Every day, tens of thousands of developers from businesses, colleges, and homes contribute patches or new code to open-source programs. It's not every day though that the White House does it. That's exactly what happened last week when the White House's New Media Director Macon Phillips announced the White House's second code release to the open-source Drupal content management system (CMS).
Specifically, this is what the White House's IT staff have contributed back:
Today's code release constitutes a few modules we developed for ourselves, as well as a recognition of our sponsoring the development of modules widely used in the Drupal community, which improve the administration of our site in a variety of ways: file management, content presentation, and URL shortening are just a few examples.
For the code originating from within the White House, we wanted to improve the functionality offered by a popular file manager, IMCE, so we developed a module called IMCE tools, which has three major functions:
First, IMCE Directory Manager provides an interface for specifying which directories a user can access via the IMCE module. It is useful when you have users which have the same user roles but need to be confined to directories which cannot be derived from user data.
Second, IMCE Search allows for searching for files in the IMCE interface which helps identify the location of uploaded files.
Third, IMCE File Path easily presents the URL of a file, facilitating sharing it as a link.
We also recognize that there are really good projects already embedded in the Drupal community and reached out to help support their development. Several of these are used in the collaboration software suite, Open Atrium: Features, Spaces, Boxes, Context, StrongArm, and Admin. We also supported the development of an auto-tagging module, Calais; a bulk file uploading utility, IMCE SWFupload, as well as the module that powers our shortened wh.gov domain, shortURL.
You shouldn't think though that the U.S. government moving to using and working on open source is a new development. It's not.
The U.S. government was using and creating open-source and free software before either term even existed. For example, NASA's COSMIC software collection and VistA, the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) electronic health records (EHR), which is now used in open-source EHR systems such as WorldVista and OpenVista, date back to the 60s and 70s. By embracing open source, Obama is returning to free software's government roots.