School Accounts

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John Ingleby

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Apr 1, 2008, 8:06:12 AM4/1/08
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Dear All,

Here is a question for all you users of FLOSS School Admin systems:

How do you run the school accounts?

It pains me to say this, but the school where I teach is about to spend
£x,000 upgrading their Windows Small Business server, which runs SIMS
accounting. Next thing they will have to buy Office 2007 for all the
Admin PCs ... it just doesn't bear thinking about!

Does anyone use a FLOSS accounting package?

It would be great to offer some alternative!

Best wishes,

John
****

Darren Jones

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Apr 1, 2008, 8:10:32 AM4/1/08
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John Ingleby wrote:
> Dear All,
>
> Here is a question for all you users of FLOSS School Admin systems:
>
> How do you run the school accounts?
>
> It pains me to say this, but the school where I teach is about to spend
> £x,000 upgrading their Windows Small Business server, which runs SIMS
> accounting. Next thing they will have to buy Office 2007 for all the
> Admin PCs ... it just doesn't bear thinking about!
>

We were told by capita we needed to upgrade Office to v2003. It turned
out that the Office viewer will work instead.
Sadly, Capita hardcode their SIMS so it won't open reports with OpenOffice.


Darren


> Does anyone use a FLOSS accounting package?
>
> It would be great to offer some alternative!
>
> Best wishes,
>
> John
> ****
>
>
> >
>
>


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Steve Lee

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Apr 1, 2008, 10:15:10 AM4/1/08
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On 01/04/2008, Darren Jones <dar...@uctc.e-sussex.sch.uk> wrote:
> Sadly, Capita hardcode their SIMS so it won't open reports with OpenOffice.

Hmm, don't they just use the system call to open the generated '.doc'
or '.xls' etc. and let Windows load the associated application? If so
you just need to associate OOo Writer with .doc. If they don't and
explicitly invoke a specific app that is rather 'bad form'.

--
Steve Lee
--
Open Source Assistive Technology Software
web: www.fullmeasure.co.uk
blog: http://eduspaces.net/stevelee/weblog

Darren Jones

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Apr 1, 2008, 10:32:21 AM4/1/08
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Steve Lee wrote:
> On 01/04/2008, Darren Jones <dar...@uctc.e-sussex.sch.uk> wrote:
>
>> Sadly, Capita hardcode their SIMS so it won't open reports with OpenOffice.
>>
>
> Hmm, don't they just use the system call to open the generated '.doc'
> or '.xls' etc. and let Windows load the associated application? If so
> you just need to associate OOo Writer with .doc. If they don't and
> explicitly invoke a specific app that is rather 'bad form'.
>
>
The report is an XML file, it is hardcoded in the XML document to open
with MSOffice - otherwise the report would normally open as XML in
Internet Explorer (as IE is default for .xml on windows).
Capita are a MS gold partner....

Simon Elliott

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Apr 1, 2008, 10:50:44 AM4/1/08
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Have a look at some of the packages on the software page at www.thefreemac.com

They are the only ones I can find for accounting in any form at present.

If it is an LEA school, they may not have a choice tho'

Simon
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Simon Elliott

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Apr 1, 2008, 11:03:02 AM4/1/08
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I used to be the SIMS support officer for an LEA and I can confirm that Capita worked with Microsoft to glue SIMS and Office / Windows together.  If you want to use SIMS, you really have to use Office.

That was the reason I wrote IntelliSchool but even that needs FileMaker (but could run on many platforms).  What we need is for a team to specify and produce a FOSS alternative to SIMS that will reduce the burden for schools.  It needs to have a web based front end, be multi-platform and multi browser, ideally LAMP-based, be end-user customizable and cope with the specs for data transfer to other schools.  I would happily participate in such a project as a specifier / tester and could use the IntelliSchool layout as a start.

Anyone fancy a go?

Simon

John Ingleby

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Apr 1, 2008, 4:06:48 PM4/1/08
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On Tue, 2008-04-01 at 16:03 +0100, Simon Elliott wrote:
> I used to be the SIMS support officer for an LEA and I can confirm
> that Capita worked with Microsoft to glue SIMS and Office / Windows
> together. If you want to use SIMS, you really have to use Office.
>
>
> That was the reason I wrote IntelliSchool but even that needs
> FileMaker (but could run on many platforms). What we need is for a
> team to specify and produce a FOSS alternative to SIMS that will
> reduce the burden for schools. It needs to have a web based front
> end, be multi-platform and multi browser, ideally LAMP-based, be
> end-user customizable and cope with the specs for data transfer to
> other schools. I would happily participate in such a project as a
> specifier / tester and could use the IntelliSchool layout as a start.
>
Hi Simon,

You're clearly a highly valuable asset, since SIMS is probably the one
single item that most effectively locks UK schools onto Microsoft!

The first issue is that there are already a decent number of FLOSS
school admin packages, each of them with a loyal (if small) following,
besides your own:

IntelliSchool - https://sourceforge.net/projects/intellischool/
SchoolTool - http://www.schooltool.org/
ClaSS - http://www.laex.org/class/
FreeMIS - http://www.schoolforge.org.uk/index.php/FreeMIS
OpenAdmin - http://richtech.ca/openadmin/index.html

So far as I know, none of these offer the comprehensive facilities found
in SIMS, so the hope is that the SIF programme (School Interoperability
Framework) will provide a bunch of tools to enable different school
admin systems (including SIMS) to work together. SIF is actively being
supported by Becta, and http://sifzone.com/ is a good place to find out
more.

The real problem with a FLOSS solution is, as usual, time to A. agree
the framework for a common solution, and B. for participants to get up
to speed on the chosen coding methodology. We came close to achieving A.
a couple of years ago, when Stuart Johnson (of ClaSS) and Robert Jones
(of FreeMIS) met up at FLOSSIE 2006...

Anyone ready for another go?

John
****

John Ingleby

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Apr 2, 2008, 4:36:50 AM4/2/08
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On Tue, 2008-04-01 at 21:06 +0100, John Ingleby wrote:

> ... so the hope is that the SIF programme (School Interoperability


> Framework) will provide a bunch of tools to enable different school
> admin systems (including SIMS) to work together. SIF is actively being
> supported by Becta, and http://sifzone.com/ is a good place to find out
> more.

Uh-oh, wrong again. It seems that Capita are no longer supporting SIF,
see John Spencer's blog entry on Sirius Corporation's website:

http://www.siriusit.co.uk/myblog/index.php

John
****

Ian Tasker

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Apr 2, 2008, 4:53:01 AM4/2/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi Simon,

If your looking to migrate IntelliSchool to a webbased format i can
recommend using a php framework called cakephp. (mambo are in the
process of moving to it)

This is a rapid development framework but is robust as the mozzilla
firefox addon
website is using it.

I would be interested in working on a web based version, would it be
possible to have a
look at you database for IntelliSchool?

Thanks

Ian Tasker

Matt

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Apr 2, 2008, 5:07:25 AM4/2/08
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Hi Simon,

I too would be interested in helping, I downloaded a copy of your
database from https://sourceforge.net/projects/intellischool/ but at the
moment I have no way of reading the file.

I am also familiar with the UK version of SIF, it would be nice to see
IntelliSchool SIF compatible.

Could you set up a mailing list on you SF project page for those
interested?

Matt

Simon Elliott

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Apr 2, 2008, 5:13:58 AM4/2/08
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https://sourceforge.net/projects/intellischool/

is the homepage.  I will go to the project and see how you create a mailing list.

Simon

Simon Elliott

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Apr 2, 2008, 6:20:08 AM4/2/08
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You can now find a mailing list for people wanting to take the discussion on IMS systems for schools at:


Look forward to hearing from anyone.

Task 1:  Choice of host platform
Task 2:  Definition of tables and fields
Task 3:  Interface development

Simon

Ian Tasker

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Apr 2, 2008, 6:48:05 AM4/2/08
to Schoolforge-UK MIAS
Hi,

Personal i hate mailing lists, i would prefer a dedicated google group
of this project.

My input for the the task.
1. how about an ajax based web offering running on a lamp stack.
2. We could start with what is required for cenus and plasc.
3. wory about the first two first.

Thanks
Ian

On 2 Apr, 11:20, Simon Elliott <simon_elli...@mac.com> wrote:
> You can now find a mailing list for people wanting to take the
> discussion on IMS systems for schools at:
>
> https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/intellischool-developers
>
> Look forward to hearing from anyone.
>
> Task 1: Choice of host platform
> Task 2: Definition of tables and fields
> Task 3: Interface development
>
> Simon
>
> On 2 Apr 2008, at 02/04/2008,10:07, Matt wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > Hi Simon,
>
> > I too would be interested in helping, I downloaded a copy of your
> > database fromhttps://sourceforge.net/projects/intellischool/but at

Simon Elliott

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Apr 2, 2008, 7:09:10 AM4/2/08
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lol.  I set up the mailing list in response to requests for a mailing list.  I will respond to messages sent through it.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to maintain too many different mediums (as well as teach and try to develop www.thefreemac.com).

If the system is to succeed, it needs to be as international as possible with local specifications clearly marked.  The UK market is so stitched up that the roundabout method may work.  Get more and more people using it and it will creep in.  A 'moodle' for school data.

The two main features lacking in the systems I have seen so far are a good web-based replacement for a traditional class register and a simple method for teachers to input all of the necessary marks directly from their classroom (with automatic absence letter production) and put in such a way as to be easily transferrable to a spreadsheet for the assessment manager to analyse.

I am a filemaker-head and have never developed on any other dbms.  I am totally open to suggestions as to the best replacement (cakephp is the first recommendaation).  It needs to be free (obviously) and easily changeable by schools to suit individual purposes.

Simon

iChat / AIM - simon_...@mac.com
yahoo / MSN - thefr...@yahoo.com

Steve Lee

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Apr 2, 2008, 9:14:17 AM4/2/08
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On 02/04/2008, Ian Tasker <ianwt...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Personal i hate mailing lists, i would prefer a dedicated google group
> of this project.

Weeell, google groups act as mail list or web group, which I
personally hate but do work well for links to threads from blog posts
;-)

> My input for the the task.
> 1. how about an ajax based web offering running on a lamp stack.

Yes, but don't use ajax for ajax sake, only where it is genuinely
useful. Keep in mind progressive enhancement (Jeremy Keith et al) or
better use a javascript toolkit that supports accessibility standards
like WAI-ARIA (that prolly means Dojo).

Also lets not get side tracked in to picking the exact technologies to
use at this stage. There's loads to choose from, for example we have
at least one Rails fan on this list :-0

A couple more ideas
* Could we attempt to funding at some point for this to really work?
* What's up with schooltool these days?

Is support for SIF a really strong selling point? Even if UK SIF?

--
Steve Lee
--
Open Source Assistive Technology Software

web: fullmeasure.co.uk
blog: eduspaces.net/stevelee/weblog

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