How I meet client needs and simultaneously support CiviCRM improvements

2014-04-25 11:15
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I had fallen into technology almost by accident. As someone who enjoys delivering solutions I often find myself in conversations with people who are trying to build software infrastructures. It spawned a curiosity of technology puzzles. This brought me to Open Source software and I was soon building and configuring WordPress websites, and creating a workspace that allowed me to collaborate with the larger software communities. I have benefited from using open source software and I want to give back.

Dana Skallman

I had done some work with CiviCRM on Drupal sites, focusing solely on the CiviCRM pieces before it was available in WordPress. Now the bulk of the work I do is with WordPress + CiviCRM. As a collective member with Tadpole, a collaboration born out of the WordPress NYC community, which successfully blended of interests of five techie folks with diverse interests are working to fine-tune Civi-WP possibilities!

One example is that we have used collaborations to develop more CMS-independent extensions. If we find a module in Drupal that can become a CiviCRM extension, we will build that into one of our projects. An example of this is Sending an email to a target when signing a Petition.  We worked alongside the folks at Palante Technology Coop to convert it into a CiviCRM extension, which is now available here.

Similarly, we have been working alongside JMA Consulting to improve CiviGrants. As we were working on a project, we learned that the client organization provides grants and needs a way to accept grant applications, and go through a committee approval process to approve each grant. I asked the core team with whom they thought we should work. And after many conversations with the core team and CiviCRM developers we were introduced to Joe Murray. He had already started some work around using Profiles to set up grant applications. So we contracted him to collaborate. It is still a work in progress. But the Grants Application extension is now available for all to use here.

My primary focus is to find ways to make CiviCRM better for the whole community. In my opinion, this means contributing CMS-independent improvements. Given the long history of use with Drupal, naturally there are many more CiviCRM integration features available as Modules. This is not a bad thing, but CiviCRM would benefit even more by working across content management systems.

I encourage community members to connect with the core team and contributors who work with CiviCRM in supporting the project work you do. The benefits far outweigh any limitations:

  • The new feature will be developed in a way that the larger community can benefit.
  • The costs of the work can be shared across projects or be reduced after initial development.
  • Explain to your clients the community process so they see the benefit from the shared work within the software community. It really shows why you want to use open source software.

Working in this manner, we are able to give clients a better product, share the results with the community through a new extension, and support other fellow CiviCRM developers by working with them. The benefits are too great!