Whether you’re managing your own contacts, or sales contacts for a whole company, or hundreds and hundreds of contacts for dozens of people in a company, your Mac does it all. For free.
It’s CRM. Customer Relationship Management systems. One of the most powerful available is an open source, web-based CRM application called “SugarSuite.” It’s free. It runs great on your Mac.
SugarSuite (also known as SugarCRM) can be used to manage customers, sales, contacts, and more things than you can think of. For you. For your company. For dozens of people within your company.
SugarSuite is web-based. That means it runs in a browser and can be made available to anyone, Mac or Windows, office LAN or on the web. Did I mention it’s free? This is not “free” application in the sense of “cheap.”
SugarSuite is a contact management application for adults; professionals. There’s tremendous flexibility, capability; you can use it to improve your contact with customers. A whole company with hundreds of sales people could do the same thing. It’s that good.
If I were running a company or a sales organization with a dozen sales people and hundreds of customers, I’d be all over SugarSuite.
Hey, if I were a professional call girl and had a few hundred well-heeled, high-paying customers (Happy Hooker?) that needed “contact” then SugarSuite could keep track of all, my, uh, “friends” and some of the cash flow.
Getting SugarSuite CRM set up on your Mac is just 5 steps. The last step is using it. How hard can it be?
Step 1 – Download SugarSuite
The application is a .zip file available from SourceForge, one of the web’s best resources for Open Source (free) applications.
Click Here for the SugarSuite download and more detail about the application. The download is a .zip file which will open on your Mac as a folder with all the files inside.
Step 2 – Set Up Apache Web Server
Each Mac comes with the popular Apache web server built in, but turned off. In true Mac fashion, you’ll need to do little except point and click. Open System Preferences, click on Sharing. Then click on Personal Web Sharing.
That starts the Apache web server on your Mac. If you’re at home, your Mac is now a personal web server. If you’re on the Internet, it could be a server to the web.
Make sure to take proper security precautions; router, WiFi router, or, if you’re at work, get your system administrator to assign you a domain name.
Step 3 – Download, Install PHP and MySQL
SugarSuite runs on the PHP scripting language and stores data in the MySQL database application. If you’re using Mac OS X Panther, you’ll need to download both. They’re Open Source and free.
We prefer Marc Lyanage’s packaged version of PHP. The latest is 4.2.10 and comes with some great graphic libraries and other tools. It installs on your Mac just like any other application and you won’t have to do much when the installer is done.
Click Here for the PHP page and download link (yes, other PHP versions are available; your mileage may vary).
MySQL is the database that powers more web sites than any other. It runs great on the Mac. Open Source and free. Click Here to download the latest version (scroll down to the Mac OS X version).
Again, just install according the directions and you won’t have to do much more.
Step 4 – Set Up SugarSuite
Other than learning a powerful new application that the whole company could use, Step 4 is the toughest step. If you make the right moves, it’s done in just a couple of minutes.
Make sure you remember your LoginID and Password (and root password) as your Mac uses those to set up permissions in SugarSuite.
One of the reasons the Mac is so secure has nothing to do with market share. The security built in to the Mac’s unix core is excellent.
Copy the SugarSuite .zip file to either your Home directory on your Mac (if you’re setting up for a whole company, you’ll want to move SugarSuite to the system’s /Library/WebServer/Documents directory).
Your Home directory is different than your System’s directories. YourUserName/Sites/. Change the directory (folder) name to, say, “sugar.”
Once you’ve put the files in the right place, you’ll have to set up SugarSuite and there’s a few steps to go.
If you put SugarSuite in your Home directory’s Sites directory, type this in your browser:
You should see a Mac OS X logo with the headline “Your website here.” That’s good. Assuming you put SugarSuite into a directory called “sugar” in your Site’s folder, then this in your browser:
If all goes well, you’ll have a Sugar OpenSource box on the screen with a “Next” button. Follow the instructions and let SugarSuite setup the database, setup the user names, and so on.
As you venture through the SugarSuite setup pages you’ll note that a number of directories and files in the SugarSuite application are not writeable. Make them writeable before continuing. To do this, in the Finder select the file or directory as instructed by SugarSuite, and click File/Get Info in the Finder window. Make all the selections “Read and Write” and continue.
You’ll be instructed to change some of the permissions back again later. If you’re going to have difficulty setting this up, it’ll be at Step 4. Permissions can be tricky. Learn to use them and your Mac stays secure and you stay happy.
Step 5 – Login and Use SugarSuite
I’m impressed at the amount of power and flexibility available in an Open Source (free) application. I loaded the Sample Files (you can always re-install if you mess things up) to get a taste of what’s inside SugarSuite.
That’s it. If you want SugarSuite available on the web the process is about the same, except it’s better to move SugarSuite’s files into your main System’s /Library/WebServer/Documents/ directory, rather than keep the files in your personal home directory.
Lest you worry about the future of an Open Source application, rest assured that SugarSuite will be around awhile. The project was started with a commercial life in mind. Should your business need customization and proper setup, there’s a company that does just that—SugarCRM.
Click Here to visit their site and get additional resources.
If I forgot a step or two, let us know via the Comments link below (I’m blonde so step-by-step tech stuff gives me wrinkles). Again, your mileage may vary. I had to set it up about four times before I got it right. Now it’s easy.