What a nice surprise. I have been doing some setup on a replacement laptop (after much abuse all 3 USB ports have given up on my old laptop which is a big problem for mobile internet access, presentation remotes, external hard disks and cameras).
Anyway I decided to have another look for free software for Church services (I can't yet find my SongPro CD and anyway would prefer to use open and free software, plus it helps if it runs on Linux).
Anyway, good news. I found Datasoul – Free Open Source Church Presentation Software. It is already excellent, written in Java and immediately ran on my new Dell Laptop running 64bit Linux as well as on Windows.
I have spent the last couple of days exchanging emails with Samuel and Jean-Philippe with some ideas for making it work a little better for our small Churches (Samuel is in Brazil in a Church of 4,000 so has rather more complex needs than the Churches of 40+ that I serve).
I have already been able to download the source code and start making some sense of it. Java coding has changed a huge amount in the several years since I did any (especially when it comes to designing forms in Netbeans – wow!). So the learning curve is a bit steep.
I am very hopeful that I'll be able to use it for services very soon (my needs relate to not usually having an operator and so needing to move through the whole service using a remote presenter with next and previous buttons. I think it is going to be great for several of our churches and of course the fact it is free software produced by a worshipping congregation is very attractive too.
There are some really nice features of Datasoul that are better than the commercial stuff I have found in the past.
- One is the very simple text files used for service plans which are self contained and so contain all the song words.making it much easier to move them between machines.
- Another is the way a song can be changed, either in the library for all future uses or in just this service (eg miss a verse out).
- The interface is very simple and straightforward so it is really easy to use (and from our conversations going to get better too).
This is a great find and I am really excited about it. If there are any other Java programmers in your churches who would might like to get involved that would be fantastic and your Church could then get something really good at the best price.