Chromis POS, the open sourced point of sale solution provider started its voyage in 2013, whilst the founder of the organization was looking out to help one of his friends to replace his cash register. Both of them had some requirements that they wished to meet; one of the big ones was cost of ownership. It was at this point John the founder of Chromis stumbled on to a number of open source products. However none of these met the needs completely. So he started to write modifications for one, after a period of time John wrote a kitchen screen module and that was really the start of Chromis.
In 2015 the decision was made to create John’s own fork of the software and Chromis was officially born. John doesn’t prefer to call Chromis a company and asserts that it is more of a project of love. The organization does not have an income stream and there are no paid employees. In fact it is supported entirely on the forum by friends and users from around the world.
The Guardian Angle
John Lewis, the Founder of Chromis was born and completed his education from Stafford, England. He has been working for a large cinema chain since completing his “A” levels. During his stint at the cinema chain he has held multiple roles with the business. When it comes to IT, John thinks he was lucky in some ways. He encountered his first computer, an old English Electric main frame which was owned by a local polytechnic whilst still in education. Later in 1982 John became the proud owner of his first computer, a Sinclair ZX81. It was at that point he became interested in programming, writing in assembly language, he even had some games on the ZX Spectrum release by one of the budget labels. John eventually followed this with a move into hardware, repairing home computers of the 80’s for the local shops, all of this whilst working full time.
Prior to starting Chromis, John introduced a number of enhancements to an open source POS. These were initially started to meet the needs of a friend, it also meant he had to get back into programming and learn a new language. It was these changes that provided a wealth of interest, in the features being added. He eventually rose to the challenges on the forum for feature requests and gained recognition on the forum. While he had not had any impact on the commercial products, John would like to think that those changes and introductions of new features have influenced new forks of the project.
Shaping the Journey
According to the organization, the growing number of users is a big achievement; it is this user base that increases the desire to want to provide improvements to the application. Still, one of the biggest regrets of the founder John are, not starting to work on user manual earlier, there has never been a manual available, even for the original project from which Chromis was forked. However, this is now on going and is a lesson learned. Once complete, it should make the system even easier to setup. On the other hand, John thinks he should have certainly look at how he handled code created by others, following issues once imported in to the main project, which is entirely based on his past experience. He also added, “At the same time I would also have changed some of the database types supported sooner; it became difficult maintaining differences between them.”
Also when it comes to sustaining competency John is working round the clock in order to add features which will meet the needs of the consumers and improve the flexibility and ease of use of the product.
Painting the Picture of the Future
When it comes to the picture of the future, Chromis would like to be in a position to spend more time working on the product. And as the market changes, Chromis will eventually change the way it works, to allow more interaction with e-Commerce sites.
“We are a family business of 35 years, and felt that we needed to change with the times. John helped source and recode the software to suit our needs. That was back in 2013, once Chromis was released in 2015, we moved over to that. It is great we can now get reports of all kinds, making things like checking best sellers simple. We have had no problems in training the new staff we had to employ when we moved to bigger premises; it is so easy for them to use.”- Phil Lawton – Kidsgrove Tropicals
“Having recently started in business, I need a till system of some kind, the biggest problem was cost. I started with a small Casio till but soon became disillusioned. I emailed John when a friend of mine mentioned about looking at epos and gave me the Chromis web site details. After a few emails and advice on hardware, which john also helped me source, I had the software installed and running all within a month of the first email. All I can say is great and thanks.”- Alex Leishman – Vanillis