Monday, April 20, 2015

Why FrontAccounting?

Once again, we found ourselves going with an open source product for a key component of our client's system. Here's the solution fit statement. A generic 'Company' is used in-place of our client's name.

Why FrontAccounting
The Accounts section of the Company was tasked in late 2014 to switch to a formal electronic accounting system. As such, a large number of commercial and open source products were evaluated. Ultimately we settled on FrontAccounting (FA) for the following reasons:

  • Traditional Accounting - FA is a classic double entry accounting system. Many products we evaluated did not operate this way or hid this functionality behind a checkbook style user interface.
  • Security and Privacy - FA runs in-house on the Company's own infrastructure using strict access controls and modern cryptography [1]. Many products were available online only and used outdated cryptography. More, most of these systems were hosted in the United States where the privacy of the Company's data is not guaranteed.
  • Right Sizing - FA is designed for medium sized organizations like the Company. Some products we evaluated were too simplistic to handle multiple currencies and user access security. While other products were too large and complicated, having far more functions than the Company would ever need or want to support. FA was one of the few products to sit between these two crowded product spaces.
  • Ease of Customization - As an open source product, FA is easy to customize and taylor to the Company's needs. With FA's development documentation and source code readily available online, we can easily extend FA to integrate with the Company's other systems (i.e. the Company's Payroll and Registration Systems).
  • Ease of Deployment - FA is easy to deploy, backup, and restore; especially when compared to large ERP systems. Ease of deployment is a critical need for us given (1) the high failure rate of computing infrastructure in this environment, and (2) our limited technical resources. 
  • Ideal Licensing - FA is free software, released under the GNU General Public License. This eliminates having to deal with frustrating licensing issues (i.e. software license expiration, number of licensed users, access to help resources, access to bug fixes, maintenance contracts, ownership changes, etc.).
  • Low Cost - No licensing fees.

FrontAccounting Resources

  • Home - Title page
  • Wiki - Resource for installation and configuration tips
  • Forum - Feedback from developers and users
  • Download - sourceforge

Quick Start

[1] Strong cryptography does not come 'out-of-the-box.' We configured the FA web application to use modern cryptography using TLS 1.2, encrypted using AES_28_GCM with an ECDHE_RSA key exchange mechanism. We did so the traditional way using OpenSSL and Apache HTTP Server on Linux.