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DB-based Association Management Software?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the software-that-plays-well-with-others dept.

Businesses 37

BrynM asks: "I work for a professional association that is currently using several Symantec Act! databases to keep track of Membership, Event Registration and Continuing Education. This 'solution' is growing very long in the tooth as Act! is really just a contact database and not a full blown management system and doesn't handle payments for member dues, orders or registration fees at all. I have worked for an Association that used iMIS, which is fully featured but is way beyond my current employer's budget to implement. There's a short list of software in the Google Directory, but foraging the vendor's websites hoping for a demo and trying to get a quote for all of them would be unrealistic. Finding something that uses a database back-end that we can interface other things with would be ideal. I'm OSS agnostic on this one - we just want the most useful and practical solution. What software would you recommend? Do you have any experiences with software to avoid?"

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I'm sorry, I have to vent (1)

KingPrad (518495) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783631)

foraging the vendor's websites hoping for a demo and trying to get a quote for all of them would be unrealistic.

Unrealistic? By which you mean a lot of effort and time? But you want the rest of us to spend our time typing up our experiences and opinions about the software we've used for this? That is very selfish of you, in my opinion. How about you do the work of testing demos and write up your experiences and share it with the rest of us to comment on. That way you will have actually contributed something to the community instead of asking everyone else to contribute to you specifically. That would seem the more honorable route of providing some effort rather than begging for others'.

Re:I'm sorry, I have to vent (1)

br0ck (237309) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783741)

Plus it takes only a few seconds to click each link and locate the pricing and demo links. Total research could take less than the time to post on Slashdot and wait for a response. Just going through the Google Directory list he linked to, there's all sorts of information available. The first link shows a product that includes source for a 'recommended' $50/year [ebase.org] . Another more expensive one [associationsonline.com] took 2 seconds to find on Google and has the free demo clearly linked at the top right.

Re:I'm sorry, I have to vent (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783980)

Many products, such as iMIS, don't post any pricing information on their site and insist on a rep visiting you for a demo. I happen to have several that do offer a demo installed, as a matter of fact, and have been going through the list at Google. Further, if you have ever used software pitched to associations, you would know that spending time with the demo rarely will give you an idea of the product's long-term usefulness and operability. Thanks for flaming my bad choice of words though. You're a champ.

Re:I'm sorry, I have to vent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9828777)

I don't see what's wrong with asking if anyone has actual experience with such products. If you've already tested some demos, what's wrong with saying so? If you have not, what's wrong with not saying anything? Slow night, eh?

SQL Ledger? (2, Informative)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783651)

SQL Ledger [sql-ledger.org] Perhaps this might work? It seems to be more oriented towards billing things rather than maintaining a contact list.

MySQL and some sweat (1)

override11 (516715) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783705)

Just run MySQL on a *nix server and take a weekend to learn PHP. Its all free, runs fast, and should be able to scale as large as you can throw hardware at it. It will also be cross-platform and web based, so nothing to install on the clients. With some tinkering you could do automated billing (email .pdf's on the fly), really anything you want. G-luck.

Re:MySQL and some sweat (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784047)

Just run MySQL on a *nix server and take a weekend to learn PHP.
PHP/MySQL was my original idea (I know both), but my employer would rather find a vendor and a support channel. I can't say I blame them after they got really burned by some previous web developers. Their member database is far more mission-critical than their website is. They are worried about the "what if ______ got hit by a truck or became disgruntled" factor.

Re:MySQL and some sweat (1)

Randym (25779) | about 10 years ago | (#9798893)

Finding something that uses a database back-end that we can interface other things with would be ideal. I'm OSS agnostic on this one - we just want the most useful and practical solution. What software would you recommend?

...my employer would rather find a vendor and a support channel.

So...you're *not* really OSS agnostic after all, are you? IMHO, the poster has given you the solution. I suggest that you show up one Saturday and implement the MySQL/PHP solution. Make sure to write a user manual too, to deal with the "truckhit scenario." When your employer realizes that your fait accompli is exactly what he/she is looking for, I think he/she will come around pretty darn quickly -- especially since it *is* free! If your employer is so PHBish to *turn down* a *working solution*, I'd suggest that you update your resume. Be proactive -- it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Re:MySQL and some sweat (1)

yuri benjamin (222127) | about 10 years ago | (#9809262)

What he said.

I would add - document it very well to allay fears that they'll be left high and dry by the under-the-bus or disgruntled-employee scenarios.

That's two forms of documentation - a users manual and a maintainers manual. There's the advantage of open source - it's all open and as long as it's well documented, developers are fungible.

Just a tip (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783739)

You know, I could tell you all about the relative merits of using GCC vs. IBM's Visual Age for C++ vs. Intel's C compiler vs. MS Visual C++ for .NET or whatever they are calling it.

But software to keep track of your friends and how much they owe you? I'm going to need a little help understanding this concept of 'friend'. What is that?

Or maybe I could just look it up on Google.

Re:Just a tip (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784014)

But software to keep track of your friends and how much they owe you? I'm going to need a little help understanding this concept of 'friend'. What is that?
They aren't friends, they're dues paying members of a professional association. These are business transactions. Let me Google [google.com] a little for you... ;)

fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9783770)

fp

Codecharge Studio (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783890)

Get a copy of codecharge studio, PHP and MySQL (or Perl or asp or java or whatever) and roll your own custom application. This program makes it really easy to create a web based database application. Depending on your application you may get away with not having to do any programming, at the very least you will do very little coding. Of course, you do still need to know a thing or two about good database design...

Re:Codecharge Studio (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784132)

Get a copy of codecharge studi
Though it won't work for this particular need, Codecharge is a great app! Thanks for turning me onto it!

Yeh, (1)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 9 years ago | (#9783947)

Act!, its fucking horrible. I mean really unbelievably horrible.

Re:Yeh, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9784192)

Faint damning is almost praise. You forgot to talk about Symantec's abusive technical support. (IMHO)

Re:Yeh, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9793965)

I swear to god that Symantec and Veritas have the most horrible to use software of anyone, MS included. The opposite of the Midas touch, it is the crappy software user interface touch. I don't think you could build a corporate culture that creates worse interaction with the user than these two companies, if you tried.

Re:Yeh, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9817151)

you sir, have never had the pleasure of filemaker pro.

Just talking with my wife about this subject (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784123)

What we'd really like to see is a web-based collaboration package that would let group members work on membership rolls, newsletter, event calander and mailing list.

She's involved with a ski club, Toastmaster's and a church, and in all three cases there is *no* good way to share the work of supporting the organization.

Just about all the members have broadband ethernet and she'd love to have a software package that would allow multiple members to share the work without stepping on each other's toes or corrupting the database.

Re:Just talking with my wife about this subject (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784428)

The solutions I've seen that do offer the capabilities you want are lots of $$$. Since I work for an estabilished association, we can offord to look at some of the solutions that do these things (the under $5,000 category). If I run across anything that works for what you need on the cheap, I'll re-respond to your post so you get an e-mail. I feel some of your pain on this one. Most of the responders to my question don't even understand what I'm asking about or what a professional association is. If geeks can't grok what the software is for very well, chances are that not many alternatives will ever be written. Thanks for letting me know I'm sane and make sense to someone

Re:Just talking with my wife about this subject (1)

A Big Gnu Thrush (12795) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784539)

Only linking this one because you mentioned the web. The aar website does a great job of letting you search for members.

www.memberclicks.com [memberclicks.com]
www.aar-online.org [aar-online.org]

Re:Just talking with my wife about this subject (2, Informative)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9785259)

I told you I'd post if something met your needs... Birdddman posted [slashdot.org] a link to Clubdata [sourceforge.net] just a few minutes ago. It's too rough for what I need, but it looks like a good fit for you. I know I'm re-posting it to the same story, but I want to be sure you get an e-mail letting you know it's there. Thanks again for posting.

Re:Just talking with my wife about this subject (1)

quiranus (535643) | about 10 years ago | (#9789900)

If I may plug a project - www.openacs.org It's somewhere half in between the 'php/mysql' solution and the full-blown, commercially supported shrinkwrapped package. Very active community, quite a few companies that will build-to-order for you based upon it (if commercial offering & support is an issue for you) and with many (large) organisations depending on it, it won't go away very soon. Only drawback - it takes a learning curve, it's a mature toolkit and you really need to spend some time with the (plentiful) documentation.

uh.. what? (1)

XO (250276) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784236)

Could someone translate this Slashdot article into English? I don't know what language it's in, but I didn't follow it one bit.

I'd be glad to... (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784293)

I work fo' some professional associashun dat be currently usin' several Symantec Act. Right On! databases t' keep track o' Membership, Event Registrashun and Continuin' Educashun. Dis 'solution' be growin' real long in de tooth as Act. Right On! be really plum some contact database and not some full blown management system and doesn't handle payments fo' memba' dues, orders o' registrashun fees at all. What it is, Mama! Ah gots worked fo' an Associashun dat used iMIS, which be fully featured but be way beyond mah current employer's budget t' implement. Dere's some short list o' software in de Google Directory, but foragin' de vendor's websites hopin' fo' some demo and tryin' t' git some quote fo' all o' dem would be unrealistic. Sheeeiit. Findin' sump'n dat uses some database back-end dat we kin interface otha' dings wid would be ideal. What it is, Mama! I'm OSS agnostic on dis one - we plum wants de most useful and practical solushun. Whut software would ya' recommend? Do ya' gots any 'speriences wid software t' avoid?"

Re:I'd be glad to... (1)

XO (250276) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784537)

well, I can comprehend Jive.. but.. the Jive has to be translated from English that made sense to begin with.. see, I understand all the words..they LOOK like English. . but none of them make sense together.

Maybe it's because I've been on enough cold medicine lately to kill a large pet. Or maybe not.

Maybe the person who posted this is just making the problem so complex, they can't find a reasonable solution?

hmm...

Re:I'd be glad to... (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784659)

I was just feeling like a smartass and thought it would be funny.

Go back about 3 posts to mine that said "Just talking with my wife about this subject" along with the OP's followup and you'll get the picture.

Re:I'd be glad to... (2, Informative)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784758)

Maybe the person who posted this is just making the problem so complex, they can't find a reasonable solution?
I made it as simple as I could. I work for a Professional Association [google.com] like the AMA [ama-assn.org] , the APhA [aphanet.org] , IWA [iwanet.org] (International Webmaster's Association) - hell, the RIAA is an association too! These associations have members who pay money we call dues. In return they get access to a network of similar professionals, continuing education (which is required to keep your license to practice for people like lawyers and doctors), have conventions with seminars, sell work-related publications and lobby for laws that help make the profession thrive. Since we do so many things for our members that involve little bits of data (how many hours of continuing education did this seminar award per person according to which guidelines, who has paid their dues, who is registered to attend the Sacramento Chapter meeting, who is the president of the Sacramento Chapter, etc...), managing it all get's complex and unweildy. We are non-profit and are involved politically, so we have to be accountable to both state and federal regulations for every bit of what we do and go through an annual audit process. Maybe the person who posted the article (me) actually knows what he said and that other people with the relevant experience know what he said, but the subject itself is a niche that you have never been exposed to the complexities of. Enjoy the cold medicine!

Sacramento software vendor (1)

codejnki (16214) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784486)

I used to work for a lodging association in Sacramento and we used a vendor over near Rancho Cordova to help us implement a package.

They were a reseller for a national software package. They were also developing a home grown association management package. Right now I can't remember their name but I've e-mailed someone I used to work with back then to see if they could remember.

If I find out the name I'll post again.

Re:Sacramento software vendor (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784599)

I used to work for a lodging association in Sacramento and we used a vendor over near Rancho Cordova to help us implement a package...Right now I can't remember their name but I've e-mailed someone I used to work with back then to see if they could remember.
Funny that! I'm in Sacramento too. Did that vendor in Rancho support iMIS? If so, then I know who you were talking about. Either way, let me know and thans for responding!

MASS (2, Informative)

matthewd (59896) | more than 9 years ago | (#9784875)

http://www.membershipadmin.com/

I haven't tried this one personally, but it does have the ability of letting you use different back end databases. A demo copy is available for download. From the FAQ:

"Can this membership software database integrate with other databases?

Yes. The default database engine is dataflex, which has ODBC support. Other backend database engines are also available-at a cost. We support MS-SQL, Oracle, mySQL, Pervasive, IBM-DB2. The worst case scenario is to use the import/export functionality.

Further information on the database capabilities see http://www.dataaccess.com"

Re:MASS (1)

BrynM (217883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9785166)

http://www.membershipadmin.com/ [membershipadmin.com]
Very cool. This is definitely in the running now and until now, I had no idea it even existed. Thanks much matthewd!

Clubdata (1)

Birdddman (597580) | more than 9 years ago | (#9785178)

You could try http://clubdata.sourceforge.net It is very rough around the edges - but seems to work. the only problem I've had is that much of it is written in german. We started using it - but only very very recently (and with quite a bit of tweaking.)

Aviansus (1)

phutureboy (70690) | about 10 years ago | (#9785801)

Check out Saraf Solutions' Aviansus:

http://www.saraf.com/Aviansus_Home.html [saraf.com]

It's built on OSS technologies, including Apache, Tomcat and Postgres, IIRC. I'm working with a Chamber of Commerce which is in the middle of migrating to it from an old IMIS system. They should be going live on it soon. Contact me if you want me to put you in touch with the end users for a reference / first hand account of how it works.

Re:Aviansus (1)

OldeClegg (32696) | about 10 years ago | (#9828342)

Aviansus looks interesting. Too bad their website is so spare. The purchasing page, for example, has no price information. There's only a list of different pricing/seats models, without prices! I did'nt see much on how it works or what it looks like - on entering the site I think I saw a 'demo' link, but after browsing a bit I couldn't find it again, even after returning to the home page. Could be good, but they need a website overhaul.

Good Topic - Lot's of Orgs Could Use This (1)

OldeClegg (32696) | about 10 years ago | (#9828430)

I'm helping to work out a web portal for an international nonprofit org, and we sure could use some packages to help with admin.

We're not pro coders, just interested neophytes. So far we've rolled out own with PHP/MySQL based site, with self made template main pages, phpMyAdmin, phpbb conferencing, LinPHA photo album, and some other stuff.

Getting it all to work together and getting the config for each done has proven to be a great DIY project, but it sure is a long road. It's been in process for quite awhile, and we're still not ready to open to our public.

It would have been great to have a package to start with, so that we could use it to create a site to do the stuff that our nonprofit was created to do. As it is, maybe we'll be able to contribute back to the OSS community by virtue of releasing a finished site, if we ever get that far. Yeah, I know this is a whine.

fwiw, we looked at Compiere ERP + CRM, http://sourceforge.net/projects/compiere// [sourceforge.net]
Lots of features. Too business oriented.

InfoCentral (1)

OldeClegg (32696) | about 10 years ago | (#9829658)

OK, so I went off and checked out the InfoCentral online demo. It looks like it might fulfill some of the requirements.

It's another web based MySQL front end. OSS too. Mostly weighted to member management, it seems to have some financial stuff. It's designed to be a church membership management thing, but plenty of customizing ability is built in.

Check it out: http://www.infocentral.org/ [infocentral.org]



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