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Case Study: The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA)

6 Feb, 2013 By: Editorial Staff imageSource

In 2012, www. Georgia.gov became the first state portal in the country to be powered on Drupal. It’s also the first state portal to use Responsive Web Design—meaning mobile users, a rapidly growing demographic, will have a site customized for their viewing. The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), who manages the state’s official website, hosts more than 60 websites for various Georgia state agencies, including offering a content management system (CMS) and support for the sites.


In 2012, www. Georgia.gov became the first state portal in the country to be powered on Drupal. It’s also the first state portal to use Responsive Web Design—meaning mobile users, a rapidly growing demographic, will have a site customized for their viewing. The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), who manages the state’s official website, hosts more than 60 websites for various Georgia state agencies, including offering a content management system (CMS) and support for the sites.

Why Drupal was Chosen

With web traffic over 1.2 million views per month, the team at the Georgia Technology Authority needed a platform that was enterprise ready, cost effective, flexible, and had proven sector adoption. The GTA Interactive team did tireless research into the CMS space in order to narrow down the choices. With each requirement they were able to mark more and more options off the list.

Drupal quickly became the clear choice as the team saw the ease of use for “non-technical” users along with cost savings of moving from a proprietary CMS onto Drupal. In addition the team was impressed with the wide and growing government domain acceptance of Drupal. Sites like www.whitehouse.gov and each member of the House of Representatives are using Drupal with great success.

Project Kickoff

After a lengthy RFP process, the GTA team awarded the build contract to Phase2 Technology, in partnership with Mediacurrent and Acquia. The goal of the project was to build a scalable enterprise platform, and migrate 55+ existing sites from Vignette onto Drupal. This included all content that was currently available, as well as a fresh look and feel for the suite of sites.

Challenges & Solutions

Some primary challenges addressed by the Mediacurrent team (mediacurrent.com) are:

Content Migration: Migrating content from Vignette onto Drupal was one challenge while migrating content for 55+ sites, distributed across three versions of Vignette, was another. The Mediacurrent team worked closely with systems administrators at GTA to develop a specification of how to best export, format and retrieve the data for migration for each version of Vignette. The team relied heavily on Drush and the Drupal Migrate module. The migrate module’s rich feature set and Drush integration allowed them to easily test and rollback migrations, while at the same time, automate a lot of the manual labor that goes into tuning the migration of data between systems. Mediacurrent followed with an aggressive scripting/testing/iteration cycle concurrent with general platform development work. This schedule was pivotal in being well prepared to migrate the data with minimal risk during the aggressive deployment phase of the project.

Install Profile Development: The GTA team required that they be able to maintain and scale the environment without partner intervention. They forecasted an increase of up to 10 sites per year, and they needed an easy way to add those sites to the platform. Mediacurrent assisted Phase2 to create a custom OpenPublish-based install profile that extended the OpenPublish base installation. This allows GTA to spin up new sites in the future and ensured that all of their sites were running on the same platform with full access to a common feature set.

Theming

The Phase2 team used the responsive Omega base theme to create the sub-themes for agencies. Every Georgia agency was able to choose from one of eight templates for their site—streamlining the creative process while providing a layout that best fit their site’s content. The Phase2 team then assisted in setting up the homepage after the content had been migrated to the site.

Modules

The Migrate module and Drush were both leveraged heavily by Mediacurrent for migration.

Migrate module: One of the key features of the migrate module is being able to rollback migrations and re-run them as bugs were being fixed. Migrating and testing GTA agency site data was a very iterative process, and the Migrate module allowed developers to be able to test changes efficiently.

Drush scripts: Drush allowed developers to write scripts against Drupal with access to the full Drupal API. The Mediacurrent team wrote Drush scripts to fill in the gaps that Migrate could not do on its own. This included scrubbing XML data, cleaning up site content after the Migrate imports had finished, and performing other miscellaneous tasks required to stand up an agency site.




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