Disclaimer: I am the project leader of OpenLP, but I have tried to be unbiased in my article.

Have you ever been in a church which just got a data projector to use for its services, and then all they do is use PowerPoint, even though you can see it's not suited for the job? Have you ever wondered if there are other solutions?

Perhaps you've investigated other solutions and come across some commercial applications, but you find it difficult to cough up $400 for this application.

If you've ever been in one of the above situations, let me introduce you to an alternative: OpenLP is an open source lyrics projection (or worship presentation) program specifically built for churches. Two of the great things about OpenLP are its price and its cross-platform capabilities.

OpenLP is an open source application, and as a byproduct of that it is free. Smaller churches find this a boon, as they are offered an alternative to expensive commercial solutions with many of the features of those commercial solutions.

OpenLP can also run on a number of platforms. Currently it is known to work on Linux (Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Arch), Windows (XP and higher), Mac OS X (10.5 and higher) and FreeBSD (and by extension, PC-BSD). This means that whatever platform your church is running, OpenLP should be able to run on it.

More and more churches are turning to Linux, and with OpenLP being one of the few applications that can run (and in fact is being developed) on Linux, it is becoming a real asset to churches to have a real cross-platform solution.

I asked an active member of the OpenLP community, Wesley Stout, to answer a few questions about OpenLP for us.

1. How did you find out about OpenLP?

We found OpenLP from a Google search. We had been using SongShow Plus and our computer we had running it went down. We just had a laptop to use and it was way too under powered to run SongShow Plus. Besides the power issues of running SongShow Plus, we would have also had licensing issues moving our install. Dealing with these issues gave us some great motivation to look for an Open Source solution.

2. What made you use OpenLP?

Price was a great motivator. Free is always good! More than price actually was OpenLP's ability to run on less hardware while providing most of the features of the "boxed" solutions.

3. Why did you decide to continue using it?

We discovered OpenLP to be very stable, much more so than SongShow Plus. The price factor was also huge. With most commercial solutions you are constantly being asked to pay for updates and upgrades. With many, to keep receiving updates you have to renew your license at regular intervals. Stability and price really won us over here.

The feature set of OpenLP also was a big part of us continuing use. We started out by using version 1.x, while it was not as feature rich as OpenLP 2.0, we found the features to be everything we needed.

4. Did you evaluate any other similar applications?

Yes, we looked at several Open Source solutions and found none that had the features and ease of use of OpenLP. We also looked at several commercial programs. They were generally price prohibiting and provided nothing above what we had with OpenLP.

5. What are your favourite features in OpenLP?

Our favorite feature is actually, I suppose, a group of features. We can use one solution to power our worship services. Someone brings PowerPoint or Impress presentations, OpenLP handles it. Someone can bring media files, OpenLP handles it. We just need one program open on Sunday mornings. This makes a much easier point of entry for new operators. I have literally shown someone in about 5 minutes how to use OpenLP and then have no issues during the service.

6. What don't you like about it?

The biggest issue we are currently having with OpenLP is playing media files. Some videos are not playing at the moment for us. This is with the new release. This is a known issue and I know work is happening to get this fixed. Considering that version 2 is beta this appears sure to be fixed before the final release.

7. Do you have anything else to say about OpenLP?

I think another great point about OpenLP is the community. I have had much better experience receiving support from the OpenLP community than we ever did from using a "boxed" solution. When you are dealing with people who are passionate about what they are doing you will get a much better response than people simply trying to get another paycheck. I'm all for paychecks, but its hard to compete when dealing with passionate and friendly people.

If you would like to see your open source project highlighted on this blog, please use the contact form to let me know.


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