Using Drupal to build a global catalog for open source software
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Drupal was the platform of choice when Code for America built its "CfA Marketplace," a “marketplace for open innovation in government” that tracks hunders of software applications that have been created, used or deployed by nearly 300 cities. The CfA Commons was designed to serve as a community-edited resource that would help governments and other public service organizations make better use of scarce technology dollars by sharing technology information among governments and institutions.
"Think of it like a community-driven civic app store," explained the project sponsors. "The CfA Commons app directory will foster the creation and growth of a community of civic technologists sharing not only information about the applications they use and their experiences with them, but also the very application code. By connecting the nation’s best civic innovators, we will stimulate better IT decision making and the reuse of civic code across the country.
"In continuation of this sharing spirit, the World Bank used the codebase for the CfA Commons as the starting-point for a separate project that launched in December 2012 — a Sanitation Hackathon that brought together civic technologists for a marathon programming event that challenged programmers to develop software solutions that address real-world problems in public sanitation. During the months leading up to the event, subject matter experts and members of the public created, submitted and voted on problem definitions that highlight specific sanitation challenges that could be mitigated by innovative information and communication technologies. Then, during a weekend-long marathon event, teams of programmers in cities around the world developed innovative solutions to these problem definitions.
The developers of the CfA Marketplace and the Sanitation Hackathon are now building a Drupal distro designed to support a global commons of information sharing. The vision is that hackathons and application catalogs should share information to create a virtuous circle of technology innovation. Hackathons are a natural way for programmers and civic problem-solvers to come together and share new ideas that lead to innovation. Some of those innovations succeed and become fully-realized software applications. Successful projects then need to be shared with others so that organizations working to improve community life can spend less time reinventing solutions to the same problems and more time sharing solutions as they become available.
Sheldon Rampton and Andrew Hoppin will discuss the current state of the Apps Catalog project and some of the choice made in converting what began as a single website into a Drupal distro intended to support wide reusability and information sharing between multiple hackathons as well as multiple Apps Catalogs serving different stakeholders and geographical regions.