Yet Another Open Source CRM?


Most developers I know have a million pet projects they’re either working on or would like to work on. For me, one of the many things I wish I had time for was writing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. No, I’m not looking to go up against the big boys like SalesForce and SugarCRM, it would be more of a learning project. It seems like most every web developer will at one time write at least one of the following things:

  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Project Management (typically just a Basecamp clone these days)

I’ve done the first two already, and have no desire to do the third, but I have been wanting to have another crack at at CRM tool for a while now. The first one I wrote worked well, was customer support focused and was utilized for years with only minor issues, but the code left a lot to be desired. This new one would mainly be written using tools and technologies I wanted to spend more time with, and would probably consist of some of the following:

  • PHP Framework:
    1. CodeIgniter 2.x
    2. Symfony
    3. ZendFramework
  • PHP ORM:
    1. Doctrine 2.x
    2. RedBean
  • Database:
    1. MySQL
    2. MongoDB
    3. Cassandra
  • Node.js
  • jQuery UI & jQuery Mobile
  • HTML5 & CSS3

A brief explanation of the above list: I’ve written code with CodeIgniter 1.7 and Doctrine 1.x and have been pretty happy with it, so I would probably continue with their newest iterations. MySQL is obviously  a reliable standby, but I’ve done some tinkering with Cassandra, and all I read about are people doing things with MongoDB, so maybe one of those instead, or along with MySQL (if it’s even wise to do such a thing). Node.js is another thing that I’ve messed around with that seems great, but I’ve barely scratched the surface. And, finally, having a mobile app would be nice, and I’ve spent a ton of time with jQuery, so extending that exposure out into the UI and mobile sphere just seems obvious. Attended a conference session on jQuery Mobile that made it seem almost too easy, so I’ll have to see if that actually matches reality.

Anyways, been thinking about this for a little bit, and just wanted to start writing about it to help get my thoughts down someplace.

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2 Responses to Yet Another Open Source CRM?

  1. Eric,
    Appreciate your thoughts. When you think about CRM and see all the products in the marketplace, you always have to think twice before creating another one. That was one of the things we thought about before developing Zurmo, an open source CRM application that is written in PHP utilizing JQuery, Yii, and RedBeanPHP and relies heavily on test driven development. Right now, we have 1000+ unit tests running across eight server configurations. We utilize selenium as well for a nice set of functional tests too. We decided to use Yii over CodeIgniter, but its nice that we both agree on RedBeanPHP. It might be interesting for you to take a look, and we would appreciate your technical feedback and recommendations so that we can improve the application. Let me know what you think:

    • Eric Brandel says:


      Thanks for the feedback. I didn’t clarify it in the post, but I’m definitely not looking to do a full spectrum CRM. It will be very focused on a small niche, and really might qualify more as a customer support tool, but we’ll see.

      Interesting feedback on RedBeanPHP, I’ll take a look at Zurmo.

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