U.K. releases its first contribution to Drupal

Following in the footsteps of WhiteHouse.gov, Data.gov.uk has developed its first open source code and shared it with the community.

The U.K. government has just released its first contribution to the Drupal community.

downloaded here. It will be released on Drupal.org soon.

The CKAN module is what the folks behind Data.gov.uk developed to take all the data stored in their CKAN system and publish it on its Drupal site. For now, the code can be

This code release allows content to be synched from CKAN into Drupal. CKAN is the system we use as our “back end” to store information about all the data government has released. Drupal is a system to publish web content, and serves as our “front end” through which people can use to find our datasets and comment on them.
The main CKANPackage code creates a Drupal custom content type to represent data in the same way as CKAN. The first sub-package is the CKANImporter which imports packages from CKAN into Drupal and allows this to take place as a one-off batch import or as an update to the latest changes since a specified time. The second sub-package is CKANDatagovuk which correlates fields in CKAN with Drupal hooks.

The White House similarly released its first open source Drupal code back in April, and the U.K. release is the latest example of how governments are not only taking advantage of the open source systems out there, but also actually acting as members of those OS communities.

It's one thing to design your site in Drupal. It's another entirely to develop processes for scalability, accessibility, and interaction and then share them with the community at large. Coders working for the government have access to tools, resources and, most importantly, time that many others in the open source community may not.

I say "time" is the most important of the above for a simple reason: These coders who work for the government are doing their job. It's not that they have tons of time and are twiddling their thumbs. It's that the time they have is dedicated to writing code for these government sites. Sites that include WhiteHouse.gov and Data.gov.uk.

Many people who contribute to open source software are doing it on their own time. They have jobs, families, other demands on their time. To be sure, some are in jobs where they are working on OSS code. But many are not. And to have the addition of government-paid developers to the community? Well, that can only be good.

Unless you believe it's all a conspiracy to turn you into a pawn of the state and take over your brain. If that's the case, I don't think this is the blog you need to be reading.

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