Later this month Canberra will for the second time play host to a conference focussed on government agencies' use of Drupal, an open source content management system.
Attendance at the inaugural DrupalGov Canberra event last year was triple what the organisers had expected, the conference's founder, Christopher Skene, told Computerworld Australia.
"Our target was 50 but we sold out at 150 attendees and we had to add another track just to fit them all in," Skene, a Drupal consultant at Web development shop PreviousNext, said.
"It was a big success for what was essentially just a mean to be kind of a meetup — it turned into a fully fledged conference and was the third-largest Drupal event ever held in Australia."
Skene said interest in the open source CMS continues to grow among government agencies: "Four years ago nobody was using it; so it's gone from almost zero usage to being the CMS of choice, at least for federal government.
"The question now is not 'Which CMS should we use?' but 'Is there any reason why we shouldn't use Drupal?'"
Drupal's flexibility and low ongoing costs compared to proprietary alternatives have helped boost its popularity in government, as has the size of the community around the project, Skene said.
More than 130 federal, state and territory government sites use the open source platform, according to Drupal.org. Internationally, the CMS runs a number of high-profile government sites, such as Whitehouse.gov.
In May, the Australian Government Information Management Office unveiled its intention to build a whole-of-government CMS offering based on Drupal.
"GovCMS is intended to support more effective web channel delivery functions within Government, and enable agencies to redirect effort from non-core transactional activities, towards higher-value activities that are more aligned with core agency missions," said a statement of requirements issued at the time by the Department of Finance.
"The Government Content Management System (GovCMS) is envisaged as an important service offering for Australian Commonwealth Government agencies," the Australian government CTO, John Sheridan, wrote in a blog entry.
Sheridan is a keynote speaker at DrupalGov Canberra, along with Drupal community evangelist Jeffrey (jam) McGuire.
DrupalGov Canberra takes place 22 August at the National Museum of Australia.
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