At Myplanet, the company that synchronizes my circadian rhythm for awesomeness, a few of us recently took a locomotive joy ride from our homebase in Toronto to DrupalCamp Ottawa.
The camp definitely had a government-related spin, given that Ottawa is Canada's capital. This was all hearts-stars-and-horseshoes as far as I was concerned, as I personally have a passion for open government intiatives.
Given my inclinations, the highlight of my trip was witnessing the huge strides that have been made with the WetKit distro (short for Web Experience Toolkit). This project is an internal government project aiming to build a customizable Drupal distribution to help Canadian government agencies easily create websites that meet their own guidelines for accessability, usability, and bilingualism.
WetKit is a Drupal distribution being developed openly on GitHub through the joint efforts of the federal government, provincial government, and the City of Ottawa, with the help of private industry. Under the technical leadership of Will Hearn, all the stakeholders are contributing in the areas for which they possess Drupal expertise. Myplanet, for one, is helping to build a consistent developer experience through virtualized development environments and common server-provisioning tools. (Full disclosure: I'm playing a significant role in our contribution, so I'll admit a personal bias in my enthusiasm!)
The WetKit distribution is looking more and more polished every time it's demoed. At DrupalCamp, we saw that it now has the following features:
- multilingual support
- ready-to-go responsive layout systems and themes
- compliance with Canadian government accessibility requirements
- allows migrations from static HTML sites (via migrate module)
- builds on the Panopoly distro, the Spark distro and Panels Everywhere, implying lots of drag-and-drop AJAX'y magic
The word on the street is that the Canadian Government is preparing to make a decision as to what its "official" CMS will be as part of their push to create a centralized "Shared Services Canada" division to centralize IT-related resources. With each improvement to the WetKit distribution, Drupal gains more ground against the presumed proprietary competitors: Adobe's CQ5 and HP/Autonomy's Teamsite. These proprietary systems have quite a bit of support within the federal government, so the better WetKit can look as an out-of-the-box solution for Government of Canada websites, the better the odds it can tip the scales in Drupal's favour.
What's particularly exciting is the murmuring among stakeholders about creating not just private industry and intra-national colloboration (Canadian federal, provincial, municipal), but also international collaboration -- particularly relevant given the United States' open data intiatives and Drupal support, not to mention Australia's recent aGov distro, released by PreviousNext.
If you're interested in any of the projects mentioned, you can spin up a fresh sandbox site through SimplyTest.me and give each of them a shot. Just type either "Web Experience Toolkit" or "aGov" into the text field and you're off to the races!
On the technical backend, the WetKit project maintains an impressive testing suite, using travis CI and Sauce Labs to run integration and browser tests on every commit and every pending feature branch before it gets merged into the project.
We're really excited about WetKit and will continue to contribute to the project's success.
Thanks to all the wonderful folks and organizations who made WetKit and DrupalCamp Ottawa possible. The event was a great primer for this spring's DrupCon, and hopefully we'll see some of these efforts making waves in Portland!