IT/CiviCRM Development

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Revision as of 01:38, 21 February 2013 by Jenniwoo (talk | contribs) (Elaborated CiviCRM plus alternative CMS-based systems to get CRM >= rented NationBuilder services)

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Since the March 2011 GA Meeting in Berkeley there has been a small interest group which is exploring the use of the web software system, CiviCRM. Added to a web site (Joomla!, Drupal 6 or 7, Wordpress 3), CiviCRM may be a very powerful way to provide the GPCA -- and county parties, local and state-wide campaigns -- with semi-automated fund raising services and with volunteer registration, tasks registration (for GPCA and/or for individual campaigns in CA), and a semi-automated way to assign volunteers to tasks that need to be done. However since Fall 2011 the official rented NationBuilder site ( has been the superior way to all the above to provide volunteer, donor, registered voter information, likely voter assessment, precinct walk lists, etc. The technical question remains: which of these different types of sites have sufficiently "special" features and services, and low cost of ownership, such that 2+ different types of sites working together in ways to be determined would provide "better" user and party services than would either one type alone and "built-out" to enable more of it's special services?

History: For undocumented reasons, the assumption in early 2011 was that CiviCRM services would be "integrated" with a new Drupal 7 web site for the GPCA; as this was a configuration touted by both the official Drupal and CiviCRM core developers at the time. GPCA members who were principals in the exploration and preparation of a CiviCRM-based site in early 2011 were: Marnie Glickman, Marin, and Masada Disenhouse, Ventura. GPCA "old ITWG" person, Bert Huer, SF, may (or was to) be the Project Manager. He resigned from the ITWG in Fall 2011; the remaining "old ITWG" members resigned in Feb. 2012. Informal IT person since 2010, Jennifer Woodward, SF, may become the defacto project managing "secretary" until someone better comes along. JGW 11.09.15 Since the May, 2012 GA meeting in San Francisco, Tim Laidman is the new (and thus far only) co-coordinator for the "new ITWG." Mike Feinstein of Santa Monica remains the "supervising" state party coordinator of the ITWG.

Marnie Glickman decided either later in Sept. 2011 or in October 2011 to give up on the CiviCRM development activities and committed the GPCA to rent the "superior" already-working voter, donor, voter and campaign management web application services provided by Those minimal start-up-site services were initially very inexpensive, $19/mo., to rent. The NB services remained very cheap (low monthly rent) until the number of NB users exceed 500. Without further investigation and documentation, those services were probably "adequate" for the GPCA going into the Nov. 2012 election. However the effectiveness of the NB services actually provided for either the June Primary or the Nov. 6 General Election in 2012 remains to be reported in any detail. For the record: The minimum $19/mo. rental fee is a suitable low amount to pay for having a test NB site available. I (JGW) have setup a test NB site and I pay that amount. If/when the "new ITWG" of 2013 decides that my or some other test NB site should be "built-up" for testing purposes prior to similar services being enabled on the "live" NB site, obviously the costs to maintain the test NB site will increase. Some I think not well planned-for or managed escalation in fees paid to NB have already occurred. As of early 2013, the monthly charges due NationBuilder are above $200/month, or potentially over $2400/year for 2013. JGW 11.12.31 and 13.02.20

In my (JGW's) opinion, an opinion likely endorsed by many experienced IT people, the Nation Builder (NB) services ought to be "reverse engineered" as soon as possible. Since late Feb. 2013, I have performed some of that "reverse engineering" with respect to documenting the "user fields" and field data-types which the official GPCA NB site provides us, the GPCA. Those results are now (or will be soon) available on this wiki site and on my (JGW's) site. JGW 13.02.20

The NB services, which are evolving, are currently "the gold standard" with which any other CMS site development services for the GPCA should be compared. When "sufficient" NB services have been well-documented, a threshold yet to be determined, similar and improved CRM and social-networking services in other CMSes can be explored, their respective design requirements developed, and 1+ prototype "demonstration" work-alike test site(s) developed. One of the prototype NB-like site(s) I imagine should be developed, perhaps at a very low priority because of the complexity and the "new ITWG's" naivetee, would continue to use CiviCRM on either or both a Drupal test web site and/or on a Joomla! test web site. The part-time, no-deadline effort of a Joomla! + CiviCRM site or a Joomla! + Community Builder Pro site would "protect" or be available as a potential backup to GPCA NB-based automated political efforts in 2013 or 2014 in case the NB services somehow prove to be "in-adequate" to our needs. JGW 11.12.31 and 13.02.20

  • How the site does it's work for the GPCA is the official NB site. Since inception in Fall 2011, it is "poorly" but otherwise transparently "integrated" with the official Drupal 7 web site. The home NB site,, has short video tutorials of what an NB site can do for clients who rent their own NB site. However, we the "new ITWG" and interested-and-able GPCA stakeholders need to develop and make available online for reference GPCA-specific goals, objectives, as well as more detailed requirements and specifications for our GPCA NB main site as-it-is, as-it-might-be-soon and as any NB "sub-sites" might exist, such as a sub-site for each county party, a sub-site for short-lived campaigns in a given 6-9 month election cycle, etc. CAUTION: NB-site + Drupal-site integration (or NB-site + Joomla! site integration) is a subject not yet discussed let alone documented. But the pairing may be more beneficial to the GPCA than doing what NB wants: put all "our GPCA data marbles" on an NB site (and sub-sites) which we rent from NB. JGW 13.02.20
  • Highest Level Goals and Objectives for an improved site
  • Master List of NB site Input Data Fields