Openbravo's User Experience Lab
GUI design, ERP Usability and Visual Design

Openbravo ERP 3.0 - Release Candidate 1 is available for download

Friday, July 23, 2010

Release Candidate 1 is our first step towards Openbravo ERP 3.0. It is an early release that is comparable to a pre-alpha release. It gives a sneak peek into what is coming in 3.0 but be aware that this release candidate is largely incomplete. In fact it contains only 39% of the functionality we plan for the 3.0 core delivery.

It sports tabs, quick launch menus, a new application menu and a first stab at the My Openbravo portal page. In addition to the new GUI, we also introduce:

  • A narrowed down scope based on the key flows
  • New standard roles (discuss)
  • Redesigned financial flows, including advanced payables and receivables management (discuss)
View some screenshots, read the release notes, download the virtual appliance, run it in our demo instance online (Openbravo/openbravo) and discuss it all on the early release forum.


The Family Grid - part II

Monday, July 12, 2010

Simple, real-time business intelligence by manipulating grids

Reporting is an essential part of everyday business and therefore an essential part of an ERP. Today´s businesses need relevant, up-to-date, accurate and consumable metrics that help them make the right decisions. Traditionally, reports are generated once in a while (month, quarter) and are exported to PDF for printing & annotating or Excel for further manipulation. Reports are used in presentations and meetings to look at past performance, understand the status quo and project future performance. The danger lies in the choice of dimensions and the interpretation of the data. Reports are static and generated as a one-off document with a set of dimensions, normally defined by a ready-made SQL query or via a visual query builder. Openbravo´s Sales Dimensional Reports allow the user to choose a number of filters and dimensions and even the sorting order can be set. This works well if the user knows in advance what metrics she is looking for and what data set she wants to look at. The drawback is that it does not allow analyzing the data in realtime by changing the filters and dimensions and looking at the impact on the results while doing so.

A while ago, in the Family Grid, I have presented a fairly abstract idea for basic business intelligence functionality by combining parent and child data in one grid, joining grids and filtering and aggregating columns. Now, I´d like to show you a more simplified version of this idea.

The Family Grid II scenario (download it here) lets the user view sales orders in one grid and a set of order lines for all of these in the other. Both the sales order grid and the order lines grid can be filtered on any attribute using column filters. Columns containing numerical values can be aggregated (sum, count, average, median). The grids can be joined (inner or outer join) with the click of a button which, for example, lets the user find all sales order that contain a certain product (or all sales that do not contain that certain product). Final result sets can be exported to Excel or PDF and the view (which is in fact a query rather than a report) can be saved for reuse.

It should be noted that this approach does not intend to replace traditional reporting because many SQL queries just cannot be build using the Family Grid. However, I believe that this way of manipulating grids is very powerful and can lead to insights that can be hard to discover using traditional one-way reporting. Playing with a data set in real time using parent and child grids, filters, aggregations and joins with an easy-to-use GUI lets non-expert users unlock the power of data in an ERP without having to invest in hi-end business intelligent software.

Are you as convinced as I am about the business value of this feature? Discuss it here.

By the way, we´re not happy with the name of this functionality. Family Grid does not cover it really. What about RapidGrid, GridSift, PowerGrid, Data Distiller, Metrix, EasyAnswer, RapidAnswer, IntelliGrid, "Openbravo RapidEdge Edition – the fastest way to start a competitive edge", "PerfectGrid - the fast & simple way to your information"?

New Multiple Selection Widget Proposal

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Check out this concept for a selector that allows for multiple object selection. It´s a hybrid between toggled selection (using checkboxes to select multiple and discontinuous objects) and collected selection. See how it works.

To Stretch or Not to Stretch

In this stage we´re almost done with the HTML for the forms and grids for the 3.0 GUI. We´ve built two versions for the forms:

1. Fixed width fields. Example here

2. Relative width fields: depending on screen resolution, the fields will be stretched. Example here

Both have pros and cons. Fixed width fields are easier to scan (especially on wide screen monitors) and I suspect them to be faster in use (although the difference may be insignificant). Relative width fields allow for long value input, without the value (string of characters) being cut off. Nothing more annoying than not being able to distinguish a value because the most distinguishing characters are at the end, just outside the field.

There is even a third option: variable length input fields are pretty cool as well but I´m afraid of a creating messy forms when fields stretch individually so in case you wanted to suggest this: Don´t :-)

Also, the tab order in these demo sites follow the html by default, which is up to down. The current OB form tab order goes from the left to the right. What works best for you?

I would like to hear you opinion & experiences on both topics. Drop you reactions here.

Openbravo San Fermin: Let the Bull run through your Company

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pamplona is the birthplace of our flagship product Openbravo ERP but it is probably better known for its yearly San Fermin festival where millions of people gather to watch the famous encierro, the running of the bulls. This year we wanted to share a bit of local pride with you by letting the bull run through your company as well. We´ve created a San Fermin skin that can be downloaded as a module and applied to your instance. Find the instructions here.

We´ve also painted our demo site red ( , go have a look!

A special thanks to Miguel Rodriguez Font who created the bull logo, beautifully crafted using graphic characters only.