Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a phenomenal response to the release of once:radix 1.5.
With our flagship ERP application – once:fabrik – planned for release as an open source project by the end of September, it would be a great help if we knew a little more about the way once:radix is being used.
It is our policy to not invade your privacy. But you could help us a great deal with our planning and development. And that will allow us to serve you better.
* We would like to know more about the applications for which once:radix is being used or is planned to be used.
* We would like to know what operating system is being used to host the server and the likely number of users.
* We'd like to know what problems you have during installation/development.
* We'd like to know your likes and dislikes with once:radix.
* And we'd like to know how we may serve you better. e.g. Some have asked for us to write a Programmer’s Cookbook.
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Either way, we hope to hear from you soon.
I have not yet deployed once:radix for production use. Since the new version came out, I have mostly been learning the application and reading the documentation. However, my eventual goal is to use once:radix to design and deploy a custom ERP-like application for my employer. I say "ERP-like" because I'm not sure just how many business processes my employer will want to include in this new application. Some of our operations workflows will be the first to be implemented, and maybe in the future accounting, human resources, etc. will be included. The current company platform is Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Windows XP Pro running on the client machines.
The change in strategy regarding installers was definitely a good decision. One-click installers are difficult to implement because of the wide range of platforms in current use. It seems to me that the once:radix target market is the business power-user who is more tech-savvy than the average end-user but not as experienced or learned as the professional system administrator. I believe the key difference between the power-user and the system administrator is tolerance for frustration. The power-user is willing to install multiple pieces, edit configuration files, and even use the command line so long as he/she has detailed instructions to follow that produce the desired end results. Whereas the system administrator expects, and can handle, problems in implementing any network application, the power-user will only get frustrated and likely dismiss the application as a whole. As a power-user, I am grateful that the once:radix documentation is so detailed and accurate. The documentation is a real strength of once:radix because it not only supports the target market but also sets once:radix apart from the majority of other open source applications which follow a program, release, document strategy rather than a program, document, release strategy.
As an open source project and as a development tool, once:radix has an excellent foundation. It already can compete feature-for-feature with commercial applications with larger market share: Filemaker, Microsoft Access, AlphaFive, etc. Furthermore, once:radix sets itself apart from those other applications by being completely browser based. Web applications are the future, and once:radix does not have to struggle with a desktop-based legacy that those other applications have. Also, having Once:Technologies supporting and leading the development of once:radix will be key to its success. The support of a commercial enterprise is what raises an open source project to greater levels (i.e. Red Hat with Fedora and Sun with Open Office).
Finally, I believe there are three urgent enhancements needed for once:radix. In order of urgency:
1) SSL support and documentation for setup: When proposing any web application to a boss or client, if he/she does not see the "little lock picture" in the browser to indicate SSL encryption, it is very hard to convince him/her to use it. Also, SSL encryption is needed for secure use of once:radix when hosted in a third-party data center.
*********Update: see the SSL thread; this feature may be coming soon.**********
2) Support for clustering: the ability to run Tomcat on one server and PostgreSQL on another server is important for large applications.
3) Support for multiple RDBMS: While PostgreSQL is a great choice for creating a new database, many applications will need to access and manipulate data already stored in another RDBMS (Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MYSQL, etc.).
At least for my uses, I could do without numbers 2 and 3 for some time (my application won't be big enough to require clustering anytime soon and I can use data migration tools to circumvent number 3). However, SSL support and documentation is a critical need for me.
Once:radix is already a great rapid application development tool, and I know it is only going to get better.
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