[Discussion] Who Are We?

As we draw towards the end of another calendar year, here are some reflections on the year that went by and what we should expect in the future.

Yesterday over the foundation call we again had the discussion over contributions, which is quickly becoming a hot button topic in the community. Which brings me to a more philosophical question. Who are we?

I don’t mean the superficial answer, “We are ERPNext Community” but the deeper set of values / goals we share. Do we share the same values and goals? And what are those. I think it is time to take this question head-on.

A quick disclaimer before you read ahead, and something we need to get out of the way upfront, that ERPNext is primarily for the end-user. I did not want to state the obvious but this gets confusing as we go along. Our collective goal (we all agree) is that ERPNext should be usable out-of the box by millions of end users, without any hassles. So this post is not for the end users, but for those who have the ability to make this goal happen, that is, developers and service providers, who are also “interested” parties, because they expect to build businesses serving users who will use ERPNext. (If you are just an end user who is customizing for your own self, and never plan to make a business from ERPNext, then you are also not an interested party.)

Based on all the conversations, there are clearly two broad types of interested parties here. One, let us say Type 1, who just care about their business and livelihood. For them, the greater goal is not really important (maybe just mildly entertaining). ERPNext is just another tool, like many other to help them help their customers. Then there are those (Type 2) who along with helping their customers, believe in the greater goal of making ERPNext a valuable community resource that can be used as-is by hundreds of thousands of companies.

So clearly the Type 2 is the one that is driven to improve the product and givers of the value, the rest of the community enjoys. I think Frappe Technologies and ERPNext Foundation are two such entities along with those who spend time answering questions on the forum and send contributions. Now lets talk about Type 1 at the moment. These are primarily “takers” they take value from the community and don’t really care about giving back.

My basic question is should the Type 1 be a part of this community? For the Type 1 community there are many such products they can choose (like the one with many "O"s next door), so they have no special affinity to our common goal.

The reason they are problematic is that they destroy culture for everyone else. If they are very visible, then the new members think that, “ok, it seems everyone here is for themselves, let me also do the same” and the culture spreads. This is that is currently happening in the community. Very few people are coming forward and doing contributions that are changing this, and we need to deal with this NOW rather than later.

So how do we identify the Type 1 and how do we make sure either they convert to Type 2 or stay away from this community? I think we need to take this call as a community. This means those who are on the fence, need to wake up immediately and start taking on leadership roles that will help us achieve our goals. Not only sending contributions, but also actively participating in reviews of new features, testing and bug reporting.

Either we can become, yet-another-ERP in the market or we use this opportunity to do something truly impactful. I can say for myself that I am only interested in the broader goal. I would love everyone to think about their goals in 2018. The current talent we have in the community is enough to take us there, we just need to be clear about it. This is not about a gladiatorial battle against the First Order, but something that has been done before in many domains, and will be done in ERP too, if not by us. The question before us is, will we do it?

One last point is that we value your knowledge more than your money. So if you are a paying foundation member, that is awesome, but that is not enough. Your time and knowledge are of a far greater value in this community, so think about this and come forward.

Thanks for considering and wish you a great 2018!


Maybe it is time for the good guys to turn bad :slight_smile: and bring in some changes.

In addition to “who are we?” Maybe we also need to think “who do we serve or build things for” - Our own personal satisfaction, Customers or the larger community of developers, service providers etc & do we really believe in contributing anything back.


@rmehta by your definition, I am not an interested party since our focus is on using the software. But I feel like where we (as an organization)derive so much value, we have a ‘moral’ obligation to contribute back (in any meaningful way). Even in the leadership of the accounting group, I see a few members wanting to drive change and as leader of that module, I will be creating a smaller group of people who want to actively contribute like Chude, Sathisha and a couple of others. I would welcome the community’s suggestions on how we as module leaders can be more targeted in our work to produce more PRs.


2018 mantra … talk is cheap …show me the code …and foundation membership as well … :grin:


I’m personally Type 1, user, faar from programming, but put my knowledge to help to get the best out of this product of hard working people.
Keep up + proud to be involved.

Have a pleasant season!


One thing to keep in mind and this gets lost many times over in the open source space: There wouldn’t be type 1 people if the the type 2 didn’t exist. In other words it takes someone who truly believe in the open source spirit to take their time and create something useful for everyone not just themselves. Unfortunately in the open source space there will be many more type 1 folks but we cannot exclude them from the community…

As for me I consider myself type 2. I use the application and I will give back whenever I create or modify something that I code to solve one of my issues.

Mantra for 2018
2018 mantra … talk is cheap …show me the code …

Here is my participation so far

It’s not perfect but it’s getting there and i would like to it to be part of core.

My Type 2 goals fro 2018
Fix the erpnext_woocommerce app and create an erpnext_ebay app

Just my 2 cents


@rmehta Excellent piece, very eloquently put as usual.

I am a type 1, ie a user, a non programmer, and using it in my own business.

But hey I am also a type 2. I am enthused and passionate about ERPNext, I tell people about it keenly who I know may have an interest. I help answer questions in the forums, I test the code and submit bug reports such as for your v10 coming up soon. I’m also part of the CRM group in the community and label CRM and email related issues in Github so we can drill down on these more easily.

So I think you CAN be type 1 and type 2, and just saying ‘hey, I’m not a programmer I can’t really help the community’ is just plain wrong … there is more we can do in other ways to benefit the project.

That said the bulk of what is required is code, code, code, code review and more code.
But there is more to the community than just code :wink:


Count on me as well!!!. Great work ErpNext Team!!. Keep on.

As for type 1 now becoming type 2. Getting hands on Currency Exchange Rate module.

Note: There is a need IMO, that We need to pursue a community DONATION/FOUNDING SOURCE button, so this can help contribute to improve those modules that may have glitches and also those ones that may need to be deployed.


@rmehta. I completely support your thoughts on driving the right culture. I like your writing, it’s very good. :ok_hand:

I was wondering on what we as community can do to manage type 1, as in real action points?

I’m Type 2 category. Hopefully our time on forum in 2018 will increase and whatever we could in our domain as functional resources.


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You mean create a group which is even further subset of accounts module group? If yes, why?

I understand that in group dynamics some members would be active, some would be less active, and some are passive. But. it’s not a good idea to keep making smaller and smaller separate groups, just to drive active conversations.


I think you have oversimplified the issue and left me more confused than I was before! Our goal is to build a great ERP product which should be used by millions of people freely out of the box. But we don’t have enough resources to do that and asking for volunteers to help build this dream. However we don’t mind end users freely using it without contributing anything back. Why? Because it is our dream to build something great for them to use it freely. We are fine end users getting all the benefits for free but not happy with service providers making some money using ERPNext similar to end users. Is that because it is highly profitable being a ERPNext service provider and they have become too greedy not to contribute back? I don’t know. It would be really great if someone can share some data about that. If that is not true, you are not on the right track to solve this problem of community contribution. The more ERPNext becomes end user friendly, less profitable it becomes for service providers. I am not a service provider yet(unlikely I will become one), but I wish to make some contribution back. Why? Because I have already spent a lot of time on this great product and I realize a lot of things are better contributed back for maintenance purpose rather than keeping it to myself!
I am also surprised to see so many people people stressing too much on code. What about understanding users problems and putting a nice design that explains clearly how to solve the problem? Isn’t that as important as coding? Sadly, we don’t see much of that which makes the whole development less transparent making enthusiastic contributors difficult to enter the development circle. If we are aiming to make the lives of millions easier for free, we shouldn’t shy away from getting something back from them. That will help us reach millions more. If we already have the resources, but somehow failed to deliver, I am not sure what you are really trying to convey in this discussion.


I agree 100%, particularly with the statement about stressing with code… Design is as much if not more important than coding. When a user understands a use case or a particular business and is able to put that in writing, the life of the coder is greatly simplify.

So all those business and subject mater expert out there can contribute with design ideas and use cases… It’s a win win in my book

As for me, I greatly appreciate ERPNext and the community. My experience coming from the Multiple O company has been very smooth and the community has been very responsive on the forum. I hope to be pushing ERPNext to my clients… Any and all modification or addition I will create will be given back to the community. My logic is the make money on knowledge and services not on software and apps.


Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts!

Maybe my disclaimer for end users was still not clear. Of course you are welcome to contribute… and we value your contributions.

My greater point was that those who are interested parties must be mandated to contribute otherwise it’s no point helping them for free on the forum, hoping that one day they will turn around. This just creates a bad culture.

Again this is just my view, primarily as a giver. If there are other givers who have a lot of free time to donate, please go ahead!

Also this is just beyond code, you can report issues, test pull requests, help in documentation, translation etc.


Dear fearless leaders of ERPNext,

Labelling the entire community into one of the two buckets is divisive (good people /bad people). It is a false dichotomy. “You are with is or against us” is not unifying. Nor it is a message of hope. So much so that some people feel compelled to identify with one or the other and “come out”.

It might be “a way” of addressing some issues related to perceived value people bring to this community. But keeping a more positive tone and a positivie leadership approach would be better.

The one thing i note lately is an increased bitterness in posts and a sense of “broken marriage” when one complains that the other one is not doing enough! Might be a perception and most of the time it is just that.

No matter how great a programmer or innovator or visinary we are, we need a constant reminder that LEADERSHIP is about how to bring the best out of everyone. Let’s find clever ways to do that.

It is not about “who we are”. It is about “Who do we want to be?”.

Wish all type 1,2…to type n people the best beginnings in whatever you do.

My wish and hope for 2018 is I can learn a lot as much as possible and contribute as much as possible.


Thanks for sharing your views.

I don’t think negativity is necessarily a bad thing. Every society / group has its way of telling its members that a certain behaviours are not acceptable if they want to be in the group, and you need both carrot and stick to do that.

The behaviour (Type 1) we specifically are talking about is that goes like this “XConnector or XReports are only for my customers and I will not share them with the community. I have invested by developer time building them, so all the benefit should accrue to me”. While this may be a rational way of thinking, but it does not help the community.

What we want is this (Type 2). “My customers use ERPNext and its 203 features for free, I make my money helping my customers setup / use ERPNext. I think XConnector or XReport will be great for my customers, so let me have it added it ERPNext so they can use it, along with everyone else”

If everyone thinks like Type 1, ERPNext as a community will never improve and will fragment into walled gardens. The customers also lose in the long run, as service providers may then keep increasing charges for upgrade and may even refuse to upgrade.

If some people, on reading this post will say, “This is not the community for me, I want full value for my investments” then its fine, there are many places you can go. We want everyone who is able, to put in contributions first to ERPNext before they ship them to their customers, even if it takes a bit longer because they know its right for the customer and the community in the long run. Even if this number is small, this is the only community we should care about, because they will help us reach the goal faster.


I am also not saying negativity is a bad thing. Just that positivity is better. Works in your/our favor.

I have experienced such positivie leadership and it is far more engaging. Negative leadership (by fear, threat) gives short time gains but long term it will take more investment ( continued and growing: anger, resentment, bitternes, stress…) Your own health and time is worth more than anything. Dial back. Remember the pareto distribution: 80% of donations are by 20% people. Applies here to. This is a natural distribution and occurs in nature all the time. You can’t change that. As the numbers grow, we will see more of all kinds of people. People who take and people who give.

The community is a bit of a teenager. It will learn its lessons. It is not suicidal, so let it figure it out.

Further, it is a bit better to say: we had a great year in 2017 thanks to the contributions of so many in so many ways. It could have been even better if those passive contributors got engaged. Wish you all a great 2018.

Wish you all a great year of positivity !!!



This post shows how naive the leadership of this project is.

Making money by helping end users using your open source project is no shame nor evil, it is just why everyone on earth build a business. I mean seriously you’re building an ERP software… a software that has one major goal, which is helping companies make more business/money …etc. I would contribute whenever I can and whenever I want.

  • In order to reach your goal, you should help the service providers make more money. because without service providers, no serious company would trust you enough to move one of the most critical parts of their business to your software (what if something gone wrong, what if we grow and needed to scale the system, or needed an additional features?) and your project will end up dead. and you should make your project a profitable project, not naively offering all of your time and effort for free. And don’t ask people to do your job for free.

Hi buddy, it is funny you joined as a new user to make a comment? care to identify yourself?

There is no restriction on making money. However there is some responsibility as a user or service provider to give something back.

Probably not your cup of tea to be generous.

Please note:
You don’t have to use ERPNext. You are not doing anyone a favour other than yourself.

No one owes you a profit model. Figure that out yourself.

Most importantly identify yourself.


I do not subscribe to this point. Because implementation/training/setup is one part of the service providers activity. Which will always remain irrespective of how simple it becomes. I’m saying this from my experience of helping people on QuickBooks: setup, training, report customization -And I charge a reasonable fee for my time. Even though QuickBooks is much simpler/lean than ERPNext with 9-6 hotline support available, many users do not want to take pain doing on their own.

So, I feel implementation, training, and customization of ERPNext will remain.

Coming to next point, many of the service providers (coders, functional, management guys) are learning ERPNext and want to service companies on their specialization. For eg- We as an accountant wants to make money from servicing on KPI, dashboards, accounting, controls and other services for people using ERPNext. And I assume that ERPNext adopters would prefer service providers for their needs on condition that whether they know the system or not.

I’m with you. The process of contribution on other areas (design, testing, etc.) needs to be simpler to encourage more participation.

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