Fri 2 Oct 2015 5:30AM

Timebank software

JG Julie Gunn Public Seen by 373

I'm helping set up 2 Timebanks in the Auckland area and I'm looking at software. Is anyone familiar with Time and Talents (free open source)? I've been in contact with them, I'm impressed with their support plus they have an app and the offered to help me translate the software into māori. I guess my other main option is Community Weaver 3 (I've never used the CW software). Any info, tips, advice gratefully received. Thanks. Julie


Hayden McGrail - Wairarapa Fri 2 Oct 2015 6:46AM

Here in the Wairarapa we trialled both CW2 & CES in 2012/13 and choose CW2. With no steering committee and the cost about rise I moved us to CES. We've just had a visit from Edgar Cahn he admitted CW2 was 'a dog' but said he was pleased & proud of CW3. He also said it was free so we've just started using it - so early days here for us. Most NZ TimeBanks use CW so it makes sense for us to use it also. We're a pretty small group, just got a new committee so that's about all I can contribute to the discussion.


Helen Elizabeth Dew Fri 2 Oct 2015 10:01AM

Nice to hear of the possibility of a Maori translation. Edgar has a special interest in the NZ TB movement and if the Maori translation goes ahead I imagine he’d be interested to know about it.
Stock of his book No More Throw-away People* is running low so he has to decide soon whether to simply re-print or write a new book which would include stories and developments such as this.
*A limited supply of signed copies is now available from Living Economies. Orders may be placed at www.le.org.nz


Danyl Strype Sat 3 Oct 2015 6:45AM

Sorry this got so long, but I tried to be thorough :)

The term "open source" is confusing because it is commonly used to refer to both:
* software whose authors have released their source code under a free license (some of the most common are GPL, "BSD", "MIT", and Apache)
* anything (software or otherwise) created using an open, collaborative, community development process, where the resulting creation is owned as a commons, and freely available for the public to use

For clarity, I use the latter definition of "open source" as a development practice, and prefer the term "free code" when talking about software released under free (or "open") licenses. Calling software "proprietary" means that it is non-free code, which usually means it is closed source and is not collaboratively developed.

I think it would be well worth investigating a non-profit called CommunityForge, which runs Matt Slater's software. Matt is enthusiastic about the benefits of open source communities developing community-building software, and CommunityForge are upfront about using free code and open source development on the front page of their website.

Unless something has changed very recently, Time and Talents is not free code. From their Software FAQ(under 'hOURworld scalability and server support'):
"The source code is proprietary. Keeping it under our one roof preserves its integrity. (No forks.)"

I had an email exchange with them a few years ago where I explained why this statement is misleading, the ethics of publishing software under free code licenses vs. proprietary licenses, and the benefits (to them and their users) of using open source development, rather than relying on one person (or small group) maintaining secret source code. Their replies (and the quote above) shows that they value control over community.

The situation with Community Weaver is more complicated:
* Version 1.0 was proprietary
* Version 2.0 was a bundle of software built on a foundation of Drupal 6 by a group from a company called GeekGene, who are passionate about open source development. All parts of CW2 were either already free code, or released as free code.
* Version 3.0 has been built by a one-man company called MarketAcumen. Apparently it is "built on a technology calledBootStrap", which is free code (MIT license). Other than that, it is unclear exactly what other software is bundled inside CW3, and whether it is free code or proprietary, although a somewhat tense discussion of the reasons for replacing CW2 with CW3 is happening on Drupal Groups.


Danyl Strype Sat 3 Oct 2015 6:49AM

BTW In the past we have discussed in this Loomio group the pros and cons of having our own server.


Lyttelton TimeBank Wed 7 Oct 2015 3:47AM

Hi Julie.

I have no experience with Time and Talents. We have used CW since the beginning of our Timebank. The system has just had a major upgrade and it's become even more easy to use. Probably the only downside with CW3 is that you have to pay to use it.. That's a factor of membership numbers. We pay around $800 per year for that.

Kind Regards,


Timebank Co-ordinator
LYTTELTON TIMEBANKwww.lyttelton.net.nz/timebank

Open: M-F 10am-4pm

Lyttelton Information Centre

20 Oxford Street, Lyttelton
03 328 9093


Margaret Jefferies Wed 7 Oct 2015 6:59PM

I have checked out about CW3 - there is conflicting information out there about it. Some say it was free others that there is a charge. Neither are strictly true!
CW3 was given as a gift - as in the gift economy - to time bankers of the world, but in the spirit of reciprocity we need to respond in some way.
I believe this is great leadership from USTBs. We are tending to say what is free, where can we get that from,rather than what can we do for the world.
I believe that CW3 is great software - from my personal use of it so far, so for me I am now saying how can we reciprocate - it may be in national currency, or it might be in gifts of other resources.
I do believe that the step taken by USTBs with CW3 is potentially opening up a wider view of our world through reciprocity.


Danyl Strype Thu 8 Oct 2015 8:33AM

There are two means of the word "free", to quote Richard Stallman; "free as in speech" (libre), and "free as in beer" (gratis).

CW3 comes with new payment guidelines (See the full explanation: http://timebanks.org/get-started/community-weaver/ ). In short:
* payment is flexible, depending on ability to pay
* for community-led timebanks with no paid staff, CW3 is gratis (no charge), but as @margaretjefferies says, donations are welcome in reciprocity
* for a timebank run by governmental agencies or registered charities with paid staff and access to funding, the recommended fee is $2 per member

As we have discussed already, it's still unclear whether CW3 is libre (free code/ open source) software. There is a discussion about this on groups.Drupal.org but no definitely conclusion yet. I have contacted TBUSA to seek clarification on this.


Rebecca Ranum Sun 18 Oct 2015 1:49AM

Really helpful info thanks Strypey. Our timebank in Kaitaia has decided to stay with Community Weaver as it seems like the easiest option for us at this point in time. Can anyone give me a rough idea of the hours of work involved in the changeover from CW2 to CW3?


Danyl Strype Sun 18 Oct 2015 11:38AM

Eric, the tech coordinator of TBUSA, responded to me by email saying that CW3 has not been released as free code software ("open source"), not yet anyway and its unclear whether it will be. For now, I think it would be worth kiwi timebanks evaluating CommunityForge (which runs on free code software developed by Matthew Slater) as an alternative to CW3. Using a host running fully free code leaves the door open for us to set up our own server for kiwi timebanks if we decide that's what we want.


Danyl Strype Fri 20 May 2016 8:11AM

There have been further replies from Kent Davidson of MarketAcumen, which make it clear that despite using quite a bit of free code under the hood, CW 3.0 is proprietary software, and there is no plan to release it as free code:

" CW3 is not built on Drupal 8, it's built on another open-source toolkit and lots of open-source third-party software. The core of the CW3 application is not open source, however. This was the choice of TimeBanks USA who both developed the software and invested a lot of time and money to do so. I can't really discuss their choice to not release the software, but I understand why they've made their decisions."

Please email TBUSA and point out that moving CW back to being proprietary software is a huge step backwards. Using large chunks of free code but not releasing new code written specifically for CW is a massive failure of reciprocity. It also prevents groups of timebanks from setting up their own server using the familiar CW software that both timebank members and admins are used to. Given all this, I strongly recommend that Aotearoa timebanks consider moving to CommunityForge, for the reasons given above.