A common question we get from the community and customers is, What’s your roadmap? For many years we said, we don’t do roadmaps and we don’t do deadlines. But the question still persists. Recently a large customer who wanted to place a big bet on Frappe, said they wanted a list of products we are working on and plan to work on. Since others would also be interested in this, here is an attempt to put things down in writing. Let’s start with the backstory.
When we were building ERPNext, the company was named “Web Notes”. The aspiration right from the beginning was to build “software products” with no specific domain or market in mind. The idea behind the name was to capture the very generic idea that the web was full of “notes”. It sounds very naive now, and the name was neither aspirational nor attractive nor something we could visualise building a brand on.
ERPNext was already a brand and the name we were known by. At that time our own internal ERP was called “frappe.erpnext.com” maybe by a version upgrade from brownie.erpnext.com. I can’t recall who set these names, but the name frappe stuck. Since we were always building the Framework, Frappe became a nice way to summarise what we aspired to do build multiple applications (Framework + Apps = Frappe), with ERPNext as just the beginning. It took us nearly 15 years just to build the first product that gave us sustainable revenue.
Ever since we have had “breathing room”, some extra revenue to experiment on new products, we have started to do that. In 2018, we started off with a “desktop” version of ERPNext, still within the same domain, called “Frappe Books” and then we have steadily been building new products from the grounds up.
In the last couple of years, this process has accelerated and there is now a whole universe of products we call Frappeverse. Here is a list of all products that we have started and will continue to build.
- Framework (2005): Started as a personal project to be able to build an application directly from the UI with models and backend automatically configured (inspired from semantic web). Later this evolved into a more mainstream architecture with code and metadata sitting in files.
- ERPNext (2008): This is a full blown enterprise management system (ERP) on top of the Framework. Contains financial accounting, invoicing, order management, inventory management, purchase, projects, etc. Probably the best, most comprehensive, performant and maintained free and open source ERP in the world today.
- Frappe HR (2010): Recently split from ERPNext, Frappe HR is a fully featured people management system with payroll, leave management, recruiting and more. It now has a mobile app for employees to checkin and submit requests.
- Health (2018): Healthcare management system built by Earthians was merged in ERPNext as a part of the “monolith” strategy and later split in 2020 back as a separate application. Currently maintained by the community.
- Education (2018): The education management system helps schools and colleges maintain student data, groups, fees, attendance, assessments and much more. Later split into a separate product in 2022.
- Press (2020): A server orchestration and cloud management system built to support large number of Frappe Framework and ERPNext instances. This is the 3rd major version of press and supports containerised deployments, marketplaces and deployment of any 3rd party containerised application. Also contains modules for SAAS billing and marketplace.
- Wiki (2020): A tool for managing large documentation. Framework and ERPNext docs are written in Frappe Wiki. In 2023 it was refactored have multiple “Spaces” hold several versions of documentations and to follow the Espresso design system.
- Lending (2020): Frappe lending started as a simple loan system for employees and is now a fully featured lending management systems that helps lenders manage the full cycle from loan application, disbursement, calculation of interest, collections and much more.
- Learning (2021): Learning management system (LMS) to maintain courses, students, classes, schedules and more. This was built for mon.school and later deployed at frappe.school.
- Helpdesk (2021): An application crafted for giving great customer support with superior user experience. This project was started in late 2021, but rewritten in 2023 on top of Frappe UI.
- Drive (2021): A modern document management system to enable storage of files, organise them in folders, share, edit of documents, spreadsheets etc. Started as an ambitious project to replace Google Drive, but built on and off with interns for the first couple of years. Was rewritten in Frappe UI in 2023.
- Frappe UI (2022): A new layer of UI components built in VueJS to build crafted applications on Frappe Framework. The Framework offers a standardised user interface for every interaction and to build products that have great user experience, a crafted interface is necessary. The goal of Frappe UI was to enable building of several high quality applications on the Framework. A new design system was created for this called “Espresso”, by Timeless (design partner).
- Gameplan (2022): Project and team communication tool. This was built as a test product to try out a new layer of UI components.
- Insights (2022): A tool for data analytics and “business intelligence”. Allows the user to connect to multiple data sources and build queries visually and then display in various visual and tabulated formats into dashboards, notebooks etc.
- Builder (2023): Builder allows you to visually build web pages and publish them. Supports dynamic components, layouts, code editor and much more.
- Print Designer (2023): Print designer is a visual tool to design print formats for invoices etc. This tool allows the user to create fully customised formats without writing any code.
- Frappe CRM (2023): CRM systems are common in most companies, but there lacks a very simple and easy to use open source CRM system. Frappe CRM aims to fulfill this gap.
Are these any good?
That’s a large list of products considering the Frappe engineering team is only ~25 engineers at the time of writing. Many of them have been in development for more than 15 years, some of the newer products are much more early stage. The way we build products at Frappe is that we focus on “reusable components”. We have a strong set of building blocks including the Framework, Frappe UI and our own deployment platform Press.
Frappe also takes a depth first approach to building products so we tend to focus on clear data structures (that are often built from first principles) rather than great user experience. User experience has been on the priority list since 2023 when we invested in a new design system and a UI component library. We hope in the coming years, many of these products can claim to have excellent user experience and become defacto tools in their domains.
100% Open Source
Another strong part of the Frappe culture is that all our products are 100% open source with no paid or hidden components unlike most companies who invest in product development. Our business model is to provide world class first party and specialised hosting for our products. In most of the product categories, there are no excellent products with great quality and user experience that exist out of the box.
Our cloud platform FrappeCloud is a work in progress and we plan to provide first party warranty on our platform as well.
How do you decide to start new products?
We started building ERPNext because it was a problem to be solved, the framework was built for my own use so that we could build ERPNext faster. We build most of our tools for our own use. This helps us get unique insight into the problems and fast feedback from users. Most products are being built by one engineer who is the product manager to support engineer. In the case of larger products, the ownership is split into several parts. Apart from this list, there are several other projects that have not been listed.
At the time of writing we are kicking off two new products - Frappe Mail - an easy way for us to self host email and then we can open it up to other users, and possibly a generic LLM based chatbot that can be easily trained on any dataset. We aspire to keep this open as well. A few other products in my list is a generic open source blogging platform (Frappe Blog?) and a generic ticketing platform for events.
We strongly believe is that Frappe has a great culture for product building and we have a very ambitious goal to build hundreds of products. If you are a product builder who has a great taste and are good at what you do and are ambitious to work in a team like Frappe, please get in touch with us at frappe.io/careers