Drupal gains popularity within government ranks

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Open source platforms and software garners its strength from its adaptability.

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By Christopher Smith

Unlike a purely corporate tool, an open source project is inherently adaptable to the needs of a particular client or group.

That's partially why the Drupal WxT platform is being used to operate the Statistics Canada and Health Canada online government portals. It seamlessly incorporates the bilingual requirements of federal internet sites while remaining open to change for future updates/requirements.

Drupal has become a go-to content management systems for many professional programmers and web developers. Although it is not immediately accessible to someone with no direct Drupal programming experience, the platform reveals itself to be highly flexible and component rich once the basic learning curve is over. More importantly, Drupal's open source lineage means that it comes with a rich community of people who actively work together to solve problems.

There is rarely a problem or issue that can't be solved via group consensus, making it a reliable choice for programmers and developers. The goal of the platform is not to turn a profit, per se; the goal is to create a flawless and exceptionally fluid programming environment/platform.

Drupal's complexity, at least to the beginning user, enables it to act as a solid platform while always being adaptable to frequently unforeseen needs. Much like a laptop computer with USB portals, Drupal is built so that future modules can be plugged in.

These modules may contain functionality that as yet is not even designed or fully imagined. Drupal also has a high level of security, which makes it ideal for government operations that need to keep some information private or at least accessible in a very specific way.

When these two features are combined, a government department can create a highly functional and adaptable user interface that benefits both the public and government administrators in terms of ease of use.

As governments continue to see the benefits of making information easily accessible to the public through an online forum, Drupal will likely continue to be one of the most valued content management systems available.

Christopher Smith is the chief executive of local software company OPIN. He writes about open governance, technology, and the public sector on Twitter @csedev.

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Health Canada

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  • Jayson Peltzer
    December 13, 2012 - 09:18

    I completely agree. Drupal has a leg up on other popular CMS systems such as Wordpress and Joomla when it comes to Enterprise support due to modules like CCK and VIews that give way to almost limitless capability development online with a logical and well organized administrative capacity. I had the opportunity to lead such a project in 2007, a three year journey and battle to build and deploy a full blown Intranet system on Drupal. You can read more about it on this blog post: http://jaysonpeltzer.com/blog/drupal-in-government-really-does-works. We've had great success with it and the platform has been fully operational sincd 2010. Rolling out an open source tool such as Drupal within the Government of Canada has gained momentum over the years; it's not as hard as it used to be. In my opinion, it feels like Drupal is steadily becoming a "must-consider" for any government website project in the works.

  • Reggie
    November 16, 2012 - 21:06

    You are right on point about the power, flexibility of Drupal. However, I beg to differ on the point that Drupal is not "immediately accessible to someone with no direct Drupal programming experience". That assertion may have been true in the early days of Drupal. However, starting with Drupal version 7, that statement is no longer true. You do not need to know an ounce of programming in order to install and administer a Drupal website. I am an accountant by trade (with no programing knowledge) and I've stood up several sites using Drupal. Installation, setup and configuration of a Drupal site can be very simple. The power and flexibility gives you the ability to create a very complex website that may benefit from some knowledge of php, html and CSS. However, working knowledge of these programs are not essential to setting up a wonderful Drupal website.