What 4 councils learned about sharing Drupal code

Our 6 week exploration of Drupal code sharing between councils has concluded. Here's what we found and next steps.

Back in January, Croydon and 3 other councils started a project to work out how to share Drupal code.

Six hectic weeks later, we finished up with a show-and-tell, presenting our findings and suggesting next steps.

The COVID-19 situation meant we weren’t able to post at the time. While the council is still very busy, we wanted to mark the end of the project with this brief post.

What we found

We spoke to 10 councils across the country and found an enormous appetite for sharing. While the tech and content design capability of councils varied, all saw the opportunity to skill up and “own” their publishing platform. This led us down a “coding club” route rather than exploring selling the platform as a service.

Some of the councils wanted to share everything, while others wanted to pick and choose “components” such as Step by Step or News. This means the code and design work done to date needs some refactoring to be flexible enough.

The councils wanted some paperwork setting out the club “rules”, but insisted it be short and easy to follow. It shouldn’t be a document that legal has to pore over. Neither should money change hands – that would be a barrier to joining for many councils.

We started to think about how day-to-day collaboration should work. That’s something we’ll be trying next.

Project deliverables

We produced the following:

Next steps

All-round enthusiasm for the project led us to apply for Alpha funding from MHCLG. We heard mid March that we were successful, so will start gearing up again shortly.

We’re joined by 4 more councils for this work – hello Cumbria, London Councils, Westminster and Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. Glad to have you aboard.

The Alpha work splits into two phases:

  • 4 weeks (2 sprints) starting to refactor the code and theme so that the councils can start trying it
  • 8 weeks (4 sprints) further refining the code and theme, and also testing the agreement, governance and day-to-day collaboration

Much of this project will run remotely, using Slack, Trello and Google Hangouts. It brings extra challenges, but we’re confident these can be overcome.

Have a skim through the deck and the documents, and please let us know any questions or thoughts you may have. We’ll continue to post updates here.

3 thoughts on “What 4 councils learned about sharing Drupal code”

Gary Cosgrave – Annertech 21st June 2020 at 10:39 am

Really insightful stuff. This is embryonic in local government in Ireland and we’re pushing its adoption at Annertech. “Build to Share” is part of the government’s Digital Strategy and some of the Council’s are giving it a go, see here: https://www.eolasmagazine.ie/build-to-share-bringing-citizen-services-online-beyond-2020/

Will Callaghan 22nd June 2020 at 9:59 am

Hi Gary, thanks for sharing. Are you on Drupal as well? We should swap notes!

    Gary Cosgrave 23rd June 2020 at 7:01 am

    Hi Will, yes we are. We’re Ireland’s leading Drupal Agency and work with Dublin City Council, Limerick City & County Council, Fingal Council and Meath Council to name but a few. We’re big fans of code sharing. We’re keeping a close eye on what you guys are doing and will be blogging on it shortly and what Irish Councils can learn – I’ll keep you posted. Thanks, Gary.

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