The Basic Meeting List Toolbox

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions

Who made this?
How long has the BMLT been around?
Is this being actively maintained?
Who is using the BMLT?
How can I get the BMLT?
What will this cost us?
Who “owns” the BMLT?
Do you have a comprehensive demo site?
Do you have isolated demonstrations of each of the satellites?
Can we use this in an official NA Service body?
Is this the NA World Services Meeting Locator?
Is this approved by NAWS?
Will you help us set this up?
Can I re-sell the BMLT, or use the BMLT in my own project, and extend it?
Can I get involved?

BMLT Capabilities

Can multiple Regions use the BMLT?
Can just one ASC use the BMLT?
We have special formats. Can you deal with them?
What about different languages?
Does the BMLT work for smartphones?
How easy is it to administer?
Can we synchronize the database with NA World Services?
Can I use this for Service committee meetings and special events?
Can I use this for non-NA stuff?
I like choices. What kinds of choices for online meeting lists do I have?
What about printed lists?

Security

With all the press about hacks, how secure is this system?
We have many different people that want to edit the list. Do you support multiple logins and restricted access?

Implementing the System

How easy is it to install?
What kind of hosting provider do I need for the BMLT?
Can I install on Windows IIS Server?
Will this work for WordPress or Drupal?
Will this work for Joomla?
What about other content management systems, like TextPattern or EZ?
Can I install this on a server that doesn’t have a Content-Management System?
Will this work for simple site builders, like SquareSpace, GoDaddy Website Builder, Wix or Weebly?
Can we import our existing meeting list into the BMLT?
I don’t like the way it looks. Can I change the appearance and behavior of the BMLT?
Do you have a way of displaying simple tables?
Do you announce new releases anywhere?
That Semantic Interface looks awful complicated. Do you have a “cheat sheet”?
We have a <insert whatever tech you use here> site. Can we convert it to BMLT?
We have multiple existing BMLT Root Servers. Can we combine these?
Does the BMLT work for SSL (HTTPS) Web sites?
Does the BMLT support non-standard TCP ports (other than 80 for standard HTTP or 443 for HTTPS)?

Picking On Us

This looks too good to be true. Why would anyone do this for free?
Isn’t this just another bad quality amateur NA Service project?
This is "rogue Service"!
I’m a 1337 Hax0r, and I can do so much better than you! Why should I use your lame system?
Aha! I found a bug!

General Questions

Who made this?
NA members. Most of the work has been done by a professional Software Engineer, with decades of cleantime and work experience.
How long has the BMLT been around?
The BMLT was first released (1.0 version), in June of 2009. It is a very mature, well-tested system that has been implemented in many places throughout the world.
Is this being actively maintained?
Yup. Check for yourself.
Who is using the BMLT?
A whole bunch of folks. Check out our ever-growing list.
How can I get the BMLT?
This page should have your answer.
What will this cost us?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The BMLT is 100% free.
Who “owns” the BMLT?
You do. Some individual addicts have written it and maintain it, but it is a 100% gift to be used by NA. In order for it to be as useful as possible to as many people as possible, the project is being maintained independent of any NA Service structure or Service orthodoxy.
Do you have a comprehensive demo site?
Yes.
Do you have isolated demonstrations of each of the satellites?
Yes.
Can we use this in an official NA Service body?
Absolutely. Think of this as any open-source project, like WordPress or Google Maps, which you can use. However, we go the "extra mile," and ensure that all our work is done by NA members. We don’t need to do that, but we think it’s important.
As mentioned above, the BMLT is 100% open source. Once you install and set up the BMLT, it is beyond any control and influence from the BMLT authors.
Is this the NA World Services Meeting Locator?
No, this is a separate effort. However, we work closely with the folks at NAWS, and have made great efforts to create an exchange format.
Is this approved by NAWS?
No, and it never will be. It’s a completely independent project.
That being said, it is being done in full cooperation with the folks at NAWS. We have the ability to directly dump the database and send it to them in a format they will accept.
Will you help us set this up?
Maybe. There’s absolutely no guarantee that we will, but contact us, and let’s see what we can do.
Can I re-sell the BMLT, or use the BMLT in my own project, and extend it??
Yes, but be aware that the BMLT is under the GPL V.3 License. That means that any changes that you make to the version you distribute must be returned to us or published with no restrictions (beyond the GPL).
Also, be aware that you’ll always be competing with us (who are giving it away free). You’d probably want to make sure that you add some value (such as setup and maintenance help, or server implementation).
Can I get involved?
Yes.

BMLT Capabilities

Can multiple Regions use the BMLT?
Absolutely. In fact, the more, the merrier. More Service bodies sharing a server means that the meeting searches will cross boundaries, which is what most folks actually want.
Can just one ASC use the BMLT?
Yes. However, we suggest that the minimal Service body running a Root Server be an RSC (see previous question).
We have special formats. Can you deal with them?
Yes. The formats can be customized for each installation. However, all users of the Root Server share formats.
What about different languages?
The BMLT was designed from Day One to be localized (translated into different languages). Currently, we have full or partial translations in French, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanish, Italian and Danish.
We are always looking for help localizing the system. If you are interested in helping to localize the BMLT, Please contact us.
Does the BMLT work on smartphones?
Yes. We also have a smartphone app that is customized for several localities.
Just to make it clear: The above smartphone app is NOT the NAWS smartphone app. That app uses the NA World Services Meeting Finder database.
How easy is it to administer?
Quite easy. There are different levels of administration, but to be a standard Meeting List Administrator, you don’t have to be very technical.
Can we synchronize the database with NA World Services?
Yes.
Can I use this for Service committee meetings and special events?
That’s not how it’s meant to be used. These can usually be better handled by any of the myriad calendar programs and plugins out there. The BMLT does one thing, and it does it well. It helps people to find regularly-occurring weekly meetings.
Can I use this for non-NA stuff?
Absolutely. There are other (non-NA) Fellowships that use the BMLT. It can be modified to work in ways other than its default implementation. There’s absolutely no requirement that it only be used exclusively for NA.
That said, we will not add modifications to the system for the exclusive benefit of non-NA organizations. If we determine that requested features would also be useful for NA, then we may add them.
I like choices. What kinds of choices for online meeting lists do I have?
Glad you asked.

Happy now?

What about printed lists?
Check out this awesome Service.
DISCLAIMER: The above project is not run by us, but has been developed in close cooperation with us. It’s a really useful project.

Security

With all the press about hacks, how secure is this system?
Pretty damn secure. This system was designed from Day One with security in mind. It shrugs off SQL injection attacks, and will even withstand internal code compromise.
Of course, all that can be undone if you choose "123456" as your Server Administrator password, but it isn’t easy to get in the back door.
Speaking of "backdoors," there are none. This system has no "special debug entrypoints" added by the authors. Don’t believe us? Check the code for yourself. It’s all there.
We have many different people that want to edit the list. Do you support multiple logins and restricted access?
Yes.

Implementing the System

How easy is it to install?
For people familiar with managing Web sites, it’s crazy easy. It takes a bit of technical know-how, but not much. Installing the Root Server is analogous to installing WordPress (It uses a wizard to guide you through the process).
Installing the Satellite can be much easier than that, depending upon the site software that you are using.
What kind of hosting provider do I need for the BMLT?
The BMLT was designed to be installed on a standard LAMP server, which is the most common (and cheapest) option out there.
We outline our server requirements on this page.
Can I install on Windows IIS Server?
It does work with IIS. You need to configure the server to directly mimic a standard LAMP server.
Will this work for WordPress or Drupal?
Yes, and Yes, and Yes..
Only the Satellite Client needs to be a plugin. The Root Server is a standalone Web site. Any host that can support WordPress or Drupal should be able to support the Root Server.
Will this work for Joomla?
Not with the standard Satellite. We stopped supporting Joomla, as Joomla is incredibly difficult to maintain with a satellite of the complexity demonstrated by ours.
What about other content management systems, like TextPattern or EZ?
We don’t have pre-written plugins for CMSes other than WordPress or Drupal. However, we provide a very powerful CMS Base Class that can be used to implement one. You could also implement our Standalone Satellite, and iframe it.
If you write a plugin, and wish to make it available, please contact us, and we’ll let folks know about it. This is a great example of a plugin written by a third party.
Can I install this on a server that doesn’t have a Content-Management System?
The Root Server does not need a CMS. It is a standalone install. No problem. We also have a Basic Standalone Satellite that is designed to be directly implemented in a compatible server.

Will this work for simple site builders, like SquareSpace, GoDaddy Website Builder, Wix or Weebly?
Not directly. The system was designed for minimal technical involvement, but some tech is needed. You need to have a system that allows you to install PHP files, and directly run a MySQL database server.
That said, you could install a Standalone Satellite on a compatible server, and iframe the page. It isn’t elegant, but it will work.
Another option is to have only a printable list and a download link. If you set up a printable list with the excellent third-party cloud service, you can have an instantly-up-to-date PDF (printable) list that can be accessed via a simple link, and that will work fine on your site.
Can we import our existing meeting list into the BMLT?
Probably. It will take some work on your part.
I don’t like the way it looks. Can I change the appearance and behavior of the BMLT?
Yes. The BMLT has been written with very low-specificity CSS, so that means it’s easy to override the default appearance.
Also, the BMLT displays are absolutely awash in CSS “hooks.” If you examine page elements with a browser inspector (Right-Click->Inspect Element), you’ll see what we mean. You can pretty much customize the appearance with CSS in almost any way that you want.
Altering the behavior is a bit more of a challenge. It can be done, but you may be better off writing your own Satellite Client.
Also, you have a great many choices in Satellites. You don’t need to use the standard map search.
Do you have a way of displaying simple tables?
Yes and Yes.
This is another, slightly more complex Satellite that displays the list in table format. It is extremely popular.

Do you announce new releases anywhere?
Yes. We use Twitter for that. This is the only place we consistently announce new releases or items of interest. You should follow us.
That Semantic Interface looks awful complicated. Do you have a “cheat sheet”?
Yes.
We have a <insert whatever tech you use here> site. Can we convert it to BMLT?

Maybe. It really depends on what you have, and who is available to manage the transition.
This is really too big a topic for a basic FAQ. It needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
We have multiple existing BMLT Root Servers. Can we combine these?
Unfortunately, that’s not too straightforward. It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed. However, our resources are extremely limited.
This is a dynamite opportunity for someone to get involved! They could write the code necessary for this operation.
Does the BMLT work for SSL (HTTPS) Web sites?
Yes. Here is a table of tests that we do. Note the SSL links.
Does the BMLT support non-standard TCP ports (other than 80 for standard HTTP or 443 for HTTPS)?
Yes. Here is a table of tests that we do. Note the non-standard port links.

Picking On Us

This looks too good to be true. Why would anyone do this for free?
HELLO? This is Narcotics Anonymous. Life beyond our wildest dreams, not dying twitching in a ditch, social acceptability, Recovery, yadda, yadda.
This is little more than the tiniest down payment on the interest on what WE’VE ALREADY BEEN PAID. Whatever happened to "paying NA back"? Why should anyone expect anything out of doing Service?
Isn’t this just another bad quality amateur NA Service project?
Um…That turns out not to be the case. This is a large, complex system. You REALLY don’t want quality issues in a system with 50,000+ lines of code. It would be a disaster.
No, the system was developed since Day One with a strong emphasis on modern, professional-grade Software Engineering discipline, design, coding standards, best practices and process.
All code is revision-controlled, it is heavily commented with Doxygen-compatible markup, and every release has a release comment in the changelist.
You can see every single change that has been made since before the official Version 1.0 release.
This is not an "amateur" project in any sense of the word. It has been done by a professional Software Developer with over 30 years of experience designing and implementing commercial software.
The BMLT Project is being treated as a full-fledged Open Source Development Project.
Just because it’s free, does not mean it’s cheap.
In fact, the quality of the BMLT would probably make Fortune 50 companies green with envy. It’s damn good (if we say so, ourselves).
This is "rogue Service"! You can’t do Service unless it’s been approved by <insert whatever Service body you think is responsible for "approving" this kind of Service.>!
Yeah, hate to break it to you this way, but you appear to be…"correctness-challenged," here. We’re "allowed" to do whatever Service we wish. It doesn’t need to be "approved" by anyone. If you don’t want to use it, then don’t. It’s less work for us.
Perhaps you should take a quick shufti through The Traditions (loads a PDF file). Find the part that says that we can’t do this without "approval," and let us know. We’ll be happy to change our ways.
In the absence of that, it becomes official NA Service material the moment that you download it and install it as part of an Official NA Service Body initiative. This is just like any other independent, open-source software project, with the significant addition of being created directly for NA Service bodies. This is YOUR project, whether or not it carries an official NA logo (Which it’s not actually allowed to do, as an independent project).
We are "Seventh Tradition Clean." That means that we only accept work done by NA members, or public open-source projects. We have (regretfully) refused offers of help from non-NA members.
I’m a 1337 Hax0r, and I can do so much better than you! Why should I use your lame system?
Excellent! As stated above, there’s absolutely no commercial investment in the BMLT at all. If you don’t want to use it, and "roll your own," then knock yourself out.
However, you may want to consider using the Root Server, and applying your own Satellite, as opposed to writing up the entire system, top-to-bottom.
If you examine the code, you’re sure to find things done in ways that you would not do them. However, the code was written to be basic, simple, easy-to-understand, high-quality (meaning "almost no bugs at all"), and applicable in as many server environments as possible. We are deliberately being simplistic and avoiding the use of fancy software designs. The idea is that it works, works very well, is easy to understand, stable, secure, and can be applied in all kinds of installations.
The Root Server has, as mentioned above, high security, rock-solid quality, and has a very powerful and flexible semantic API. You can get JSON and XML responses from the Root Server, and write your own Satellites, based on that. The Satellite is what 99% of the users see, anyway, so using the Root Server saves you about a year of work (and if you think that you can write something of the scope and quality of the Root Server in less than a year, then maybe you aren’t quite as "1337" as you think you are).
If you choose to write a custom satellite, we will refer to it. The extremely popular Tabbed UI Plugin is one such project. It is even more popular than the standard Satellites bundled with the BMLT.
The single biggest issue with “bespoke” systems, is that they often don’t survive administration transitions. They tend to be “someone’s baby,” and are often allowed to go to seed, or are completely wiped out and replaced by the next administration. Since the BMLT is a public open-source system that is used by many different Service bodies, it is generalized to a fault, and won’t go the way of the Dodo when a new crew gets voted in.
Short answer: Yes, you can probably do "better" (Note that "better" is in the eye of the beholder). Go for it, but consider using the Root Server as your backend. If you have suggestions for us to improve things, then please contact us.
Aha! I found a bug!
Excellent! Please contact us, and we’ll look at it. We are always looking to improve the BMLT. We need your help.

Can you show me some examples?