The New York Meetup was a great success last night, as 33 people got a glimpse into upcoming releases, several case studies, and great open floor discussions. Dave Greenberg, core contributor, joined in via Skype video to provide insight into upcoming features and answering questions.
The crowd demographic was roughly one half users, one quarter developers, and one quarter that had not yet used civiCRM but where interested, or on the verge of, installing the software. There were two Joomla users, one standalone, while the rest were Drupal aficionados.
Brian Shaughnessy, of Lighthouse Consulting & Design and member of the CiviCRM community advisory group, carried most of the formal part of the meeting with three presentations. Kicking off with a great overview of upcoming 3.0 - releases in Alpha just yesterday - the new version promises many welcome improvements and features, plus a completely redesigned UI. This is a huge step for civiCRM and carries it once more to new level of usability/functionality - kudos to the developers for listening to user requests and pushing out the release so rapidly. You can download Brian's presentation from the wiki.
A few features to look forward to include:
- a redesigned and fully customizable menu bar that sits horizontally at the top of the page
- context sensitive right-click menus (hooray!)
- radically improved contact interface
- CiviReporting - a big feature a lot of users have been requesting
Everyone is encouraged to download the alpha to their test environments - we are looking for feedback and bug reports when upgrading existing systems. If all goes well we'll see the release in the Q4 of this year.
Brian followed up with an overview of the CiviCRM community. There are 13 core developers, 10 community advisory group members, and over 7000 developers and users contributing to the project. The support infrastructure is extensive, with forums, wikis, chat rooms, and quite often direct access to the core team all in place to help the community install, upgrade, customize and support CiviCRM.
Two case studies were then presented: the NY Transit Association (once again by Brian, by now almost out of breath) and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's switch from Blackbaud to CiviCRM (Kyle and Joseph, Rayogram). On the NYTransit site both public and private membership directories and searches were highly modified to suite client needs. Individual/organization relationships are used heavily in managing member organizations and their employees, who automatically become members of the NY Transit Association. On the BCRF site donation forms and personal campaign pages were highly customized in order to directly address the types of donors that support the organization. Affiliate Personal Campaign Pages (PCP) were launched recently, allowing BCRF's partner companies to launch co-branded personal fund-raising pages - another big success. The switch from Blackbaud allowed BCRF to increase their outreach programs and grow donations significantly since it launched in 2008. NYTransit is going through final testing and is on the verge of going live so keep an eye out for nytransit.org - it will certainly be a big success story!
With the formal presentations over, we split the audience into groups based on their needs and everyone got down to business discussing every possible aspect the system for another hour.
The next two New York events being hosted at Rayogram are:
These camps are extremely valuable and always fun, so don't hesitate to join up. If fees are a problem, we are always open to bartering - we need hours contributed to the cause - be it documentation, development, feature design or QA.
A round of thank yous:
A big thank you to Brian who made the trip down from Albany solely for the meetup and provided a wealth of information.
Thank you to Jane and Craig of Rayogram, who offered to host the meetup.
The meeting was a great success, and we hope to keep growing the New York CiviCRM enthusiasts into a solid group of users, developers and supporters.
See you all soon,