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HURIDOCS Is Looking for a Developer - Pick Your Brain
Saturday, July 19 2008 @ 11:32 PM EDT

I received a request from Tom Longley, Project Manager for Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS), a Geneva-based nonprofit. They're looking for someone to help them reengineer their database software, WinEvsys, to be released under a Free Software license. That page has tons of info, including a fact sheet and a demo and the software for download. This software is used internationally by a lot of human rights organizations to keep track of human rights abuses, of which there seems to be a never-ending supply.

Here's the page about the Request for Proposal. You can download the full proposal, a 3.1 MB zip file, which includes all the details plus some attached papers explaining the model they currently use. They'd like to reengineer WinEvsys, software they developed based on Microsoft Access 2003, keeping the same data model, sets of forms and controlled vocabularies, but opening it up and making it a web application. It will be called OpenEvsys.

WinEvsys has worked well in some respects, but they have specific ideas on what they'd like to do next, and that means they need to reengineer and come up with something easier to use and that can do more things and is more flexible and customizable. He figured Groklaw was a good place to ask if anyone was interested or knew anyone who might be interested enough to respond to their Request for Proposal.

Of course, do your own due diligence. The deadline to respond is August 15. If you are interested, email Tom Longley, tom.longley at . Ideas are welcome too, which is why I'm filing this under Pick Your Brain.

They describe the data model of the software currently being used like this:

WinEvsys is based on documentation tools developed by HURIDOCS: standard formats and micro-thesauri. These tools:
  • make it possible to structure information on violations using the Events approach: an event contains acts, perpetrators, victims, sources, intervening parties.
  • provide a systematic vocabularies for describing human rights violations, making it possible to share data collected by several organisations for a common analysis.
There's even a video on how to modify it on Google Video. So there's plenty of information on what they do now.

Here's part of his email:


Dear PJ --

I'm Tom Longley, and I'm a project manager at Human Rights Documentation and Information Systems (HURIDOCS), a Geneva-based non-profit. Earlier this year, I noticed that a colleague of mine (arnotsmith) from No Peace Without Justice posted a request for assistance in building a database for documenting the post-electoral violence in Kenya: The comments on it were pretty practical and high quality.

I've got quite a simliar request of Groklaw readers: Can they help my organisations, HURIDOCS, find an awesome software developer to re-engineer our WinEvsys database software? WinEvsys is used by many organisations worldwide to document violations of human rights. It's currently in use by prominent human rights organisations in Bangladesh, Mexico, the Phillipines and Zimbabwe, and many others. Generally, the organisations that use WinEvsys feel it is a workhorse. They really value it, and the precise and detailed analysis it can give using the Who Did What To Whom relational data model developed by Patrick Ball (of Martus) and expanded by HURIDOCS.

However, WinEvsys' current MS Access format is quite difficult to use, and users want to see improvements in the following areas:

  • Usability and user interface
  • More extensive reporting features such as graphs, tables and maps
  • Better flexibility in deployment, for larger, distributed organisations
  • Be open source, to better enable customisation and translation
  • Security: user management and audit, encryption and backup

To that end, we've decided to re-engineer the WinEvsys as a web application, which we will release under a Free Software License to stimulate its further development. It's a really challenging contract for a software house, given the tough operating environments that many end user human rights organisations work in. We have put together a Request for Proposals, which can be downloaded from here (~3.1 MB, contains RFP + annexes, the WinEvsys database application, and UML of the data model) (files also downloadable separately from that page)

The deadline for responses (to me, at tom.longley at is 15 August 2008, and we'll contact shortlisted developers by 25 August 2008. I'm sure that Groklaw readers will be able to help us find an excellent developer for this critical system....

Yours sincerely,

Tom Longley

-- -- -- --
Tom Longley, Project Manager
Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS)


HURIDOCS Is Looking for a Developer - Pick Your Brain | 71 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off Topic comments go here, please...
Authored by: perpetualLurker on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 12:07 AM EDT
Thank you!

"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance
like nobody's watching." -- Leroy "Satchel" Paige

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Commentary goes here, please ...
Authored by: perpetualLurker on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 12:09 AM EDT

And please provide a relevant comment or link to what you are discussing,


"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance
like nobody's watching." -- Leroy "Satchel" Paige

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections go here, please ....
Authored by: perpetualLurker on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 12:14 AM EDT

Please use a descriptive title to help find the issue...


The triplet of comments is all I can ask for because, alas, I am

"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance
like nobody's watching." -- Leroy "Satchel" Paige

[ Reply to This | # ]

HURIDOCS Is Looking for a Developer - Pick Your Brain
Authored by: arnotsmith on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 01:36 AM EDT
I should point out that this HURIDOCS project is certain to be properly financed
and scheduled from the outset - unlike our Kenya exercise, which was done in a
frantic rush and on a shoe-string.
We did get there in the end, and people were paid after a few months, but it
wasn't a happy time for some. I hope Tom's project is not disadvantaged by his
reference to my request.

Peter Smith

[ Reply to This | # ]

That's a lot of features
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 02:12 AM EDT
Maybe starting with something like Drupal would be a big boost.

[ Reply to This | # ]

HURIDOCS Is Looking for a Developer - Pick Your Brain
Authored by: Nivag on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 04:21 AM EDT
I recommend using PostgreSQL.

I runs on at least the following operating systems: Linux, Mac OS X, BSD Unix,
Solaris, and the current Microsoft offerings.

It is fast, reliable, scales well, and a fairly complete implementation of the
SQL standards. Fully ACID compliant transaction handling has been standard from
early on. It is fairly efficient for simple SQL queries, and handles large
numbers of table joins exceptionally well.

I have twice searched the internet for comparisons between
PostgreSQL and MySQL, and each time found that PostgreSQL came out ahead where
(as far as I could tell) both systems where appropriately tuned. The default
configuration for PostgreSQL does not take full advantage of the amount of RAM
available to modern systems, but the configuration parameters are fairly easy to

I have spoken to 2 developers who stated off with MySQL and then migrated to
PostgreSQL when they took on new jobs. Each of them found PostgreSQL to be
faster then MySQL for queries.

Whereas recently I joined a project using MySQL, and I have found that the
PostgreSQL documentation is better, also there seem to be fewer
"gotchas" to have to work around in PostgreSQL compared to MySQL.

Having extensive experience with Sybase (5000+ lines, 40+ pages, of Sybase
Transact SQL Stored procedures) - I would not recommend Sybase, even if it was

For more information have a look at

[ Reply to This | # ]

On Topic - "water-boarding" The US describes it as "a legal technique..." :(
Authored by: SilverWave on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 05:15 AM EDT

The British government should not rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, a report by MPs says.

UK 'must check' US torture denial

The committee highlighted the technique of "water-boarding" - a practice which simulates drowning.

The US describes it as "a legal technique used in a specific set of circumstances" and President Bush has refused to ban it.

RMS: The 4 Freedoms
0 run the program for any purpose
1 study the source code and change it
2 make copies and distribute them
3 publish modified versions

[ Reply to This | # ]

The biggest Human Rights violation is ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 02:36 PM EDT
... Microsoft.

When will DoJ get off their tails and make M$ obey the law? When will a judge
actually DO something to make an antitrust difference? When will the EU fine M$
- or better, imprison their European execs - for the scam they pulled at ISO,
bribery and corruption? When will the French President stop dropping to his
knees to pray to Gates when he walks into a room? When will Putin and friends do
the same? ANSWER: Never. There's no money in it. Human Rights is a waste of
time, when the "free world" doesn't care. And it doesn't, thanks to
Big Business and corrupt governments.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The most important thing for human rights documentation.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 20 2008 @ 06:07 PM EDT
The most important thing for human rights documentation is to allow the
submission of data and reporting of violations from countries where human rights
violations are taking place, without those reporting being being traced and
tortured or killed. The question is how would this be done? Not only must no
trace be left on the client machine, and communication encrypted, but the sites
with which communication is taking place must not be traceable as human rights
reporting sites.

Some work on this problem would be of huge benefit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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