Forum OpenACS Q&A: Functionality Summary of OpenACS + Comparison to ACS Versions


I have followed the development of ArsDigita over the years, always
impressed with their product offerings, the amount of
work/documentation they shared openly and the way they built up their

Now that I have come to a point where I have time/reason to build a
community site based on their technology, they get swept up by
RedHat:( Now I have more decisions to make.

I had decided upon using ACS to build the foundation for a community
site. Now I need to reassess, should I use ACS (not knowing where it
may go + the status of it's licensing in the future) or with OpenACS?
I can't easily find the information I need to make this decision on
the OpenACS site.

Is OpenACS based on the latest version of ACS (with the Java focus)?
What is the goal of OpenACS as a parallel offering to ACS? What
modules & basic functionality/features exist in OpenACS?

Comments from current users/supporters on their decision process in
adopting OpenACS would be greatly appreciated:)


OpenACS 4.5 is a derivative of aD's ACS 4.2 - the Tcl version. We have no plans to adopt the Java version.

Major features of OpenACS 4.5 compared to ACS 4.2

  • Lots of bug fixes
  • Supports Oracle and PG with the same code base
  • Legacy support for ACS 4.2 packages (I migrated a dozen custom ACS 4.2 packages to OpenACS 4.5 in an afternoon for a client)
  • We're moving to a service contract model with plug-in services. For instance a payment gateway packages which plays with multiple vendors (VeriSign etc) will be released in the next 2-4 weeks.
  • A new portalling system (not yet released)
  • lots more!

The OpenACS project is truly an Open Source project, open to all who have the skill and willingness to participate. There are several small consulting firms involved in the project, and they provide a significant percentage of our developers, testers and documenters. Most of us encourage our customers to GPL custom work we do that are of general usefulness, which also helps the toolkit to grow.

The reason I'd choose OpenACS, besides all the reasons Don
mentions above, is its vibrant community. If you check out the
ACS forums, you'll only see a couple posts a week. They're
lonely over there... :-(

That could change at some point in the future, but are you going
to bet everything on that?

I think Tcl is fine for development, too. You can learn it in a
couple hours.

Hi Tammy,

OpenACS is the future of ACS Tcl.  If you are in the same boat as I am wherein I have to use ACSJ because the client demands it then we have to obey the client.  If you really need a good platform then OpenACS 4.5 is a good one.  If you are looking for a Java based platform and you don't need to use ACSJ then look somewhere else other than ACSJ.  There are lots of other Java based platform that are more mature than ACSJ.

Hi Tammy,

For the benefit of others I am posting my answer on the bboard.

I have yet to encounter a system in Java that is close to the functionality of OpenACS but there a lot of open source projects that does some of the functionalitities of OpenACS.




There are lots of others but the 2 above is pretty good.
Look at you may want to have a more generic framework like Turbine or Struts.  For a ticket tracker you may want to google for Scarab.
Lucky you... you can choose other platforms =)  Good Luck.