Open source apps for hire

Christchurch-based web designer e2-media has launched a range of hosted applications that were built using open source software.

Christchurch-based web designer e2-media has launched a range of hosted applications that were built using open source software.

The six applications include systems for managing websites and online stores (SmartWeb and SmartShop); an email campaign generator tool (SmartMailer); file and image management software (SmartFile and SmartImage); and web-based document and office management applications (SmartOffice).

All the applications are hosted by e2-media on an Apache web server running Red Hat Linux and run in any browser at the customer end.

E2-media director Chris Lee says each application was completely designed or modified in-house using open source technology. For example, SmartOffice is based on Amphora and SmartFile is based on Midgard. Most of the applications use the open source database MySQL and were written using the PHP scripting language, although SmartOffice was developed using Python and the Postgres database.

“Instead of developing from scratch we take what’s out there and work on it, often adding more features or making administration easier.”

Lee says some modifications are submitted back to the open source community as required by various open source licences.

However, it isn’t necessary to submit parts of the new product where the technology is changed so completely that it no longer does what the original product was intended to do.

Lee claims using open source benefits customers by providing greater flexibility to modify the software to suit their requirements and enables e2-media to add new features and improvements. “The open source platform protects the customer should we be unable to continue to provide the service,” he says.

Lee says e2-media has always used open source technology. “In the past our reasoning was to do with licensing issues of some of the commercial products but we’ve found it to be a lot more stable also. There are thousands of developers working on open source technology, so if you have a problem you can post it online and get an answer within half an hour.”

E2-media charges a set-up fee ranging upwards from $750 depending on which applications are used and monthly charges start at $85.

Companies already using various Smart applications include Macpac Wilderness Equipment, Skellerup Industries, Ryman Healthcare, Antartica New Zealand and manufacturing company Donaghys.

E2-media was formed last year when Media Solutions and Graphic Solutions merged. The 10-person company claims more than 60 customers.

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