Hi, I’m Mike, and I work for Busan International Foreign School in South Korea. Last year my school decided to implement an open source student information system – or SIS – but we encountered a lot of bugs with the software we chose and the company who develop it ignored my attempts to report these.
I don’t feel bad because other people were ignored too, and I fixed the software myself – but it was a slow and frustrating experience because it comprises of 84,000 lines of undocumented and largely unstructured code. So we eventually decided to write our own to replace it.
When the head of the company behind this nameless SIS found this out he emailed me and offered some words of discouragement, saying it would “take immense time, money and effort”. I responded detailing the issues we’d encountered and explaining how they had to understand that their long silence had left us struggling on our own, and so it had not inspired confidence in them or their system. I still offered to work with them in any way I could to solve the problems and help make their system better, and I didn’t receive a reply.
I believe we lack a modern, well-designed and well-written open source SIS which is therefore both user-friendly, developer-friendly, and friendly to people who want to engage and offer constructive criticism. We need a SIS which is written by schools, for schools, not one written by a company for direct or indirect commercial gain which isn’t aligned with our interests and won’t serve them.
This blog will detail my efforts to build such a system. Open source software is about communities and by being open about the process I hope to build a community and attract interest from other developers. I hope to do things better.