Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ChMS - Arena Customization

One of the factors that lead to us choosing Arena was its ability to be easily customized, and the cohesiveness of the Arena community. I have already seen the benefits of both.

If you read this blog you know that we had to bring online giving up in a hurry, and we did it through Arena and payflowpro, a paypal product. The interesting thing is that payflowpro is not an officially supported solution from Arena; however, there are several churches using it. We were able to get it up and running, and Jeremy Hoff of Shepherd of the Hills and David Turner of CCV were incredibly helpful in helping us get it implemented here at HDC.

When we built the online giving and associated members pages, there were parts of the module that we didn't like, and we were able to get the code from Arena and make the necessary changes and install them into our custom directory. So our members portal works differently than everyone else's, but it works the way HDC wants it, which is ideal for us.

Now we are looking at a small group locater, and we aren't enamored with the official version. There are at least two churches that offer different small group locaters than the one that ships with Arena. One of them looks like it is a good solution for us, and we'll be testing that immediately.

We want to do check-in, but we really don't relish the idea of installing a bunch of windows boxes to make it happen. One of the Arena churches just released a kiosk that is browser based rather than being a windows app. With a small amount of modification, this may work for us, saving us the IT time and headache of deploying windows check-in for a mac centric enterprise. Another big win.

The best part of Arena is the developer community. Each of these churches truly wants to help other churches get the most out of their database and the people at those churches are kind and enthusiastic about the product and genuinely want to help.

The more I learn, the more I like this product.



Jeremy Hoff said...

The customization is one of my favorite features of Arena. We didn't want to produce a bunch of boilerplate code to get where we needed, so a solution built in-house didn't make sense.
Enter Arena - it bends to meet our needs rather than forcing us to bend. That's elegance.

BTW - I think I owe you a phone call.

Austin Spooner said...

I agree. The ability to talk to other churches in theCommunity is a real value Arena has - as well as sharing modules with one another and the ability to customize.