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Mar 16 2020
Mar 16

Category 1: Web development

Government organizations want to modernize and build web applications that make it easier for constituents to access services and information. Vendors in this category might work on improving the functionality of search.mass.gov, creating benefits calculators using React, adding new React components to the Commonwealth’s design system, making changes to existing static sites, or building interactive data stories.

Category 2: Drupal

Mass.gov, the official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a Drupal 8 site that links hundreds of thousands of weekly visitors to key information, services, and other transactional applications. You’ll develop modules to enhance and stabilize the site; build out major new features; and iterate on content types so that content authors can more easily create innovative, constituent-centered services.

Category 3: Data architecture and engineering

State organizations need access to large amounts of data that’s been prepared and cleaned for decision-makers and analysts. You’ll take in data from web APIs and government organizations, move and transform it to meet agency requirements using technology such as Airflow and SQL, and store and manage it in PostgreSQL databases. Your work will be integral in helping agencies access and use data in their decision making.

Category 4: Data analytics

Increasingly, Commonwealth agencies are using data to inform their decisions and processes. You’ll analyze data with languages such as Python and R, visualize it for stakeholders in business intelligence tools like Tableau, and present your findings in reports for both technical and non-technical audiences. You’ll also contribute to the state’s use of web analytics to improve online applications and develop new performance metrics.

Category 5: Design, research, and content strategy

Government services can be complex, but we have a vision for making access to those services as easy as possible. Bidders for this category may work with partner agencies to envision improvements to digital services using journey mapping, user research, and design prototyping; reshape complex information architecture; help transform technical language into clear-public facing content, and translate constituent feedback into new and improved website and service designs.

Category 6: Operations

You’ll monitor the system health for our existing digital tools to maintain uptime and minimize time-to-recovery. Your DevOps work will also create automated tests and alerts so that technical interventions can happen before issues disrupt constituents and agencies. You’ll also provide expert site reliability engineering advice for keeping sites maintainable and building new infrastructure. Examples of applications you’ll work on include Mass.gov, search.mass.gov, our analytics dashboarding platform, and our logging tool.

Jun 28 2019
Jun 28
Deirdre Habershaw

Today, more than 80% of people’s interactions with government take place online. Whether it’s starting a business or filing for unemployment, too many of these experiences are slow, confusing, or frustrating. That’s why, one year ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts created Digital Services in the Executive Office of Technology and Security Services. Digital Services is at the forefront of the state’s digital transformation. Its mission is to leverage the best technology and information available to make people’s interactions with state government fast, easy, and wicked awesome. There’s a lot of work to do, but we’re making quick progress.

In 2017, Digital Services launched the new Mass.gov. In 2018, the team rolled out the first-ever statewide web analytics platform to use data and verbatim user feedback to guide ongoing product development. Now our researchers and designers are hard at work creating a modern design system that can be reused across the state’s websites and conducting the end-to-end research projects to create user journey maps to improve service design.

If you want to work in a fast-paced agile environment, with a good work life balance, solving hard problems, working with cutting-edge technology, and making a difference in people’s lives, you should join Massachusetts Digital Services.

We are currently recruiting for a Technical Architect if you are interested submit your resume here

Check out more about hiring at the Executive Office of Technology and Security Services and submit your resume in order to be informed on roles as they become available.

Feb 06 2019
Feb 06

Mass.gov dev team releases open source project

Moshe Weitzman

The Mass.gov development team is proud to release a new open source project, Drupal Test Traits (DTT). DTT enables you to run PHPUnit tests against your Drupal web site, without wiping your database after each test class. That is, you test with your usual content-filled database, not an empty one. We hope lots of Drupal sites will use DTT and contribute back their improvements. Thanks to PreviousNext and Phase2 for being early adopters.

Mass.gov is a large, content-centric site. Most of our tests click around and assert that content is laid out properly, the corresponding icons are showing, etc. In order to best verify this, we need the Mass.gov database; testing on an empty site won’t suffice. The traditional tool for testing a site using an existing database is Behat. So we used Behat for over a year and found it getting more and more awkward. Behat is great for facilitating conversations between business managers and developers. Those are useful conversations, but many organizations are like ours — we don’t write product specs in Gherkin. In fact, we don’t do anything in Gherkin beside Behat.

Meanwhile, the test framework inside Drupal core improved a lot in the last couple of years (mea culpa). Before Drupal Test Traits, this framework was impossible to use without wiping the site’s database after each test. DTT lets you keep your database and still test using the features of Drupal’s BrowserTestBase and friends. See DrupalTrait::setUp() for details (the bootstrap is inspired by Drush, a different open source project that I maintain).

Zakim Bridge at Night, North End Boston. Photo by David Fox.
  • Our test cases extend ExistingSiteBase, a convenience class from DTT that imports all the test traits. We will eventually create our own base class and import the traits there.
  • Notice calls to $this->createNode(). This convenience method wraps Drupal’s method of the same name. DTT deletes each created node during tearDown().
  • Note how we call Vocabulary::load(). This is an important point — the full Drupal and Mink APIs are available during a test. The abstraction of Behat is happily removed. Writing test classes more resembles writing module code.
  • Typically, one does not run tests against a live web site. Tests can fail and leave sites in a “dirty” state so it’s helpful to occasionally refresh to a pristine database.

If you have questions or comments about DTT, please comment below or submit issues/PRs in our repository.

More from Moshe: Our modern development environment at Mass.gov

Interested in a career in civic tech? Find job openings at Digital Services.
Follow us on Twitter | Collaborate with us on GitHub | Visit our site

May 30 2018
May 30
Photo by Drupal Association

Government touches the lives of us all in fundamental ways. It is essential that government is able to communicate with its citizens in an effective and inclusive manner.
This communication requires high quality tools and special considerations regarding:

  • exchange of information with each other and citizens in an open manner
  • providing ability of citizens to see how their government is run
  • protecting citizens’ data and privacy
  • providing modern and easy to use technologies for both citizens and authorities
  • contributing back their code and data, because it’s paid for by the citizens

Therefore, we have dedicated a special government track at the Drupal Europe Conference.

As you’ve probably read in one of our previous blog posts, industry verticals are a new concept being introduced at Drupal Europe and replace the summits, which typically took place on Monday. At Drupal Europe. These industry verticals are integrated with the rest of the conference — same location, same ticket and provide more opportunities to learn and exchange within the industry verticals throughout 3 days.

The Government vertical track of the Drupal Europe Conference is focused on trends and innovations as well as all aspects of the current developments and challenges within the government space.

In an exciting mix of case-studies, panel-discussion and thematic sessions the following, most burning topics will be discussed

  • Open access, data, government and standards
  • Accessibility / Inclusivity
  • Digital-by-default citizen services
  • User experience design for digital services
  • Hosting and Security
  • Content Management and Usability of digital tools
  • and more

We strive to provide the best possible lineup of speakers and session with a great variety of interesting topics to create the best conference for attendees working within and who are interested in government.

Session submissions is open / Call for Sessions is open and we ask you to submit interesting session proposals to create an awesome conference. Session proposals are not limited to Drupal and all topics in relationship with the above are welcome.

Please also help us to spread the word about this awesome conference. Our hashtag is #drupaleurope.

If you want to participate in organisation or want to recommend speakers or topics please get in touch at [email protected].

In any case we look forward to seeing you at Drupal Europe on September 10–14 in Darmstadt Germany!

About Drupal Europe Conference

Drupal is one of the leading open source technologies empowering digital solutions in the government space around the world.

Drupal Europe 2018 brings over 2,000 creators, innovators, and users of digital technologies from all over Europe and the rest of the world together for three days of intense and inspiring interaction.

Location & Dates

Drupal Europe will be held in Darmstadtium in Darmstadt, Germany — with a direct connection to Frankfurt International Airport. Drupal Europe will take place 10–14 September 2018 with Drupal contribution opportunities every day. Keynotes, sessions, workshops and BoFs will be from Tuesday to Thursday.

Feb 11 2016
Feb 11


Mobomo believes in partnering. Over the years we have partnered with Amazon, IBM, Tracx, and a number of other companies and organizations. We are pleased to announce our recent partnership with the Drupal Association (https://assoc.drupal.org), Drupal has been a major contributor in the community for many years. 

Drupal is an open-source content management system framework used to make many of the websites and applications that you use every day. Drupal has great standard features like easy content authoring, reliable performance, and excellent security. But what sets Drupal apart from other solutions is its flexibility and extensibility; modularity is one of its core principles. Drupal allows you to build the versatile, structured content that is needed for engaging and dynamic web experiences.

We are very pleased to be a part of the Drupal community, since we have developed Drupal solutions for major Federal Government websites in the past this partnership only makes sense. We are excited about our partnerships and look forward to building bigger and better things as a supporting partner of Drupal.org. Be sure to visit our Drupal page.

Jun 29 2015
Jun 29

drupalgovcon logoWe’re excited for Drupal GovCon hosted in the DC area July 22nd through the 24th! We can’t wait to spend time with the Drupal4Gov community and meet fellow Drupalers from all over! Forum One will be presenting sessions in all four tracks: Site Building, Business and Strategy, Code & DevOps, and Front-end, User Experience and Design! Check out our sessions to learn more about Drupal 8 and other topics!

Here our are sessions at a glance…

Nervous about providing support for a new Drupal site? A comprehensive audit will prepare you to take on Drupal sites that weren’t built by you. Join this session and learn from Forum One’s John Brandenburg as he reviews the audit checklist the our team uses before we take over support work for any Drupal site.

Drupal 8’s getting close to launching – do you feel like you need a crash course in what this means? Join Forum One’s Chaz Chumley as he demystifies Drupal 8 for you and teaches you all that you need to know about the world of developers.

If you’re wondering how to prepare your organization for upgrading your sites to Drupal 8, join WETA’s Jess Snyder, along with Forum One’s Andrew Cohen and Chaz Chumley as they answer questions about the available talent, budgets, goals, and more in regards to Drupal 8.

The building blocks of Drupal have changed and now’s the unique time to rethink how to build themes in Drupal 8. Join Chaz Chumley as he dissects a theme and exposes the best practices that we should all be adopting for Drupal 8.

Drupal 8’s first class REST interface opens up a world of opportunities to build interactive applications. Come learn how to connect a Node application to Drupal to create dynamic updates from Forum One’s William Hurley as he demonstrates the capabilities of both JavaScript and Node.js using Drupal, AngularJS, and Sails.js!

Are you excited to launch your new website, but getting held down by all the steps it takes for your code to make it online? On top of that, each change requires the same long process all over again… what a nail biting experience! Join William Hurley as he demonstrates the power of Jenkins and Capistrano for managing continuous integration and deployment using your git repository.

If you’re a beginner who has found the Views module confusing, come check out this session and learn important features of this popular module from Leanne Duca and Forum One’s Onaje Johnston. They’ll also highlight some additional modules that extend the power of Views.

Have you ever felt that Panels, Panelizer and Panopoly were a bit overwhelming? Well, come to our session from Forum One’s Keenan Holloway. He will go over the best features of each one and how they are invaluable tools. Keenan will also give out a handy cheat sheet to remember it all, so make sure to stop by!

Data visualization is the go to right now! Maps, charts, interactive presentations – what tools do you use to build your visual data story? We feel that D3.js is the best tool, so come listen to Keenan Holloway explain why you should be using D3, how to use D3’s visualization techniques, and more.

Implementing modular design early on in any Drupal project will improve your team’s workflow and efficiency! Attend our session to learn from our very own Daniel Ferro on how to use styleguide/prototyping tools like Pattern Lab to increase collaboration between designers, themers, developers, and your organization on Drupal projects.

Are you hoping to mentor new contributors? Check out this session where Forum One’s Kalpana Goel and Cathy Theys from BlackMesh will talk about how to integrate mentoring into all the layers of an open source project and how to develop mentoring into a habit. They’ll be using the Drupal community as an example!

If you’re a beginner looking to set up an image gallery, attend this session! Leanne Duca and Onaje Johnston will guide you in how to set up a gallery in Drupal 8 and how to overcome any challenges you may encounter!

Attend this session and learn how to design and theme Drupal sites using Atomic Design and the Drupal 8 CSS architecture guidelines from our very own Dan Mouyard! He’ll go over our Gesso theme and our version of Pattern Lab and how they allow us to quickly design and prototype reusable design components, layouts, and pages.

Can’t make it to all of the sessions? Don’t worry, you’ll be able to catch us outside of our scheduled sessions! If you want to connect, stop by our table or check us out on Twitter (@ForumOne). We can’t wait to see you at DrupalGovCon!

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May 15 2015
May 15

Last Friday, we attended the Digital Innovation Hack-a-Thon hosted by the GSA… and we won. The federal tech website FCW even wrote an article about it.

Our team, made up of designers and developers from Forum One, along with Booz Allen Hamilton, Avar Consulting, and IFC International, worked on a solution for IAE’s Vendor Dashboard for Contracting Officers. We were tasked with creating a vendor dashboard for displaying GSA data that would enable procurement officers to quickly and easily search and identify potential vendors that have small-business or minority-owned status, search by other special categories, and view vendors’ history.

How did we tackle the problem?

Our team initially split into smaller working groups. The first group performed a quick discovery session; talking with the primary stakeholder and even reaching out to some of the Contracting Officers we work with regularly. They identified pain points and looked at other systems which we ended up integrating into our solution. As this group defined requirements, the second group created wireframes. We even took some time to perform quick usability testing with our stakeholders, and iterate on our initial concept until it was time to present.

The other group dove into development. We carefully evaluated the data available from the API to understand the overlap and develop a data architecture. Using that data map, we decided to create a listing of contracts and ways to display an individual contract. We then expanded it to include alternative ways of comparing and segmenting contracts using other supporting data. Drupal did very well pulling in the data and allowed us to leverage its data listings and displays tools. Most developers see Drupal as a powerful albeit time intensive building tool, but it worked very well in this time critical environment.

Our two groups rejoined frequently to keep everyone on the same page and make sure our solutions was viable.

How much could we possibly accomplish in 6 hours?

More than you might think. Our solutions presented the content in an organized, digestible way that allowed contracting officers to search and sort through information quickly and easily within one system. We created wireframes to illustrate our solution for the judges and stakeholders. We also stood up a Drupal site to house the data and explained the technical architecture behind our solution. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a front-end developer participating in the hack-a-thon, so we weren’t able to create a user interface, but our wireframes describe what the UI should eventually look like.

Some of us even took a quick break to catch a glimpse the Arsenal of Democracy World War II Victory Capitol Flyover from the roof. It was also broadcasted on the projectors in the conference room.

Arsenal of Democracy Flyover of the National Mall

What did we learn?

It’s interesting to see how others break down complex problems and iterate on solutions especially if that solution includes additional requirements. Our solution was more complex than some of the other more polished data visualizations, but we won the challenge in part because of the strategy behind our solution.

We’re excited to see what GSA develops as a MVP, and we’ll be keeping our ears open for the next opportunity to attend a hack-a-thon with GSA.

Finally, a big shout out to our teammates!

  • Mary C. J. Schwarz, Vice President at ICF International
  • Gita Pabla, Senior Digital Designer at Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Eugene Raether, IT Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Robert Barrett, Technical Architect, Avar Consulting

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Apr 29 2013
Apr 29

Average: 1 (3 votes)

Talent/Idea crossword
Everyone seems to need more and better Drupal talent. There are too many instances where projects are delayed, or even turned away or lost because we can't find the people with the proficiency to do the work. Even though high demand for Drupal is a relatively good problem, it is still one that begs for a solution. There's a plethora of training programs (including through DrupalEasy) out there for the self-motivated, tech savvy, Drupal-aware. The issue is, even with the mass of training available and promoted through the community, we still can't fill the gap, especially for the community's long term needs. This dilemma exists for the same reason that we face awareness challenges of the Drupal CMS overall; there is no sizable list of behemoth companies with huge marketing budgets or focused, funded, grand scale efforts to raise awareness outside of the community.

One potential solution is looking outside of the community to infuse the extra, needed resources and attract talent. I'm not talking advertising or sponsorships, but more using relevant resources not necessarily focused on Drupal talent development. DrupalEasy's expertise includes a storied past in economic and workforce development, which are two unique elements of the public sector whose motivations align with growth of industries, and development of talent to meet the opportunities those industries provide. In most cases, state, regional and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and Economic Development organizations (EDOs) are continually looking for areas they can support in their target industries. Information Communications Technologies is a sector on more WIB and EDO target lists than not, because it is green, usually provides high wages, and in most cases brings wealth (wages) from outside the region into the local economy. (Value-added jobs that everyone wants in their backyards.)

Drupal and other Open Source Technologies are areas that most workforce professionals are not aware of, and that have a host of issues that need to be addressed by the professionals tasked with growing jobs and economies. Among them, recognized certifications, virtual work, the high percentage of contractors and the self-employed vs. traditional employment, and the length of time/lack of definitive path to becoming a sought after Drupal professional. But, as someone wise once said, an obstacle can either be a stumbling block or stepping stone. The resources that WIBs and EDOs have that can assist the growth of Drupal and development of Drupal talent are certainly worth a little heavy lifting to create a solid path out of the barriers.

At DrupalEasy, we've already started. Thanks to our forward-thinking local WIB, Brevard Workforce, we already have trained 38 people through the Drupal Career Starter Program thanks to a federal grant with a more lax requirement on certifications. This step in securing WIB funds for open source, un-proven training was monumental. Since then, we've stepped up our awareness building efforts. We have compiled our binder-thick application, and stood in front of the Florida Commission on Independent Education where the vote was unanimous for approval of a provisional license for the Drupal Career Starter Program. We were also asked by the Florida state-wide WIB, Workforce Florida, to present Drupal and the DCSP to their finance committee at the most recent meeting of the board in the state capital, and presented a session on Open Source Technology Training at the National Association or Workforce Boards in Washington DC last month.

Right now, DrupalEasy is awaiting final approval of our application to the local workforce board to become an approved training provider, eligible for all standard funding streams, which should come through in mid-May. We are also working with a local legislator to ease regulations so our license can more easily work state-wide for any workforce boards that want to build Drupal talent in their regions.

At all of the presentations and meetings with workforce and economic development groups I've been involved in, once the decision makers understand what open source and Drupal have the potential to do, they would like to know more and figure out how to make their programs work to help build talent. Every region of the US, as well as countries and regions across the world, have WIB-like organizations focused on providing assistance and training for opportunity-rich careers.

It's amazing what happened to Drupal once government discovered what Drupal has to offer. Imagine what we can do for Drupal talent development once we discover what government has to offer. If you are contemplating how you might help create the talent you need for the future, let me know if you'd like to raise the awareness with WIBs and EDOs and potentially leverage government training funds to build talent in your area. Contact us to learn more.

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Sep 23 2012
Sep 23

In 50 words or less (or, maybe 65)…

I’ll bring a strategic marketing framework to the Board – but don’t confuse this with posters and tweets :) I want to help the DA define its position within a broader economic view of the IT services industry and leverage the flow of value to benefit the Drupal project. 1st up: I’ll aim to bring new funds via Govt memberships and a grants funding initiative.

Now, the extended version…

I aim to bring new members from the user side of the community, create targeted global special interest user groups that help the project continue to thrive, and I aim to bring new funding opportunities to help support all the Association’s existing initiatives.

Where does Drupal sit in the economic value chain?

If you look at the entire IT industry, it is mostly part of a supply engine. Actual production of economic output occurs either via the platforms implemented or is facilitated by them (such as with an eCommerce website).

From what I’ve experienced so far, the Drupal community currently represents the aggregated needs of those working within this supply ecosystem. It has very little involvement with the actual outputs being produced by customers.

What are the long term threats to the Drupal project?

I see two significant threats to the Drupal project if it stands only within the economic footprint of IT services:

  1. The contraction of the IT services chain is real, so the market for Drupal will shrink and ultimately be replaced with services that emerge directly within hosted service platforms and are click-configured directly by user organisations.
  2. The Drupal services ecosystem will begin to cannibalise itself. Groups are already providing hosted distributions that can be deployed directly by clients without any additional partner support. Distribution contributors are pivoting toward monetisation strategies that will also aim to capture the direct customer dollar. In a more competitive atmosphere, where the business process IP of coded modules and distributions is seen as a possible revenue model, groups will begin to hedge their community efforts in favour of entirely commercial efforts.

What is an immediate opportunity for the Drupal project?

Drupal is being adopted by a lot of organisations worldwide that are choosing it over the online publishing platforms of proprietary software vendors. The opportunity exists for the Drupal project to engage with site owners and operators so it can better understand and aggregate their needs. The entire project could benefit significantly by stepping more into the world of end users, understand how to best add unique value to their production capability, then nurture and secure each vertical by investing resources to support that special interest group.

Do the Association goals align with this opportunity?

It’s important to note that the Drupal Association has no authority over the planning, functionality and development of the Drupal software.  Even the Drupal.org sites, which are a responsibility of the Association and are in need of significant upgrades in content, structure, platform and functionality are currently managed and maintained by teams of dedicated volunteers from the Drupal community.

Referring to the statutes for the Drupal Association, the goals are described as:

The purposes of the Association shall be for providing support in developing, communicating, promoting, distributing the Drupal project and in deploying an infrastructure in support of the Drupal project.

The scope of the “Drupal project” shall include the following speci?c issues: the Drupal open-source software system (http://drupal.org), the community of developers and users of this software and all associated activities and all infrastructures in their broadest sense considered to be required to further develop this project.

What does the community of developers and users of Drupal look like? This diagram helps illustrate the Drupal Community, which in turn helps to show what the scope of the Drupal project is.

The biggest population in the diagram falls into the category of ‘People that use Drupal’.

Who are these people? Depending on your perspective:

  1. They are Drupal site owners and operators
  2. They are the Drupal developers who setup the sites and might still maintain them from a technical perspective.
  3. They are both of the groups above.

No matter your perspective, the population of people that use Drupal is large enough to cover the specific interests of 7.2 million Drupal sites (as estimated in July 2010).

So, the Association goals are to support users, the community is defined to be inclusive of users, yet I suspect there are a lot less that 7.2 million interested parties currently being targeted for support by the Association under its current set of initiatives.

Lets inform, interact and transact with those using Drupal to further develop the project for everyone in the Drupal community.

Where can new funding initiatives emerge?

With my own bias of being located in Canberra, the Capital city of Australia, I see providing support to National Governments as the closest and most significant opportunity. Collectively, Government’s already have billion dollar budgets for IT expenditure and they are open to petitions from non-profits to rethink how they spend those dollars to provide better economic and social outcomes.

Further, there are growing Open Government and Open Knowledge movements which the Association can align or partner with to help generate a voice that extends beyond the subject of software development and further into the realm of social publishing.

I will work with others to directly bring together the needs of National Government organizations and encourage them to join the Association as individuals, organizations and supporting partners.

I will encourage this group to seek ways it can work with Drupal developers and commercial organizations to further the Drupal project in alignment with their specific needs. This could initially be run as a grants program which funds specific development outcomes; such as best practice models for lifecycle management, enterprise architecture, security hardening and performance optimization.

If it works, the funding model scales by the formation of additional special interest groups (SIGs) within industry verticals such as finance, retail, entertainment, etc. Ultimately, to be truly scalable, the mechanics to generate SIG project funding could be modeled on existing crowdsourcing approaches used on sites like Kickstarter.com and bidded for by commercial groups or individuals who are registered members of the association. Self-organizing SIGs can make their own rules on deciding on who receives the development grants on offer and Association revenue can be derived through a small percentage of the funds allocated against SIG projects.

Importantly, all of this can be supported by the tasks the Association is entitled to undertake in support of its goals. All it needs is someone to kick things off with a business case to establish the initiative, and that is something I’m already working on.

If you are in support of public money funding significant development initiatives within the Drupal project, please consider casting your vote in my direction :) Either way, I’d love to receive your comments below.

Who can vote in the elections?

You are eligible to vote if you have an account on drupal.org, logged in during the past 12 months, and created your account before 31 August 2012 when the election was announced.

How to vote?

Aug 24 2012
Aug 24

Very exciting news from the White House today.

Last night President Obama fulfilled his promise to release the code behind "We the People", a Drupal-based application that enables the American people to directly petition the President of the United States on issues they care most about. The release follows a commitment the President made to the United Nations to share the technology behind this platform “so any government in the world can enable its citizens to do the same".

White House Director of Digital Strategy Macon Phillips explains the move in a White House blog post featured today on the front page of whitehouse.gov.

In October of 2009, WhiteHouse.gov was relaunched on Drupal. Two years later, the White House launched We the People on Drupal, a big step forward for Open Government. While governments haven't traditionally recognized the importance of the grassroots, word of mouth organizing that thrives on the Internet, We the People encourages grassroots citizen engagement.

We the people

Even more exciting is that if you are an Open Source developer, you can get involved with improving how your government actually works. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to see Open Source and Drupal changing the world in a positive, powerful way.

The newly released code is packaged as a Drupal install profile. The profile is currently tailored to the White House's website but every Github member can issue pull requests to make it more generally useful. The Petition install profile can be cloned, forked or downloaded from the White House's Github repository.

Whitehouse github
Aug 22 2012
Aug 22

What is OpenPublic?

Maybe the first question should be “What is Drupal?”.  Drupal is a free open source content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily organize, manage and publish online content. It is secure, scalable, compliant, flexible and capable of more customisation than any one web site will ever need.

OpenPublic is a CMS based on Drupal. It is a pre-packaged product containing modules particularly valuable for government websites. It is created for, and by, industry professionals working with top level government agencies and organisations. As a global, community driven project OpenPublic takes the open source Drupal CMS to its next instinctive level: tailoring it to government within a shared learning environment. Growing this open source CMS with genuine community input ensures its enduring relevance.

An active community

OpenPublic is a community project being spearheaded by US based content management and open data integration specialists Phase2 Technology. Contributors are generally administrators, site builders and developers. A number of web application and data visualisation tools have already been added to the mix and enthusiastic advocates continue to contribute code, tutorials, screencasts, and other documentation for OpenPublic.

But isn’t all open source software at odds with government security needs?

Not at all. OpenPublic is founded on US government security requirements and is also applicable to Australian government requirements as prescribed by the Defence Signals Directorate’s Australian Government Information Security Manual, particularly in regard to: standard operating environments; web and email applications; web application development; and databases.

Additionally Link’s partnership with Acquia goes a long way to removing historical and assumed risks around the use of open source software and means our clients can have 24/7 access to expert Drupal support for break-fixing and advice

How does Link Digital fit in with the whole OpenPublic CMS and community ethos?

For over ten years Link has been working with government clients to help them meet the demand for greater transparency, participation and collaboration, while satisfying their unique needs, not only in terms of security compliancy but also across accessibility and usability. OpenPublic provides the ideal model for us.

We are aligned with a strategic approach to the establishment of Drupal and OpenPublic sites for a growing number of clients, and closely linked with the activities of global leaders in the community, such as Phase2 Technology and Acquia. We have opened up dialogue with both companies to seek their support in the establishment of best practice deployment for our clients and will, in the coming months be acting on their recommendations and service options in this regard.

What does OpenPublic mean for Australian enterprise and government clients?

The Drupal 7 environment already offers a very budget friendly solution with great flexibility, a highly intuitive interface, and the ideal platform for information sharing and knowledge exchange. By aligning our development approach for enterprise and government clients with the OpenPublic community our clients get access to best-of-breed and emerging website management tools. This provides our clients a more long term CMS solution that is both effective now and has a roadmap aligned with the needs of government and public oriented organisations into the future.

OpenPublic is a direct response to the US Government’s Open Government Initiative and there are direct parallels between this and similar mandates placed on Australian government agencies, particularly in regard to the central recommendation of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s report. Indeed the Australian Government’s 16 July 2010 Declaration of Open Government made by the Hon. Lindsay Tanner, MP, then Minister for Finance and Deregulation, opens with:

“The Australian Government now declares that, in order to promote greater participation in Australia’s democracy, it is committed to open government based on a culture of engagement, built on better access to and use of government held information, and sustained by the innovative use of technology.”

Link Digital is currently developing the new website for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet using OpenPublic. Like us, they are encouraged by, and committed to, the ongoing development roadmap it provides.

What are the key features of Drupal with Open Public?

Responsive Design

The number of environments and platforms available today (and tomorrow) means for a site to be relevant it must also be responsive design ready.  OpenPublic allows customisation of the look and feel of a site with base themes, while implementing the best practices in responsive design. The implementation uses ‘contexts’, whereby the device a visitor is using – mobile phone, iPad etc – is noted as a particular context, such as a smaller screen size. An OpenPublic site can present site content within specific layout regions that are optimised for each context. Entirely different content can also be presented if desired.


OpenPublic is pre-configured to better meet the needs of Government-level security. Passwords comply with Level 2 of the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Electronic Authentication Guidelines, https is setup from the start, and CAPTCHA comes standard on forms.

Accessibility and WCAG Compliance

Australian government accessibility guidelines and regulations and WCAG compliance are key, if not mandated, foundations to usable government websites. In meeting US Government requirements OpenPublic’s default themes meet ADA guidelines for Section 508 Compliance, which goes a long way to giving site implementers a head start on testing for their own compliance. Link Digital is further mapping the compliance of OpenPublic’s default themes against those adopted within Australia. Localisation is a requirement for our www.dpmc.gov.au work and the benefits will roll into the work provided for other clients.


OpenPublic allows for the tailoring of permissions and a customisable workflow that meets organisational needs. This kind of functionality is fairly standard in modern CMS platforms but the implementation provided by OpenPublic is extremely relevant to establishing self-managed facilities for Australian government and enterprise clients. Link is able to implement content which is aggregated from nominated RSS, twitter or user contributed sources and queue these for promotion within the site via automated, yet moderated, workflow rules.

Customisable Look and Feel

OpenPublic, similar to WordPress, offers a selection of standard designed themes, or you can apply custom design. For Link clients we apply uniquely designed themes, but the functionality allows us to consider design variations to accommodate seasonal or temporary opportunities to refresh the site design. For example, a design to celebrate a major event hosted by a government department could be adapted and applied during celebrations.

Intuitive Dashboard

You can have all the greatest modules in the world but, at the end of the day, if you don’t have a user-friendly dashboard that makes administering your site easy, you will have a suboptimal outcome. Thankfully OpenPublic does not fall short here and offers an intuitive dashboard for easy content adding and updating. The vast improvement in usability will be particularly apparent to anyone with previous experience in administering a Drupal site. For a number of content types, improved rich-media management means the addition of graphics and data visualisation elements is as simple as clicking “upload.”

Media Room

OpenPublic provides tools for the quick release of breaking news and information that’s important to your website visitors. You can also invite media to access images, video, press releases, and other valuable content in a single, centrally accessible location.

Directory Management

With directory management features OpenPublic sites can publish via profiles – for example via a Ministerial profile for an agency or via program ambassador for a major initiative. This is an effective method for site visitors to develop a deeper and more personal association with an organisation and its objectives. Tools provide the ability to easily and quickly maintain a directory of contact information for hundreds of profiled people and/or organisations.

Pluggable Features

Out-of-the-box, OpenPublic comes with pertinent features – from integrating a Twitter feed to posting blog entries – that you can enable or disable, depending upon your needs. These pluggable options make customisation a process that is less technical and more focussed on meeting your objectives.

Apr 19 2012
Apr 19

As part of our commitment to supporting the Drupal Community, we sponsored a Drupal London community event on Monday evening, exploring how several UK government departments have been implementing open source software in their projects.

The agenda coming directly from Number 10 is to adopt open source software to deliver best value and Drupal is emerging as a clear favourite. The event was brilliantly attended by a wide range of Drupal agencies, Government Departments, public sector bodies and general Drupal enthusiasts.

We were treated to a rich and varied selection of presentations, including insights into the Government Open Source Action Plan from the Home Office; Running a Perfect Government Project delivered by Ofstead and a run down of how Data.gov.uk, one of the most famous Drupal projects was deployed from the Cabinet Office. Ixis have been working within this field for years and are currently putting the finishing touches to our latest work with the British Council digital project team.

We have recently implemented a Drupal content management system for the British Council, as well as managing the hosting and support for the website infrastructure.  The project will house the entire web infrastructure of the British Council international websites. Here at Ixis, we are excited by the future of open source within Government, particularly following our recent appointment onto the G-Cloud procurement framework. The presentations will be available shortly so you can share the learning from the event, so watch this space.  The first set of introductory videos can be viewed here

What was most interesting for me was how the Drupal community is committed to sharing best practise and collaboration on projects to work with Government and the Public Sector. Our objectives and passion are shared – to deliver excellent open source projects whilst sharing the code and learning from each other. In what other community does this happen in? The evening was topped off with the usual prizes for the best tweets and a social at the local pub after the presentations – well, it'd be rude not to! 

Mar 12 2012
Mar 12

Posted Mar 12, 2012 // 0 comments

We've got our sites set on some pretty exciting sessions at the 2012 DrupalCon in Denver. I made sure to poll the team on their top picks technical, government, business and design sessions, and I have them for you here…

Design Talks We're Excited to See

Business & Strategy Talks We'll Hear

Government Talks We'll Definitely Catch

Technical Talks We Wouldn't Miss

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing some old friends in Denver week. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for sessions we should see, leave your suggestions below.

As our Director of Marketing, Betsy Ensley is cheerfully promoting our work to prospects, clients, staff members, and the greater Drupal and semantic web communities at-large. Whether she’s tweeting about a recent blog post, attending ...

Jan 12 2012
Jan 12

This month the Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that could end the internet as we know it. If the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), currently making its way through the House, or the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” (PIPA), awaiting a vote in the Senate, become law, corporations will have the ability to “disappear” your website without any due process. Internet innovators like Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Al Gore and YouTube have come out against the bill because it will be disastrous to free speech, business and yes, to nonprofits.

Web innovators are taking the threat of SOPA and PIPA very seriously. One of the most popular sites on the internet, Reddit, is going to go dark for 12 hours on January 18th to protest against the bill. That will be a small sample of what the world would be like if these bills became law. No more satirical content that uses pop-culture to make a point. No more Fair Use. Nonprofits could be held accountable for what their members post. And nonprofits won’t have the financial ability to protect themselves.

So if the people who built the internet and the most important sites on the internet are telling Congress not to pass this bill, who is telling them to support it? Here’s the list. And until a few days back, the regressive domain name registration and web hosting company GoDaddy was championing SOPA as well.

Hard to say why GoDaddy was supporting it. Maybe it’s because there were amendments in the works that would exempt operators of commercial sub-domains such as GoDaddy from the law. But maybe it’s just because GoDaddy is an ideologically bad company. Their ads are sexist and their president shoots elephants. (Seriously who does that? Montgomery Burns?) When activists at Reddit learned about GoDaddy’s support of SOPA they named December 29th Dump GoDaddy Day and started organizing.

What happened next is a great case of consumer activism and online organizing making a difference. TheDomains.com reports that GoDaddy lost 37,000 domains between Dec 22 and 24 alone! GoDaddy changed their stance VERY publicly as a result of the public outcry. Advomatic was moving one last domain away from GoDaddy and as we clicked the button on their site to receive the final authorization key we needed to leave, GoDaddy displayed a message saying that they no longer support SOPA-- a final pathetic plea as if to say, “We stopped being evil! We promise!”

Guess what? Even though GoDaddy relented, their President still killed an elephant and their ads are still sexist. They don’t deserve our support.

Thankfully, there are many domain name registration companies you can move to for better service AND that have policies that match our progressive values. Advomatic transferred all of the domains we manage away from GoDaddy to the domain registrar Gandi.net. They are against SOPA and even donate money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation! Other good options include DreamHost, which provide free hosting for 501c3s and NameCheap (which had an anti-SOPA discount).

To help you out LifeHacker posted a handy guide on how to switch web domain companies. If you’re a client and need a hand moving your domain names let us know! And don’t forget that we offer web hosting with free migration help through our hosting service line, Cadre.

So join Advomatic and all of the other business and nonprofits that care about the future of the internet and don’t like sexist jerks and change your domain company and keep those emails going to Congress.

Maybe we should start a petition asking Google and Facebook to post anti SOPA messages on their sites so they can educate their users....

Dec 01 2011
Dec 01

Big news! The world's most visited art museum in the world is now using Drupal for its website: http://louvre.fr. Très cool!

Aug 04 2011
Aug 04

I’ve been waiting a long time to tell you something.

Several months ago, Treehouse was signed on by (Top 100 Federal Prime Contractor) Energy Enterpise Solutions as the development partner for Energy.gov’s massive, eleven-site Drupal relaunch.

Today, I am ecstatic to announce that the platform is live!

The Energy.gov relaunch represents a huge step in the ongoing progression of major government agencies moving to Drupal; these agencies have included the US House of Representatives, The White House, and the Department of Commerce, among others. As with other federal and state projects, the Department of Energy has proven to be an enthusiastic supporter of the Drupal community, with the project yielding numerous patches and even a new module or two to be contributed back to the community.

New Energy.gov homepage

The project was executed by an all-star team that included not only Treehouse but also the design and usability gurus at  HUGE and Drupal support mavens at Acquia, all brought together by Energy Enterprise Solutions. Cloud-based hosting is provided by BlackMesh.

Running on Drupal 7, the multisite platform gives the Department of Energy the tools they need to both provide a more engaging, enjoyable user experience and realize operational efficiencies.

Highlights of the project include:

  • Easy sharing of content between sites on the platform. Editors can now write content that is easily deployed to multiple sites, rather than each site having its own completely distinct resources.

  • Data visualizations and mapping. Our devs cooked up some very cool things in rendering data visualizations and maps (using the super-slick MapBox). You’ll see more on this in the next week or so as they put together blog content about the technology implemented.

  • Major editor empowerment. Along with creating content that can be applied anywhere within the platform’s network, it is now actually possible for editors to create new sites without relying on the development team.

  • Drupal breakthroughs. Innovations in using Drupal include sophisticated workflows using a state machine, and the new Bean module (currently available as an alpha release). As with the data renderings, you’ll hear more about these innovations in the coming weeks.

  • Independence. The Department of Energy now owns their site platform; its open source code means that they will no longer have to rely on a single vendor for support or site updates.

Finally, a big thank you and congratulations to Cammie Croft and Liz Meckes at the Department of Energy. It has truly been a pleasure working with the DOE team on this project.

As the CEO of Treehouse, I couldn’t be more proud of our team, nor more awestruck by what they have achieved. This project is as much of a milestone for us as I hope it is for the Department of Energy, and I am very hopeful that it will lead to more such projects with our public agencies in the future.

Keep an eye out for tech details from our team in the coming weeks. Trust me, it will be worth the read. ;) In the meantime, check out Energy.gov and join us on Twitter (@treehouseagency)!
Mar 19 2011
Mar 19

Built on the powerful Drupal Content Management System, Open Public is a Drupal distribution that offers features in a CMS that Government websites look for, and in some cases need in order to go live. Website Accessibility and 508 Compliance are required by all government websites and must meet strict ADA guidelines. Until Open Public was released there was a bit of work to do to conform your Drupal website to those standards. Open Public offers an Out of the box CMS built for Government and Public Policy groups that has all forms and content styles that meet ADA Guidelines. Open Public was created by Phase 2 Technology, which has had it's hands in government, public sector, publishing, and non-profit web development for over 10 years. They have used this experience to create an amazing open source product built on top of Drupal.

Open Public comes packed with ready to use Out-of-the-box features and built-in functionality. Along with the great accessibility features it provides, there is also a Media Room feature included. The Media Room is a feature that allows for the quick release of important information on the website. You can then invite media partners to access all of the information including press releases, videos, images, and other important and valuable content in one accessible centralized repository. Along with added features for your media partners, Open Public offers added features for your internal organization including a Directory Management system that allows you to publish profiles on your organizations leadership and staff. This system allows you to easily manage and update the contact information for anyone in your organization quickly and easily. There are also a handful of other pluggable features that Open Public offers that are included at no cost to you. Those include the ability to integrate a Twitter feed on the site, post blog entries, and features that you can turn on or off depending if you want to use them or not. These features all make it very easy to customize your Government website with ease.

Security is one of the founding principles behind the creation of Open Public. Strict Government security standards are at the forefront of the requirements to run a government website. Open Public has once again made it much easier to get past this hurdle, by including the functionality needed in the base installation. Proper password handling complies with Level 2 of the NIST'S Electronic Authentication Guidelines, HTTPS is pre-configured, and all forms come standard with CAPTCHA technology. This makes Open Public one of the most secure CMS platforms I have ever heard of out of the box. It will be great to see some of these things added to Drupal core over time, as it would allow all types of sites to know Drupal is a secure CMS platform.

Along with all these great features, Open Public also has incorporated the first app store for Drupal. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the idea of a Drupal app store, but right now there doesn't seem to be any sort of payment system being built. The idea is that you can download and install a full featured and configured module or set of modules in one nice and neat package called an app. The idea is similar to the Features module that was created, which allows you to export various configurations and settings for multiple modules as a Feature. The concept of a Drupal App seems to be built on the same general principle of making it easier to add complex functionality easily to a Drupal website.

Open Public also features a customizable look and feel to the site, with easy to change modern themes included. Open Public also features a full featured intuitive dashboard, which offers easy to use stress-free rich-media management. That means that adding media-rich graphics and data visualizations to your content will be much easier than on a normal Drupal site. This all sites on top of what seems to be a very robust Drupal installation that allows for a very rich text and media driven website out of the box.

As with Drupal itself, Open Public offers a great community to back it. They are actively recruiting new community members on the , and those involved are shaping the way the Open Public is being further developed. Since the release of Open Public Beta, there have already been new features proposed by community members, that the development team for Open Public has accepted and are already working on. Those include enhancements to the Administration Interface and the inclusion of a Map Visualization feature.

You can read keep up to date with Open Public or give it a try yourself at http://openpublicapp.com.

Contact us if you would like talk more about developing a government related website with Open Public and Drupal CMS for your organization.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web