I see things very differently, and I think that different perspective is a big part of why Frappe has been such a great fit for my organization. In my first post here, I said that nearly all bad experiences come from a misunderstanding of what ERPNext is (and isn’t). I stand by that, so at risk of being a bit self-indulgent I’ll share a bit of background that might help people decide if ERPNext is actually what they’re looking for.
(Long text ahead!)
I work at an academic cooperative. We are perpetually tight on cash but have a great network of very dedicated volunteers. A few of us manage an ERPNext instance on behalf of the organization, and it’s done amazing things to support our experiments with transparency and distributed decision making. (Incidentally, it’s been very cool seeing Rushabh’s blog posts about similar experiments at Frappe Inc. We didn’t know anything about the company behind ERPNext coming in, and I’d still say it was a great product if it had come from a more traditional company, but the philosophy certainly makes the project feel more kindred to our values.)
On needing to be an experienced, full-stack developer: I just don’t get this. I hear it said all the time, but it’s so contrary to my own experiences. I mean, I’m a college professor…in a very “soft” branch of the social sciences, no less. I did a bit of web design a million years ago in college (back when jQuery was cutting edge), and I have a decent grasp on core CS concepts from work I’ve done in data analysis (mostly in a very specialized programming language with no application to modern frameworks). Beyond that, I’m a total amateur. When I look at pull requests by people like revant_one or rmeyer, I barely understand what’s happening. The first python code I ever looked at was ERPNext’s. Even with that minimal foundation, I feel like I’m able to do pretty much anything I can imagine. Frappe has a great architecture of hooks and customizations accessible from the client-side, which makes meaningful development a very rapid process.
On being less mature than the “traditional” ERPs: I’m sure this is true. But, I think it’s important to understand the trade-offs. Another organization I work with has a very expensive SAP install. They ran into a show-stopper bug/limitation related to multicurrency invoicing, and getting it fixed ended up costing them about $35,000. At my organization, meanwhile, we wanted to add multi-currency support to the POS. I had it working in about 8 hours of my own (amateur) development time. If I had known what I was doing, it would have been half that.
I’ll echo @mcd.steven here to emphasize that Frappe has always been “framework first”, which sometimes comes at the expense of individual doctypes but makes custom development so much more accessible. We’ve probably had to do more customization/fixing with ERPNext than we would have needed to do with one of the “old-guard” ERPs, but with those old-guard systems the barriers to customization are much, much higher. That’s the structural trade-off, and as an organization we’re very happy with the balance.
On being difficult to install and deploy: Having watched this forum for several years, I have developed a strong opinion on this. I see zero reason why anyone, especially newcomers, should be installing ERPNext manually. In 99% of cases, docker or frappe.cloud is the correct answer.
On planning and relationships with the community: This I also feel strongly about. I understand why some people want a roadmap, complete with formal processes for incorporating feedback from diverse stakeholders. Frappe has a very different ethos. I find their approach dynamic and effective. That said, there are certainly arguments for other, more centralized styles of governance.
But, it’s a fine, fine line between “offering feedback” and “having other people do what I want”. Ideas are cheap; work is hard. I’ve never seen an open-source project at this scale where the maintainers are more actively engaged with the userbase. At my organization, we also use Moodle and Drupal a fair bit (though we’re shifting much of that over to Frappe now). Both of those projects have very strong planning processes, but getting a seat at the table means committing hundreds or thousands of hours a year in developer time.
That’s the blunt reality: I think there’s a profound misunderstanding on these forums of who “the ERPNext community” is. It certainly doesn’t include me or my organization, at least not more than superficially. It’s definitely not this forum. Open source belongs to the builders, and most of us are here to benefit from everything they choose to share. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think that Frappe contributes much back to nginx, nodejs, mariadb, or any of the other open-source packages it depends on. The value those packages offer is beautifully public. Likewise here.
But, work belongs to the people who do it (or, at the very least, the people who pay for it to be done). I’m not aware of a single open-source project anywhere that works any other way. If we want to talk about how empowered or influential the community is, it’s a question we’d have to ask the very small number of people outside of Frappe Inc. who devote significant time to building.