OpenPublic Status Update: Alpha Release

When the Obama Administration directed agencies to be transparent, collaborative, and participatory, a new era of using open-source technologies in the public sector was born. And thanks to the innovative efforts of groups such as Code For America and Sunlight Labs, we are increasingly connecting public enterprises with sophisticated tools and smart talent — all to promote more effective operations and outreach.

So, as active participants in the open-source network since 2001, we wanted to build an exceptional product for government that addresses public-sector needs for content management, citizen engagement and data transparency — that’s why we created OpenPublic.

OpenPublic is an emerging project that provides an open source platform to build government websites on Drupal. It is being built initially by Phase2 Technology as a Drupal distribution, a free, downloadable pre-packaged version of Drupal designed to address specific needs – in this case common government use cases. When installed, it gives you a Drupal site(s) that is pre-built with the stuff a government site needs. It is being developed with attention to considerations like Federal requirements for security, privacy, and best practices for a modern open government oriented site (e.g. citizen engagement and feedback).

Introducing OpenPublic from Phase2 Technology on Vimeo.

 

How it Works

From a layman’s perspective, OpenPublic is just Drupal setup the way a government site should be built with a big head start. It could be used "out of the box" with some branding and theme changes to reflect your "look and feel" (and your own content of course). Or, it could be used as the foundation of a larger Drupal project with additional modules and functionality added to it.

We envision using this ourselves as a platform for public sector organizations with large multi-site CMS implementations.

The architecture of OpenPublic is designed to provide the ability for sharing of features both within and across government organizations. For instance, a FOIA request form developed for one agency could be easily "shared" by another agency with similar or identical requirements in a “plug and play” manner.

From a technical perspective, OpenPublic is built from the latest Drupal 7 core configured for the government domain; with selected high quality community contributed modules; new contributed modules and pre-fab site building components (i.e. content types, views, context, regions and blocks) and an accessible and extensible theme that can be easily customized or extended. It is also being developed using Features and other best practices for code sharing, configuration management and re-use.

Yesterday we shipped OpenPublic’s Alpha release to key reviewers and testers.

With this initial release milestone met, it is time to share some more about our roadmap. The initial release will meet the following objectives:

  1. Establish baseline Platform functionality (i.e. content types, views, modules, installation profile, etc.)
  2. Provide basic site structure/UI (e.g. elegant theme layer and two swappable themes)
  3. Provide a proof of concept for compliance considerations (e.g. Section 508 Accessibility guidelines)
  4. Preview a Features based architecture and specification for inter-operability of functionality (e.g. Features, exportables, Kit compliance)
  5. Introduce some initial content and functionality including:
  • Blogs
  • Press Releases
  • Events
  • Documents (with public comment)
  • Photo and Video Galleries
  • Staff Directory & Contact Profiles

We hope you’re as excited about OpenPublic as we are. Learn more details about it at http://www.openpublicapp.com.