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?
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.
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!
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.
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:
Django Web Framework
Python Programming Language
Postgres Database with GIS
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 following graphs show what a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on an association looks like. The names, rates and volume of the association have been blurred for security reasons. We are thankful to AWS for their own defenses in front of ours, which help us mitigate these issues.
Note: The graphic above, is filtered for a 24 hour span for one client. The infrastructure is in place, and highly redundant, so we can monitor and keep our clients safe. For clients in the US or hosted in other countries (we have multiple Tendenci clouds as needed.)
Note 2: Make no mistake – If a bad-actor has the budget – they can and will purchase enough bots to take a site down. This is well documented. Even our resources at AWS are limited in what they can handle. Budget (yes BUDGET) accordingly.
Python, the language used to program Tendenci – The 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).
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:
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. This is in contrast to proprietary software, where the software is under restrictive copyright and the source code is usually hidden from the users.
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.
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:
Guild, also 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.
Listening to a client I realized that maybe “geek speak” on my part was part of the challenge. Definitions:
Themes – The “theme” is the visual part of your site that makes you unique. When a major change happens, like the rapid growth in mobile traffic, it is not uncommon to have to purchase or pay to upgrade your theme with WordPress, Drupal or Tendenci.
Software – The “software” stack is all of the functionality below the theme. Open source projects are driven by a community and most modules or add-ons strive to be backwards compatible.
Game changers – sometimes a company like Apple will invent a “game changer” like the iphone. Awesome! Oh, but wait. You can’t write software that works on a device that either didn’t exist or was a tiny fraction of visitors to your site when you first deployed your theme.
LTS Timelines – Who sets the timeline for LTS (Long Term Support) major releases? In Open Source it is driven by the community around a project. Frequently it is a combination of software and “dependencies”.
To use a large open source project as an example, WordPress users (like me – my blog is on wordpress) sometimes need to pay to upgrade a premium theme when WordPress does a major release.
As WordPress makes changes and improvements, sometimes these impact WordPress Themes and their underlying code and use of Template Tags. When a new version is announced, WordPress users are recommended to check the various WordPress Theme Compatibility lists to ensure their WordPress Theme is updated and ready for the new version.
Tendenci, a much smaller but growing open source project, is doing the same thing for the same reasons. You want a unique brand (your theme) and new functionality (the software) and you’d like it to be as low cost as possible. Hence software updates are “usually” free, it’s just when a “game changer” happens that you need to update your theme.
So why did our team choose to rewrite TendenciOpen Source and in the Python Programming language? It is a question I get asked a lot. We’ve never been a company that likes to talk in the negative if at all possible, yet it is important to talk about the megatrends going on given we work with associations and nonprofits.
Popularity of a language is a trend, and what you want is as many developers familiar and liking the language of your open source project as possible. This means you have a better chance to have a secure web site and therefore a more secure future.
To be fair – as Disraeli said – “lies, damn lies and statistics” – so there is no one perfectly secure language any more than there is a perfectly “safe” hammer. There will always be operator error and programmers make mistakes.
So we’re not saying Python is perfect, and all of us have used most of the other languages on those charts at some point. We’re just saying we are pleased so many other programmers also like Python and Open Source. THAT is the best that can be done to secure your future online. Secure code that you can examine yourself and even host yourself!
Addendum: As I post this on the Tendenci Blog. Given we focus on non-profits, associations, memberships, education, medical, religious – basically the do-good cause-based organizations, I believe it is particularly important that the project is as transparent as possible. Sometimes it is healthy to inform everyone of WHY we made a decision seven years ago. Python was the right call.
A Longer Explanation for those who like knowing all of the details. Because we like being open and transparent.
Let’s keep it simple. Think about tires. When you buy tires, over time, they wear out. You can’t keep adding tread to them. At some point you have to get new tires or you are in an unsafe vehicle risking your own safety as well as that of everyone that rides with you or is near you on the roads. It’s irresponsible to drive an unsafe vehicle.
Or as Billy Joel explains it:
WHY CAN’T WE JUST KEEP GOING AS IS? YOU KNOW, JUST IGNORE IT?
(Yes, I really got this question recently.) Because software that is outdated can have security holes. Security updates are the most important. Tendenci runs on top of lots of other amazing open source products, which are called “dependencies.” Tendenci’s dependencies are listed here in the code.
Yes you have your own site. But you are sharing email servers, backup servers, email relays, security scanners, proxy servers, firewalls, access control lists, IDS/IPS systems and they are all are part of an environment that is watched very closely.
Going back to the car analogy. Porsche doesn’t make every component or the tires that are installed on their cars. When you wear out the tires, you have to upgrade. Similarly if a component that Tendenci uses is not maintained by the project behind it, then you are in danger of hurting others. A simple example would be if someone found a way to hack your site and sent spam emails, then the shared email server for the server-farm your site is in could get black-listed. That hurts ALL of the clients using that shared resource. Just like when your tire blows and you wreck into another car. It is then fundamentally your fault for not maintaining your vehicle.
Why do I want to upgrade if I just don’t care about security?
This is a bad idea. There is performance, functionality and a ton of new features you are missing out on. For more click the image below to go to the newsletter that highlights a lot of it.
And this is what we now consider baseline – responsive across all devices.
If you are thinking “THIS IS THE FIRST I HAVE HEARD OF THIS!?” .. um…
No. No unfortunately it is not. It’s just the first time it got your attention. We get it given we also miss communication sometimes given the amount of noise in our inboxes. Here are some links below so you can catch up a bit. And Tendenci 7.x is WAY ahead of Tendenci 5 because of industry changes – you really want to upgrade.
But yes, we have communicated this over and over and over. Links:
Your users and the search engines expect you to have an SSL encrypted and mobile responsive website that is ADA compliant. NEW technology that consumers use and new behaviors have emerged and people expect more. Blame Al Gore and Apple and Microsoft. Tech changes fast.
WE LACK THE POWER TO MAKE EXCEPTIONS AS WE DO NOT CONTROL THE FRAMEWORK.
To our open source and our hosted clients, it is imperative that you do NOT ignore the pending “end of life” for the 5.x version of Tendenci. You must upgrade. From December 2015:
If you are not a programmer or developer then you will need to work with one to complete the upgrade. It can be our team or a Django developer of your choice.
Please remember that Tendenci is fully open source and available at https://github.com/tendenci/tendenci/ in addition to the documentation linked above. No gotchas or hold-backs. Just very direct and honest communication of the facts and accountability through code reviews.
Did clients get charged upgrading from Tendenci 6 to Tendenci 7?
No, they did not. The upgrade from Tendenci 6 to Tendenci 7, then 7.1 and now 7.2 was all done automatically. These sites were already responsive and it is the front graphics changes that require human intervention as opposed to scripted updates.
Why are you charging to upgrade from Tendenci 5 then?
Because the layouts used back then were not standardized because there was NO CLEAR STANDARD. Thus every site was a bit different. On Tendenci 6 and 7 they are strictly standardized on the front end on Bootstrap 3+, a front end responsive framework made by Twitter. The appearance of Tendenci 7 sites is very diverse, it’s just the behind the scenes name-spaces that require updates.
Do we have to use your company to upgrade?
Of course not. Tendenci is open source. The whole freedom thing. We are the only membership management software company ranked in the top 20 by Capterra that is open source. You are part of a community with Tendenci, not some locked down solution that holds you hostage.
If we don’t use Tendenci to upgrade, who can we use?
Python and Django are very popular. You are free to use any developer you want, self host or host with us.
The whole point of Tendenci is to enable freedom so you aren’t trapped with a proprietary vendor that locks you in by retaining control over your data, including redirecting links from your events to their domain so when you leave, you lose all of your inbound links and search engine rank. We do not support that practice. Unfortunately many non-profit boards don’t catch it until it’s too late and make the mistake of locking in future boards with no way out.
How easy is it to leave Tendenci? How do we know you won’t make it difficult?
Well first because that would be against our values. We make it easy to leave because folks have a tendency to come back when they experience the alternatives. We have found that the easier you make it to leave, to be free, the less likely people are to leave because the alternatives don’t share our values, particularly when it comes to data ownership. It’s your data. You own it and should have access to it at any point. Period.
I don’t plan to leave WordPress specifically because I know that I can leave if I wanted to take the hassle on myself. I don’t – I have my hands full taking care of our team and clients. I just like knowing that freedom is an option because WordPress is like Tendenci – OPEN SOURCE.
You sound kind of over-the-top about open source and data exports? Prove it!
We can also run backups directly to your own AWS cloud instance for S3. Actions speak loudly.
Type “Tendenci exports” into Google to see the number of options to export your data.
T5 clients – for you it’s not all automated but you have the same rights as everyone else. By that I mean, if you are on T5 not all of these exports were available 5 years agothrough the interface but we will gladly provide a full database export that you can then import into postgres yourself. (Note: The technology simply wasn’t available back then, but the moment it became possible (which happened when we were on T6) we enabled clients to do full database downloads themselves. It’s YOUR DATA.)
Is this “charge to upgrade” going to happen every two years?
This one is a trick question. We have more work than we can do so charging you for updates is not our goal. But you already know that if you use the nav editor and the theme editor so you can make your own updates. Tendenci is about empowerment.
Tendenci is open source so you can work with a different developer and host with them if they are more cost effective for you.
Disruption causes adaptation which comes with a price tag
Disruption happens. That darn iphone. With candor, LTS releases tend to last two years. We didn’t invent the iphone or android so the switch to mobile responsive design was effectively dictated by changes in technology. We do our best to keep your costs down, but when Steve Jobs changes the world, we all get caught up and have to adapt. That isn’t a conspiracy, it’s an opportunity.
Are you sure? Is there ANY way I can upgrade for free?
I so wish I could wave a magic wand and make your entire site bootstrap3 responsive, but I can’t. Our contractors and employees deserve to be compensated just like you do. But you know that. Maybe there is someone your know, or maybe you, can redo your site’s theme in bootstrap3 to control costs. It is an option.
What I do know is YOU will not succeed with a non-encrypted and non-responsive web site. When we chose to make ALL SITES RESPONSIVE for all releases after Tendenci 5, yes, it required us to contract with graphic artists for your upgrade and obviously these talented people deserve to be paid for their work.
What is Tendenci doing to help us control costs?
We already have far greater functionality at a lower price than all of the proprietary vendors. True, we don’t have a sales team to fill out a 5 page excel RFP, but we have a demo site where you can see for yourself at https://demo.tendenci.com admin/admin login (resets every two hours.)
The comparison grids several competitors have on their sites are WILDLY INACCURATE. Our target client wants the additional functionality of Tendenci, to be a part of a community, they understands open-source, they are cause focused more than monetary focused, and knows how to do due diligence.
Tendenci open source means GREATER FUNCTIONALITY. The freedom is a bonus.
But the competition says they have greater functionality?
They don’t. Do a fact check and judge for yourself. Facts are facts. See above. Just for fun, ask to look at their code. #heh Why? Because a community of interested people will add to Tendenci and everyone benefits instead of all of the money going to a proprietary vendor who says they own your data.
Your data is your data.
Do I really need to upgrade my Tendenci site now as it’s been fine the last 11 months since you first told us we had to upgrade? Can’t this wait until next year?
NO! November 30 2016 or you need to self-host or move to a dedicated server. We cannot be responsible if the underlying software is no longer being maintained and therefore may not be secure. That legal burden falls on your board.
Why can’t I get a personal hand written note like in the old days?
Man, I miss those days. Unfortunately, we simply can’t identify every stake-holder inside of every NGO/NPO/Association/Business we work with or who self hosts. By definition there is constant turn over on non-profit boards. And we have no way of tracking open source clients using Tendenci in the wild.
We love our open source clients, but we aren’t “big brother” and don’t currently have a 100% method of tracking or communicating with these awesome developers outside of the blog, facebook, twitter and newsletters.
OK, after we upgrade, what then?
We are working hard to keep upgrades and updates automatic and at little or no cost. The evidence speaks for itself in the no-cost site updates from 6.0 to 7.2x. Judge us by our actions.
Yet, if someone invents another disruptive technology, well, logically there could be a cost for an upgrade once it requires changes that can’t be automated.
If you host with us, contact, budget and schedule your upgrade. If you self host then please read all of the documentation which explains the full process and is posted and available online at https://tendenci.readthedocs.io/en/latest/
So how much does does this cost if we go with Tendenci team to do our upgrade? It scales with the type of upgrade you want to do and they are listed on our site here:
It’s always hard to have a crucial conversation with clients. I strive for candor and fairness as the leader of the company behind the community. We want you happy. Technology changes. We’ve done our best to keep the price as low as possible. Thus in closing, I’ll leave you with another image of a happy puppy because they make us smile, and like Tendenci, they enjoy a community of supporters but also being able to run free every once in a while.
#NGOfacts is an ongoing campaign that highlights statistical data about NGOs, nonprofits and charities worldwide. Committed to building a comprehensive list of facts and stats about the NGO sector, please check back regularly for updates.
1. There are an estimated 10 million (non-governmental organizations) NGOs worldwide. Source: The Global Journal
2. The number of people worldwide donating money to NGOs increased from 1.2 billion in 2011 to 1.4 billion in 2014. By 2030, the number is expected to grow to 2.5 billion. Source: Charities Aid Foundation
If people don’t know how to do something, make them learn. That’s how Dropbox went from having 3 to 4 engineers regularly contributing to the iOS code base to over 30. “If you’re doing things right, something will always be a little bit broken. Most importantly, tell everybody that a little bit of chaos is okay,” Agarwal says