Preview of the redesign of the Akvo RSR user interface. We are actively working on this, so don’t be surprised if it comes out somewhat different than what you see here.

In November 2009 I wrote about the state of development for Akvo Really Simple Reporting (Akvo RSR), and now it seems like a good time to do this again. We will be releasing a major new version of Akvo RSR during the autumn and we wanted to give a sneak preview of this rather exciting release, which contains a new look for the website, Akvo SMS, Akvo Maps and more.

The most visible change is the Akvo RSR New Look, or as we call it Akvo RSR NL. This be a completely new look for the Akvo.org web site, which will be nicely integrated with the new Akvo RSR design. Functionally Akvo RSR NL should essentially contain the same information as it does today, but with a much more user friendly design. The new look is much more agile and it will be considerably easier for us to add new features with this new design.

We expect to start beta-testing the Akvo SMS services as well. Akvo SMS will allow anyone with a Premium user account in Akvo RSR to make updates to their projects from a mobile phone, using SMS/text. Initially there will be European numbers to send messages to, but in the future we are expecting to have numbers much closer to the projects.

Akvo MapsGeo-location, or associating information about projects with maps, is a great way to visualise projects. During the autumn we will be releasing Akvo Maps, which is an Akvo RSR integration with Google Maps. Initially this will place projects and organisations on maps on the project and organisation pages in Akvo RSR, as well as showing some global maps. But this is just the beginning. In the future you will be able to fetch Akvo Widgets with maps and place on your web site. You will never have to edit a map again to show your activity. The latest status updates for your projects will be visible on the maps, automagically!

We have re-engineered the Akvo RSR template system quite substantially whilst working on the new design. We are now close to completing a new template system which allows anyone wanting to customise Akvo RSR to easily have a separate look of their own Akvo RSR implementation whilst running against the standard Akvo code base. We are working right now with a consultancy customer on the first implementation of this. The template system allows for a modified data model as well, so you can customise Akvo RSR relatively easily.

We have been assembling a Continuous integration system for our software development team. This allows for faster development and better quality of the resulting product. We are quite excited about this and will be writing about this a bit later.

Other notable changes – Since the last state-of-development blog I wrote, we have implemented a number of other things worth mentioning:

  • We are using Django 1.2 (0.9.18)
  • Our favourite updates are displayed on the home page (0.9.17)
  • We implemented HTML fragment caching to improve performance
  • We launched the first cut of the Akvo API
  • We now display individual donors on the project funding pages (0.9.16).
  • We integrated the IDEAL payment system for donations
  • We use a virtual Python environment for better control of how the code behaves on the server (0.9.14).

Overall we think it is going to be a great autumn for anyone using Akvo RSR. We hope you like the changes and would love to hear from you about what you think.

Thomas Bjelkeman is a founder and chief technology officer of Akvo