lisak lisak - 9 days ago 6
Java Question

How much effort needed to deliver a solution based on Apache Ofbiz?

I was trying to get some info from documentation, but it seems that it is one of those projects that you have to check out and play with it to figure the answers out ...

I noticed of hight activity on mailing list and quite a lot of commits, it's a good sign. But when I was looking into the code base (btw 536MB big - not a good sign), I didn't find to much J2EE app fashion in it. No spring, ejb, weird folder structure, quite a lot of non-standard jar libraries. It's like the developers didn't like it so they've done things their own way :-)

I've been using a few similar platforms, mainly portals and for example Liferay is quite easy to work with because it looks as one would expect it to. It is based on Spring, it has, transparent service and dao layer, it has simple plugin architecture (plugin = WAR) etc., typical J2EE development.

I'd like to know what are the key aspects that a developer should be aware of before he decides to use it. And as it is quite non-standard J2EE application, how much time consuming is to get to know it to be able to be productive.

What are its (dis)advantages in comparison with other ERP systems like OpenBravo. If I need mainly Cart rather then ERP backend, should I be interested in OpenTaps ?

I was also playing with Broadleaf Commerce which is way easier to start with.

Thanks very much in advance.

Answer

There is a learning curve and it's not easy to get skilled developers who understand the core of the system which is the Entity Engine and Entity Model.

The database model is built on the Universal Data Model which is why it can support a very wide range of data types. Even JIRA is built on the OFBiz Entity engine.

There are many Ecommerce shopping carts built on OFBiz, and it depends on the extent to which you need to customize products or build configurable packages.

It's very well suited for vanilla products i.e. pick and choose, compare, add to cart. Easy to call web services and expose web services, easy to integrate with PayPal etc. So if you're selling Tshirts and Flowers, it's good.

Anything like configuring a complex product like a laptop with various options will require some custom coding in Beanshell (BSH) or Groovy in addition to Java code. Also it does not naturally integrate with app servers, it runs on it's inbuilt Tomcat but porting to Weblogic etc will be some effort.

The other problem is not enough detailed documentation, I would not say it is missing, it's light - the developer cannot expect an easy tutorial for eveything, it's more "ask and you shall receive" and you will get help on the forums - Usually you get direct replies from David Jones who wrote the framework, so that is helpful. But people who start with OFBiz need at least 3 - 4 months of studying the code and running simple applications before actually building anything.

That's my personal opinion, hope this helps.

I have not worked with Opentaps so really can't comment on that.