On Sat, Mar 13, 2004 at 04:58:46PM -0600, Kevin D. Kinsey, DaleCo, S.P. wrote:
I wonder if there's a niche for this?Are there anyone out there with experience in using Open Source software on top of FreeBSD to manage a travel agency?
I have searched through Google and Freshmeat without really finding
any decent Open Source booking systems. I was hoping someone could
give me any hints as where to start my journey.
You could probably get some guys over at sourceforge interested in an app ... web based, perhaps? PHP? Or Perl?
Heck, if I knew anything about
the travel business .....
There are niches like this for all sorts of business applications -- Customer Relationship Management, Payroll, Account Books, Billing Systems, Business Development Information Management, Trouble Ticket Management. The common characteristics seem to be:
* That they are or can be generally structured as 3-tier systems (Data -- usually a RDBMS backend, Logic -- business logic middle ware: web based applications in Perl, Java or PHP are becoming popular in this role; and Presentation -- either a specialised 'thick' client application or more and more often nowadays a web browser (the ultimate 'thin' client)).
* Generally require a degree of bespoke work for each client -- if not writing the entire system from scratch, then assembling it from a library of modules and customising various parts to the clients specific needs.
* Very rarely done as Free or Open Source projects. About the only good example I can think of is the 'RT' Trouble Ticket management system: http://www.bestpractical.com/rt/ Usually such projects are done on a contract basis for each specific client. Most companies supplying such software will have a generic version available more as a shop window than as a serious sales proposition -- RT is towards the generic end of the spectrum.
This sort of software business is huge, and lucrative. Up at the top end, this is where the likes of Oracle and SAP make the majority of their money. But businesses of all scales need these sorts of applications, and there are certainly opportunities for people willing to exploit the freedoms (and lack of licensing costs) of open source software. If you can provide an effective and cost effective solution to a small business, they aren't going to quibble too much about it running on some weird system like FreeBSD that they've never heard of before. And you aren't going to have too many worries about costs and OS problems and dealing with viruses etc. making it uneconomic to take their money in order to provide a support service for a system running on our favourite OS.
While such applications need not be 'free' in the free-beer sense, or even generally published to the 'net at large, there's no overriding reason for them not to be open source between the customer and vendor -- in fact, that would generally prove a great selling point at the low end: even if the vendor goes bust, the client is not left entirely high and dry if they have access to the source code.
This is perhaps the next great opening where Free software can make in-roads, after the 'generic server' market and the network appliance market. It's certainly a much more tractable proposition at the moment than attempting to conquer the desktop market.
Excellent post, Matthew; and this is most certainly what I was hinting at. I currently have lots on my plate, but one project I'm excited about, if not quite worked up enough to finish (!) is a web-app for a particular warehousing niche. Many retail business are utilizing web-based/browser apps on the sales floor; I see no reason why this shouldn't hold true in the warehouse. Almost every job seeker in most locales within a few more years (if not already) will be at least "passing" familiar with the interface....
I already have created a grotesque monster in PHP that tracks my appointments, submits my worklogs to my billing service, calcs my checkbook, manages customer data & domains, monitors my servers, reports my yearly income/diem, holds a document repository for FreeBSD, PHP, MySQL, etc.
As you've noted, the real issue is that anything generic enough to apply to "most any" niche is not specific enough to be useful to the average user, (e.g. nola, dea, etc., well, possibly!)
My two pennies (and thanks for your GBP!)
Kevin Kinsey DaleCo, S.P. _______________________________________________ [EMAIL PROTECTED] mailing list http://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions To unsubscribe, send any mail to "[EMAIL PROTECTED]"