9 min read

Odoo is one of the fastest growing open source, business application development software products available. It comes with:

  • Powerful GUI,
  • Performance optimization,
  • Integrated in-app purchase features
  • Fast-growing community to transform and modernize businesses

We recently interviewed Yenthe Van Ginneken, an Odoo developer, highly active in the Odoo community and recipient of Odoo best contributor of the year 2016 and Odoo community hero 2017. He spoke to us about his journey with Odoo, his thoughts on Odoo’s past, present and future, and the Odoo community.

Expert’s Bio

Yenthe Van Ginneken, currently the technical team leader at Odoo Experts, has been an Odoo developer for over four years. He has won two awards, “Best contributor of the year 2016” and the “Odoo community hero” award in 2017. He loves improving software and teaching other people the best practices for Odoo development on his blog. You can read his Odoo blog, follow him on Twitter or reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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Key Takeaways

  • Odoo is scalable and flexible to the extent that everyone, from a small startup to a giant tech company can benefit from it. It is ahead of quite a lot of ERP systems with its clean UI, advanced modules integration and the flexibility of its technical framework.
  • Python is the preferred language of choice among most developers that want to use the Odoo framework, especially for automating and scaling tasks.
  • The Odoo community is diverse and vast. By contributing and regularly interacting with other members, you will gain deeper insights into many different aspects of Odoo development. A great way to learn to develop in Odoo and quickly grow is actually by helping in the community.
  • Odoo 12 will reportedly improve data processing, better report insights, and support for OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for handling documents among other exciting updates.

Full Interview

On who should use Odoo

Odoo is more than an ERP tool. According to you, What is Odoo? Who will benefit from adopting Odoo? What made you choose Odoo?  

For me, Odoo is more than an ERP. Odoo literally allows me to make any module or functionality that I can think of. Since Odoo is so flexible and scalable I believe that almost everybody can benefit from adopting Odoo. Whether you’re a small start-up or a giant tech company. The most important part to be able to benefit from adopting Odoo is adjusting the processes and mindset to use Odoo, not adjusting Odoo for the company. The projects that work the best and have the best benefit are those that don’t over-engineer and try to focus on the main company processes.

I personally chose Odoo after I got an opportunity to become an Odoo developer at a company in Belgium. After the job offer I visited Odoo.com and saw the massive amount of functionalities in Odoo (while being free!) and I was genuinely amazed. After looking at the technical framework and all the default options provided by the framework I was sure that I would love to develop and implement in Odoo. Since that day I never stopped working with Odoo.

On journey from OpenERP to Odoo

Odoo started off as OpenERP and then in 2014, it moved beyond just ERP and was renamed Odoo. How has Odoo’s journey been so far since then? What do you think are the key milestones achieved by Odoo till date?

Since the renaming from OpenERP to Odoo the company has seen a rapid growth. A bit after changing the name Odoo also introduced the enterprise version which was, in my opinion, the turning point for Odoo S.A. It allowed Odoo to keep its open source strength and market share while also gathering funds to fund the ongoing growth of the product. The big investments that are being made in the Research and Development team allow them to keep improving year after year.

The main strengths and key milestones from Odoo are absolutely its flexibility, a great framework and the fact that most of the possibilities are already in Odoo by default.

On the drive behind contributing to the Odoo community

You are highly active in the Odoo community. How did you get into contributing for Odoo? How has this experience improved you as a developer? According to you, what are the key challenges the Odoo community is facing currently?

My very first contribution started in the second half of 2014 and weren’t very significant at first. I noticed that Odoo 8, at that point the newest version, was not very well translated and had a lot of inconsistency so I started translating it in Dutch. From there on I noticed that it could have had quite a big impact and in fact could improve the ERP. It didn’t take long before I started contributing in other ways. Reporting issues, fixing bugs, maintaining bug reports and helping other people on the official help forums.

By contributing to all these different subjects I got introduced to more domains and gained more insights. Thanks to my involvement with the community, I’ve learned that there is more than one side to developing and implementing projects. I believe it made me a better programmer and made me think a lot more about ways to code custom development for projects. Without being active in a community and contributing you’ll be blindsided by your own perspective. It is a great way to get challenged and you’ll see more cases by being active in the community than you could ever see on your own.

The Odoo community faces a few challenges at this point. It is difficult to maintain the right balance between the enterprise version and community (free) version. There are not a lot of very active contributors to the official Odoo code and Odoo is behind on handling fixes/bug reports made by community members. This results in some community members not feeling appreciated or heard. Hiring a second community manager might be a good way to resolve these issues though.

The most difficult challenge for both Odoo and the Odoo community is to make everybody feel heard and give every person the ability to contribute in the way he or she can. When there is enough help from Odoo and the community feels supported there is a possibility for a great and thriving community.

On how to learn Odoo effectively

As a person who has a strong hold over Odoo development, what is the typical learning curve for someone getting into Odoo, as a consultant? What is the best way to start developing in Odoo? What should one watch out for while learning?

The learning curve can be quite long and can have its challenges. Usually, if you don’t have any experience with Odoo and only know basic Python it’ll take about six months before you really get to know the ins and outs of Odoo. The best way to learn to develop Odoo is probably the same as with most things in technology: dive in! Make sure you get the basics right and understand how the main functionalities work before going deeper.

A great way to learn to develop in Odoo and to quickly grow is actually by helping in the community. You can get insight and help from experienced developers while also contributing to the community, it’s a win-win. Start small and build your way up to the details.

It is important to find good documentation and tutorials though. At the moment there are still quite some blog posts and tutorials that are from quite a low quality. Because of this I actually started writing my own tutorials, which explain concepts step by step with samples. You can find it at https://odoo.yenthevg.com

Editor’s note: Check out our collection of Odoo Books and Videos to master Odoo development.

On the upcoming Odoo 12 release

Odoo 12 is expected to be released later this year. What’s got you excited about this new release?

Quite a lot! Every release has loads of new features that are announced and it’s an exciting time, every time. The introduction of a report designer for functional people is one of the best (known) new features. The improved reporting tools for data insight will become a great improvement too. The biggest announcements are made at Odoo Experience in October and are not publicly available yet so we’ll have to wait for that.

On the future of ERP

There is a lot happening in the area of ERP and BI: self-service analytics, real-time analytics, agile BI development etc. Where do you foresee the ERP market headed? We’ve seen ERP/CRM systems getting powerful inbuilt analytics systems, what do you think is next for the industry? What is Odoo’s role here?

As with any sector in IT, a lot is becoming very data-driven. In the future integration and usage of data will only grow. I expect the combination of BI and AI to become a powerful way to process and handle data on unseen scales.

Odoo itself has already hinted at improved data processing, better report insights and support for OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for handling documents. Odoo has been ahead of quite a lot of ERP systems with its clean UI, advanced modules integration and the flexibility of its technical framework for years. I expect Odoo will also be leading the way for handling all this data and getting important statistics out of it. I’m quite sure it is only a matter of time before Odoo starts working on even better BI reporting and tools.

On Python and automation

Automation is everywhere today and becoming an integral part of organizations and processes. Python and automation have gone hand in hand since Python’s early days. Today Python is one of the top programming languages. How do you see Python’s evolution over the years in the area of automation? What are the top ways you use Python for automation, today?

It is for a reason that Python is so popular. It is flexible, quite quick to program with and the options are virtually endless. In the next years, Python will only become more popular and this will also be the case for automation projects made with Python.

I personally use the Odoo framework with Python as a backbone for nearly everything that I automate (and in fact also for non-automated tasks). The projects vary from automatically handling stock moves to automatically updating remote instances to automatically getting full diagnostic reports. The combination of the programming language and the framework from Odoo allows me to automate tasks and deploy them on a big scale.

Read Next:

ERP tool in focus: Odoo 11
How to Scaffold a New module in Odoo 11
A step by step guide to creating Odoo Addon Modules

Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.


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