Tendenci Transparency Report – Why isn’t Wild Apricot Posting One?

red bird

Yup, AMS transparency reporting is critically important. And perhaps also equally a bit boring. After all, you are looking for what is MISSING.

In Tendenci – the Open Source AMS’ latest transparency report, yup, nothing has changed. Yea!

And given Tendenci AMS is fully open source and still building for the future , well, it’s pretty clear what our position is. We believe in open source and transparency.

What other MAJOR AMS can you self deploy on the servers of your choice? In the data center of your choice? In the country of your choice? With the encryption and firewall restrictions of YOUR CHOICE. That’s the beauty of open source.

And the price starts at zero. It. Is. Fully. Open. Source.

What is Wild Apricot’s transparency report? After all, they are recently touted as the new kid on the block. Welcome! Yet what is their position on transparency?

Disclaimer in defense of Wild Apricot – in all fairness, AMS systems take a solid 10 years to write. They really are doing a great job catching up, I’m only addressing transparency in this post.  Plus at Tendenci, we love a good strong new competitor adding value for NPOs/NGOs and Associations. We love that they are leveling up. All we’re saying is, let’s see their transparency reports? Why not be open source?

And yes, that is a challenge. Step up people!

Regarding Open Source – hey, why not support local: Tendenci pricing starts at ZERO ($0.00). Many people host in the Tendenci Cloud at AWS because we’re a good fit. Yet, our hosting pricing might not work for you in your country, right?

If so, then why not support a local developer in your community? Help build your home country’s tech sector by supporting your local developers!

Back to the business stuff – we have updated our latest transparency report. No changes. (check mark in the “no changes=good” column folks!)
https://www.tendenci.com/transparencyreporting/

Even though the competition is (mostly) NOT truly free and open source, that doesn’t mean they can’t be responsible and tell you if they have turned over your data. It does mean that any proprietary vendor offering free services is selling your data.

Is your AMS handing over, or monitoring, all of your data? Perhaps to the highest bidder or to the country of origin? You have a right to know.

Seriously, if any sector in the world needs responsible disclosure, it’s the association and non-profit/NGO sector.

Truly AMS (association management systems) / association management software in our opinion. Thus, the small team, and the large community at Tendenci, challenge our competitors to be transparent!

Yes, we understand that warrant canaries aren’t completely cut and dried. But at least a good faith effort? Why are other AMS systems not posting transparency reports?

If the FBI stated that NGOs/NPOs/Associations were the first target of the Russian propaganda campaign to influence the US elections, then I personally take issue with this.

NOTE: Propaganda and motives of foreign countries does NOT mean collusion. Collusion, and hopefully there wasn’t any, is not a topic we are addressing at all. (That’s for the politicians and the courts to figure out. We’re just programmers trying to do good.)

Thus the CHALLENGE to other AMS SaaS providers: Post your Transparency Reports!

Really, we call on all of the alternatives to Tendenci to adopt a transparency reporting policy.

Why not? Even proprietary companies can be transparent, right?

Why hide anything from your clients, open source or not? We don’t get it. End users don’t have to, and shouldn’t, tolerate hidden data disclosure.

Transparency reporting is just one more reason we’re passionate about helping associations and non-profits with their causes! We try to take the high road. Yet now, it’s not just about data collection, data mining, cross site tracking, Russian to popular AMS systems, it’s about just having integrity to tell people what is going on.

Associations, and therefore association management software, is important in every country. That’s why Tendenci is Open Source and currently supports 75 languages!

Yes, stay with your trusted local developer. Just please fast check them and demand access to your code, access to all of your data, demand access to your rights. And yes, demand transparency.

That’s how we roll at Tendenci – brutally open and honest, full access, association management. You know, kind of like WordPress is for blogs and CMS. Open!

At Tendenci, we recognize the value of the work you do. And we believe you deserve OPEN. In fact, we think open is baseline.

We hope you do too. Because Associations matter. You matter. #rockon #demandTransparency #ams #associationmanagement #asae #associationchat

Tendenci AMS API Integration

Python Rules

For more on The Open Source AMS integration via API visit our AMS API Helpfile

Tendencithe Open Source AMS is unique in that it is fully open source. However at times people would prefer to use an API to pull specific information. For that Django has several API integrations for your Association Management System such as:

django-tasty-pie is a REST based API to your AMS
https://github.com/django-tastypie/django-tastypie
The Django Rest Framework is also something the Tendenci community has been discussing switching to it as well.
http://www.django-rest-framework.org/

API’s aren’t mutually exclusive after all, right? You have options.

There are legitimate reasons to use an API. Examples include integration between a legacy mainframe system, ecommerce, or a development team that has chosen a different platform such as .NET or PHP.

Tendenci doesn’t meet all of the functional requirements for everyone by design. Instead we work with great technology like machine learningThe open AMS community isn’t focused on reinventing the wheel. It just doesn’t make economic sense for a non-profit, or even a for profit company, to reinvent Amazon.com or Ebay.com. This is particularly true if you are causes-based association or non-profit given the expense.

Does Tendenci AMS work with other providers? Absolutely. Any provider with an API or that supports SSO or RSS or has their own technology like google tag manager.

Non profits don’t have money to waste. Therefore we aligned our product to major industry supported technology.

Our technology stack as of 2018 is:

  1. Tendenci
  2. Django Web Framework
  3. Javascript and jquery
  4. Bootstrap CS
  5. Python Programming Language
  6. Postgres Database with GIS
  7. Docker Containers
  8. Ubuntu

For more on The Open Source AMS integration via API visit our AMS API Helpfile or read up on everything Tendenci Works With. Or if you aren’t into open source, there are definitely alternatives to Tendenci.

If you do pick an alternative, we suggest you consider Security FIRST and go from there.

The Incredible Growth of Python – StackOverflow

growth of python programming language

Python, the language used to program TendenciThe Open Source AMS, continues it’s meteoric rise in the world of developers. And where the developers go is where the rest of us go. Thus Python’s rise matters. And it benefits every Tendenci user, self hosted or hosted with our small company (same software either way).

IEEE Spectrum rates the languages by its readers as follows:

Python has continued its upward trajectory from last year and jumped two places to the No. 1 slot, though the top four—Python, CJava, and C++—all remain very close in popularity.

StackOverflow, a go-to site for pretty much every programmer and sysadmin out there, has a new blog post up on the incredible growth of the Python Programming Language. Python is of course the programming language used in Tendenci – The Open Source AMS. From the Stack Overflow post:

June 2017 was the first month that Python was the most visited tag on Stack Overflow within high-income nations. This included being the most visited tag within the US and the UK, and in the top 2 in almost all other high income nations (next to either Java or JavaScript). This is especially impressive because in 2012, it was less visited than any of the other 5 languages, and has grown by 2.5-fold in that time.

They have numerous charts to back up the data, but these two in particular paint a telling picture.

From Stack Overflow – the current tag questions viewed:

Growth of Python Programming Language
StackOverflow – The Incredible Growth of Python

Perhaps even more impressive is the projection on the continued growth of Python. Just WOW!

growth of python programming language
Python – Incredible growth with developers

The above graphs should give you confidence in your choice of using Tendenci as your AMS as the developers are not only there, but growing. Given Tendenci is fully open source (this is different from “free trial” AMS systems which are NOT actually FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). Wikipedia describes the difference as:

(FOSS means) anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software.[3] This is in contrast to proprietary software, where the software is under restrictive copyright and the source code is usually hidden from the users.

Many of our competitors who are NOT Open Source and not true FOSS which can sometimes confuse people. I’ll do a future post on examples of sometimes misleading representations by AMS systems that are not “actually” Free and Open Source (FOSS)  as defined on Wikipedia.

The good news is with the growth of Python, it only make sense that developers will look at and many will join in to help the community improve the software as they join associations themselves.

We’ve written about why we chose Python over PHP to develop Tendenci open source several times. Correctly choosing the open source stack gives us, and everyone in the community, confidence to see the trends predicted correctly. It wasn’t rocket science – we just listened to our team, we listened to younger developers, and most importantly we listened to our clients on what the future was/is going to be.

And associations are kind of a big deal and they can’t use minimum viable products.

Why are associations unwilling to accept apps that meet only minimal requirements? Um… because they started as Guilds and go back to Medieval times. From Britannica on Guilds and Trade Associations:

Guildalso spelled gild , an association of craftsmen or merchants formed for mutual aid and protection and for the furtherance of their professional interests. Guilds flourished in Europe between the 11th and 16th centuries and formed an important part of the economic and social fabric in that era.

and Britannica goes on….

… associations are known to have existed in ancient Rome, however, where they were called collegia. These craft guilds seem to have emerged in the later years of the Roman Republic. They were sanctioned by the central government and were subject to the authority of the magistrates.

This is a huge topic of course. Just know that Tendenci is the ONLY top ranked AMS system that is truly FOSS. Unlimited admins, users, contacts – you can self host or if hosted with us we only charge for processing power. Got 1M users and contacts and 50 admins? No problem. And the growth of Python assures your continued freedom from vendor lock-in no matter what.

#peace and happy (Python) programming y’all!

knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge

If you run an Association, volunteer, join in, help, learn and participate – well – at Tendenci we think you are kind of a BIG DEAL! It’s easy at times to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are on the board of directors and planning the details for a fundraiser.  Please remember – we need you, we appreciate you, and YOUR CAUSE IS WORTH IT.

Alexis de ToquevilleI get asked why Tendenci is Open Source. My reply is to point to the role of associations in society.  The role of associations, your association management system as well, are both too important to survive the conflict of interest with purely commercial solutions. To clarify why this is so important to me, and I believe you, I can only quote those far more educated and eloquent then myself.

Alexis du Tocqueville viewed civil society as the third leg of the stool that allows democracies to function.

Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations… In democratic countries knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.

and further

Americans combine to give fêtes, found seminaries, build churches, distribute books, and send missionaries to the antipodes. Hospitals, prisons, and schools take shape in that way. Finally, if they want to proclaim a truth or propagate some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association.

In every case, at the head of any new undertaking, where in France you would find the government or in England some territorial magnate, in the United States you are sure to find an association…. I have often admired the extreme skill they show in proposing a common object for the exertions of very many and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it.

Alexis du Tocqueville, Democracy in America (source)

Back in 1995 Senator Bill Bradley wrote “Democracy’s Third Leg.” and he described it in a similar manner.

CIVIL society is the place where Americans make their home, sustain their marriages, raise their families, hang out with their friends, meet their neighbors, educate their children, worship their God.

It lies apart from the realms of the market and the government, and possesses a different ethic.

and

Civil society, on the other hand, is the sphere of our most basic humanity — the personal, everyday realm that is governed by values such as responsibility, trust, fraternity, solidarity, and love.

…. There must also be a healthy, robust civic sector — a space in which the bonds of community can flourish. Government and the market are similar to two legs on a three-legged stool. Without the third leg of civil society, the stool is not stable and cannot provide support for a vital America.

Maya Angelou wrote one of my favorite poems which I believe relates. It is “A Brave and Startling Truth.”

Maya Angelou is of course a giant not just of our time, but of all time. She speaks of greatness in the form of unity and love. That is what Civil Society does. Associations, churches, clubs, political movements … all of these things are simply too important to our planet to NOT be open source. And we will come to it. YOU and your AMS software are too important to be locked in or cut off if a proprietary vendor chooses.

Quoting Senator Bill Bradley’s piece again, he states:

The language of the marketplace says, ”Get as much as you can for yourself.” The language of government says, ”Legislate for others what is good for them.” But the language of community, family, and citizenship at its core is about receiving undeserved gifts.

Building the Tendenci AMS community Open Source – giving you control – is how I handle the brutal truth that “we must confess that we are the possible. we are the miraculous.”

#peace

 

Mobile is 65% of Digital Time – comScore

Mobile is now 65% of time spent online leaving the Desktop with a paltry 35%.

ComScore has released their report 2016 US Cross-Platform Future in Focus which is summarized on marketingland.

comscore-mobile-vs-desktop-2016
Comscore Mobile App Report Summary

As marketingland states in their article, it’s not that the desktop doesn’t matter given most commerce still happens there. It is just that the buyers or donors started the journey with a search on a mobile device.

For the designers out there it is official that serving the clients means showing them the site on their mobile devices FIRST.

Mobile first design simplifies the information architecture process and focuses the team on outcomes. Focusing on your end users, the people googling your site on their iphone the vast majority of the time, is a success for everyone.

Mobile first changes the question from the ego-driven and outdated mindset of:

“How does my website look on the giant 4k monitor in the conference room?”

to a results oriented view of:

“Does this site reach our audience on their mobile devices effectively?”

Mobile first has been baseline for years. This data just confirms it once again.

Tendenci Responsive Design
Tendenci Mobile First AMS

Note: Tendenci, The Open Source AMS, is fully responsive across all viewports. If you are on an older version of Tendenci (v5 or earlier) we strongly recommend you talk to your developer to upgrade your site.

NonProfits and Associations Love Tendenci

Tendenci Association Websites

Written specifically for the NPO/Association market, Tendenci has continued to grow and adapt to meet the specific needs of these groups. From building on an open source framework that allows complete freedom  – to mobile responsive software design – to online forums and newsletter features that keep the community involved, Tendenci continues to invest in the NPO sector. And the NPO’s have responded!

We are pleased to continue our relationship with the following organizations that have recently released upgraded websites and extend a warm welcome to those that are new to the Tendenci community.

  1. University and College Designers Association Selects Tendenci for New Membership Website

    UCDA Tendenci Website

  2. Groundwater Resources Association of California Launches Tendenci Membership Management Website

    GRAC Tendenci Website

  3. The Children’s Assessment Center of Houston Releases New Mobile Tendenci Website

    CAC Houston Tendenci Website

  4. American Association of Singapore Launches Upgraded Mobile Tendenci Website For Their Membership

    AA Singapore Tendenci Website

  5. American Citizens Abroad, Inc. Launches Tendenci Membership Management Website

    American Citizens Abroad Tendenci Website

  6. Rice University Energy and Environment Initiative (EEi) Presents Transformative Solutions with New Website

    Rice University EEI Tendenci Website

  7. International Association of Directional Drilling Chooses Tendenci for Fast Launch of Member Website

    IADD Tendenci Website

Refactoring Tendenci 7.1

Tendenci-Logo

The time has come for us to refactor Tendenci, the fully Open Source Solution for Nonprofits and Associations.

Why?

The current version of Tendenci (7.x) has significant changes which are not compatible with Tendenci 5. This has prevented us from publishing the new code to make it easier for new users to install.

When?

We will begin publishing Tendenci 7 as a package possibly as soon as October 1, less than two weeks from now. It may not get pushed out on October 1, but people who are using the open source version and are on the 5.x release need to be prepared. The actual date Tendenci 7 will be pushed out as a package is when it is ready. But please plan on October 1.

Who?

Well, if you are hosted on tendenci.com’s servers and we manage your web site then you don’t have to change a thing and it will all just happen in the background. Clients on version 5 will remain on version 5 because of the theme changes made between version 5 and 6. Clients on version 6 will be upgraded to Tendenci 7.1

If you have your own developer or you are a developer, maybe jump over to github and the docs and keep an eye on things for the next couple of weeks. Maybe even submit issue requests for features.

Why are you telling us if there is nothing for us to worry about?

Because not everyone hosts with us and we need to try to make sure their IT team knows the upgrades are possible, but will require your technical team to do them. This is important to us even if they aren’t hosting because they are part of the community.

In fact growing the open source community of people using Tendenci is the biggest driver pushing us to refactor Tendenci. We’re geeks and collaborate on github.

tendenci-github

Wait, what does “Refactor” mean again?

It means making it easier for programmers to work on the code. Technically from wikipedia they define it as “Code refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code – changing the factoring – without changing its external behavior.”

It’s time to refactor so we have more happy programmers. Tendenci is just too hard to install in the wild right now. That isn’t right. Plus Happy programmers means more contributors and it builds on the virtuous cycle that is what makes FOSS (Free Open Source Software) so cool. It truly takes a village.

Can’t you just contact every one who self hosts?

Unfortunately we don’t have a list and Tendenci doesn’t “phone home” so we really don’t know how many people are using it by self installing. But we care about them and we’re doing everything we can to get the word out. Everyone should be backing up their sites of course, but still, if you click “upgrade” and your layout goes wonky that isn’t fun. No data will be lost, but what a hassle.

If you self host we are working hard on these documents so you can smoothly upgrade your site (after running backups of course)
https://tendenci.readthedocs.org/en/latest/

Where is everything documented?

Over at readthedocs. Click the image below and you’ll be on your way.

tendenci-readthedocs

What if I self host and I don’t want to upgrade?

You should be fine as long as you don’t try to do an automatic upgrade. And of course you will need to keep an eye on the django project LTS timelines. https://www.djangoproject.com/download/

If you are on Tendenci 5, because of the changes with the django project itself you will need to upgrade from T5 to T6 and then to T7.1. This is all documented at https://tendenci.readthedocs.org

If you need legacy files they are linked at the bottom of this post.

OK, tell me the biggest benefit of refactoring again?

A programmer will be able to type “sudo pip install tendenci” and make a few server configuration changes and they’ll have a site up and running quickly. This matters because ease-of-use changes behavior. If you want to move forward, we have to take care of our programmers first! They care about you, so it is a virtuous cycle.

Wait, I want more technical info!

We’re gonna be pushing the technical details to https://tendenci.readthedocs.org/en/latest/ as soon as we get it all tested. We’ll be able to push the master branch to pypi again and life will be grand!

Wait, this stuff is too technical! (the opposite of above question)

I apologize for the technical stuff, but sometimes when working with software it can be technical. Just know that if you self host, talk to your local programmer and they will take care of you with the documentation we are posting at https://tendenci.readthedocs.org/en/latest/

So if I self host, and my webmaster clicks “update tendenci” and I’m on version 5 my site will break?

Yes. You’ll be able to fix it and you won’t lose any data, but you’d probably want to just restore a backup. And then go to https://tendenci.readthedocs.org/en/latest/ for the technical info.

What if I don’t wanna upgrade ever and my server is completely isolated on a ship in the middle of the ocean? 

OK, well, we like an occasional steak so you have our sympathy for a diet of 100% fish. But secondarily we have all of the historic zip files, that are still on github but will be removed, available for download for some time at https://www.tendenci.com/download/release-archive/ 

Tendenci 6 Export Options for Memberships

Part of Tendenci 6 ‘s push for greater openness is making it easier to get your data.

We’ve talked about the django-sql-explorer from ePantry in a previous post, but it can be overkill in some cases. A much simpler process is to use the prebuilt reports and exports!

For example on your Tendenci 6 site there is a page at: /memberships/reports/ accessible from the “apps” menu here (number 7 – requires super-user access):

tendenci-reporting-options-with-exports

Current Members

  1. Current Members Roster
  2. Current Members Quick List
  3. Current Member Totals by Company

Membership Trends

  1. Memberships Over Time
  2. Active Members YTD
  3. Members YTD by Type

Member Data

  1. Membership Joins Report Summary
  2. Active Memberships, filterable by join date
  3. Expired Memberships, filterable by expire date
  4. Renewed Members, filterable by renew date
  5. Pending Memberships
  6. Members in Renewal Period
  7. Expired Members in Grace Period
  8. Active, Pending & Expired Members by Type

Financial Reporting

  1. Membership Invoices

User Reports

  1. Administrators
  2. Site Users Added
  3. User Activity Summary
  4. User Access
  5. Contacts Report
  6. Corporate Membership Summary
  7. Top Spenders
  8. Users not in Groups

Management Tools

  1. Similar Users List
  2. User Import
  3. User Export
  4. Membership Import
  5. Membership Export

On screen it looks like this:

Built in Membership Reports and Exports in Addition to Admin and Explorer
Built in Membership Reports and Exports in Addition to Admin and Explorer

And of course you can still use the Django-SQL-Explorer on your site at /explorer/ and there is a help file on how to use SQL Explorer with your Membership Web Site.

3 Cool Free or Low Cost Tools for NPOs

We like the number 3 and non-profits like to save money and dedicate their funds to their causes. Combine them and you get a super short list of 3 cool things that are free or low cost for nonprofits and associations to control costs.

  1. FREE Google PPC money for those who Qualify. Learn more about Google Grants here:  https://www.google.com/grants/
  2. Tech Soup Stock has super cheap software for NPOs  http://www.techsoup.org/get-product-donations
  3. And the NTEN community isn’t free but will help you save thousands through knowledge sharing.  http://www.nten.org/
#peace

Tendenci Newsletter Generator – It’s Back!

First – let’s talk about the NOW. Newsletters are back in Tendenci 6!!

Newsletter Generator for Nonprofits
Tendenci’s Open Source Integrated Newsletter Generator

Tendenci’s Open Source Integrated Newsletter Generator

A lot of long time clients have resisted upgrading to the responsive-mobile-first-open-source-version of Tendenci 6, or even the responsive designs in Tendenci 5, because of one killer feature in Tendenci 4 (the old Microsoft version) and that was NEWSLETTERS.

We listened. We heard you. It’s back.

The ability to communicate with your membership by study group, by event attendees, to only the board of directors, etc. We heard you loud and clear and the newsletter generator is back in full force in Tendenci 6. To prevent the tragedy of the commons (e.g. another client blacklisting a shared email server) we are requiring clients to use either their own SES or a product like Mailgun.com for the newsletter. This will offload the sending to the third party and each client can manage their own newsletter statistics for the first time.

This also alleviates another area of pain. If one client out of 500 ish purchased an email list and the bounce rate was too high, well, then EVERYBODY got slammed and nobody could even do a “forgot my password” request because another client blacklisted the mail server. It’s just the way the Internet works. Why can’t we all just get along, right?

If you are on Tendenci 6 (not an automatic upgrade from T4 or T5 because we pushed more of the design to the front end … um…. where it belongs and the designers can do their thing. Rock on you artsy folk who make software look awesome. More freedom for you. (just please no comic sans, ok?)

If you are on T4, which is approaching end of life very quickly as I type this (Microsoft, not Tendenci dictated these dates so please don’t send email asking if we can secure something Microsoft isn’t patching anymore).

Turn a negative into a positive. Now is a great time to consider a mobile first bootstrap 3 theme that integrates with Tendenci 6! They’re smart, mobile first, responsive, and make you a rock start. Check out www.wrapbootstrap.com for bootstrap3 themes. They’re kinda awesome like this:

Affordable Themes for Tendenci Sites
Bootstrap3 themes for Open Source Tendenci!

 

Just one of the many new functional mobile-first capabilities that have been built into open source tendenci since we started the rewrite in 2009.  This is functionality we have been able to bring back with the help of the Tendenci community.

After 17 years we know the functionality the people who use the site to register for events need, as well as the needs of the people on the board-of-directors and the person functioning as Executive Director. It just takes a while to rewrite 10 years of code in a completely different technology. And we’re just getting started!

Check the help file for the Tendenci Association Newsletter Sending Tool for more detail and edits over time.