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Wouldn't it be nice if you could track Gmail messages about specific features and bugs from within your defect tracking system? You can if you're using the open-source SugarCRM, thanks to a team of Italian developers that today launched DolceGmail. The new plug-in for Firefox links Google's browser-based e-mail system with the versatile SugarCRM, allowing users to add contacts, e-mail messages and attachments from Gmail directly to their SugarCRM system.

"SugarCRM is a business application framework with a CRM app on top," said Clint Oram, vice president and co-founder of SugarCRM in a phone interview yesterday. "We have tools for building new modules on top, and you might not even use the CRM aspect," he said of the system, which boasts 4,000 users and 80,000 contributors. "Customers can build new objects specific to their business."

He said the system is most commonly used for keeping track of bugs and feature requests, but can be used in lots of other ways. "Let's say they need to do asset management...you have hardware you keep track of in Excel and have trouble tickets for those assets." Such a system could be built on Sugar in about a day, he claimed. "You would import that spreadsheet you've been using to manage assets and track changes. Then you would know who changed what asset and you could put security around it."

DolceGmail was built by developers at OpenLiven, a small IT services and development company in Italy that tracks customer contact using SugarCRM. "OpenLiven had lots of customers using Gmail, so they built a plug-in connecting Firefox and Gmail APIs to ours," said Oram. "Now they can keep track of all e-mails from a specific customers and relating to specific projects." And you can too; OpenLiven released a major update to the free DolceGmail plug-in yesterday; the day the project was named "Project of the Month" by SugarCRM.

SugarCRM is available in several editions ranging from the free Community edition to an Enterprise edition costing US$480 per user per year. There also are plug-ins for Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird with similar functionality to that of DolceGmail. I wasn't able to contact OpenLiven CEO Luca Faggioli in time for this article, but I assume DolceGmail is a play on "Dolce Vita," which is Italian for "sweet life." The English-language plug-in is written in JavaScript, licensed under the Mozilla Public License 1.1, and works with SugarCRM Community, Professional and Enterprise editions versions 4.5.1, 5.0 and 5.1.

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