The C-Flow Business Application Framework

My Plan for C-Flow

           Now don't get me wrong. I'm not got to be authoritarian about this. This document details the way forward as I see it. Everything is negotiable.

The Product Overview

There are numerous aspects to this product, but a proposed summary is listed below. A more detailed description will follow (once I have typed it out)
  • The core would consist of a database, a server program for serving applications and data as well as scheduling and running jobs (program scripts). There would be at least one client capable of presenting the user interface as served from the server. This portion will be totally open source and free of charge.
  • A developer interface and IDE would run at the client. This will also be free and open source.
  • A product registration module will probably not be open source to enable the development team to properly track the number of installations. People are funny creatures and generally will only complain about something once it no longer works. Registration will be free of charge, but will be required to operate. I would like to know, that if there are 500 users out there, why have only 10 upgraded to the new version etc. This can only be achieved by registration. 
  • Application Modules. A module would consist of a related set of screens, scripts and reports. This division into modules would be for the sake of organisation for the application developer but would sit in the pool of scripts available to all at run time (subject, of course, to access control).
  • Plugin script language extensions - The open source-ness (there's one for Oxford) of these extensions would be at the discretion of the developer. 
The core product will be created and administered in this Sourceforge project. The Main application development, that is, the ERP/CRM application designed to run within the core will be administered in another project.

The Target Market

This is a difficult question to answer. The core product, I see, as a fully scalable replacement for MS Access and the SAP development environment. Granted, some serious design wizardry will be needed to achieve this from the user perspective, but as a developer, it will be far more powerful than MS Access and better controlled for applications that, as we know, grow out of control. It will be far simpler and create much nicer screens than SAP. I certainly see the future as having some user tools that allow the users to easily create applications for their own use. I would also like to see some application import tools being developed to facilitate the world-wide C-Flow explosion.

On the other hand, I see the full application as a direct opposition product to SAP, BAAN, JD Edwards, Compiere and TinyERP. That's before we even start attacking the various accounting packages.

Once the core is complete, the next team (or the same one) can start on the application scripts.

What needs to be done?

Prior to releasing the source:

  1. Strip out the existing application stuff leaving the application shell

The new C-Flow

  1. Some open source projects that I have used so far and some that I would like to integrate into this project are listed below. I have chosen these projects for no other reason than the fact that I know them - I am completely open to suggestions.
    • TurboCASH - the accounting functionality in C-Flow is weak. TurboCASH has an accounting core which I believe can be used to great advantage. Make no mistake - This alone is beyond my capability and is no small task. If it can be done then it will be great.
    • To enable the handling of an on board CVS for storage and management of application projects, I propose that FreeVCS by Thomas Hensle (Now called .....) be incorporated. This project uses a similar infrastructure to C-Flow and with a little adaptation will slot neatly into C-Flow. Have a look at the Delphi IDE version. It is really neat.
    • The latest thing in data transport seems to be xmlrpc. I have downloaded objects that I found at  that seem to work well. My only hesitation is the size of the transported xml relative to the raw data. My feeling here is that we set about developing a set of functions that we need, then build an rpc wrapper plus an xmlrpc wrapper etc. That would keep the options open.
    • Delphi Web Script, I think, is absolute magic. I would like to rebuild based on version 2. It is even bigger and better that version 1 and allows the use of functions and procedures. This will require a futher set of function wrappers to be developed for incorporation into the DWS framework. 
    • DSN is a set of components by Kazuhiro Sasaki that allows run time design of forms and components. A good starting point for the screen designer. I downloaded from many moons ago.
    • I currently use SynEdit for the IDE editor.
    • There will be more......
  2. The first step will be ......
  3. ...

Once the Engine is built

  1. Design the Application....
  2. Get Sourceforge to add a new development environment to their options
  3. move this to a new project in Sourceforge
  4. Start an entirely new way of building business applications
  5. .....

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