At Seneca County DJFS we use a variety of free and open source software packages.
Internal Web Site Software
We have an internal web site for hosting a variety of programs and information for internal use. The web-site resides on the same server we use for document imaging (so there was no additional hardware we had to purchase), and utilizes “included” web hosting software IIS. Of course we could have used any of a variety of open source software for hosting (such as Apache), but IIS was already setup for document imaging.
PHP is a programming language for web pages. You embed PHP code inside web pages to include data from databases, process forms, and the like. PHP is a powerful tool and the basic building block for all of our internal web applications (with the exception of document imaging), and thousands of other free and open source software packages.
MySQL (Community Edition) is the world’s most popular open source database and the required or suggested database for may other free and open source software packages. If you’re wondering how MySQL compares against commercial and other open source databases, check out this article on Wikipedia, builder.au, and MySQL’s Benchmarks page.
phpMyAdmin is a MySQL administration tool written in PHP. You use phpMyAdmin’s web interface to create, administer, and backup MySQL databases. If you have PHP and MySQL it almost goes without saying you need phpMyAdmin.
MRBS is a web-based system for booking meeting rooms. With a little imagination it can also be used to book other agency resources like vehicles, projectors, and video conferencing equipment.
DokuWiki is the wiki software we use to maintain our internal knowledge base. This program provides the framework for the sharing of knowledge and forms and allowing that knowledge and those forms to be used and reused across the agency. We chose DokuWiki because it’s free, easy to use, has built in security features to limit viewing and/or editing, contains a lot of other great features, and it produces a professional looking site.
Butler County (Ohio) Document Imaging
We utilize document imaging software developed by Butler County. While the software itself was free, we did pay Butler County to come install it, and the required scanners and server set us back a small bundle, but the cost has been well worth it, in terms of space and time savings.
CutePDF Writer & PDFCreator
I can’t decide which of these programs I like more. You can use these programs to create PDF files from any document you can print. CutePDF seems easier to use, but PDFCreator allows you to create additional file types like TIFFs or JPGs.
We use TrueCrypt to encrypt confidential information on flash drives. When you’re in an environment where loosing confidential information becomes national news, you need a program like TrueCrypt. If your flash drives came with encryption software, then you’re probably all set, but if you have a variety of flash drives (each with their own software), and you want to standardize on one program, or if you don’t have encryption software, you need TrueCrypt.
Windows Media Encoder
Windows Media Encoder is available as a free download from Microsoft. We’ve used this program to create short computer training videos and to record a Rights and Responsibilities PowerPoint presentation (along with our Director reading this presentation) that is played to all the clients.
MwSnap is a free screen capture program that allows you to capture the whole desktop, a highlighted window, an active menu, a control, or a fixed or free rectangular part of the screen. You can even save your screen captures as BMP, JPG, TIFF, PNG and GIF formats, with selected color depth and quality settings. Great for creating program documentation or instructions.
Notepad++ is a great open source notepad replacement. It’s optimized for source code editing with Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding.
Public Web Site Software
CMS Made Simple
CMS Made Simple is a great open source website content management system (CMS). This tool makes it very easy to create a professional looking site that has your look and feel rather than the cookie-cutter sites a lot of CMS’ create. There’s lots of free add-ons so you can use the tool for a variety of content, and give non-technical users the ability to maintain that content.
LimeSurvey is an Open Source PHP web application to develop, publish, and collect responses to online & offline surveys. We’ve used LimeSurvey on our public web site to gather opinions and information for our Director’s Association, and we use it on our internal web site to gather feedback from staff.
What free and open source programs do you use? Please comment!