RosarioSIS arose in a context where the offer for open-source, multi-language Student Information System supporting the popular PHP/SQL web stack was scarce.
Sticking to the above criteria, Centre/SIS appeared to be the only viable starting point for a new project for the Nuestra Señora del Rosario school, Colombia. Centre/SIS was designed for north American schools (K-12), and was relatively easy to install, understand, adapt (extend and fix!), and translate.
Its forks, openSIS and FocusSIS were a good source of ideas, extra modules, and translations (openSIS ML edition was not released at that time, in 2012). They also proved the project was alive against free software standards. From the last open source version of FocusSIS were extracted the Discipline and Student Billing modules. Modules which are Premium (paid) modules in openSIS (FocusSIS itself is not free anymore).
Apart from being quite complete and brilliant on some aspects, Centre/SIS v3 was clearly outdated (the project started in 2006): use of HTML3, not commented code, bad errors handling, old JS and CSS.
Although it was enough for a quick-start and actually ran for a big school, the need to refactor, document code, prettify the interface became obvious when we considered releasing RosarioSIS to the public, as free software.
The hard work, mostly invisible, which is still going on years after, is the following: HTML5, better error handling, modularity, adding plugins, documentation, modernize theme and user experience, adapt to mobile devices. Later on, focus has been brought to accessibility, database integrity, compliance with industry standards and tests (see the meta project).
More modules taken from FocusSIS or openSIS were adapted, and new enhancements were sponsored by schools. RosarioSIS now counts with dozens of add-ons.
Additionally, we encouraged a community around the project by calling for contributions (mainly through translations, bug reports), but also by writing and translating tutorials. A forum is open for anybody to ask or share information about the project.
Learning from our users, often begin school administrators, their comments and requests, played a big part in improving RosarioSIS so it is usable in many countries having diverse cultures (see the Installation Poll).
This is all possible due to the values free software and the GPL license guarantee. RosarioSIS is free, and will always be.
Modern education deserves free software and quality tools, especially in developing countries where paid software is not an option for small schools.