InfoCentral: Looking Back

By Deane Barker on October 12, 2005

InfoCentral: About five years ago, I wrote an application for my church to track people and families. I wrote about it here. I open-sourced it, and it got adopted by quite a few organizations.

I went to check on it today, and I find that the site is still around, though this note on the home page made me laugh (emphasis mine).

The “legacy” version of InfoCentral is a PHP/MySQL membership and management database intended for use by churches and non-profit organizations to track members, families, groups, donations, etc. All of the information on this site currently pertains to the old version. Its development has basicly [sic] ceased because the existing PHP code is not worth overhauling.

Wow, how flattering. They’re right though — looking back, that was some hideous PHP. I had no idea what object-orientation was back then. That code was a nightmare. (I swear I could re-write this app in Rails in a weekend…)

They’re still talking about porting the app to Java, though I doubt that will ever happen (and it shouldn’t — their reasoning for wanting to do that was so wrong in so many ways…). The push to Java caused the project to fork a while back into something called GroupOrg. That link is to a forum post, because they seem to have lost their domain name. I’m not sure what’s become of that app.

As for my church, we’ve grown to the point where we finally purchased Shelby Systems, which is — to my knowledge — the “industry” standard for church ERP.

I still think there’s a hole for a free system like this. Maybe the hole has been filled in the intervening years? Anyone?

What This Links To


  1. I enjoyed playing with infocentral for the congregation I minister to, but I found the PHP code hideous (as you mentioned) and I wanted to add to it. I was sad to development stop, and I didn’t want to work on that code.

    I’m now re-writing IC as my first full-fledged Rails app (taking me a little more than a weekend) to add what I want. It’s nearly to a stable release stage. I then want to either open-source it or at least make it downloadable for free, and perhaps provide a migration script from infocentral.

    Thanks for the idea! I’ll let you know when I release it…


  2. We still use InfoCentral for tracking member donations at my church. I haven’t really done much with the code, but overall I thought the code was fine. I am considering writing an add-on to track attendance, which is how I stumbled onto your web site. Thanks for the great program!

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