ScrewTurn Wiki (ASP.NET Software).

For those who are interested in website design / management ScrewTurn Wiki will probably be of interest. Free, open source (GPLv2), and under constant development ScrewTurn Wiki is a ASP.NET wiki application. I use it on my freewargamer site.

Why would I suggest ScrewTurn as worth a turn or two? Well:

  • It depends on whether you are looking for a Windows based stack or a Linux based stack. There are lots of options out there for Linux based stacks – but for Windows there are far fewer.
  • As mentioned above its free, open source, and licensed under the well-known, widely utilized GPLv2.
  • ScrewTurn also seems to be under continuous development with regular releases and well supported forums…and its not some new project that just popped out of the woodwork – its been around for a while.
  • Its extremely easy to setup. Anyone who can learn how to purchase some shared hosting and use an FTP client can get ScrewTurn up and running within minutes.
  • It supports a good variety of databases (e.g. MSSQL and MySQL) but also allows for flat filesystem site creation (what I use on freewargamer). This makes setup/management even simpler and reduces the requirements in a shared host (which usually limit or don’t provide database access).
  • The UI is simple and easy to use. Its intuitive.
  • It has WYSIWYG editing of articles.
  • It supports Active Directory integration!

The list could go on – but check it out for yourself. Enjoy! (P.S. they recently released the final version of 3.0 which is pretty awesome).

SugarSync – For Backups, Archiving and Sharing.

Image representing SugarSync
Image via CrunchBase

I am continuously encouraging individuals and businesses to make backups of their systems. I am continually shocked by the number of individuals who take no steps to protect their data against a catastrophic failure and repeatedly see clients who ask, “So…can you get my documents off this computer?” Far too often I have to tell them that I cannot, that it might be possible to if the drives are sent to a data specialist – but the cost will be steep and even then the results not assured.

There is no reason for anyone to be without a backup of their sensitive and important data. In the past this was a time consuming and costly endeavor – now it is simple and inexpensive. One service (among many) that can assist in this area is SugarSync. SugarSync provides you with 2 GB of free storage – no strings attached. This is enough to cover your critical documents – but won’t be enough for those thousands of pictures you’ve taken with your digital camera. But for $5 a month you can get yourself 30 GB (this is what I have) – which should be enough for most enthusiasts – though probably not enough for those with large music collections (they have even larger subscriptions for you – still at reasonable prices).

Let me highlight just a few of the reasons I love SugarSync:

  • Versioning: SugarSync backs up your files – but what happens if you have a Word document and you make an edit to it and then save it? Does your old file get overwritten on SugarSync? No! SugarSync keeps the old version and the new version – and allows you to roll back to older versions. This is a huge feature – extremely useful.
  • Syncing: SugarSync allows you to install the client on multiple computers/devices that then synchronize files between the systems – in my case this includes my home laptop, home desktop, and work desktop. Now you can access your files from anywhere – make edits from anywhere – and know you are always using the latest copy of your file.
  • Simple Web-Based Editing: You can access your files via a web browser on any computer and SugarSync automatically handles syncing the changes back to SugarSync – no need to download the file, open the file, save the file, upload the file – now SugarSync compresses all of these steps into a smooth operation.
  • Sharing: You can share your files with others. This is a great feature – and can be done on a strictly controlled basis so only those you want to can access your files.
  • Platforms: SugarSync supports not only Windows but Mac and Linux. Further SugarSync provides extensive mobile device support including the iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry!

That said – I do have a complaint (and will add more as they arise):

  • I use SugarSync for my personal files but also for my church. Unfortunately, I cannot tell my SugarSync to sync files from my church account. I have to use the web-based interface. This is a significant nuisance and there is no reason I shouldn’t be able to download the church files as long as I authenticate. This has been a long-standing issue and SugarSync has done little to resolve it.

Church Management Systems.

I’m a huge fan of using technology to augment and expedite whatever we are doing – within and outside of ministry. Obviously, technology is not the answer1In my humble opinion, Christ is., but in seeking to be “wise as serpents, innocent as doves” technology can certainly be a tremendous asset.

For the last number of months I’ve been doing a lot of research on Church Management Systems (ChMS). These are the church equivalent of business ERP and/or CRM systems. I’m hoping that the hours I’ve spent pouring over a variety of websites and systems will be of use to others as they consider the options available.

This is a living document, it will grow with time.

TouchPoint Software (Open Source)

  • Since 2007.
  • Formerly TouchPoint software.
  • Developed initially for the megachurch Bellevue Baptist and still “underwritten” by Bellevue Baptist.
  • Free to download and deploy, or you can have hosted by TouchPoint.
  • Web-Based.
  • My Take: This is the ChMS I have chosen to go with. It is extremely robust, utilized by a number of churches from tiny ones to mega-churches, etc. It continues to improve at a rapid pace. Its UI isn’t entirely intuitive, but this is getting better by leaps and bounds.

Roll Call (Developer: BytheBook)

  • Since 1991.
  • Workstation or Client/Server Deployment.
  • Free Trial
  • Pricing begins at $100 for 100 people capacity, unlimited is $1699.
  • Runs on Windows and Mac OS X.
  • My Take: Seems like a fairly good application and the pricing is reasonable. The help system seems to be for the 4D development environment they used to create the application and not for Roll Call itself. I may be looping back to these folks for a reconsideration if I don’t find anything else.

ChurchPro (Developer: Database Designs)

  • Since 1994.
  • Workstation.
  • Free Trial.
  • Pricing starts at $299 for a one computer license.
  • Runs on Windows.
  • My Take: Hmmm…the fact that they use Paradox/BDE pushes me away. The UI definitely has that feel to it…still, the pricing is right and the UI appears fairly intuitive.

Church Helpmate (Developer: Helpmate Technology Solutions)

  • Since 1997, acquired by ACS.
  • Workstation or Client/Server Deployment.
  • Free Trial.
  • Pricing starts at $297 for 100 people capacity, unlimited is $1197.
  • Runs on Windows.
  • My Take: UI is intuitive and pricing is reasonable. I’m not a fan of their synchronization scheme, which uses a disconnected model which can sometimes result in conflicting data that needs to be merged. That said, I may be looping back around to them.

PowerChurch

  • Since 1984.
  • Workstation or Web-Based.
  • Free Trial.
  • Pricing starts at $295 (sale price), regularly $595 or the web-based version for $40/mo.
  • Runs on Windows, Mac, Linux.
  • My Take: The longevity of the company is impressive, unfortunately as is usual with older companies, the UI and overall feel carries some legacy characteristics. The web-based version is really just a remote-desktop-type experience to their servers – which is fine – just be aware you are getting the exact same program.

ACS Technologies

  • Since 1978.
  • One of the largest vendors of ChMS systems.
  • Offers various applications targeted at small / medium / large churches, organizations, schools, daycares, and specifically Catholic institutions.
  • There small church ChMS is Membership Plus which starts at $280 for a single user license or $380 for a multi-user license for the Standard edition and for the Deluxe edition is around $500.
  • My Take: I haven’t tried the software, but the site looks nice, the features look robust. If I need to investigate further, this ChMS would be on my list.

FellowshipOne (aka F1)

 

Other ChMS Options: