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Have you used SugarCRM for custom development successfully?, if so, have you done it programmatically or through the Module Builder? Were you successful? If not, why?

I used SugarCRM for a project about two years ago, I ran into errors from the very installation, having to hack the actual installation file to deploy the software in the server and other erros that I can't recall now.

Two years after, I'm picking it up for a project once again. I'm feeling like I should have developed the whole thing from scratch myself. Some examples:

  • I couldn't install it in the server (again).

    I had to install it locally, then copy the files and database over to the server and manually edit the config file.

  • Constantly getting deployment errors from the module builder.

    One reason is SugarCRM keeps creating a record in the upgrade_history table for a file that does not exist, I keep deleting such record and it keeps coming back corrupt. I get other deployment errors, but have not figured them out. then I have to rollback all files and database to try again.

  • I deleted a custom module with relationships, the relationships stayed in the other modules and cannot be deleted anymore, PHP warnings all over the place.

  • Quick create for custom modules does not appear, hack needed.

  • Its whole cache directory is a joke, permanent data/files are stored there.

  • The module builder interface disappears required fields.

  • Edit the wrong thing, module builder won't deploy again, then pray Quick Repair and/or Rebuild Relationships do the trick.

My impression of SugarCRM now is that, regardless of its pretty exterior and apparent functionality, it is a very low quality piece of software. This even scared me more: http://amplicate.com/hate/sugarcrm; a quote:

I wis this info had been available when I tried to implement it 2 years ago... I searched high and low and the only info I found was positive. Yes, it's a piece of crap. The community edition was full of bugs... nothing worked. Essentially I got fired for implementing it. I'm glad though, because now I work for myself, am much happier and make more money... so, I should really thank SugarCRM for sucking so much I guess!

I figured that perhaps some of you have had similar experiences, and have either sticked with SugarCRM or moved on to another solution. I'm very interested in knowing what your resolutions were -or your current situations are- to make up my own mind, since the project I'm working on is long term and I'm feeling SugarCRM will be more an obstacle than an aid.

After further failed attempts to continue using this software I continued to stumble upon dead-ends when using the module editor, I could only recover from this errors by using version control. We are now moving on to a custom implementation using Symfony; perhaps if we were using it with its out-of-the-box modules we would have sticked with it.

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closed as not constructive by Yannis Feb 13 '12 at 14:53

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Someone downvoted your question without leaving a comment, how rude. And then, 30 seconds later, someone else does it. What kind of annoying, rude people are on this site anyway? –  Omnifarious Jan 10 '11 at 22:24
I don't know, but clearly they haven't experience what I have experienced with SugarCRM. I used to love the project until now. –  dukeofgaming Jan 11 '11 at 3:38
My name is John Mertic, and I am the Community Manager for SugarCRM. I can completely understand where you are coming from re: custom development in SugarCRM. While many parts of the platform work really well, other parts do have issues and are less than trivial to work with. I'd like to follow up with you offline about your experiences, and invite you to help us make SugarCRM a much better platform for custom development. I think most of the pieces are in place, but the rough edges definitely make things more difficult than they should be. Please follow up with me on Twitter @jmertic. Thanks –  jmertic Feb 14 '12 at 16:06
This question might not be very positive, but it is constructive. Even the community manager of SugarCRM dropped by validating my claims with feedback. –  dukeofgaming Oct 25 '13 at 17:30

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Oh man. I don't even know where to start. As a seasoned programmer and server operator I am gonna just put it out there. This software is very poorly made with no attention to detail and is full of spaghetti code that just creates conflicts with everything you do. In plain english they built a ferrari body and put a vw bug engine in it. Very sad. After battling with it we got it to partially work the way we wanted it. We had the enterprise version which is expensive.... however the promised support that came with that package was so poor that no one could help me because I was more advanced then they all were. So we ended up making it work for the first year and a half and decided to make our own CRM completely from scratch. Never have been happier.

Not sure why the SugarCRM developers don't work on the core system instead of creating good looks. Its just sad and very misleading.

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Yep, pretty much what happened on our end. We sent SugarCRM to hell and made our own stuff. Symfony made the experience rewarding and we are also orders of magnitude happier. Not being visceral, I'm going to say it with the only words I can come up with: SugarCRM can go to hell. –  dukeofgaming Jul 7 '11 at 4:26

All I can say is that I installed the Community Edition a year or so ago, didn't use it much for anything, but install was straight forward and similar to any other PHP product install, and my limited test of the software confirmed that it works as designed.

Can't say anything about module building though. I guess that's the tough part about Open Source stuff. You want to modify it, but you also want to be able to get updates. So you can't just go and hack their source and stuff in whatever you want, because then when you upgrade to their new version you'll lose all your modifications.

So you have to use their "modules" or plug-ins or whatever, which means learning how to do it their way, etc.

But bottom line is that its Open Source and PHP so pretty much you can make it do whatever in the world you want it to do, which I don't think you can say for a closed source CRM.

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My first experience was somewhat similar. What you are mentioning about modifying core code of open source software is actually refered to as "hacking" it. SugarCRM's module builder and studio don't hack the code, they extend it, and you can also extend it manually. Hacking core code is something you should never-ever do, unless there is absolutely no other way. –  dukeofgaming Jan 9 '11 at 1:09


After trying SugarCRM some more for another project that needed the basic functionality and practically none custom development, I can only say that, if you can, avoid the module builder and just use SugarCRM as is. If you need to develop something more specialized/customized, considering its current state (well, and the two years before) stay away from it and look somewhere else.

We abandoned SugarCRM for the project I was mentioning in my question in favor of custom development in Symfony.

We stayed with it for a previous project (now revised) that just needed basic sales workflow and customer support.

My own final impression of SugarCRM

Good in principle, but poorly tested by its developer team, and when you dig deeper, it really really shows how unstable it can be.

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I have made more succesfull modifications to the SugarCRM system that I can even remember, and clearly it is not for the LAZY developer that wants everything prebuilt.

The honest truth is that these so called programmers, do not know anything about the market outside their company every company is different in every aspect, and the platform in which sugar operates allows you to modify it to your needs, but only if you know how.

If you get the impression that SugarCRM is imposible to modify properly, is due to the fact that, You are not as proficient as you think you are. and also to the fact that Sugar has been trying to acomodate all the lazy programmers and complex feature requests, which the only result is to have a very complex system.

suck it up, learn the system and get to work!

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I've implemented parametric attributes for custom on-the-fly entities and its corresponding form generators from scratch, and I can tell you its not that hard. My problem with SugarCRM was that something that is supposed to work is expected to work and not break midway... SugarCRM is poorly tested, because it tends to break a lot in unexpected situations, and that is my only problem with it. Didn't get into the framework, rather decided to use a better supported framework with a bigger developer community instead: Symfony. –  dukeofgaming Jan 4 '12 at 8:49
SugarCRM is very extremely customizable, I have built many great modules for it. There is a bit of a learning curve but it is very flexible once you learn the ins and outs of the codebase and featureset –  JasonDavis Sep 27 '14 at 6:08

It provides an ok basic framework. I've been building custom modules for about two years in the community edition.

You can start off doing most of the work with the builder and studio, but customisation almost always requires PHP coding. But most of the required skills are demonstrated in the developers guide, such as events, MVC and logic hooks. It really helps if you've masteerd smarty and / or javascript. Adapting contributed models is also feasible.

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