Hubspot provides software products for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service. With regard to the CRM functionality, Hubspot gives details on their website the the core is free, and you have to pay for advanced CRM features. However, we sometimes forget that when we speak about “free”. We’re more often than not speaking in terms of software “freedom” and getting CRM software free of charge! Read more
One of the core features of Corteza is the powerful open-source Low Code platform. To clarify, this means that it’s a rapid development platform that allows you to create responsive business applications that run in the browser, without having to know how to write code. With the following 4 step plan you can make a fully functional record-based app for your business or organisation:
- Create a namespace
- Add modules
- Set up pages
- Insert charts
1. Create a namespace
In Corteza Low Code applications are called “namespaces”. You can create a new namespace by entering the “Low Code” tab inside Corteza and click on to the “Create namespace” button. If there are many existing namespace, like on the Corteza Community server, you might need to scroll down first. And then, you simply fill in the “name” field and hit “Save and close”.
Before you continue with step two, you need to enter your freshly created namespace.
2. Create the modules
The second step is to create the modules. Corteza Low Code comes with a simple, yet extensive module builder. These modules could be seen as database tables, but in a non-technical way. This means that each module has a set of fields, which represent data you want to store. While most fields are straightforward (string, number,…), there is one special field with an important role: the record field. This record field allows you to link one module to another, creating a relationship between them.
A clear example is one from Corteza CRM, the powerful open-source CRM build with the Corteza Low Code platform. The “Account” and “Contact” modules are related to each other, because an account in the CRM can have multiple contacts. So, the “Contact” module has a Record type field that links to the “Account” module as in the screenshot below. This allows any contact to be related to a account. And if you want that a contact can be related to multiple accounts, simply check the “multiple” checkbox.
3. Set up pages
One you’ve created the modules you need to create the visual layer. These are called “Pages” in Corteza, and there are two types of pages:
- Record pages
A record page shows data related to a single record in a module, which means that every module needs to have one record page.
- List pages
These pages act like dashboards or record lists and show up in the automatically generated top menu.
The simple drag-and-drop page editor is the same for both page types. As a result, you select the type of block you want to show (record data, a list, a calendar, a chart,…), configure it and add it to the page. After that, you can drag it to any position and resize it as you please.
For more detailed info, check out the extensive Corteza Low Code tutorial on opensource.com.
4. Insert Charts
Corteza Low Code comes with an advanced open-source chart creation tool. As a result it allows you to create the most used charts in custom business applications, such as line, bar and pie charts. For each chart you define the data source (the module), optional filters, dimensions and metrics, and the chart creation tool manages the rest.
Once you’ve created your charts, you can add them to any page in your own low code business application.
Advanced Low Code features
Corteza Low Code also includes some advanced Low Code features, including access management for different user roles on modules, pages or even single fields, and advanced workflow automation. These two advanced Low Code features will be featured in the coming weeks on this blog.
Try it out yourself!
To summarize, you ony need to follow 4 simple steps to build your own custom business application. In addition, if you want to give it a go, check out the free Corteza Community Server. Log in, open the Low Code app and create your own namespace! Lastly, if you run in to any questions, ping the community for help in the Corteza Community Server messaging tab, or let us know in a comment here.
This is a common question, but a much better question is what should an open source CRM suite be? After all, there are quite a few choices out there on the market – including old stuff that pretends to be new and new stuff just not doing enough to be considered modern in any meaningful way.
Firstly, an open source CRM is a customer relationship management system where all of the software code is published in the public domain. In the case of Corteza, it’s all here: https://github.com/cortezaproject. If all the software is published, the idea is that it can never be taken away from you – whether you pay or not. A CRM suite is, after all, software upon which your business will rely for many years. Another advantage of this approach is that the software can easily be customized and there is usually a pool of providers with the required skills from which to choose.
The best free CRM is based on a Low Code platform
Nowadays, the best free CRM should be based on a Low Code Platform. Open source CRM can be complex and many of the business models underpinning them are based on the premise that you won’t be able to do more complex customization yourself i.e. they’re lulling you into a false sense of security. Corteza is an open source Salesforce alternative and firmly follows the “Lightning” Low Code model, even delivering some nice improvements along the way. The Low Code approach allows you to deliver a rich, company CRM which can evolve as your organisation changes with time – without the need for expensive external consulting at each step. Such a rapid application development model is essential for organisations trading in the modern economy.
Freely available CRM Documentation
Documentation is key too. A proper open source CRM should publish all its documentation and make it freely available – including back versions – with zero catches. There is risk in deploying a solution where the documentation may disappear from view at any given moment (e.g. if the vendor of your CRM suite is sold, merges with another company or goes out of business). Corteza documentation will always be available on our website.
Intellectual property must be managed by an independent software foundation
A core strength of Corteza is that all intellectual property is governed by the independent software foundation “The Commons Conservancy“. There can be no games played with the software code, no dual licensing and all back-versions will always be available. There are lessons to be learned from the SugarCRM disaster a number of years back where the SugarCRM Community Edition was abandoned and SugarCRM began closing off the source code to their CRM suite. Some “forking” happened of the older code base, but none even as remotely well-funded as the original SugarCRM effort. No such games can ever happen with Corteza.
Innovation drives Corteza forward
Being a true open source provider, living according to both the spirit and the letter of the law, keeps a software project on its toes. Corteza is looking forward to delivering smart apps for manufacturing, smart schooling, even more depth to its bpms tool, human resource management, ecological tools, making GDPR simplified and much more in 2020. Innovation drives Corteza forward and our research never stops. From applications of IoT to MDD models and on to AI in all its forms, we’re constantly seeking to understand where your organisation needs to go next. Being the very best of all free crms is a tough goal, but Corteza is uniquely structured and feature rich to deliver on that objective.
We are thrilled to announce that we have released the new documentation site for Corteza. The structure has been optimised and the content has been actualised. It now contains everything you need to know to install, set up and use the open-source digital work platform Corteza. The new structure also enables the community to contribute easier then ever before.
The documentation has the following structure:
The overview explains what Corteza is, and it gives a summary about the topics “Security”, “Architecture”, “Core Development”, “Deployment” and “Customization”. This chapter is recommended for all new Corteza users.
2. User Manual
The user manual has been created for people that use Corteza for their daily tasks, such as sales people, project managers, service agents, etc. It explains how “Corteza One”, the unified workspace, can be used to access applications and profile settings, and it goes in to details how to use “Corteza Messaging”, “Corteza CRM” and “Corteza Service Solution” are used.
3. Admin Manual
The admin manual is aimed at Corteza administrators, and explains how to manage an already installed instance of Corteza. The first part explains in depth features of the Corteza Admin Panel, and the second part is about Corteza Low-Code.
The chapter about Corteza Low-Code gives insights to admin users on how to create new business applications, and on how to modify already existing applications, such as Corteza CRM and Corteza Service Solution.
4. Management and Maintenance
Management and maintenance is the most technical manual, and it’s written for system administrators. It explains how to install and set up Corteza. Additionally, it gives an overview of the architecture, backup and restore methods, and technical requirements.
The technical requirements section is divided by client side (software) and server side (software, hardware, storage, network, domain and HTTPS/SSL Certificates).
5. Extending and Customising
Developers can learn here how to extend and customise Corteza. Automation scripts allow you to practically automate any process inside Corteza, and by using the API Corteza can interact with the outside world.
You can contribute to the documentation!
The documentation is managed in the Corteza github repository, enabling the community to contribute. Documentation is written in AsciiDoc format and processed with the open-source software AsciiDoctor.
These are the steps on how to contribute:
- Clone https://github.com/cortezaproject/corteza-docs.git
- Modify or add content
- Create a pull request
More detailed info on how to contribute can be found in the readme file.
If you are not familiar with Github, check out this manual.
Where can I find the documentation?
The documentation has been published under https://docs.cortezaproject.org, and is licensed under Apache-2.0.
13 November 2019
Corteza today announced the release of Corteza Service Solution, the free, open-source and self-hosted Salesforce Service Cloud alternative. Corteza Service Solution is a customer service desk, built on the Corteza Low-Code platform. It enables businesses to deliver faster and more personalised service to their clients, across multiple channels.
Customer service agents are provided with 360-degree overviews on cases, accounts and contacts, enabling them to provide the most excellent service quickly. Entitlements, detailed product info and the knowledge base are easily accessible, empowering agents with the means they need to boost customer satisfaction.
Advanced service desk insights are given, including where time is spent and what the related costs are. Key performance indicators are shown in charts on the home page, and the main dashboard and detailed insights are revealed in accounts or individual cases.
“The release of Service Solution completes another important step in the growth of the Corteza platform” says Niall McCarthy, Chair of the Corteza Project and CEO of Crust Technology. “We’re very proud to have delivered a completely free, enterprise-grade service desk to complement our CRM, Messaging and Low Code solutions”.
The enterprise-grade Corteza Service Solution is the best option for businesses that seek a highly customisable, self-hosted and trustworthy service desk solution. The code and all data in Corteza Service Solution are under your control and only accessible to those approved to do so.
The main features of Corteza Service Solution are:
- Case Management
- Account & Contact Management, including entitlements
- Product management, including entitlement templates for products
- Knowledge Base
- Process Automation
- Advanced role-based permissions
- Advanced reporting
- Record importing and exporting
- Mobile ready (responsive design)
- Enterprise messaging (via Corteza Messaging)
- Fully customisable, with a drag-and-drop page editor
- 100% free and open-source
Corteza Service Solution is added to the core of the Corteza Platform, next to the Unified Workspace (like Google G Suite), Messaging (like Slack), a low-code environment for rapidly and securely delivering records-based management solutions and CRM (like Salesforce).
To start with Corteza Service Solution, you can set up your instance. Migrating to Corteza Service Solution from a different service desk is, thank to the flexibility of Corteza and data import features, straightforward. To try it out online, or for help with installation or other questions, visit the Corteza community server.
Corteza is the Digital Work Platform for Humanity. The Corteza project builds a 100% open-source, self-hosted cloud platform for growing your organisation’s productivity. It enables relationships and protects the work and the privacy of all those concerned. Corteza is developed entirely in the public domain, including its design considerations and processes. To download Corteza and for more information about the project, visit www.cortezaproject.org or follow @CortezaProject on Twitter.
Corteza Low-Code is an essential part of Corteza, the Digital Work Platform for Humanity. With Corteza Low-Code businesses and organisations can build custom records-based management applications, and create granular permissions that reflect their hierarchy.
Building an application is done in 5 simple steps:
- Define what data you want to save in the module builder
- Define how the records and list/dashboard pages look like
- Optional: add charts with the chart builder
- Optional: add automation rules
- Deploy with a click
Each step is carefully designed to be a simple task and provides the user with an exceptionally high level of flexibility. This means that a user can create and deploy a small application in moments, or create a complex system to manage complete departments.
Thanks to the flexibility of the powerful Corteza Low-Code, you can build any record-based application. For example, we built Corteza CRM and Corteza Service Solution with Corteza Low-Code, and new applications are planned to be released, such as Education Cloud. Other applications that you could build with Corteza Low-Code are, for example:
|Call Center Management||Customer Service|
|Case Management||Customer Service|
|After School Activities Management||Education|
|Business Finance Tracker||Finance|
|Corporate Travel Management||Finance|
|Personal Finance Tracker||Finance|
|Applicant Tracking System (ATS)||Human Resources|
|Approval Management||Human Resources|
|Benefits Administration||Human Resources|
|Employee Onboarding||Human Resources|
|Employee Self-Service Portal||Human Resources|
|Human Capital Management (HCM)||Human Resources|
|Human Resources Information System (HRIS)||Human Resources|
|Human Resources Management System (HRMS)||Human Resources|
|Payroll Management||Human Resources|
|Time and Attendance Management||Human Resources|
|Appointment Management||IT and Administration|
|Conference Room Booking||IT and Administration|
|Incident Tracker||IT and Administration|
|IT Asset Tracker||IT and Administration|
|Project Tracker||IT and Administration|
|Seat Booking||IT and Administration|
|Tasks Done||IT and Administration|
|Time Tracker||IT and Administration|
|Visitor Management||IT and Administration|
|Airplane Fleet Hub||Logistics|
|Parcel Delivery Management||Logistics|
|Public transport Hub||Logistics|
|Rental Car Management||Logistics|
|Shared Vehicle Management||Logistics|
|Taxi Fleet Hub||Logistics|
|Truck Fleet Hub||Logistics|
|Vehicle Maintenance Management||Logistics|
|Country Office Management||Non-Profit|
|Property Management||Real Estate|
|Rental Management||Real Estate|
|Material Workspace Management||Restaurants|
|Campaign Management||Sales and Marketing|
|Client Portal||Sales and Marketing|
|Content Review and Release Tracking||Sales and Marketing|
|CRM||Sales and Marketing|
|Franchise Management||Sales and Marketing|
|Partner Management||Sales and Marketing|
|Partner Portal||Sales and Marketing|
|Point of Sale||Sales and Marketing|
|Product Catalogue||Sales and Marketing|
|Quotation Management||Sales and Marketing|
|Camping Management||Travel and Tourism|
|Hotel Management||Travel and Tourism|
|Tour Operator Management||Travel and Tourism|
|Travel Agency Management||Travel and Tourism|
|Vacation Rental Management||Travel and Tourism|
|Waste Management||Waste Management|
|Article Management (SEO)||Web|
|Link Management (SEO)||Web|
|Site Network Management||Web|
The table above is just a short list of what you can build with Corteza Low-Code!
Are you interested in developing a custom application? Log in at the community server at https://latest.cortezaproject.org, create your app in the Low-Code tab and start building. If you have any questions, let us know on the Messaging tab on the community server, and we can answer them!
Over the coming months, the Corteza project will be launching its Ecological Programme, an initiative which orients the Digital Work Platform for Humanity towards what is perhaps the most pressing social and political issue of our time. There’s still some work to be done formulating a more detailed purpose and scope to our work, but once that’s complete, it will be full steam ahead.
Of course, at this point in history we’re in a crowded marketplace with giant cloud vendors pumping their corporate sustainability messages hard. That’s a challenge in itself, but I feel the bigger challenge is in focusing people on where the most gains are to be made. This involves having a good hard look at the platforms your organisation uses for going about its daily business.
I have previously argued that clouds can be a good thing, but that we need far more of them. We need to ensure we’re not dumping all our data in a handful of providers and that we can retake control of our data with ease, if required. Being a downloadable, standards-based, private cloud solution, Corteza is a natural solution.
However, at the heart of it, clouds are about providing infrastructure as a utility. Making them carbon neutral is a big step, but it only solves one small part of the problem. The bigger question is what application platform to choose to run on your cloud. Having to re-assess your approach a year or two after implementation can be deeply wasteful, after all.
It’s all about getting the first step right.
Building a proper green strategy for your organisation is a long game, not a short one. The best-fit software platform will support your business goals and your sustainability goals without compromise. An inferior choice will impose difficult and unnecessary trade-offs at a later stage.
Energy consumption is just one component to consider. Corteza is built in modern code (the backend is in “Go”), designed to be as processor efficient as possible. It will also run on any cloud of your choice, accommodating your preferred data localisation strategy. However, there’s much more to consider:
- Corteza can never be sold off.
Both the code copyright and even the trademark are foundation owned. This approach protects the using organisation and ensure the code and its development are always open to scrutiny. The organisational measures and innovations you deliver on the Corteza platform can never be taken away from you.
- Corteza is standards-based.
This is critical, because as a species we cannot collaborate properly without agreeing upon standards. Also, the relative cost of platform change for poorer economies when we fail to implement standards globally is much higher than for richer economies. To address a global problem, we should seek to avoid imposing unnecessary economic pain.
- Corteza embraces federated architecture.
Different instances of Corteza can be set up to “speak” to one another and share data, anonymously if required. For example, different government bodies can easily share like-for-like data and metrics without compromising privacy or other security concerns – either within borders or across borders.
- Corteza allows very flexible builds.
Every organisation is different and has local business logic, local assumptions and local values that it wishes to embed in the platforms which support its daily operations. Software to help you address global concerns should not negatively impact your capacity to operate as a business.
- Corteza scales to large populations.
In order to address complex subjects such as climate change, governments need to act in concert. To do that, the software used must both scale to large populations when required, but also be capable of creating a rich array of user roles.
- Corteza is the right sort of “free”.
There are no catches, no financial tricks, no freemium models, no data grabs. It’s all there for your organisation to use, as is and free forever.
- Great UX.
User experience is often neglected in free software. Aspiring to be as good as, and even better than Apple, is no bad thing when it comes to UX. Corteza will always strive to improve. Your organisation deserves the best.
Now it’s time to take the first step. Sign up at the free online Corteza community server today, and try it out. The community is there, ready to answer any questions you may have.
Cloud technology has been great for organisations of all types across the world, delivering inter-related ecosystems, keeping costs down and driving productivity. However, there’s still a key problem that needs to be addressed – there are simply not enough clouds. The market currently resembles an oligopoly, with a handful of providers dwarfing all others in size, scale and reach.
The world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest 50% and just 100 companies (mostly in the oil industry) are arguably responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s tempting to draw a sneaky correlation between wealth inequality and climate problems, but that would be unscientific (to say the least!) and not the objective of this article in any case. However, there is some evidence that we’re also well on our way to creating data oligopolies. IDC reckons that half of the world’s data will be stored in clouds by 2025, so if dominance of the cloud industry continues as is we can be quite sure of exacerbated industry inequality.
Of course, sensible regulation can do much to offset the imbalances in the cloud industry, but technology has its part to play too. There must be credible user-friendly and administrator-friendly alternatives to the giant public cloud players. At Corteza, the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, we’re determined to deliver a private cloud solution for every organisation that values its data. Ideally, we’d like to see a culture where organisations look firstly at their private cloud working requirements, then complement them with public cloud offerings. That would represent an important inversion of the current state of affairs.
Balancing the global cloud economy is a big, yet still attainable objective. Overall, it’s about keeping things practical and not denying common sense. Here’s a few things we considered as we got up and going:
It all Begins with Identity
Federated identities are increasingly important technologies, in particular when it comes to supporting hybrid software strategies. Though only a fraction are presented at the frontend, at the heart of the Corteza platform we support over 50 different providers of federated identity – and it’s not difficult to extend this support. This approach allows us to find common ground with most web application software in the world and is a key enabler for organisations who wish to inexpensively integrate third party software into their Corteza deployment. Tailoring your private cloud work platform should be straightforward, after all.
Politics is local, Trade Crosses Borders and Standards can be Global
Corteza promotes standards as a catalyst for driving global community and adoption. A work platform must be architecturally “open”. Growing an ecosystem of providers is impossible without establishing shared standards for communication, storage, API’s and other services which impact integration with third party software. Private Corteza clouds can be implemented and configured to support local decision-making and legislation by default (as opposed to the complex and sometimes legally fuzzy, retro-fitted approaches promoted by the giant, centralised public clouds), while our standards-based approach encourages efficient online collaboration with just about any modern provider.
Independent Institutions have a Role to Play
Markets are a great mechanism for fulfilling many social requirements. However, independent institutions serve a valuable role in regulating activity in the public interest. The Corteza project is owned and operated by the Commons Conservancy Foundation. In the world of software, knowing that your work platform is safe from trademark, copyright or patent games is source of stability. Knowing that the software code will always be available to you, irrespective of whether you choose a service provider to host the platform or self-host, is another serious advantage.
User Experience (UX) is Key
While not a fool’s game, expecting users to downgrade to inferior software UX in return for creating a better or safer digital world hasn’t had overwhelming success as a marketing or commercial tactic. While “you are what you eat” has had delivered some strong results for the organic food market, it helps a lot that the UX of organically grown food (i.e. its taste) is often better than that produced through intensive farming methods. If you spend over 8 hours a day in front of your computer, you’ll know that poor UX can be a big distraction from your productivity. Corteza places strong emphasis on UX, ensuring that is pleasing, modern and relevant across the platform portfolio.
Corteza is actively fashioning itself as the Digital Work Platform for Humanity. That’s a big statement of intent, about as ambitious as it gets – and we’re not going to get there overnight. Our policy of social inclusion rolls out the welcome mat to anyone who can usefully contribute. However, this embrace of diversity must be accompanied by a co-ordinated long-term strategy in order to be effective. Good intentions alone are not sufficient to create real and lasting change.
To help us implement Corteza as the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, we’re in the process of creating a range of programmes, based around the platform, which structure its outreach, broaden its expertise base and inform its future design. The programmes categories are as follows:
- Public Sector
- Digital Economy
- Identity and Privacy
All programmes will be related to at least one other programme, and some programmes will be related to all, creating a programme infrastructure where the activities of any given programme inevitably make the platform as a whole stronger and avoid duplication of work elsewhere. For example, making Corteza Accessible touches on everything we do.
At the moment, we’re crafting an official “purpose” for each programme with the above considerations in mind. These purposes will be voted upon by the Corteza Board of Directors before being formally adopted by the project.
The Corteza project will be free forever to anyone with access to the internet. Our community culture will necessarily be global, emphasizing the interconnectivity and cause-and-effect relationship between everyone, irrespective of their background. Corteza programmes exist to allow us structure our activity so that we drive this global conscience and so that everyone wins. Your positive contributions will be welcomed with open arms and, as my colleague, Mia Arh, states, there’s so much more to a technology project than coding.
Interested in checking out Corteza right now? Head over to https://latest.cortezaproject.org and sign up to the community server that runs on Corteza!
I have to admit I feel uncomfortable exposing myself as a woman in tech. Yes, I’m a woman and I indeed work in IT. It appears completely natural to me and I don’t see myself working in any other field.
According to Women Who Tech, 25 % of IT of tech positions are filled by women (source) and out of them, only 11 % hold a leadership position. A 2018 Women in Tech Survey reports the top three challenges women in tech are still facing are not being taken seriously due to the gender perceptions (63%), having no female role models to look up to (42%) and the gender pay gap (39%).
I think it’s a pity I hear more and more women around me calling themselves “not-technical”. I feel sorry for women my age who regret their study choice as they realized they have limited career options and are now stuck. I wish that my sister would be as excited as I am when she tells me they’re using robot arms at the pharmacy where she works (instead of being absolutely terrified of them). And I would prefer my friend’s girlfriends to get involved in our geek discussion instead of rolling their eyes 😉
Fortunately, my experience as being “woman in tech” is generally positive and rewarding. In my opinion, IT is a wonderful place where creativity meets technology and I would like to encourage more women to consider it as an exciting career opportunity since it has many benefits:
- Working in tech doesn’t necessarily mean coding
In IT there’s an important spot for less technical skills as well: product planning, UI design, UX research, digital marketing, social media strategy… Management! A career in technology can bring you anywhere.
- Possibility of Remote Work
Not all professions have the privilege or possibility of remote work, but IT-related jobs definitely do. Remote work gives us a wider pool of opportunities and the possibility to work internationally.
- Unconventional Lifestyle
Working flexible hours and working from home office allowed me to improve my lifestyle. I can go to the gym in less crowded hours and I don’t eat in restaurants anymore because I can cook lunch every day. Work on a rainy weekend and go skiing on sunny Monday? Why not?!
- Constant opportunities to grow
With constant change and improvements in technology, it’s almost impossible to fall into a routine. You’re always pushed to upgrade your skills which means constant learning and discovering your new strengths (both professional and personal).
- Exceptional community
Tech world is full of unbelievably smart and talented people who are mostly welcoming and willing to help or mentor. It’s simply inspiring to be part of such a community.
- You can make a difference
It’s empowering to be able to transform cutting-edge ideas into the real world. You can be part of something actually meaningful to you and work on projects that are aligned with your values. The work is mentally challenging and the tangible results are rewarding (and appreciated!) so the chances are small that you’ll ever get bored.
I’m thrilled the Corteza project is making a step towards fixing a problem of diversity in IT with a majority women in the board of directors and I’m excited to be part of the organization that truly breathes and lives its values.