This past Saturday, I received the following email from a Linux loving pastor who needs a software application that will … well; let me let him describe it:
Simple question: I have used membership plus through their version 6. But I’ve not really liked it. My main system is linux: right now fedora core 1, but redhat through version 9 before that. At present, what I do for the fedora system is export all the data to a mysql database, then access it through openoffice/odbc. It’s sure not very elegant, and updates are a real drag. I also do a little data manipulation through phpmyadmin, and directly through mysql. (I thought this was going to be a simple question! ) Anyway, do you have any recommendations for a church database? Do you know of any already designed with the engine being mysql?
I look forward to reading more of your site concerning web design for churches. It looks like it will help, and I’m sure our site needs help!
Have a great day and great weekend in the Lord!
John F. Godfrey, Pastor
Grandville Assembly of God, Grandville, Michigan USA
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me’” (John 14:6).
How can I deny such a warm request for a solution from a minister with enough computer chutzpah to manage exporting records from his Linux-based MySQL data into the Windows based Broderbund’s Membership Plus 6 via OpenOffice/ODBC?
Moreover, what good is my faith if I just say be warm and filled, I’ll pray for a smooth install?
So brother John, here is the short answer: InfoCentral, a free software to help churches and non-profit organizations track information about their membership that can run on any platform equipped with PHP & MySQL.
And because faith without works is dead, I figured I should test out the software to make sure it works before recommending it. It does, but it did take a little jumping on the hood to get the engine to start.
First thing I did was through the control panel that comes with my web hosting package,
- create a database for this project;
- using Putty, open a secure shell session (SSH);
- while in the root directory of my account (that is the directory below public_html or www) retrieved a copy of the latest distribution from SourceForge
- using tar, extract the files
- using chmod, change the file permissions, especially of the Readme.txt file so I could view it from my browser;
- using mysql from the command prompt, push data into the database;
- using pico, modify the Config.php;
- addressed the ‘php_flag register_globals off’ issue;
- and then proceeded to do all the cool browser-based stuff mentioned in the Readme.txt file.
Here are the commands I issued in order to give you an idea of how I went about the install:
tar -zxvf $HOME/InfoCentral-1.2.6.tar.gz
chmod 755 -R infocentral
chmod 644 index.html
chmod 644 *.txt
mysql -u[SERNAME] -p[ASSWORD] [DBNAME]
The permissions thing bugged me, as I see it as a potential security issue. Perhaps in the future the great guys working ont his project will tar and gzip a file distribution that includes the correct file permissions so I didn’t have to hack about to get it to work.
Other than that, works as advertised. It’s fast. Seems very solid. I would probably suggest modifying the .htaccess file in the /infocentral directory so that access to the infocentral directory is additionally protected with basic authentication … yet one more level of security that can’t hurt.
John, hope that answers the question in a satisfactory manner. If you manage to get this installed, let us know … I’ve seen your website … and I think anyone who can manage the install of Fedora, PHP, Apache, MySQL and the above software could probably handle beating something like pMachine or WordPress into a content manglement system for their church.
Oh, and if anyone else out there has a similar solution, leave a comment.