Lino is a library of functionalities¶
Lino comes with wide set of existing functionalities. They are organized into about 100 reusable modules. We call them “plugins”, but they are more than pluggable: they are also extensible, and they interact with each other. Here is an introduction. For a full reference see Plugin reference for end users.
Lino’s contacts fundamentally differentiates between “persons” and “organizations”. In Lino, each “person” can act as a “contact” for multiple organizations. Some simple contacts management systems just have a field “Company” for every “contact”. That’s not enough for professional customer relationship management (CRM) where you want to know when a same person works for your customer X, but is also a member of association Y?
This differentiation between “persons” and “organizations” is possible, but not imposed. You might not want to differentiate between them and just see all your “partners” in a single list.
The contacts in Lino can receive application-specific specializations. Depending on what you do with Lino, a “doctor”, a “patient”, a “member”, an “employee” might mean much more than just a person. For example
in Lino Tera you have “patients”,
in Lino Welfare you have “clients”,
in Lino Voga you have “members”,
in Lino Presto you have “workers”.
The contacts plugin usually implies the countries plugin, which adds countries and cities (any kind of geographical places).
If you want to record multiple addresses per partner, you probably want the addresses plugin. For example in Lino Welfare we differentiate between the “residence” and the “contact” address of a client. Or in Lino Amici you can see a history of the places where a person has been living.
The bare contacts plugin provides a number of fields for specifying phone number, email address, website url of each partner. If you want more flexibility, ask for the phones plugin where you can configure your own types of contact details and record multiple phone numbers or email addresses per partner.
The calendar plugin adds the notion of calendar entries. A Lino application seamlessly integrates your calendar into your remaining data. For example,
a sales representative may need to know the balance of the customer they are going to meet;
a therapist may need to review earlier meetings and discussions with the patient they are going to meet;
a social worker may need to know that the driving license or the work permit of the client they are going to meet will expire in two months.
In most countries it is prohibited to store confidential data about other people in a place you don’t own. That’s why you can’t store such data on a cloud server owned by Google or Microsoft.
“Really useful software unobtrusively blends into the lives of its users and makes their lives easier without needing them to drastically change what it is they do day to day” – Jeremy Bourhis, Why Google Calendar integration is just not enough
The courses plugin adds the notion of “activities”. An “activity” is when a group of people meet regularly for doing something. An activity generates recurrent calendar entries.
This plugin has a quite wide field of usages:
in Lino Voga it is labelled “Activities”. They organize courses, travels, hikes and excursions where people enrol and pay for their participation in diverse ways (subscriptions, membership fee, one-time payment, …)
in Lino Welfare it is labelled “Workshops”. The social centre organizes all kind of activities, and the social workers want to know where their clients have been participating and what the workshop leader have to say about their clients.
in Lino Tera it is labelled “Therapies”. They have individual therapies that run over years. Or there are group therapies and or family therapies.
The products plugin is when you have a list of things that you care about. When you want this plugin, you probably also want the trades plugin, which enables you to sell, or buy, or otherwise exchange your things.
The orders plugin is when a customer orders that two of workers will mow the grass every two weeks between May and October. Or another customer orders one social worker to visit their elderly mother every Monday and Thursday. Or another customer moves from one place to another and orders a lorry and two workers for transport.
You will then have what Lino calls trade vouchers: invoices, delivery notes and such documents. An invoice and a delivery note are technically very similar: they have a date, a recipient, and a list of rows, each row pointing to a product and saying a quantity.
You can use the trades plugin without any accounting functionality. For example you might simply want to issue sales invoices, and at the end of the month send a CSV or XML file to your accountant. Or your Lino might not talk about money at all: a local exchange trade system, or a community site for sharing cars.
An addition to the trades plugin is the invoicing plugin, which you want when you happen to automatically generate lots of invoices in the end of the month. Lino can generate invoices from delivery notes, from calendar entries, from internal working sessions… actually every database object can become an invoice generator.
The ledger plugin adds basic notions for accounting: accounts, journals, vouchers and movements. A voucher, in Lino, is any document that gets registered in a journal with a date and a number.
Some vouchers (for example a sales invoice) are produced by Lino, and Lino can print them for you. Other vouchers (for example a purchase invoice) have been issued by a partner and you just register them in a journal.
Lino knows different types of vouchers. For example bank statements, cash reports and payment orders are defined in the finan plugin. If you want automatic communication with your bank, then you also want the sepa plugin.
There are people who write sales invoices with Lino but don’t care about whether they get paid (actually they just don’t need Lino to care for it, for example because they have an external service provider).
Or the opposite: people don’t need Lino to write invoices (for example because they write them by hand) but want to track their financial operations with Lino.
But if you do both with Lino, then you get extra advantages because everything is integrated. Lino can then tell you the customer’s balance at any moment.
Your VAT declarations are vouchers. Defined in the vat plugin. Lino currently has VAT drivers for Belgium and Estonia. We are looking forward to our first accountant sites in other countries.
If you fill yourself the pay rolls for your workers, then you want the wages plugin. In Belgium this task is usually done by specialized service providers.
If you want balance sheets and other yearly accounting reports, then you want the sheets plugin.
Many applications need a way for their users to upload arbitrary files.
That’s the uploads plugin.
The lists plugin adds functionality for managing partner lists.
These three plugins are technically quite similar, but have different focus and can be combined.
In some cases your users just want to click on a print button and get a pdf file they can print out. That’s the printing plugin.
It can get more complex. The site operator may want a history of every printed document, with the worker who issued it, the recipients who received it and how they received it. They may want a way to prevent you from inadvertently changing any data that has been certified by that document. A frequent use case are invoices. In this case you want the excerpts plugin.