[Linux-aus] Inflection Point - A Strategic Plan for Linux Australia

Michael Cordover la at mjec.net
Wed Jan 6 11:50:06 AEDT 2016

<snip a bunch of discussion about Google Docs vs git>

FWIW, I think that this is the worst kind of bike-shedding. Before we
have a discussion about what we should do in future, let's have a long
discussion about what we should use to have that discussion. Blarg.

On Wed, Jan 6, 2016, at 10:19, Stewart Smith wrote:
> Anthony Towns <aj at erisian.com.au> writes:
> >> The existing Membership management tool, MemberDB is end of life and a
> >> replacement is sorely needed. Some discussion has occurred towards this
> >> goal, but momentum toward an outcome has not been sustained.
> >
> > I would say the momentum that was there was to set some criteria on what
> > the replacement should do, then evaluate alternatives. Proposing CiviCRM
> > as the right solution rather than doing that is exactly what killed the
> > momentum, from my perspective...
> >
> > I think "end of life" is just standing in for a value judgement, not
> > that there's an actual time limit on how long it can kept being used;
> > ie it would be more accurate to just write "MemberDB is pretty crap in
> > the author's opinion". Evaluating it against actual criteria would be
> > better, of course...
> or someone starting to make some small incremental improvements. Every
> attempt at rewriting from scratch has gone nowhere, largely because
> that's a whole bunch of extra effort.

Kathy Reid provided a working document to linux-aus on 2 Feb 2015
outlining enhancements that would be required to MemberDB. That's at

The key functionality of MemberDB that would need to be replicated in
any other system (aside from everyone-provides things like sign up flow)
is elections. MemberDB does this quite well, and meets some specific

1. the ability to run the whole process, including nominations,
acceptance and candidate statements
2. preferential voting

The latest Launchpad commit to MemberDB
(https://launchpad.net/memberdb/trunk) was 2011-02-04. Its underlying
DAL is built on PEAR::DB, which has long since been superseded
(http://pear.php.net/manual/en/package.database.db.php). A quick look
indicates it was probably built for PHP 4, which was EOL in August 2008.

If someone can take on making improvements to MemberDB, that's great.
But it doesn't have the structure of a modern application, and it won't
work within a modern development environment. I think it's unlikely
anyone would want to maintain and improve it without a major refactor,
or indeed rewrite.

If we're going to work on that basis, we should consider whether we
should be using one or more other tools. CiviCRM isn't perfect, and
requires a Drupal base. It's a bit clunky, in part because it has a lot
of functionality which is not immediately useful to LA. However, it
gives all of the new functionality we need, and building in election
functionality would almost certainly be far less effort than building
the new functionality (in Kathy's document) into MemberDB. As a bonus,
we can contribute that back to the existing large community of CiviCRM

MemberDB was an excellent tool. It was state of the art when the last
official release occurred, nearly 10 years ago. That we've been able to
continue using it is a testament to its quality. However, it does not
meet the current needs of LA.



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