First Release of ECI4All – v0.1-prealpha

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We are happy to announce that we have published the first pre-alpha release of the ECI4All project. After having discussed it with Xavier Dutoit, Carsten Berg and Aleksi Rossi from TTTP, we have decided to release ECI4All as an open-source project under the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE v3.

The project has been published on Sourceforge.net. The project’s URL is:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/eci4all/?source=directory

Also, for the first time, we present a few screenshots of the application:


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ECI4All – The Alternative to OCS

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As you probably already know, we have started working on a product which aims to be a fare replacement for the current Online Collection System for ECI (which, by the way is not actually a “system”). Of course, we have taken into account all of the current problems of OCS and tried to overcome them.

The completion rate of our product – which we will call ECI4All for now – is about 65 to 75 percent. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are optimistic about it. But let’s see what ECI4All is bringing new to the equation.

Well, first of all it addresses the biggest problem (in our opinion) OCS has: the (im)possibility to host the application (as explained in our full review of OCS, it is rather expensive to host this application due to the technologies which were used to develop it – mainly because of Java). Thus, ECI4All is written entirely in PHP.
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Tutorial: How to Embed OCS Into Your Campaign Website

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I will start this tutorial by congratulating Fraternite 2020 and One Single Tariff for their extraordinary courage and enthusiasm: both of them have embedded the Online Collection System into their Facebook pages. This is just great and it represents a new step towards a better European Citizens’ Initiative.

Now that we have seen that some of them do it, I will show you a nice way to embed OCS directly into your campaign website. The prerequisite for this is that you host the Online Collection System application on your own servers.

Like the other tutorial where we showed how you can create a signature count widget, this tutorial is quite simple as well. We have prepared a small web application and a demo to show you how this is working. The idea is, of course, simple. We have created a web application which needs to be deployed in your Glassfish server (ocs-frame-embedder.war) which does the following:
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Tutorial: How to Create a Signature Count Widget in OCS

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As stated by our goal, we will dedicate our efforts in helping ECI organizers. Thus, it is time for our first Online Collection System (OCS) tutorial. Today we will show you how you can implement a simple widget to display signature counts in your campaign website. As you have already seen in our OCS review, “there is no way to expose automatically generated statistics about signature counts; there is no widget that can do this; also, no web service of any sort is exposed to allow organizers to embed signature counts on the campaign’s website (if OCS would be an integral part of the campaign’s website, this would not be the case)”.

Update: Please note that this solution *should* not in any way interfere with the certification process as it is part of the campaign website rather than OCS itself (during certification only OCS is checked, not the campaign website).

We have implemented the solution in PHP as we guessed that most of the campaign websites are implemented using PHP. Another prerequisite is that the OCS software is hosted by yourself (and not in the EC data-centers).
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Online Collection System for ECI – Full Review

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As this is my first post on this blog, I feel the need to write a small introduction.

I started the ECI 4 ALL project with two goals in mind: first, to help all those struggling with the tedious process of organizing an ECI (European Citizens’ Initiative). Also, as the Online Collection System for ECI is the only tool available so far, my goal will also be to develop a new tool to provide an alternative to the current OCS implementation. What qualifies me to do these things? Well, first of all I have been closely monitoring the ECI project from its inception phase. I have seen some good ideas, some bad ideas and some good ideas gone bad. I have dealt with a lot of NGOs, here in Luxembourg as well as in Brussels and Strasbourg. Also, I have over 20 years of hands-on software developing experience (most of which spent developing web applications). And most importantly, I have the ability to learn from mistakes (mine and those of others).

Ok, enough introduction already.

Let’s get to business and let’s talk about ECI and OCS. As you all now, last year on April Fools’ Day the Commission unveiled the European Citizens’ Initiative website to the public. “Fraternité 2020 – Mobility. Progress. Europe” was the first ever registered ECI (9th of May 2012). In the following months a bunch of initiatives have already been registered. Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said:
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