August 2, 2007

Cream 3.0 released, switches to MySQL

Author: Shirl Kennedy

Campware has released a new version of Cream, an open source customer relationship management (CRM) system for media organizations. The new release sports a switch to MySQL and a number of other new features and changes.

Since its 1.0 release in November 2003, Cream has gotten increasingly sophisticated. Version 3.0 now uses the MySQL database and integrates with Campware's flagship Campsite multilingual publishing system to manage customer subscriptions.

Also included in this latest version: contacts, tasks, and opportunities management; external HTML forms for support and information requests; several new form fields and screen view options; pagination for lists; and a new user interface.

Cream is a feature-packed system for a small media organizations that provides a wide range of useful functions. It tracks sales orders, payments, shipments, services, online and print subscriptions, and offers user-friendly reporting and analysis tools to help measure the effectiveness of promotional campaigns. Cream facilitates customer communications via a module that includes incoming and outgoing email, Web forms, template-based HTML newsletters, and a WYSIWYG editor.

Cream has a very narrow target market -- "independent news media organizations in emerging democracies," according to its parent organization, the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF), though (as with any open source software) it may find uses outside its target market.

MDLF, a nonprofit investment organization with a special interest in promoting "a strong and independent press in countries with a history of media oppression," has funded 147 projects for 61 independent media companies in 20 different nations since its inception in 1996.

Launched in 2001, Campware is MDLF's open source technology initiative to provide free end-user applications with "short learning curves and non-mystifying interfaces," specifically designed for small print and broadcasting operations with neither the means nor the technical sophistication to acquire and use commercial packages designed for large media organizations.

Campware's financial support comes largely from institutional donor grants to MDLF, although individual contributions are always welcome through MDLF's Digital Kiosk or via PayPal. Volunteer open source advocates and developers are always needed. All Campware applications are released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Besides Cream CRM and the Campsite publishing system, Campware also offers Dream, a distribution management system for print publications, and Campcaster, a radio management application for both large and small stations -- "real radio stations, not Internet radio" as the Web site points out.


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