In celebration of OTRS 9th birthday *, the community is pleased to publish the following three News/Stories.
The Interview - About the beginnings
by Alexander Halle
Today, everyone knows OTRS; the project, the company and the community backing it. But how was it in the beginning? How did all this happen? We asked Martin Edenhofer, Inventor of OTRS, about the beginnings.
Alex: Why did you start with OTRS?
Martin: In 2000 I recognized, when calling my internet provider, that there was a need for an excellent helpdesk / service desk software. I guess everyone else was of the same opinion. Later, after working for a company with similar problems in customer service management, I saw the opportunity to invent a software which is helpful in many cases and will make both customer and agents happy.
Alex: When did you start with the project?
Martin: November the 2nd, 2001.
Alex: When did you release the first OTRS version?
Martin: March the 11th, 2002, OTRS 0.5 beta1 (with amazing 32 downloads ;) )
Alex: What was your motivation to work so hard on OTRS?
Martin: To be helpful for others.
Alex: Why did you start OTRS as Open Source?
Martin: Because I believe in Open Source, free software, and the following characteristics
- be open / share your knowledge
- learn from others is increasing the speed of your personal evolution
- community, there is no other who will tell you the trueness about your doing
Alex: I see, community is a very special point for you?
Martin: Yes. You cannot have any process without community. Community is the heart of the software and the pool of any innovation. In other words, a software without community is a dead software.
Alex: A personal question, how old were you when you began writing OTRS?
Martin: I was 23 years.
Alex: How did you start?
Martin: First of all, I setup the infrastructure for the project page, the source control system, mailing lists and bugzilla. Second, I started to develop the application. And finally I worked hard with the community to improve workflows and processes, as well as other aspects of the software. It was not as hard as it seemed that it would be, and today there are many freely available infrastructure solutions in the cloud.
Alex: Who was the first contributor of OTRS?
Martin: Well, at this point I need to say thank you to any OTRS contributor. Without them OTRS would not be what it is today. I remember all the useful feedback, discussions, and code contributions; it's amazing!. But back to your question. The name was Atif Gafar, a guy from Switzerland, also working on ISPMan at this time. Atif ported OTRS to IBM/S390. Then there was Robert Kehl - very important -, he did ported the software to windows. Or Wiktor Wodecki who did the LDAP integration. This list goes on and on and underlines the advantages of a community.
Alex: Who was the first user of OTRS?
Martin: It was the international university of Bremen (today Jacobs University Bremen) - http://www.jacobs-university.de/ (Greetings to Stefan Schmidt).
Alex: What principles helped you to reach your success?
- Do everything with passion (other wise you will not succeed)
- Be readily accessibly and communicative
- Always focus on easy to installation
- Make the software easy for everyone to use
- Make the software modular in any environment
Alex: We feel, that OTRS is one of the most trusted Open Source application in a business environment, is that right?
Martin: Well, I need to go back to 2003. I went to companies to present OTRS but they did not believe that Open Source was fit for business. Also the .com bubble just busted two short years ago. They asked really nasty questions like: "What is your hidden agenda?" or "What are you going to do after we use OTRS?". But finally in 2005, the news that NASA also used OTRS broke, and with this, the world of changed for OTRS. After this big PR message went out, nobody asked me again if Open Source was fit for business. So back to your question, yes OTRS is one of the most trusted Open Source application in a business environment.
Alex: What was the latest major milestone for the project in your point of view?
Martin: I see two great milestones that have been recently reached,
- The newly formed OTRS Community Board.
- OTRS 3.0 - a complete redesign of OTRS which was a 3 year process. From the users point of view, a nice and fancy interface to work with. From the technical point of view, a completely new UI with modern CSS, Java Script and clear Markup.
Alex: In the past, you used beaches as code names for OTRS. What was the purpose?
Martin: The Project started on November 2, 2001. I did a lookup in the history, exactly 499 years ago, on the same day in 1502, Christopher Columbus reached, during his fourth trip, a Bay in present-day Panama. So it was clear to use beaches for the baby. ;)
Alex: What is the most memorable OTRS installation for you?
Martin: The German Foreign Office is using OTRS for citizen service. In 2004, there was a big catastrophe, the "Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami" , many german citizen their relatives at home called the German Foreign Office to find out if the friends and families are still alive. By using OTRS it was possible to react quick and coordinated to all requests. To know that your idea did help many people in a really critical situation is a good feeling.
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake_and_tsunami
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsunami
Alex: Finally, the last question. What are you proud of?
Martin: That I took the first steps in inventing a software which is useful for so many people.
User Story II - Quick startup and transparence to customers
by Steve Durbin
We used to use a commercial system, called Datawatch VQSM, that required major tailoring by the supplier (chargeable) for any change to fields. It didn't have an email interface or a web interface; customers had to call to track tickets.
OTRS offered us the ability to quickly tailor fields, keep the customer updated and provide email/web interfaces. The email interface alone saved 2hrs/day on the service desk cutting and pasting emails into tickets!
OTRS transformed our service desk experience, and increased our customer satisfaction mesurably. Our number of tickets went up as well, due to supressed demand caused by the bottlenecks of the old system...and we saved about 10,000 euros a year!
Steve Durbin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
About the Author: I'm Welsh (The bit of the UK that the EU often forgets about - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/3715512.stm). I've been in IT since I was 18 (I'm now 50), so I am old enough to have used paper tape and remember when 16Kb was a lot of memory :-)
Company is Bridgend County Borough Council (http://www.bridgend.gov.uk), which serves an area of around 130,000 people and has a staff of 7,500. We're a Unitary Authority - a type of government body in the UK that provides a wide range of local services including refuse collection, social care and education.
Extension I - Message of the Day Plus (Agent Interface)
by Daniel Obee
Do you need to provide your agents with daily news/updates?
Then the Message of the Day Plus packages is your solution.
MOTD-Plus offers the option to show a (full html) Message Of The Day in the dashboard. To simplify editing, the module makes use of a standard response as filed under [Responses] in the admin area.
Just add another response called MOTD (or alike) to your [Responses], get the response's ID (number in brackets behind the name) and set ResponseID in Frontend::Agent::Dashboard - DashboardBackend###0090-MOTDPlus accordingly.
Now you have an easy-to-edit way to provide your agents with current news - or just the latest chuck norris joke.
SysConfig settings (Admin -> SysConfig -> Group "Frontend::Agent::Dashboard -> subclass DashboardBackend###0090-MOTDPlus)
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