Compare: Free, open source community exchange software

The only comparable services to ours are Community Exchange Systems (CES) based in South Africa and Community Tools in Estonia. To help you make a better decision, we have worked with them to make this strategic software comparison.

Requirements CES Community Forge Community Tools
Political Structure CES is a not-for-profit company overseeing the Community Exchange Network. CES' chief developer is on a three-year Ashoka Fellowship. Participating exchanges join the network and have instant access to the web service. Cforge is a not-for-profit company renting hosted web sites to communities. Member groups rent an instance of the software, which they can in principle configure and adapt to their needs. The application was designed to support the various adaptations of LETS which have been made in 20 years of experimentation. Ctools is a not-for-profit arising from a cluster of social businesses and entrepreneurs centred in the New World quarter of Tallin.
Cost CES is a free web service. Where implemented, users contribute to the running of their local exchanges through a transaction levy. CForge offers its standard website and hosting as a gift. Without reciprocal gifting, it would become depleted Ctools is free. Resources come from grants and volunteers
Maturity The CES software has been developed since 2002 and has over 300 groups set up Cforge is 2 years old, and has over 50 active communities. Drupal is a mature platform. Ctools is 1 year old and is used by several communites. Drupal is a mature platform.
Migration CES will go the extra mile to help you migrate in and out of their system. Cforge has gone the extra mile to make migration easy for you, but will charge you for tidying up data for import. You can export the important data to standard formats for backup or migration. Migration not supported presently
Technical summary. Currently CES exchanges share a common web interface but each one is a separate instance on a central server. Future nodes will also host multiple exchanges but networking will be maintained. Cforge is a Drupal application which uses around 30 publically contributed 'modules' + one private 'glue' module. There are several similar community sites which use Drupal's 'mutual_credit' module. Another Drupal application which uses organic groups for top-level organising the site. Groups have privacy settings and can contain various applications, such as maps, posts, events & media
Roadmap CES is working towards releasing its code as open source so as to attract more international developers in order to make the software more locally compatible. Cforge is concentrating on innovation, standard setting, and network building. Ctools is focusing on the needs of Transition towns