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Aug 05 2011
Aug 05

It's been an exciting week for us here at Treehouse Agency.  We've been hopping up and down for weeks wanting to tell everyone about our work with Energy.gov, and now that it's finally launched, the response has been exhilarating.

Yesterday, our CEO Michael Caccavano posted his thoughts on the launch and noted some of the site's features.  Today I've put out our official press release, sharing the news from our perspective as a company, including some more hints at the Drupal coolness our team used. 

I'd love it if you read the whole release :), but in case you've actually got code to write today, here's the fun part:

Development highlights of the relaunched Energy.gov include:

  • Data Visualization API. Historically, data rendering libraries have required specialized data handling to work with disparate data structures. Treehouse developed the Data Visualization API to define a standardized data structure for visualizations, creating an abstraction layer that allows data to be rendered in any library for which an adapter has been written. This API is further combined with the Drupal 7 Entity API to create a very flexible system that converts these visualizations to Drupal entities.

  • Sophisticated workflow. Using the State Machine module, the Treehouse team created a sophisticated content workflow pattern customized to the Department of Energy's editorial review process. (State Machine provides a flexible system for building rules and reaction associated with changes to the status of an entity.) With the implemented workflow content can be written, edited, and reviewed by multiple staff members prior to being publicly visible. Writers can draft new articles or prepare revisions for existing articles, then send the article to an editor for review and a decision to approve for publication or return for revisions.

  • Drupal Bean module. Bean provides a means of producing block types with custom fields (much like custom content types). Using code-based configuration, it bypasses the user interface and feature management issues that accompany UI-based configurations. The module has been contributed back to the Drupal community and is presently available as an alpha release; the project page for Bean can be found at http://drupal.org/project/bean

Additional project highlights include easy content sharing between sites on the platform, stunning data mapping via MapBox integration, and substantial editor empowerment; the new system allows editors to create and deploy new sites on the platform without relying on developers or development hours.

Indytechcook (we call him "Neil") and zroger (aka "Roger") tell me that you'll be seeing a bunch of code from this project released to the community.  In the meantime, our devs are getting ready to put out some of their awesome blog posts giving you a deeper look at some of the tech behind this project.

Stay tuned for more on the Energy.gov Drupal 7 relaunch!

PS - Here's the slicky little screenshot reel I threw together for the press release. The site looks pretty cool, right?

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)!

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