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Main Development Concepts

Contents

Design principles

Openbravo ERP is a software application which is being developed with the following design principles in mind:

The aim of Openbravo is, while following these principles, to deliver an application which is state-of-the-art from both a technological as well as a functional point of view.

Open Source

Openbravo is an open source project built on open source technologies. We aim to leverage on the excellent infrastructure components developed by the open source community to ensure our platform benefits from the advantages and stability of components supported by a large community. Whenever necessary we contribute our developments back to the community.

ERP application framework

Openbravo ERP is an application developed through an integrated development framework included in Openbravo ERP distribution. This integrated development framework takes care of a wide range of concerns in all the areas involved during the development process. Most relevant from low level to high level:

Model Driven Development

Openbravo follows a Model Driven Development (MDD) approach. This means that Openbravo uses a technology agnostic model to define application components, such as windows and processes. Based on this application model, code and other software artifacts are generated.

Openbravo data model information -so called metadata- is stored in the Openbravo Application Dictionary.

Model Driven Development aims to increase productivity and re-use through separation of concerns and abstraction. The model is an abstract definition of system components which contains enough information to drive the generation of one (or more) implementations of the system in a concrete technology.

This separation of concerns -abstract functional description in the model and implementation of model components in a concrete technology- hides technology complexities to ERP domain experts in their process to define and implement new ERP functionality and simplifies the evolution of the implementation technology

In some cases it is needed to code a solution externally from the model. This is fully supported by Openbravo. Developers can freely develop their own solutions on top of the Openbravo technology stack.

Modularity

Modularity is a capability introduced in the Openbravo ERP 2.50 release which allows to define and package additional functionality and configurations as extension modules, independently from the core product.

Modularity changes the way in which Openbravo can be adapted to user needs. Instead of customizing the code to match user requirements, it is possible to externally -from an independent module- extend functionality and to configure it.

This new approach has several advantages. Most important:

Pure web application - Rich client

Openbravo is, by its very nature, a pure web application. Ubiquity of web browsers provides an universal point of access. Openbravo understands the network as a platform, delivering and allowing users to use applications entirely through a browser.

The requirements are minimum: a web browser is available on virtually all computer systems. Moreover, being web-based means the product can be delivered over the Internet, allowing to update the application without distributing and installing software on potentially hundreds of client computers.

Traditionally web applications had big limitations in regards of user interface. This has changed with the introduction of new web technologies such as AJAX. With AJAX and similar frameworks it is possible to develop a rich, interactive and user-friendly interface

Java - Lightweight J2EE

Openbravo uses Java as its backend programming language. There are many reasons for choosing Java as the server-side language:

Openbravo follows Java 2 Enterprise Edition architecture (J2EE) without making use of the EJB container. Instead of that Openbravo uses lightweight infrastructure to implement access to data and business logic. In Openbravo 2.50 Openbravo has delivered a new Data Access Layer (DAL) based on Hibernate that provides a powerful but still lightweight persistence mechanism.

Support for multiple databases

Openbravo is committed to avoid vendor locking in any technology it uses including database. Openbravo 3 runs on PostgreSQL (8.3.5+) and Oracle SE (10g-11g).

In future releases Openbravo aims to be database independent. The Data Access Layer (DAL) based on Hibernate is a first step in that transition.

Openbravo main concepts

System requirements

Openbravo runs on top of a group of well-known third party applications:

All of these applications can be installed both on Linux or Windows.

Development Environment

Openbravo developers have three different ways to develop their code. Following the MDD approach, most common is to edit Openbravo Application dictionary through a web browser connected to Openbravo ERP. Based on the new model definition the software artifacts can be generated automatically. A developer can also connect directly to the Openbravo database through a sql client (eg. pgAdmin, sqlDeveloper) to manage database schema objects (tables, procedures, etc.). Finally developers can develop their own code through an integrated development environment such as Eclipse.


OpenBravo development environment


All openbravo software artifacts are stored in text files in the development project. This includes the database definition and content. The large advantage of using text files for storing all software artifacts is that it is much easier to share and compare changes made by developers in a distributed environment.

Openbravo uses a tool called DBSourceManager to manage database source code. DBSourceManager is able to read from the database schema objects and application dictionary data and export them to xml files. It can also create or update an Openbravo database from those xml files

The process to build the system from openbravo source code includes a number of steps to generate the code at different levels (DAL, WAD and others) and put together that code with other code directly written by developers. Openbravo has automated this process through an ant task.


Build and deploy process

Architecture

The new architecture is explained in the Openbravo_3_Architecture article

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