First alpha release is here!
@anderfernandes | Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 02:09:00 AM

Hi! I am Anderson Fernandes, the creator of Astral.

I am writing this post to introduce you a system that will help you run non-profit organizations: Astral.

The word “Astral” comes from the word “astro”, which is related to the stars, celestial objects, or outer space. I chose this name because I mainly designed this system for planetariums and science centers that work very similarly to movie theaters.

I have been working at a non-profit organization for a few years now. I started off running the shows and the cash register. As a computer science student, I was never very happy with our website. We development has been my area of interest for a long time and even though I have done some of it, I have never made a full web application from scratch. I started off by taking over our organization’s website. As time went by, I started to realize how much we needed to move to an online environment where visitors could buy tickets and make their own reservation. Our ticketing system did not support anything online. A simple form I created online was not enough to get group reservations going so I started to play around with different technologies in 2015, arriving at what Astral is today.

I have decided to develop a system and make it open source because I know how hard it is to run a non-profit organization. If you run one in an area that is not in a major metropolitan area, you are going to struggle. I believe that all those who want to educate must have access to something like this so that they can focus on their visitors and nothing else.

Our non-profit researched several systems to help us do it, but I didn’t feel like they were good enough. Most importantly, their cost was very high: they wanted a yearly payment and a percentage of sales. In most cases, they even wanted to charge for complimentary transactions, such as member tickets. I thought this was unnacceptable. Perhaps it would work at places that receives tons of donations, but I feel like they were going against something very important: doing something like this actually discourages the opening of new science centers, museums and planetariums. These places are extremely important to educate the general public about science and inspire people to take humanity to the next step. That is why I have decided to build this system.

Astral has been made to sell tickets, memberships, group visits, point of sale and financial reports. At first the system will not process payments online. This feature is planned for a little later.

As an open source system, Astral will be completely FREE. You can download it, test it and use it in production at your own risk. It is already being used in a real non-profit and I am gathering my experience along with my coworkers’ to improve it and make it as simple as possible to use.

I have been working pretty hard in the last couple of days to reach this “alpha” milestone. This project started slowly about two years ago and this is the the first time I have an MVP with some of the features we need at the Mayborn Science Theater.

This is the first public release of Astral. A few things are still not working as I intended them to, like the Dashboard, but you can do what I call “The Empty Flow”: add shows, add event type, add events under that type, add organization type, add the organization, add the individual and create a sale for them. Depending what you have or not, you may be able to skip some of the steps. The regular “Flow” should be adding an event and then a sale for an individual and/or group. Sounds complicated but I promise: it’s pretty simple.

To end this post, I would like to thank everyone who supported me in this crazy adventure so far. You know who you are. I couldn’t have done without you. Same goes to my mother and sister. I love you two very much.

Don’t forget to shift the focus of your organiztion to your customers, not to bureaucracy!

PS: Big thanks to Ms. E for teaching me how to spell bureaucracy =)