Whitehouse.gov re-launches on Drupal

If you have ever spent any time around software development, (especially here in Portland with our amazing open-source community) you'll know that the community takes a great deal of interest in the success of others. With Drupal, I have rarely come across another technology that shares the same sense of nearly parental pride from members of the community. When yet another high-profile Drupal site launches, everyone shares in the excitement.

With the launch of Recovery.gov earlier this year, the community sensed a new appreciation for open-source software within the realm of government. And apparently the technology advisers in the are taking that appreciation a step further, by rebuilding Whitehouse.gov on top of Drupal, in order to support the rather unique communication needs the President of the United States.

Advocates of open-source development are hailing this as a huge step forward in the perception of open source software as a viable alternative to proprietary, one-vendor solutions and the ushering in of an era of transparency and openess to government software. With the right philosophical approach, it is advocated that government agencies can lower costs, speed up deployment, and respond better to the needs of their constituents.

Just as predictably, critics are rushing to attack the choice. That's a likely outcome for nearly any decision of government, but in the case of Drupal, the community would be wise to listen to those (constructive) criticisms and make sure that advocacy doesn't trump pragmatism.

Quite honestly, it's a huge feather in the cap of the open source community, but there's an old saying in customer service - perception equals reality. Right or wrong, the customer's perception of any situation is your reality. We believe Drupal is a great choice for many different kinds of projects, but all software has strengths and weaknesses, and a highly visible site like Whitehouse.gov has the potential to become the defacto standard by which all Drupal projects are judged.

We'll be listening to the conversation with interest.

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