Load Testing CiviCRM ....

One of our major goals for this year is to optimize CiviCRM to handle load in a graceful manner. This is extremely important for us with the Branner Project. One of our main goals for the project this year is to optimize CiviCRM to be able to handle the last weekend load nicely (similar to the slashdot effect, the application process has most of the applications being filed and completed the weekend it is due)

CiviCRM install services ...

One of the most frequently asked questions on the CiviCRM dev list is for help with installing CiviCRM. Most of the questions are quite similar, although each of them seems to have their own specific twist. We do agree that installing CiviCRM is not for the faint-hearted and it takes a fair amount of skill to get it up and running the first time.

CiviCRM financials ......

Don't worry, the body is not as dire as the subject indicates. Just wanted to give folks some background about how we operate and manage to do what we do, and what we need to do to continue delivering an awesome product (or so we think ...)

We currently are spread across India (9 developers), Poland (1.5 developers), US (dave) and NZ (lobo).

Candidate Feature List for CiviCRM 1.7

Now that 1.6 beta has been released - it's time to look ahead and prioritize the NEXT release (1.7).

There are a few "big features" we're targeting:

... and a number of smaller but significant feature candidates.

Check out the proposed release features here.

Development team expands into New Zealand ...

As some of you are aware our development team is fairly distributed. We have developers in Mumbai - India, Warsaw - Poland and San Francisco - US. Effective next week, we will have a presence in Nelson - New Zealand. I'm moving to NZ for 9 months and am looking forward to it. You could follow our adventures on my newly created personal blog. If there are any CiviCRM'ers / Drupal'ers in the Nelson area, would be great to form a co-working space, join forces and spread the open source paradigm with organizations in that area.

Dave Greenberg will also be on vacation for a large part of December. We are pretty confident that the rest of the team will do a great job of keeping the project and community moving forward at our normal blistering pace. Feel free to keep them busy and on their toes with a constant supply of feature requests, bug reports and installation issues :)

Branch for CiviCRM v1.6 ...

For folks downloading the latest code from the svn repository, we have branched the v1.6 code base. The main trunk is now be focussed on v1.7 development and is considered unstable. Please do an svn switch in your directory

$ svn switch http://svn.civicrm.org/branches/v1.6

We will be more proactive about letting folks know about such events before they happen. We'll also be merging 0.4.1 of the dojo when its officially released (its currently in RC2)

CiviReport: More on CiviReport and BIRT ...

It was a pretty productive thanksgiving weekend :) Learnt way more about reporting, how complex an issue it is and the number of companies that are built on reporting (or to use a more trendy phrase, Business Intelligence). So here are some conclusions:

  • PHP does not have a decent open (or closed) source reporting tool.
  • Reporting is too complex an application and fairly well addressed by other open source projects. We should use one of those applications rather than doing it ourselves
  • All the reporting open source projects use Java / Tomcat. CiviCRM users will need both java and php tools if we adopt this route

CiviEvent Specification - Event Management for CiviCRM

We've posted a draft specification for CiviEvent (phase 1) on the wiki. We are actively soliciting community feedback prior to finalizing the specifications on or around December 7. If you are interested in an integrated Event Management component for CiviCRM - please review the spec carefully and post your feedback and questions as comments on the wiki. We are targeting this for the 1.7 release.

This specification reflects feedback and suggestions from many folks in the CiviCRM and Drupal communities. We'd like to especially thank and acknowledge Jeff Porter of The Foundation for Prader-Willi Research, and Dan Robinson of CivicActions for their extensive contributions.

Cool Features in the Upcoming 1.6 Release

We're pretty excited about the cool new features in the upcoming 1.6 release (now in Alpha) - and want to encourage folks to check out / play with these features on the Public Sandbox. So... open the sandbox in a separate window - then login (user = demo, password = demo) and try these out...
  • The quick "Contact Search" block in the left column uses a suggestive search widget which finds contacts as you type in letters. Try typing in "ada" and see what happens.
  • Site Administrators no longer have to struggle with editing civicrm.settings.php to set and modify site configuration. Most settings are now controlled from the Admin Control Panel » Global Settings section.

CiviReport - First Impressions of BIRT

I did a fair amount of research on the web regarding the state of various open source reporting packages. BIRT received quite a few excellent reviews and they also have an upcoming integration with the Zend platform/framework that I had to give it another go.

So back to the drawing board, and did an install of Eclipse and the automated install / update of BIRT. I suspected there was an issue with the latest version of BIRT (2.1.1) and decided to install the older version (2.1.0). This proved to be a smart move and I was up and running with BIRT. Their website is quite nice and has lots of detailed informtion (which did not really help me in my first installation attempt). I started off with the Basic Tutorial, though i modified it to use the CiviCRM database and decided to create a Phone Book for the sample data. The User Interface for creating reports in BIRT is significantly more sophisticated, cleaner and simpler than the equivalent one in iReport. It probably took me less than an hour to create a group listing by state of all my individual contacts in the database. Not bad for a reporting tool :).