Sunday, October 25, 2009

View Open Source

This image of the HTML code on the White House website represents what one sees if one chooses the "view source" command in your browser window. It lets you see how the site uses XML, Javascript, and CSS to improve its appearance, availability for RSS feeds, and interactivity, while still making content available in the public formats preferred by archivists and advocates for access by the disabled.

What you can't see is today's announcement of a momentous change at " Goes Drupal," which explains that the current administration has finally abandoned the proprietary software system of the previous administration in favor of a well-regarded open source content management platform alternative: Drupal. has gone Drupal. After months of planning, says an Obama Administration source, the White House has ditched the proprietary content management system that had been in place since the days of the Bush Administration in favor of the latest version of the open-source Drupal software, as the AP alluded to in its reporting several minutes ago.

The great Drupal switch came about after the Obama new media team, with a few months of executive branch service (and tweaking of under their belts, decided they needed a more malleable development environment for the White House web presence. They wanted to be able to more quickly, easily, and gracefully build out their vision of interactive government. General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the Virginia-based government contractor who had executed the Bush-era White House CMS contract, was tasked by the Obama Administration with finding a more flexible alternative. The ideal new platform would be one where dynamic features like question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools could work more fluidly together with the site's infrastructure. The solution, says the White House, turned out to be Drupal. That's something of a victory for the Drupal (not to mention open-source) community.

Drupal proponents have long tried to make the case that open-source software could be just as safe, just as stable, and and just as reliable as pre-boxed software, even if hundreds, thousands, or even millions of volunteer developers had their fingers in the mix at some point along the way. The White House's seal of approval doesn't hurt.

Thanks to Alex Halavais for the link.

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