Is it helpful to describe SuiteCRM as fork?

Can someone (perhaps Greg) please clarify this issue of whether SuiteCRM is really a “fork”. Perhaps technically it is a fork if core SugarCRM code has been adjusted as part of the SuiteCRM set of enhancements, but my understanding is that if Sugar release CE 7.0 the plan is for SuiteCRM to be reworked so that it remains based on the “latest version of CE”.

So is it really the case that SuiteCRM = (SugarCRM CE + extra modules) and will this remain so (in which case I would not describe it to my clients as a fork) or is it only true right now and not likely to be true again in the future (in which case I would describe it as a fork).

SuiteCRM = ("latest_version_of_SugarCRM_CE" + "extra_modules)

…is a much better sales proposition than

SuiteCRM = "a fork of SugarCRM CE 6.5" 

The latter invites people to worry about the longevity of SuiteCRM and sets it up as an alternative to CE rather than as an upgrade to it.

I appreciate that nobody can be sure what Sugar will do in the future, but assuming it does keep releasing solid CE code will SuiteCRM always try to take advantage of it?


Andrew, you pose a damn good question. The answer is subject to variables as yet unknown, but here’s my current thinking:

  1. SuiteCRM needs to be able to leverage the ecosystem of extensions for SugarCRM until such time as it gathers community similarly building extensions for SuiteCRM.

  2. SuiteCRM needs to be able to offer existing SugarCRM users the “safe haven” of SugarCRM compatability if they decide that they need to return to the relative safety of a proprietary vendor.

  3. For the same reasons that SugarCRM leveraged the marketing benefits of open source to build their brand, SuiteCRM needs to leverage the markeing benefits of the SugarCRM brand to build the SuiteCRM brand.

  4. SuiteCRM will gradually become more agile than SugarCRM as SuiteCRM grows a community of collaborators and developers. SugarCRM will continue to adopt the relatively slower and less agile closed shop methods that they have over the last 24 months. Once this point is reached, SuiteCRM can innovate faster and better than SugarCRM.

So, for the foreseeable future (at least Q4 2014) I see SuiteCRM adhering to the SugarCRM architecture. This is for pragmatic reasons.

Thereafter, the game opens out and we see SuiteCRM as starting to lead, to innovate and to differentiate strongly from SugarCRM as we do so.

But, there is no “set in stone” game plan. We are setting the ship by certain stars but if the weather conditions change, we may need to tack a different course.

Pragmatic and realistic, not dogmatic and idealistic I hope are our core characteristics.

Whether or not you want to describe this to your clients as a fork is entirely up to you. But a fork is most certainly what this is.