In 2003 I was the Technical Chair of WDIC2003 and needed software to run the event. I looked at Cyberchair and START V1 and eventually settled on START to run the event. START was legacy code because START2.0 is now commercial, so there were lots of issues in getting it to run successfully.
In our School we are not allowed to manage our own public webservers because of all the security holes they may open up, so I had to run on the corporate webserver. For security reasons I was not allowed to have a user account on this webserver, nor were applications allowed to write to the file system. This meant that installing START was a nightmare and involved many hours talking to the system administrator.
I felt uncomfortable that my every request to access papers etc would have to be mediated by the system administration but had no choice in the matter. In any case he assured me that he had no life and would be at my beck and call. Of course, when the conference notification of acceptance came up, he was nowhere to be found and I had no way of accessing the information.
I eventually managed to access the system by logging in as every one of the 40 users and extracting the required information. I never want to go through this nightmare again, so I started the IAPR Commence project with the assistance of many students. IAPR Commence was designed to be very easy to install (typically less than 5 minutes), require no administrator assistance to install or run, and operate in a distributed fashion on the web. I was President of the Australian Pattern Recognition Society for 10 years and have used this software to run our annual events. I thought that societies in the International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR) might adopt the software one day, so I used the iapr prefix in the full sourceforge project name. However I only used the short name Commence on the home page. Due to trademark concerns, the full project name will be used in documentation from 2006 onwards to clearly distinguish this project from products of the Commence Corporation.
IAPR Commence relies on widely used web technologies that are stable and well-supported including php, mysql, and apache. IAPR Commence does not require file system access on the webserver as all the information is written to a database over the network. Once installed, all conference management can be performed from anywhere in the world using a browser on the internet. Indeed, I have quite often managed my conferences from the comfort of my laptop over the wireless LAN in Singapore Changi airport.
The code is free to the scientific community and I intend it to stay that way for the foreseeable future. All I ask is that users drop me an email to let me know that they are using the code so I can list them on this site.