Q: What is Visual Budget?
A: A WordPress plug-in which manages multiple budget-related datasets, and creates shortcodes which are used to insert visualizations into any page or post.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Visual Budget is free, released under the MIT LIcense. The plug-in, including all source code and documentation, is available at our Github repository.
Q: How does Visual Government make money?
A: We are a consulting firm, paid by the hour. We also offer a “starter kit” package which includes creating your own Visual Budget web site, hosting and maintaining it for two years, and working with your financial office to create visualizations and other explanations of your own budget.
Q: Can we do it ourselves?
A: Yes, and we’re available to help make you successful. A few cities and towns and even some citizen volunteers have created their own “do-it-yourself” Visual Budgets using our plug-in, with no or very little assistance from us. If you can build a web site and use Microsoft Excel, you can build your own Visual Budget.
Q: Are you compatible with Munis, SoftRight, Vadar, DLS Municipal Databank, etc.?
A: Visual Budget data is in the form of simple tables, formatted as comma-separated-value (CSV) files, which can be easily generated by virtually any financial software package. We have experience manipulating budget data from all of those systems. Typically, we get the data into an Excel file, manipulate it, and do “save as CSV”.
However, there is no direct link (API) to those systems, so you need to create and upload a new dataset file for every update. We hope in the future to have direct connections which would automatically update in real time.
Q: Can Visual Budget be part of our own web site?
A: There are three options.
- First, if your web site is built on WordPress, you can add the Visual Budget plug-in and incorporate budget visualizations in your own web site.
- Second, you can have a “hidden” VB web site which you would use to manage datasets and create visualizations in frameless pages, which you can then embed into your own web site, similar to embedding a YouTube video (Using <iframe> tags).
- Third, you (or we) can create a separate web site with a different address, like yourtownvisualbudget.org, It can usually be styled to look a lot like your municipal web site – same logo, colors, fonts, menu styles, etc.
Q: Are you compatible with web sites by VIrtual Town & Schools, CivicPlus or Drupal?,
A: Our plug-in only runs in WordPress, so can’t be incorporated directly into those web sites. If your city or town uses WordPress for their site, VB can be included directly. Otherwise, you will need a separate VB site, or embed VB pages into your site using <iframe> tags.
Q: If I build a WordPress site, what other components should I include?
A: We typically use a number of common plug-ins and frameworks, most being free.
- The sites we maintain ourselves are most often built on a custom child for the Genesis framework, available from StudioPress, currently priced at $59.95. However, VB is compatible with almost all WordPress themes and framework, free and otherwise. Our generic child theme is free and available in our GitHub repository.
- MonsterInsights, to connect with Google Analytics.
- Easy Google Fonts for font management.
- Updraft Plus for backup and migration, free for basic operations with paid premium features.