Drupal for contact management?

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This is simply a wish list of functions I’d like to see in a Drupal contact management module. I may well be turning at least some of these into code if I don’t find someone else has already done it – in either case I’ll write a new post and link back here. Comments are very welcome.

  • The ability to manage contacts who aren’t system users (as well as ones that are). Contacts might have only a phone number or snail mail address initially.
  • Flexibility in adding custom fields. I anticipate the answer to this will be to use CCK.
  • Fexibility in querying. Is there a way to generate views dynamically? I haven’t yet investigated. An interactive query builder would be ideal.
  • Ability to raise an action (such as “cold call”) against a set of contacts and record progress.
  • Per-contact action log.
  • Flexible status indication with colour-coding.

(Yes, I do know about CiviCRM, and I don’t like it. It is so hard to customise it might as well be closed-source proprietary software, in my experience.)

8 Responses to “Drupal for contact management?”

  1. Allan McDonald

    Alfred, I agree that your idea has great merit. There is enormous value in our business contacts that is often overlooked and not well used in business. Your “wish list” would assist business to realise that value.

    I’ve been through the list of contrib modules and haven’t found anything that would do this “out of the box”. Correct, CCK could accomplish some of this, perhaps along with Views.

    I’m also interested in your thoughts about CiviCRM. I propose testing CiviCRM offline when the next version is released later this year. It will be interesting to see if I come to similar conclusions.

    There is another open source product worth mentioning here. I assume you are aware of SugarCRM, found at http://www.sugarcrm.com but there appears to be only limited interfacing to Drupal through the SugarForm contrib module for Drupal 5.

    Unfortunately I’m not a coder so I can’t help with the project but I would be very interested in using the functionality in your “wish list”.

  2. Alfred Armstrong

    Thanks for the comment, Allan. My criticism of CiviCRM is largely based on how difficult it is to customise as a developer: I did an evaluation of it for a client and in those areas where it fitted their needs it was great, but as soon as I tried to extend it in ways not envisaged by the developers it became very hard work. Unlike Drupal it has very few ‘hooks’ for new functionality.

    From what I know of SugarCRM it’s also rather large and unwieldy, but that’s just anecdotal. It’s not truly open source either, is it?

    I shall be developing some sort of contact management system in short order and if it seems like it might be of wider use I’ll make it available to the community.

  3. Donald Lobo

    can you elaboarate on the “ways you tried to extend it and it became very hard”. Would be good feedback for us to try to improve so extensions become a bit easier

    the 2.1 version has even more hooks than 2.0, so we definitely are moving down the hook path quite aggresively

    lobo

  4. Mike C

    Alfred, I also have a Drupal web development business and would love to have a Drupal based contact manager for myself and my customers. I’ve been thinking of developing one as my first Drupal module, but havent the time and don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Views+CCK, which I use for basic contact details, aren’t really enough to get more than about 1/4 of what even a very basic contacts system would need. Have you got a more detailed spec yet, or have you found any modules that give you some of what you’re looking for?

  5. ripwit

    I’m new to Drupal but have a great interest in working on a contract management system, preferably as part of a framework such as Drupal rather than as another stand-alone web application.

    My emphasis would be on a very flexible database structure that could handle a large variety of contact information (such as Outlook and the vcard specification) as well as being able to record encounters, relationships, companies (and company relationships), etc.

    I have mapped out several designs and working prototypes for this information. Now what I would like to do is find a way to interface with the data using tools such as Drupal Views.

    Since I am ‘twixt and ‘tween gainful employ, I may have some time to dive into development (more than 20 years experience).

    ..roger

  6. Guix

    Any updates on this ?

    I need to manage a list of contacts which would preferably NOT duplicate my registered users (so thinking more of using users for contacts).

    Then I need a GUI to import a tag into a node at a given place in a WYSIWYG and then maybe at the filter or theme layer, display my contacts in a CSS tooltip.

    Yup ! A lot of work I guess 🙂

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