govCMS to release its own Drupal distribution

Forks PreviousNext-developed aGov distribution

The government's govCMS project will make its own Drupal distribution publicly available for download, it announced today.

The distribution will be a fork of the aGov distribution, which was developed by local development shop PreviousNext and is the building block for govCMS sites.

aGov was released in 2013 after a beta period involving a number of federal and state government agencies. High profile end users include the NSW government's 'one stop shop' for services, Service NSW.

aGov was designed to speed Web development and make it easier for agencies to comply with government standards.

"While govCMS utilised the aGov code base as its foundation, it is clear their future paths will vary to meet the requirements of different customers," said a statement issued by govCMS today.

"For this reason now is the ideal time to fork aGov and create a distinct distribution for the govCMS service."

"We think it's a very positive thing from a number of angles," said PreviousNext co-founder Owen Lansbury.

"Because govCMS is based on Drupal and specifically aGov — so the core CMS functionality of govCMS is 100 per cent aGov — [we're seeing] exactly what we always hoped for, which is widespread adoption of Drupal within Australian government.

"It's kind of beyond our wildest dreams in terms of the validation that it has given us."

"In the process of govCMS adopting aGov, and through very rigorous security assessments and all the various government compliance checks that it had to go through, they've stuck with it the whole way," Lansbury said.

"We're very, very pleased about that and we recognise the need for the Department of Finance to have ultimate control over their version of aGov for the govCMS distribution. That's why we've been supportive of them doing that fork."

"There are various things that need to be locked down within aGov for govCMS, and [because of that] govCMS doesn't necessarily suit all of the users that are currently using aGov."

There have been around 25,000 downloads of aGov since it launched and more than 500 sites are running it.

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"There's definitely a market for what govCMS is trying to do in terms of simple informational websites, but we've still got this huge user base of aGov customers that we need to continue to support," Lansbury said.

"We'll be doing that through future product enhancements that may feed back into govCMS and we may see upstreaming from what happens in govCMS back into aGov over time."

Work is underway to develop a standalone govCMS distribution that is separate from the cloud-hosted CMS-as-a-service offering for government agencies.

"This will allow organisations to access and use the govCMS distribution outside of the govCMS service," the statement issued today by govCMS said.

The distribution will be hosted at

"Upgrades to the distribution will be automatically rolled out as part of the govCMS service, allowing agencies and users to simultaneously reap the benefits of standardisation and innovation," the statement said.

"As active members of the Drupal Open Source Community, the govCMS distribution and the aGov distribution will continue to leverage from each other, as well as other contributors to the Community. "

The govCMS service, hosted by US firm Acquia in its cloud service built atop AWS's public cloud and run by the Department of Finance, officially went live at the start of March.

govCMS is available an as-a-service option for government agencies. Migration to the platform is not mandatory.

In addition to federal departments and agencies, local and state government entities can sign up to it.

Along with the Department of Finance, early adopters of the service have included the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the Department of Communications, and the Department of Social Services.

govCMS hosting starts at $10,500.

The Australian government chief technology officer, John Sheridan, said in a presentation last year that the platform would offer cost-effective Web content management for agencies, particularly those with a large number of brochure-style websites.

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