In need of an open source product configurator? An even better solution exists

In this item you will read why you’re better off picking a product configurator that is built on the basis of the API-first-principle. This looks like open source, but is actually a bit better.

Blog 5 min.

In our previous blog you could read about the enormous advantages of specialized tools instead of using a gigantic ERP-system. Such a behemoth of a system is outdated nowadays. An important condition for combining different tools is that these tools communicate effectively with each other. So you look for an open source product configurator.

Or is open source not the best solution? In this item you will read why you’re better off picking a product configurator that is built on the basis of the API-first-principle. This looks like open source, but is actually a bit better.

Open source, API-first: what exactly does all of this mean?

Traditional ERP is past its prime. Even if it was a fantastic method of supporting many kinds of business processes for a long period, it is now time for best-of-breed solutions. This means that for every process a specialistic tool is selected, and letting these tools communicate. Often it is thought that this requires an open source solution, but often that is not the case.

Open source means that the code for an application is available and customizable for everyone. This may seem handy when you want to add code yourself to adopt an app in your IT-landscape, but this requires quite some specialized knowledge. During the development of our product configurator we chose a different path.

Elfsquad is developed according to the API-first-principle. This means that we develop everything from the API and from there make it available in the user interface. This brings a lot of advantages in comparison to an open source configurator.

Advantages of API-first

There are a lot of applications for which an API is available. Still, it is different from API-first. Often it means that an app has been created with an API on top of it. Resulting in limited information in the API, and you still not gaining the flexibility you’re looking for, even if it’s an open source-solution. When an app is developed API-first, then everything is available in the API.

The large benefit you enjoy then is that such an app can be formed perfectly according to your work process. For instance, should you want quotations of € 300.000,- or more to first go by the commercial director to be signed, then that is possible. Is special customization required where engineering should have a look first? Then that’s possible. Moreover, these are only simple examples. The edge cases are unique for every customer, and an API-first-solution can facilitate this.

Additionally Elfsquad is the only product configurator available on so-called low-code-platforms, such as Zapier and Power Automate. This means that for the more accessible cases you only have to select the app you want to connect with through the API, and then that’s that. Would you like to send a mail from your product configurator to the commercial director when high value quotation rolls out? Using Elfsquad you would only have to choose which mail program you want to utilize for this. Configuration then only takes a few minutes. Much easier than writing a unique piece of code in the case of open source. As then you would be dependent on programmers, with all corresponding costs and efforts.

A final advantage we would like to share with you is the fact that you’re also able to adopt so-called black box-calculations when you use our API-first-solution. This can be beneficial when you rely on an external supplier for a portion of your product. You’ll probably never get the exact process calculation from them, but through the API you are able to take into account the outcome of said calculation. Because of API-first, you are able to approach external applications and calculation tools during the walkthrough of the desired configuration in Elfsquad. As such, you deliver a total solution without an army of ITers to write the correct code.

Are there disadvantages?

When comparing API-first to open source, there aren’t any disadvantages. The only thing resembling a disadvantage is that when you are that flexible, you must have a very good idea of what your eventual workflow is. To assist you, we will point you in the right direction. Yet of course it can be done in another way that you might prefer. Nothing is set in stone.

When you choose Elfsquad, you gain a clear business case wherein all options are discussed. We also take phasing and integrations with other systems into account. That way, we ensure that you gain a product configurator that is very well prepared for the future, courtesy of API-first and a good cooperation.


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No more pre-production nightmares

Elfsquad removes all worries from your pre-production process. With Elfsquad as backbone, we realize the digital factory that smart industries have been trying to find for so long. We do this through a product configurator, with integrated solutions for marketing, sales, and operations.

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