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4/22/2010
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White House Donates Drupal Code

Technology used for the Drupal-based WhiteHouse.gov site is now part of the open source project.

The Obama administration this week said it's donating code to the Drupal open source project, which it used to develop its WhiteHouse.gov site.

The move is not entirely unexpected. The White House has worked with Drupal developers in the past to share ideas and technology, and code for the site is already available as part of the open source content-management project.

Specifically, the administration released code to add scalability, communication, and accessibility features to Drupal, technology it developed for the platform when it rebuilt WhiteHouse.gov, according to a White House blog post attributed to Dave Cole, a senior adviser to Obama's CIO Vivek Kundra. Cole also manages the WhiteHouse.gov site.

Last fall, the Obama administration said it was rebuilding WhiteHouse.gov on the Drupal platform. Shortly thereafter, White House technology directors met with Drupal developers to show off new features for the site and to discuss how they can work with developers to enhance Drupal as well.

"We're excited to see how developers across the world put our work to good use in their own applications," Cole wrote in his post. "By releasing some of our code, we get the benefit of more people reviewing and improving it."

On the scalability side, the administration released a module called Context HTTP Headers that allows Web site builders to add new metadata to the content they serve. The WhiteHouse.gov site uses this feature to tell backend servers how to handle specific pages, according to the post.

For example, Context HTTP Headers would be able to tell a site to cache a certain type of page for 15 minutes, or another type for 30, according to the post.

Another scalability module called Akamai, which allows the WhiteHouse.gov site to integrate with the Akamai content-delivery network used by the site, is now part of the Drupal project.

To facilitate communication, Drupal now has a module called GovDelivery that enables a site's mailing list services to tailor dynamic e-mails according to user preferences, Cole said.

Finally, for accessibility, the administration developed Node Embed, code that applies the appropriate metadata to images and video content on a Web site and makes them easier to manage, according to the post.

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