Making it easier to build online information communities using APC’s free software: APC ActionApps
MONTVIDEO, URUGUAY, 05 January 2004
APC ActionApps was developed by APC to offer a low-cost solution for content-sharing that increases the functionality of civil society websites and facilitates the creation of portal sites, improving the visibility of civil society information.
APC ActionApps allows anyone to publish online without knowing any programming or learning specialised software
APC ActionApps is an online content management system (CMS). All CMSs allow authorised users to update the content of a website easily, using just a web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. It’s easy to add, remove or edit website information anytime, from anywhere, with no HTML skills needed. Using APC ActionApps website, administrators can automate publication of press releases, job listings, events and other types of information.
But the real power of APC ActionApps comes at the level of collective publishing and aggregation.
Each news item or resource added to an individual organisation’s site can be automatically fed to a community-wide portal. Coalitions of organisations that are geographically-dispersed can quickly put together a campaign site. The result is greater and faster outreach to a wider audience.
What does APC ActionApps offer?
-Simple, forms-based interfaces for online publishing and information management, incorporating tools such ‘Action Alerts’ which allow new items to be sent to users by e-mail, a calendar function, message boards, and a site management tool
-The ability to create distributed portals which can promote and increase traffic to important information resources
-An automatic and seamless way to share information between non-profit websites with similar focuses
-Improvements in security and control over information access
-A multilingual interface
APC’s commitment to free and open source software (FOSS)
APC demonstrated our commitment to the FOSS movement by releasing ActionApps as free software. The open source movement encourages not only free sharing of software but also a collaborative, evolutionary approach to software development.
Anyone can download the software and install it on their server; however, the defining characteristic of open source software is that once a programmer makes useful changes to the code (so that the software can be used to do something different or additional to what it could do before), he or she must integrate the changes back into the main code base.
The GNU/GPL license – the free software licence APC ActionApps uses – requires any programmer to do this, and the programmer agrees to this condition automatically when they install GPL-licensed software.
Collaborating technicians and developers use a mailing list and SourceForge, a popular technical support website, as a common workspace. List members come from all over the world – Chile, Hungary, Canada, Australia and Japan, to name a few places – and the list is very active. There’s also a list now in Spanish.
The beauty of releasing APC ActionApps to the free software community is that programmers from around the world, from inside and outside of APC, are working on the ActionApps software, adding new features, working out bugs or errors and translating the interface into different languages.
Multilingual software for a multinational civil society
Because APC ActionApps is being developed and adopted all around the world by APC members and others, the administrative interface has been translated into English, Spanish, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian, Japanese and German.
APC has translated the interface and a user manual into Spanish. As the software develops (thanks to the APC and the free software community), the process continues.
What people say about the ActionApps
“APC’s development of the ActionApps open source content management system has helped Web Networks become Canada’s leader in providing internet services to membership-based organisations.” – OLIVER ZIELKE, CANADA
“APC ActionApps has put Colnodo at the cutting edge. Our work as open source software developers has made us an indisputable reference point politically, academically and in the eyes of Colombian civil society.” – ARIEL BARBOSA, COLOMBIA
PHOTO: Colnodo, APC member in Colombia, helps municipalities keep their reporting transparent using the APC ActionApps (Courtesy: Josep Turro)