Salsa Scoop Why We Salsa
Why We SalsaSubmitted Mon Oct 15 2007 08:27:19 GMT-0400 (EDT)
October 15 is a milestone for DIA and our users: it marks the end of support for our legacy codebase. You may have heard already. From here on out, everything is in Salsa. While users of the original system can still log into and use their accounts, and old pages calling that system will continue to function (well into the future, if not indefinitely), there is officially no development, patching or support available for it. It's a day ripe with the auspices of history: this date in 1582 marked the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, an overnight 10-day leap forward to correct the backwards drift of the old Julian system. We've been on in this space about Salsa's bells and whistles -- the dashboards, custom reports, and other exotica. And we've been talking about and working on it for well over a year, and lately had scarce time for much of anything else. But as we finally make the break, it's worth a few words about the deeper change Salsa represents and the bigger-picture reasons why we're making the move. The easiest geeky comparison for Salsa is going from table tags to div tags in HTML: we've separated the content (the toolset) from the design (the interface layer). This will be far from obvious for anyone making their first acquaintance with Salsa, but it has some serious long-term implications rooted in anticipating a much more "plastic" CRM toolset capable of adjusting to many different nonprofit needs and processes.
It removes a number of programmer bottlenecks. The interface layers are easily editable by the non-technical staff here, which means that coders can spend more of their time coding and less of it tweaking the headquarters layout. It lets us develop faster while still being more responsive to user feedback.
It makes the toolset "skinnable". We've barely scratched the surface of this -- sorry, no Star Trek LCARS theme available yet -- but this change goes well beyond fun. It enables custom interface formats that could let users who don't need every option have simplified input screens. It permits organizational re-branding. And it renders the toolset fully internationalizable.
It makes data extensible. No longer constrained by the interface, the Salsa database can extend to take on custom data objects with no special UI engineering required. This is also something we're just getting our arms around, but as we work with it, we expect to develop -- and see developed by the user community -- add-on modules, organization-specific customizations, and a host of other plugins to power up the system.