wanted. Each of our 3 components has the most important and used features that a business needs to operate.

We understand that no one business is the same and for that we created a REST API and a Plug-In API so, just like WordPress, you will be able to customize your Ofuz experience with Plug-Ins that match your business model and processes.

From now on we will improve usability and stability in the core features of Ofuz, and all additional features will come from plug-ins.

Today I feel like Ofuz is on track to fulfill the promise of improving freelancers’ and small businesses’ productivity.

If you are curious and a bit technical, all our development is public. You can see the details of all the tasks we completed at: http://ofuz.net/PublicProject/166 and the current tasks we are working on are at: http://www.ofuz.net/PublicProject/361

Version 0.6 is our biggest release ever, because we are reaching our goals on stability and with the core features we wanted.

The hard part is that most of you will not see the changes. They are structural changes like the multi-language support and the Plug-In APIs for the open source release.

What you can see is the documentation we have written last month for the PHP developers.
You will also enjoy some of the performance improvement we did as well as a nice new feature: the task multi-select. Like, for the contact you can select one or more contacts or tasks and apply an action to them. Like, select 5 differents tasks in a project and close them all as done, or select 3 contacts and send them a message.

Some of the important tasks in this release:

General

Invoices

  • Taxes on total invoices
  • Taxes per items
  • Apply one payments on multiple invoices
  • Invoice REST API
  • All-year list of invoices
  • Client access to invoices due
  • Multiple Monetary format
  • Auto-create contacts

Project

  • Project multi-select

Contact

  • Improved contact multi-select
  • Tag added to the shared contact
  • Email Auto Responders

Developers and other tech savvy users can download Ofuz. If you want to get started right away use Ofuz online.

how to create an invoice with online payment

August 30th, 2010 by philippe

Here is the first video of our new tutorial series for Ofuz’s invoicing features.

This video shows and describes how to both create an invoice and get a payment in 3 minutes.

When you create an invoice in Ofuz, you have the ability to send it by email. And from only that email, your client will have a link to review the invoice and pay it online.

He will also receive a PDF version of the invoice for him to keep off-line on his computer.

We made the process of creating invoices and receiving payments as quick and simple as possible.
Give it a try and let us know how fast you got paid.

No news is good news

August 17th, 2010 by philippe

Quick update on what we are up to.

Didn’t have time to write much to the blog as we are spending all of our energy on the open source release of Ofuz.

We are very excited about it; we are preparing all the cool stuff we wanted to have in an open source project.

Our challenge is to make it simple for developers to customize and extend Ofuz without the need to learn how the Ofuz Core works. So we are creating 3 APIs: Block, Tab, and Setting, each with very simple hook logic so in a few minutes a developer can integrate his own code and customization in Ofuz open source without modifying the Ofuz Core.

The plug-in API is 80% done, the multilingual i18n is 100% done, the forum and wiki are up and running, but the documentation is still only at 10%.

Everybody that requests an alert on our Open Source Page will have an early access to the source code downloads and community site.

In the meantime, we have fixed tons of little bugs and annoyances on Ofuz. You can follow the development of version 0.6 at:

http://ofuz.net/PublicProject/166

Stay tuned.