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/

Drupal and WordPress at SchipulCon: One Stage, One Open Source Love

Open Source Discussion with the Founders of Drupal and WordPress from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo.

“People being told what to do and working for money are never going to match people working for passion and a community.”
~Matt Mullenweg

“With every cell in my body, I believe that Open Source is the way forward.  Especially when it comes to websites, but also beyond just websites.”
~Dries Buytaert

We were beyond honored to host Drupal founder Dries Buytaert and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg at our SchipulCon 2011 event.

Guided by David Stagg, the open source conversation survived epic microphone turmoil  years of open source competitiveness to showcase the true brilliance and passion of these open source leaders.

Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg share the SchipulCon stage

Around Designers vs Developers Flocking to WordPress and Drupal (Respectively)

Matt:  “I learned a ton about code and programming and back end systems… mainly because I had sort of a vision of something that I wanted a user to realize…. and so we made certain design choices from a technical view that to me are more intuitive.

There were two big pressures early in WordPress’ life:  1) everyone wanted us to adopt a templating system because everyone at the time had one  and 2) they wanted us to go a strict object oriented model.  So you could extend everything WordPress does through classes essentially.

We took an action oriented plug-in approach… which is perhaps not as correct from a programmer’s point of view, but easier for beginner users.”

Dries:  “When I started Drupal, I was in college to get a computer science degree – almost an engineer.  So I wasn’t too concerned about user experience – more obsessed with the architecture and the right APIs and all of these things.

When I finally released Drupal as open source, it really attracted an audience of developers.  The initial community was a developer community and began to expand to more and more developers.  That emphasis on architecture was reinforced.   [We’re] trying to change that and it’s slowly starting to work – it’s very much historical.”

>>> Cool side notes:  Matt has been a Drupal member for 8 years and one week.  His interests on his profile include typography and simplicity (the only person to include this in their profile).  Years back,  Matt gave a credit to Drupal and reminded Dries that he had some code in WordPress very early on — time for Matt to contribute to Drupal!

Wordpress and Drupal at SchipulCon

What Do you Wish you had Done that the Other Did?

Dries:  Matt did a lot of things right, he started his company sooner, WordPress.com is a tremendous asset to get more people involved and his focus on design and usability is key – a very important thing to do very early on.  In a way, Drupal is paying the penalty for not doing this early on.

Matt:  When I look at the Drupal community, the thing that I like is that the software runs the community itself.  The bug tracker is Drupal, the forum, the issues – everything is Drupal.  Also the 3rd party developer community – even though WP has more websites, we have fewer of the large consulting firms.  Drupal has a lot more large development firms building these giant websites, that’s not as common with WordPress.

How Do you Benefit from the Other Existing?

Dries:  If WordPress wins, Drupal wins.  Because that means Open Source is winning.

Matt:  Competition is good.  Anytime any firm or product does something amazing, the bar has been raised.

Want more SchipulCon brain candy and memories?

Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg jumping like mad

We’ve got some great SchipulCon speaker videos going live in the next couple of weeks, just be sure to keep an eye on our SchipulCon video gallery! Matt and Dries chat photo album has lots of great photos of these great guys and be sure to find yourself in all of our albums from the event.

Thanks again for being such a special part of SchipulCon!

Matt Mullenweg + Dries Buytaert on the SchipulCon stage!!

Matt Mullenweg and Dries Buytaert at SchipulCon

With SchipulCon starting in only one day, we have our most exciting announcement yet!!  Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) will be sharing the Friday luncheon stage with Dries Buytaert (founder of Drupal) – for the first time ever!

Their discussion, moderated by Schipulite David Stagg, will cover the two enormous open source communities’ growth, development and future direction.

Learn how both geek-preneurs have cultivated their very unique development and user communities, as well as what the future holds for open source in general.  THIS is not a discussion to be missed.

Join us for an amazing look at two of the brightest minds in technology today!   With Drupal, WordPress, Facebook, NASA and so many other great speaker organizations stepping up to share their brain candy – you’ll grow your brain as never before at SchipulCon.

Thanks for a great Wordcamp Houston 2010!

Matt Mullenweg CEO of WordPress
Photo thanks to Ed Schipul

This weekend marked the very first Wordcamp Houston event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.   As well as being a Community Sponsor, the Schipulites were active participants as coordinators, speakers, volunteers and excitable (what’s new?!) attendees.

Houston Museum of Natural Science
Photo thanks to Ed Schipul

Didn’t get to make it this year and wondering what you missed?   Here are some of the highlights of the day at HMNS, in the Schipulites’ own words:

David Stagg at  Wordcamp Houston 2010
Photo thanks to Brett Morrison

David Stagg (who taught the swell WP 101 class)

I was honored to be given the chance to speak; it was a pleasure leading the WP 101 class, setting up Monica (aka Cosmopolitician) and Chris Everson—two incredibly talented people—for the 102 class. I felt honored to teach some new people from the Houston Zoo, Noah’s Kitchen, Reliant Energy all about how user-friendly WordPress truly is. The class was lively, had some great questions, and was genuinely curious about how to further their WordPress knowledge. Since it was the inaugural WPCamp Houston and it sold out quickly, I can only imagine what it will look like next year!

Albert Hughes

My thoughts:

  • Kelsey Ruger is a genius and I heard a lot of people agreeing with that statement.
  • I saw several people including Matt Mullenweg wearing “toe shoes”
thisisnotapril's shark
Photo thanks to April Kkyle

April Kyle
I really enjoyed having HMNS at the host. It was such a neat backdrop for us; and as part of being there I personally was exposed to things in the museum I’d never seen before. In the break times and lunch; we got a chance to play around a bit and have some fun’ totally cool for breaks as opposed to had we been in just a conference center or hotel. It was just super neat seeing the kids learning, and we played around with the exhibits too. Plus, there was a shark.

Eloy and Matt Mullenweg at Wordcamp Houston 2010
Photo thanks to Eloy Zuniga

Eloy Zuniga
My favorite moment was sitting next to Matt Mullenweg during a session simply because I said “I saved you a seat”.   He is ridiculously nice and humble.   I’m glad he’s a Houstonian.

Derek Key and Susan Saurage photo by Ed Truitt
Photo thanks to Ed Truitt

Derek Key (who led a great panel with client Susan Saurage)
My favorite sessions from WordCamp were Kelsey‘s “Rebirth of Slick” and Bill Erickson’s “WordPress Beyond Blogging”. Kelsey’s was incredibly fun as always and made me think about websites in general, not necessarily WordPress, and Bill’s was very informative and relatable to what we do for clients.

I think the two biggest takeaways are:

  1. Shopify‘ ecommerce solution for WordPress that can be easily updated graphically to match a site and is easy to manage on the client’s end (from Roby Fitzhenry’s session)
  2. Custom post types and custom taxonomies in WordPress (from Bill Erickson’s session). Allows for more than just pages and posts so you can actually call different content different names… very Drupal-esque.
HMNS IMAX theater for Wordcamp Houston keynote
Photo thanks to Ed Schipul

Michael Coppens (from his @urbanhoustonian Twitter account)

Not sure how I didn’t know WordPress founder @photomatt is from Houston. Makes it a perfect home for Urban Houstonian

 

Wordcamp Houston 2010 at HMNS
Photo thanks to Erin Flis!

Chris Minor (our fearless intern and videographer)

My favorite session was Kelsey Ruger‘s presentation about design called “Rebirth of Slick”. Kelsey weaved his valuable insight into designing a website with a multimedia experience featuring music like hip-hop and jazz that made his presentation not only enjoyable but relevant and understandable in our society. WordCamp was also the first time I have been exposed to a real-time Twitter conversation. Many times I found myself staring at my twitter feed watching all the participants sharing what they were learning and I gained valuable brain-candy from the many passionate developers and users of WordPress.

Katrina Esco
The major takeaway I got from Wordcamp:  We understand things in story so we should be able to tell a meaningful story about a brand or company.

Christine Portillo

Kelsey Ruger’s preso was a highlight, and in a slide asking audience which of many companies listed had the “cool factor,” Schipul client IKEA was one of the few (along with Virgin Airlines, Zappos, and more). Best PHYSICAL takeaways: nifty, comfy, stylin’ T designed by Ben G and boasting Schipul on the arm and the bounteous bags of M&Ms provided by the blogger track’s “Whose blog is it anyway?” session.

Wordcamp Houston – calling all WordPress lovers!

Schipul is sponsoring Wordcamp Houston

Schipul is proud to be a part of the Wordcamp Houston Conference organizing team – along with design and PR heroes colab and Primer Grey Studios.   We love those guys, we love WordPress…   we’re happy campers.

Wordcamp Houston is the city’s very first WordPress conference – a time for growing your WordPress brain power, connecting with other WordPress fanatics and getting some solid WordPress strategy under your belt.

What: Wordcamp Houston – a day of fantastical WordPress geekiness
When: Saturday, August 7th 2010   8:30am – 4pm (with a fun after party to follow)
Where: The fabulous Houston Museum of Natural Science

There are three different tracks to jump onto, depending on your interest and strategy:   Business / Blogger / Developer

Just getting started?   Have a few years experience to your name?   Sleep, eat and breathe WordPress code?   No problem – we dig each and every last one of you.

And if the great content and camaraderie isn’t enough, we even have Matt Mullenweg keynoting our little WordPress shindig.   That’s right – THE Matt of WordPress founding fame and glory.   Yeah, we’re pretty excited too.

Tickets are on sale now and we still have some exciting sponsorship opportunities available.   Send your team, send your friends and send yourself.   We can’t wait to geek out with you!