Tendenci, the NPO CMS website software, is going open source thanks to Matt and Dries

UPDATE 4/3/2012: The Tendenci Open Source Download is available on GitHub here. Also view Instructions on Hosting Requirements

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We are making Tendenci open source. Yes really. Official Tendenci Open Source Press Release here. So what is Tendenci?

Tendenci is an Open Source Software for Associations (AMS) and Built Specifically for Non-Profits.

That’s it. Sounds simple but organizing people, especially members of non-profit organizations (NPOs), is a real challenge. And designing software is a challenge too. Therefore focus produces better results.

We’ve talked about making our product open source for years internally. So why now?

The tipping point for me was last year at our bi-annual conference where we had the privilege of hosting two open-source visionaries Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg on the stage at the same time. Dries is the founder of Drupal and Matt is the founder of WordPress.

Their WordPress-Drupal talk at SchipulCon 2011 moderated by David was absolutely inspiring to me. Here were two men who give their product away for FREE but still create jobs with over 100 employees each. The video is on WordPress.tv here.

One thing Matt said during the talk was:

People being told what to do and working for money are never going to match people working for passion and a community.

— MATT MULLENWEG

Matt’s right. I do things for free with a greater passion than what I do for the almighty dollar. I’ll spend 5 hours editing photos for a volunteer event out of passion for the arts. Or to support and remember our troops. Because I am passionate about both. I am passionate about non-profits and service to community and country, which is what drove me to start programming Tendenci in 2001! And yet paradoxically I have always kept Tendenci proprietary. My vision for the company is:

To Connect and Organize the World’s People. Do Good.

Thus we are making our code open source for the NPO community to use, build upon, download and do as they wish. And yes, we fully realize our competitors will be the first to download. But hey, maybe they have some great ideas for integration plugins and they can make a profit too. It will be released on GitHub to coincide with the NTEN conference in San Francisco next month.

Why am I doing this? It is me (Ed) making an ideological decision. I didn’t say “logical” I said “ideological.” I want to change the world. After travelling extensively and earning a degree in Political Science I’ve become more aware that we are part of a global community. I want to leave the world a better place than when I arrived. Yes, seriously!

Open Source enables us to DO GOOD at a higher level than our pure proprietary model allows. “To connect and organize the worlds’ people. Do good.” As goes the vision so goes the company. Enzo the (talking) dog in the amazing book The Art of Racing in the Rain says:

That which you manifest becomes you.

What Enzo was saying is that when you are driving a race car you can’t look at the wall to stay away from it. You need to look at the road way up ahead so you are prepared BEFORE you get there. And proprietary is limited by resources in ways that open source is not. We can manifest more good being open source.

Matt and Dries convinced me that we can build an open source product through a global community to change the world, AND still create jobs and make a profit. Thus after 14 years in business and having started programming Tendenci in 2001 (11 years!) I am ready to make the jump to open source.

What technology is behind it? It was originally written in ASP. Not anymore. On January 22nd 2009 our programming team convinced me we needed a complete rewrite because the only people who know the Tendenci 4 framework are people who work at Schipul because I never documented it. Ooops. So over the last three years we have done a COMPLETE rewrite of Tendenci from the ground up using the best-of-breed open source technology. At a technical level our programming team recommended the Django/Python/mySQL/Ubuntu “stack.”

That was a big decision. I’m committed and I am 100% positive this is the right path forward for us, our clients and NPOs everywhere. (We plan to have a github repository available by NTEN if not sooner. See you in San Francisco y’all!)

Thanks,

Ed

QUESTIONS?  (POST IN COMMENTS WITH MORE QUESTIONS)

Is Tendenci really built specifically for non-profits and will memberships be included in the open source download?

Yes and yes. Memberships are included in the base download. As are membership benefits like pricing for events etc.

Can businesses still use Tendenci?

Yes, most definitely. In fact with the new plug-in architecture and the new templating system, you will have even greater flexibility.

For example, WordPress is used as a great CMS system and we build a BUNCH of WP sites for businesses, organizations, individuals, artists, and non-profit organizations. WordPress rocks. It has a ton of great add-ons. Yet its DNA is fundamentally a blogging platform. Tendenci is fundamentally a CMS for non-profits.

Will Schipul, the company behind Tendenci, continue to build and support Tendenci?

Yes. Absolutely. I LOVE THIS SOFTWARE! And our programming team is excited to be a part of the open source community. We are not going anywhere. Quite the opposite – we are getting even more energized about it!

While I like being able to download it if I want, I’d rather not deal with all of that. Does Tendenci offer hosting?

Absolutely. Visit www.tendenci.com and click the “Free Trial” button and you are up and running. Work with your own developer to configure it to your specifications or call us at 281 497 6567 and we can help.

We are a web design firm. Can we sell Tendenci sites and host them on our own servers?

Yes. That is how open source works. And we need design partners as well to help with clients who choose to host with us. And theme and plug in-developers too.  You can find out more by checking out our Partner Programs.

How will you stay in business if you just give away your product?

I not only expect to “stay in business” but I expect our profit and revenue to go up through lower cost cloud based hosting at Amazon and increased volume. Lower costs means higher usage pretty much in every economic model I have ever seen.

And Tendenci being open source creates an ecosystem for other developers to develop apps on that meet the needs of their specific clients.

Why make Tendenci Open Source now, in 2012? Why the timing?

What better time? Thanks to our clients we grew another 20% in revenue and earned a fair profit last year. We have been profitable since 2002 and are completely self funded so I didn’t have to call a banker or a board that doesn’t understand SaaS and open source to get approval to make this decision. I simply listened to our clients. I listened to our employees. I listened to our stakeholders. I listened to Matt and Dries. And I made a decision that is best for everyone including non-profits all over the world given Django is multi-language.

And hey, financially we are strong and what better time to give to the open source community than during a recession and at a time of strength? I would have done this years ago but you can’t build an open source community around a proprietary technology like ASP (what I originally wrote it in). It was the rewrite of Tendenci by our young and talented programming team that is allowing us to make the move now.

Why is open source so important for NPOs? Do they really care?

Yes, yes and more yes. Just ask them.

According to the NTEN 2011 survey 33% custom built their web sites (perhaps on top of open source), 10% used proprietary products, cloud based or not. The remaining 57% strictly use open source software. Excluding non-profit hospitals and other niche verticals, I believe open source web technology probably accounts for close to 70% of the market by number of NPOs. PHP based CMS systems like Drupal, WordPress and Joomla currently fill this need, and they are great products.

I believe opening Tendenci up as open source provides a fourth viable option to meet the specific needs of non-profit web sites. And Tendenci is built in the Python programming language on the Django framework which opens opportunities up to developers who prefer Python.

Or to put it another way, I believe proprietary SaaS products that target the non-profit community will only survive if they focus on very specific niches because they are excluding almost 60% of their target audience. As a VC would say, that sort of limits your “addressable market.” Our proprietary competitors don’t share this belief. And I didn’t either last year. I’m a convert. And I ask you,

Would YOU rather know you can download all of the technology for your site if you wanted to?

Of course your answer is yes. You want open source because you want and deserve to control the destiny of your web presence.

That is why my personal blog and this blog are on WORDPRESS! I believe WordPress is the best blogging platform around. I love it. I started with a paid hosted site at www.wordpress.com. And at some point I wanted more control so I migrated to my own server (we have a few. #heh). Shouldn’t you have that same freedom as a non-profit?

Well, now you do.

How can I get a copy of the source code and start working on it now? (I’m writing this on 3/15/12 – the Ides of March indeed)

We hope to have a public repository available on github by NTEN next month. The (slight) delay is simply because we built our hosted environment to use three distinct servers, search index, web server and CDN. That won’t make sense to 99% of the people reading this. In English it means “we built it for BIG HUGE SITES. We need to make that part optional so a small NPO can download and run it on their own web server without having to buy three slices at Amazon. We’re working on it! And I can’t wait!

In the meantime, you can sign-up on our website and we’ll be sending an email with the download link to you as soon as it is ready.

(Note: We do have a few select beta testers with early access working on the SpacePoints site. We’ll get it available to everyone soon.)

What other questions do you have? Hit us up in the comments below!

#peace

https://www.tendenci.com/help-files/topic/94/

14 years and a big year at that


September 1, 2011 is the 14th anniversary of starting the company. 14 years. Considering I was unable to hold a single job for more than 2 years before this (if you exclude teaching on and off at a gym in college) this is impressive for me to stay focused for 14 years. But my job has changed. Years ago I realized that the company had grown to the point that I, me personally, was no longer the one building web sites. Rather my job transformed into growing people. And I enjoy and try very hard to surround myself with brilliant, hard working people with positive attitudes. Turns out they make great employees and they challenge me to grow at the same time.

14 is kind of an  awkward  age. I think if you are married there isn’t even a recommended gift from  de beers  given it isn’t a multiple of 5. (Wait. Sheesh, I just looked it up. 14 years is traditionally  ivory? What the heck? Do NOT send me any ivory people. Really. Elephants look better with their tusks IMHO.)

And this is my second blog post on  blog.schipul.com. I have submitted other posts, but as I was reminded when I mentioned to  Katie  that I was writing this post, apparently “snark” isn’t appropriate on blog.schipul.com.  I must reserve that for my own blog or the Chron. Thus my previous posts were rejected by Katie for official publication. Hopefully this one makes the cut!

Back to the 14 year thing. Obviously I am incredibly grateful to my family and friends who helped me start the business. There truly is no such thing as a self-made-man, woman, entrepreneur, whatever. We ALL get a TON of help in both sweat equity, money, advice, support and every other type of help imaginable. Nobody can do it alone. The media likes to tell the story of a modern day  Galt  charging forward solo against the odds. It doesn’t work that way. It takes a network of support to start a business. And I had that network 14 years ago and I still have it now. And as I have said many times, the biggest supporter I have ever had is my wife Rachel. If Rachel had not gone back to work in 1997 when I quit my job the company wouldn’t exist at all.

In the early days, huge thanks to Paul Bieniawski, Scott Pederson and Javier Avellan as well. Starting a company is like moving apartments when you are young; everyone says they are your friend, but suddenly they are busy and can’t help on that particular Saturday. Rachel, Paul, Scott and Javier freed up the time to help me and were truly paid in pizza and beer (yes really). Our first server was built on the floor of Scott’s kitchen using left over alpha hardware and a case, motherboard and CPU purchased on  Harwin. (Tip for future entrepreneurs – NEVER use “alpha” hardware. Uuuugh, that server was rough. But it got the job done.)

Employees – the team – the heart of the company. I appreciate  Jennifer, Rodney, Aaron, Jenny, Katie, Eloy, Kerry, Lyndia and the entire team. We definitely would NOT be celebrating 14 years without all of them. And that’s not even listing some of our former employees who made huge contributions, helped the company move forward and then went on to follow their own path. Their impact was felt and moved the ship forward. And a special shout out to Ellen M, my very first employee, who is awesome despite having gone to t.u.

Clients  – we are here to serve our clients and without clients we wouldn’t exist. Saying thank you to our clients, letting them know we understand we work for them, and that we appreciate them, can’t be repeated often enough. So if you are a client reading this –  THANK YOU!

I have a lot of history of the company to write. Forgive me if I am missing something and I’ll try to get it all organized by the time we hit 15 years.

So if I didn’t write a blog post at year 10, if I didn’t write one at year 11, 12 or 13, why now?  Because 2011 is different for us.  We have not had a year this transformative in the company’s history since 2001 when we shut down network consulting services and started programming codebase (now called Tendenci.) In fact our theme this year is  “Go Big or Go Home”  which I borrowed from Aaron’s team goals. That Aaron is a wise man.

“Go Big or Go Home” is definitely not a typical theme for a conservative businessman running a company during a recession. But in 2011 we effectively “doubled down” as they say.  Instead of running from a recession, we charged into it and reinvested while cutting costs and reinventing our products. Go big or go home in 2011 means this year we:

  1. Tendenci  – Finished the rewrite of Tendenci version 5 on the Amazon server cloud. The rewrite started in January of 2009 and we had a few clients moved onto the new version in 2010. But only in 2011 has our dedicated team of programmers started to really build the recurring revenue and functionality to rival Tendenci 4. I can’t speak highly enough of the team. Writing software ALWAYS takes longer than you want and costs more. That has been the case for us with the rewrite of Tendenci. But it IS done and live on client sites like  Discovery Green and ThinkLA. We look forward to converting our other 400 clients to the latest version over the next few years.
  2.  SchipulCon 2011!  – We had our first  Tendenci user conference  in 2007. We tried to do it again in 2008 but  Hurricane Ike  had other ideas and instead  we cancelled and had a giant party. I know, a dot-com kind of thing to do, but if you remember the time after Ike we all needed a bit of healing and beer heals.  In  2009  we renamed it  SchipulCon  and had a great event at our long time client the  Houston Zoo. Well, you guessed it, we are DOING IT AGAIN! Please check out our speakers and register for  SchipulCon October 6,7, 2011  at client  Norris Conference Center at CityCentre  in Houston.
  3. Silicon Valley  – we opened an office in Silicon Valley in March of this year led by  April Kyle. We are learning to speak Californian and finding they aren’t so different from us! West coaster? Give us at call in the valley at  408-430-3137!
  4. Business Processes  – kind of boring to talk about, but we have completely reengineered our internal processes from accounting procedures to better utilization of  SugarCRM  and switching  time tracking  and moving our email to the cloud. It hasn’t been completely smooth, but it is building a foundation for us to continue our growth unimpeded. Thank you to the team for moving with the cheese in 2011 as we grow! And it helps our clients by improving our efficiency which allows us to reinvest in YOU!
  5. Tendenci self-signup  – by the end of 2011 smaller organizations will be able to self signup for a much lower cost Tendenci site for their organization. We have lowered our costs by moving into the cloud and we are passing those savings on to our clients to enable more and more small associations to take advantage of our technology at an affordable price.  (Special shout-out to former employee  Glenbot  who has moved on to a VC backed firm. Without Glen’s contributions to Tendenci 5 over the last few years we wouldn’t be this close. Thanks Glen. I appreciate the beautiful code dude.)

And to our competitors who told our clients we had “stagnated” and had “stopped updating Tendenci,” … um…. ooops, meet T5 baby! Rockin the cloud for a bigger and better future. Two and a half years of serious double-down and rebuilding was hard to endure, but we are near the finish line to the ultimate benefit of our clients.

And the team has done all of that in the  fourth year of a recession.  Call us crazy, but we figured there would never be a good time to do any of these changes, so why not do them all at once?  Why not Go Big or Go Home in 2011?!  And we are doing it. And I couldn’t be more proud of our employees or more grateful to our clients and everyone who has helped us not only this year, but every year for the last 14 years.

Please join us for  SchipulCon  and get some brain candy. We are here to serve you. We are reinvesting to serve you better. And as always, we are appreciative of Houston and the community and friends that have supported us for so long.  Thank you!

Ed

Friday Fun: That’s Not What She Said

I like “That’s What She Said” jokes just as much as the next person. I could listen to them all day (and I do), but I really do miss the days when jokes didn’t have to be perverse or controversial to be funny. Somewhere around the age of 12 or 13, it seems like everyone’s funny bone becomes a funny boner. Humor and perversion become inseparable.

What happened to finding humor in a play on words that didn’t hinge on prepositions like “up” or “in?” When did we start having to look over both shoulders before telling a joke? When did NSFW even become an acronym?

Well, I, for one, still love the clean classics. A good knock knock joke or a clever and innocent play on words will tickle my fancy every time. So, in honor of the oldies but goodies, in honor of a time and age when we wouldn’t have understood a single Michael Scott joke, here are a few of my favorites:

Joke # 1

Q: “What did the mommy buffalo say to her child as he walked away?”

A: “Bye, son.”

BWAAAHAAAHAAAHAAA!!! Get it!? Bye, son. . . . Like bison – as in plural for buffalo?. . . . . . Man, this joke is genius. . . . . Now, catch your breath, I’ve got more.

Joke #2

Q: “Did you hear what happened to the peanut in Central Park?”

A: “He was a salted!”

Brilliant! Come on, someone call Mariska Hargitay, this peanut was A SALTED!!!!! Hahahahahaha! This is purified awesome.

Ok, Ok, there’s more…

Joke #3

One day a piece of string was going for a walk to blow off some steam. He ended up walking into a bar to get a beer. Immediately the bartender said: “Hey, aren’t you a piece of string?!”

String said: “Why, yes I am.”

The bartender replied, “We don’t serve string here, GET OUTTA MY BAR!”

Now String was pretty upset, but as he continued on his walk he ran into a friend. She said, “String, what’s wrong? You look so sad.”

String said, “Oh, I’m just having a bad day, and I got kicked out of this bar….”

She knew just the thing to make him feel better, so she frayed his ends. And sure enough, he felt like a whole new piece of string. Unfortunately though, the feeling didn’t last long, and soon he began to sulk again.

A little while later, he ran into another friend. She said, “String, what’s wrong? You look so sad.” He told her the whole story. She knew just the thing to make him feel better, so she tied him in a knot.

And it worked. String felt so great, he had the confidence to go back to that bar and demand his beer.

He walked in and said, “Bartender, gimme a beer!”

The bartender looked at him for second and said, “Hey, aren’t you that piece of string who came in here earlier?”

And then the string said, “No, I’m a frayed knot!”

…………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………..Um

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…………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………..ah-hem

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Ok, Ok, I’m back. I’m Sorry. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even type (wiping tears from my eyes). That might be my favorite. joke. EVER. . . . . I’m a frayed knot. . . Who did that crazy string think he was fooling?

Ok, moving on. . .

Joke #4

Q: “Why did the tomato blush?”

A: “Because he saw the salad dressing”

Pure. Classic. Genius.

And finally. . . .

Joke #5

Now this one is for the super big nerds out there. And the fact that I even understand this joke is proof that working at Schipul has turned me into a bona fide GEEK. Special thanks to our programmers for this, as a couple of them recently tweeted this joke and had me in stitches.

“A SQL query walks into a bar. He approaches two tables and says: Mind if I join you?”


HilARious!!!! Y’all, jokes like this are why knee slapping EXISTS.

In conclusion. . .

I hope you enjoyed my sweet, silly and clean jokes. If you didn’t, I’m sorry. But don’t misunderstand my apology. I’m not sorry because I told them to you. I’m sorry because that little piece of your soul – the place where joy and simple things live – is empty. That must suck.

The End.

Live Everyday Like It Is PlasmaCar Race Day

PlasmaCar Race Day
Z-Man Ready for Race Day

My son Z-Man turns 7 today. SEVEN! Time moves so quickly with little ones. One of my goals in life is to stay as present as possible, to absorb each moment of life as it happens’ especially when it comes to family… especially when it comes to my guys.PlasmaCar Race DayZ-Man is such a great inspiration for living in the moment. He still lives in a world where magic happens’ where Santa is real. He is just now sorting out that Scooby-Doo is imagined and MythBusters is true.

Z-Man lives his life fully present and in the NOW. Things that are sad saturate him’ and then in 10 minutes’ something that’s funny tickles him to his funny bone. He lives with excitement for almost everything (the only thing that deflates his sails is putting away clean clothes.) He races to get the mail, zooms to brush teeth, zips out the door to go ride his bike. Everything is adventure’ everything is worth getting exciting about.

PlasmaCar Race Day
PlasmaCar Race Day

We have a Thanksgiving Day Tradition here at the Schipul Office. We munch, we mingle, we visit with family, and then… we race. We race PlasmaCars in the parking garage… younger and older… we race. And Z-Man, bless him, he believes we race every day. He has asked me at dinner, “Did you race the cars today?” He gets super excited when he comes to visit me at work and asks me every time, “Where are the racing cars?” As many times as I tell him we only race on Thanksgiving’ he has believed we race all the time.

Today… today is the day… today we race! And Z-Man has finally gotten it down that we don’t race every day. So today, he thinks we are racing just for his birthday! He popped his head into our dark room this morning before 5AM and quietly snuck back to his bed only to happily emerge at 6:23 exclaiming, “Today is my BIRTHDAY!”

Z-Man
Z-Man Racing

And I am inspired… what would it be like to live my life with that much excitement- to cherish each moment and the magic in it.

Z-Man teaches to me to live each day like its PlasmaCar Race Day.

Happy Birthday Son… you are blessing and a treasure and a joy.
My life is richer because you are in it.

Halloween in Schipul-land

All Hallows Eve is just around the corner, and it’s no secret that we are big fans of this costumed, candy-laden holiday.  Ideas for costumes abound, but I have chosen a few makeup tutorials to help you put the finishing touches on your ensemble.  Whether you’re a  zombie enthusiast,  or you squeal every time you see a cute fuzzy animal, you can find something that matches your personality.

For the zombiphile:

For the sci-fi nerd:

For the animal lover:

For the artistically inclined (this one looks difficult!!):

And last but not least, for the traditionalist:

There are countless Halloween makeup tutorial videos, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, YouTube is a goldmine.  It’s time to get creative!

Update

Check out our video of   the making of Schipul zombies!

We Turned 13 & Kris Got Lost

Happy 13th Birthday, Schipul.

The Schipulite’s celebrated the 13th anniversary of   Schipul!

We appreciate the opportunity to work with wonderful clients who make each year possible.

It was a grand time with great friends, photos and fun. It ended with an office email about a sketchy looking fridge, large print books for Ed, and the million dollar question:

“Oh, and P.S. Has anyone seen Kris lately?”

We’ve posted photos from the party on flickr and facebook.

Check them out, tag your friends, tag yourself, fan the page and send us a shout!

And we found Kris.

An Update on Kris…

Kris Kristofferson was last seen Thursday afternoon, headed to the Schipul 13th Anniversary celebration at Churrascos.

Long story short: he got tipsy and went home with someone…we suspect.

Since then, the scoundrel, has been backseat surfing the cars of certain Schipulites, and getting friendly with house pets….

He sauntered in this morning, and is on party probation until further notice.

Welcome back Kris, and a BIG BIG thank you to our clients for another great year!

Welcome to our Blog and the Schipul Arts Page!

The Schipul office is pretty diverse, but one thing we have in common is our love for the Arts, especially the homegrown stuff.   So we thought, what better way to celebrate the inaugural Schipul blog post than with a celebration of the Arts Community in Houston.

Oftentimes, Artists just don’t get the recognition they deserve, so we wanted to create a Schipul page just for them!   We try to hit up as many of the events hosted by the artists on this list as possible (from shows by our fav graffiti beat boys to events hosted by a Houston staple, the Orange Show) but it is easy to lose track of what’s going on in such a busy city.

To cut down our frantic end of day gtalk messaging and Twitter DM’s searching for something cool to do, we created this page and wanted to make it public to you. what is wrong?

Check out the Schipul Page for a comprehensive list of who’s hot in Houston Arts… and PLEASE if we left anyone out, tell us about them in the comments section!!!   We know there is a ton more aweseome artists our there and we would love to hear about them.