We have been doing some research on options for a no-install, sort-of online version of DONATION, which will allow one or more users to use it (one at a time) from any Windows computer with a high-speed Internet connection, accessing the same database.
What we’re looking at is not a traditional web-based application. Rather, the way it works is that you access the program from a web page, and the first time you do so from any given computer, it actually transparently downloads it to a protected area (called a sandbox) on that local PC, including the database. When you exit the program, the database and any other changed files are copied back up to the server, to be available to be copied down the next time you (or another user) access the program in your account, from the same or a different computer.
Because all of the files are on your local computer when the program is running, it will run just as fast as the current installed versions, with the exception of the initial download time the first time, and download times for your database etc. on each program start-up, and upload times to save it back to the server when you exit. This is unlike any web-based solution, because in those solutions, all data you are accessing has to go back and forth over the Internet – much slower!
This online solution we are considering would be a very good alternative to the sort of setup that many users have, where they use the program both at home and in the organization or church’s office, transferring the database back and forth as required. It would also be an alternative, for some users, to the network version, because it would allow multiple users to access the same database, though it would be restricted to one user at a time.
The advantages of this solution over the current installed version, or true web-based versions, include:
- not having to ever install the program
- no complex network setup for users of the network version, if they are content with using it one user at a time
- being able to use it from anywhere with a fast Internet connection (as with a web-based version)
- fast data access while running the program (not sending data up and down the Internet on every action, as a web-based version would)
- not having to transfer databases between computers, and
- having it run (once it is downloaded) just as fast as the regular installed program.
You would be able to switch from your current installed Windows version of DONATION to the online version by purchasing the online version, then restoring a database backup from your current version to the online version. (Actually, you would follow most of the steps in the Help topic “Move the Program from One Computer to Another”, which would also move any mail-merge letters or receipts, and any memorized reports, if you have them.)
This solution we are exploring is actually run by a 3rd party company, who we obviously have to pay for this service. The way it works is you buy the program/service from them, and they keep 30% of the price, and we get 70%. Because of that, the software used in this way would have to be somewhat more expensive than the current Standalone version, for us not to be giving up significant income. We’re thinking this version would cost perhaps $70/year, and renewals would not be optional, because you have to keep paying them for the service. Support would of course still be done by us here at Software4Nonprofits, except for any support directly related to issues with their online serving of the program.
For those existing users choosing to change over to the online service, we would offer to refund a pro-rated amount of their last payment, based on the part of the year since that last payment.
So, what comments or thoughts do any of you have about this? Is this something you might be interested in switching to, at that price ($70/year)? Or do you see it as more interesting to new users?
Thank you. As always, you can email us your comments, or post them for all of this blog’s users to read as a comment to this post.