We are very happy and proud that the Dallas Museum of Art chose October as a platform for the new version of their Friends program. It's a great honor and at the same time it's a heavy responsibility, as the program includes more than a hundred thousand users.
The Museum first launched the Friends program in January of 2013. DMA Friends is a free membership program that allows visitors to earn badges and points to unlock special rewards when they visit the DMA. The system runs on kiosks in the museum galleries where visitors can "check in" and perform various activities to gain points and achieve awards.
The application is very data heavy - recently they hit 100K members. Initially the system was based on WordPress and a series of plugins. In order to meet the fundamental goals of the quickly growing program the DMA development team made the decision to use October as a reliable platform for the next version of their application.
We asked Kristen Arnold, a senior software developer at DMA to tell us about their experience of using October.
What considerations led you to the decision to switch from WordPress to October?
As the DMA friends program began to grow, it came to our attention that the existing WordPress installation and code base was not going to be sufficient to accommodate future growth and roll out to the 4 institutions that are apart of the IMLS grant to support friends. The core considerations were finding a platform that would support modern programming methods and the ability to cleanly build out custom database tables to support friends. DMA Friends from a technical standpoint is a high transaction database essentially. We could have implemented friends in pure Laravel, however it was also essential to have a solid and user friendly backend for administration available and we found that October solidly provided this solution out of the box. We considered other platforms including Django and Drupal, but ultimately sided with October based on these requirements.
How difficult (or simple) was the transition? Were the documentation and existing resources (forum, IRC) sufficient?
For the most part it was a very simple transition though a tedious one as Friends is a rather large and complex system. That being said, the ability to port such a complex system into OctoberCMS was relatively pain free. Between existing documentation and asking help on the github issue queue, we have been very pleased with the community support around the project.
What are features of October the DMA development team liked the most?
Being able to develop code in a beautiful MVC architecture was one of the most liked aspects personally. I also found the ease at plugging in new data models into the administrative interface to be quite pleasing. Staff have found the new administrative interface and dashboard tools a huge boost to their productivity and day to day working in the system.
We are proud that the quality open source software we produce helps people get closer to art and we wish the DMA Friends good luck and further growth!