My Challenge to the IATI community: Are you interested in pitching for seed funds to develop something super human-friendly that converts Excel worksheets into IATI XML with no fuss?
So this is my concept: the source data from the user would be in an Excel workbook with multiple worksheets.Pretty much every person I work with in organisations uses Excel at some point, so the skills are already there - no learning new tools. I also think workbooks are more human-friendly way to work than one massive Excel sheet/CSV file. And it’s way easier to collect data from different systems into different worksheets in one workbook.
The source Excel workbook could be based on a downloadable template so it is pre-populated with the right elements/column headings to make the mapping go more smoothly. Or you could tell users the headings to use in their workbook. Some systems eg. SAGE also allow you to export data to sheets with alias field names that could replicate the required headings.
Then the ‘something’ would take all the data across all the worksheets (which probably have the activity IDs in the same field on every worksheet to link the data) and map it to the IATI elements.
It will create the XML following the schema (it needs to produce data to the latest IATI Standard version without the user even knowing what a ‘version’ is) and validate it. So the user will get the XML and the ‘green ticks of perfection’ with little to no effort.
And then all the publisher has to do is host the XML data on their website and upload the link to the Registry. Job done.
Oh yes, and the something also needs to be …
available both online and as a download/app to use offline (but with auto-check for updates when the user is also connected to the internet).
available in French and Spanish and Dutch/Flemish.
ideally would also work with OpenOffice spreadsheets and Google Sheets for the online version (although the majority of users will be on Excel).
usable on mobile devices.
open source and stand alone, ie not embedded into another tool.
sit alongside other publishing software that is currently available, to give publishers a great choice of options.
The ‘something’ would need to have a clear business model - so it would may sit alongside/complement other products you already offer, for example. I think it would need to be subsidised initially by a/some donors so that it can be offered at little or no cost for small organisations. But I can also see the potential that medium to large organisations would pay you to integrate it into their processes.
What do you think? Any takers?