Nefesh B’Nefesh, the world’s largest and most successful North American aliyah organization, needed a comprehensive solution for an event calendar that could manage their need for scheduling multiple events in four countries as well as online webinars. The events could either have open attendance or be private, one-on-one meetings. The events would be held in venues throughout the world, and that information needed to be stored. Users needed to be grouped so various levels of access could be granted to administrators, content providers, support staff and users. The calendar needed both the classic grid view as well as a list view by month/date. In addition, the calendar needed to synchronize with an internal system that predated the calendar — using XML to send the data to their legacy system.
Marc Gottlieb Creative Solutions built a custom calendaring application for Nefesh B’Nefesh, using its own CMS system as a base architecture and enhancing it application. In fact, there were no mature Open Source content management systems when the project was first launched, prompting the need for a custom solution. The site was rolled out in time for the 2008 summer aliyah season. The calendar system feature set included downloadable spreadsheet reports, color-coded event types for easy navigation and visual cues, attendance list reporting, RSS feeds for events, calendars, and event types, AJAX dynamic data transfer (which was still in its infancy, having first been released as a standard in 2006) and utility functions to make the site operate smoothly.
Significant Events in the Project Life Cycle
During its tenure, the Nefesh B’Nefesh umbrella website was transferred to a popular CMS architecture. The specifics of that project required that the calendar code remain “sacrosanct” to avoid any interruption in service to the thousands of already registered users.
Considering the high profile nature of the organization, the calendar system was never defaced or otherwise had its service interrupted by hackers throughout its lifetime.
Recurring maintenance and bug fixing on the site remained low.
During the course of its six and a half years of service to Nefesh B’Nefesh, the online calendar:
- handled the registration of 28,500 users;
- scheduled a total of 4,720 events in the US, Canada, UK, Israel, and online;
- created 19,791 private event appointments;
- registered 55,300 people for events;
- retained details of over 800 venues, including interfacing with the Google Maps API;
The Nefesh B’Nefesh Online Calendar system created by Marc Gottlieb Creative Solutions in June 2008 was retired in 2014 after six and a half years of service – having remained relatively unchanged since its inception – in deference to changes in their server architecture and the growing need for a mobile-friendly, updated interface, which were not even conceivable as project objectives when it was first started.