Project of the Month - September 2011
Opacus SugarCRM Thunderbird Extension
Description of project
The new Opacus SugarCRM Thunderbird plugin offers support for SugarCRM version 5.5 and upwards, including for the brand new version 6.2
Why are you a leading contributor in the SugarCRM community? What are the benefits that you experience from your involvement?
Because as keen users and supporters of SugarCRM we were very aware of the added value great plugins and extensions can bring to the CRM. We have had some great feedback from our users which has enabled us to improve them over time, a rewarding experience.
What other projects have you been involved with on SugarForge.org?
We've been involved in bringing CalDAV support to SugarCRM with the Opacus Activity Sync, and also we're the authors of the popular Outlook Plugin, also available on SugarForge.
What inspired you to create this project?
We have a couple of Ubuntu Linux users on the team and the available plugins for Thunderbird didn't quite meet requirements, especially with the newer version of SugarCRM. Around the time we began developing the extension we were beginning trials of the Outlook Plugin and decided it would make an excellent addition to the family.
What business pain points were you solving specifically?
As much as we use SugarCRM we also use our mail clients, and missing history in a CRM is quite a big problem. Finding a means of adding crucial correspondence into the CRM directly from Thunderbird, almost as a natural part of one's normal usage, seemed to meet that requirement.
Is there anything that the users should know about those? Something hidden/new in this project? Think of this as an opportunity to describe how it works to a user?
We hoped to make the extension as intuitive as possible, with all the features in expected places, but it may help users to know that by hovering over returned results the related account name is displayed. This might assist in finding the correct record to archive emails to. We have recently released a Professional version which has been warmly received by existing users of the free version, and which provides a much extended feature set.
What do you see as the future of Mozilla Thunderbird as product for business users?
Thunderbird has recently been brought back under the main Mozilla umbrella and into Mozilla Labs, and has seen its release schedule more closely tied to that of its bigger sibling, Firefox, which indicates continued strong support from Mozilla. According to recent figures, Thunderbird user adoption is on the rise, and the later versions have included good usability enhancements. It's a challenging market but one which Thunderbird, with its cross-platform support, is well placed to compete in. We wish it well!
What would you say to encourage additional community participation?
We'd love to see a streamlining of SugarForge itself, with ageing and possibly obsolete projects moved out of the main search results/category pages. Project activity statistics aren't always an accurate guide to whether a project is still being maintained, and the project software requirements are a little narrow (i.e. only two versions of SugarCRM can be specified to work with a module or extension). We all like the Public Git repository and its openness to contributions.
What do you want to build next for Sugar?
We're keen to improve and extend functionality on our existing range of products, with possible support for Outlook 2003/2011 coming to the Outlook Plugin and tighter integration with the CalDAV sync for the Thunderbird extension. We'd like to add more languages to the Thunderbird extension, so if anyone fluent in anything other than Danish, Italian or German is reading, we'd love to hear from you.
Past Projects of the Month