Australian Drupal development shop PreviousNext has launched a beta program for a new open source offering intended to make adoption of the open source content management system (CMS) more appealing to government agencies.
PreviousNext's aGov is a free Drupal 7 distribution designed to speed Web development and make compliance with the Australian Government Information Management Office's mandatory Web requirements easy.
The Web Guide produced by AGIMO lays out a series of mandatory requirements websites of federal agencies, addressing issues such as accessibility.
"Our incentive to build aGov was driven by the need for all Australian Government sites to comply with AGIMO's mandatory web requirements, especially in relation to accessibility, responsive mobile display and enterprise-class content management features," said PreviousNext managing partner Owen Lansbury.
"aGov allows government organisations to have a fully functioning site live in under 10 minutes, saving enormous effort and budget, and allowing them to focus immediately on content, user engagement and custom functionality."
In late September PreviousNext completed alpha testing with a "few key federal departments" and the company launched the beta version at the Gov 2.0 conference in Canberra last week.
"We hope to finalise the beta testing group in the next week, and already have more than 25 signups from departments at a federal and state level, along with a few major government funded agencies and cultural institutions," Lansbury said.
Feedback has so far been "enormously positive," Lansbury said. "aGov appears to tick a lot of important boxes for government web teams."
On of Drupal's strongest markets in recent years has been among government organisations around the world. Drupal.org's list of government agencies using the CMS includes more than 150 countries, and according to Lansbury a quarter of all .gov sites in the US use Drupal.
"The main appeal is the maturity of Drupal as a true enterprise-class content management system, coupled with the enormous flexibility to use more than 5000 modules for Drupal 7 or customise functionality, and the ability of government teams to quickly migrate their Web teams' skills to Drupal," Lansbury said.
In addition, because Drupal (and the aGov distribution) are open source, there are no licensing fees, and a robust community exists to help solve common problems for the CMS's user base.
In Australia, government use of Drupal has "grown tenfold" in the last two years, Lansbury said. Drupal.org lists more than 100 Australian federal, state and local government sites employing the CMS.
The trend PreviousNext is seeing is that large departments, such as the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, are replacing their SharePoint, Squiz Matrix and static HTML-based sites sites with Drupal, and bringing website development and management in-house, Lansbury said.
"We're now effectively seeing Drupal as being the de facto CMS of choice for Australian government organisations when they're building new websites, and aGov should make the decision to switch that much simpler and more compelling."
Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p