Open Source Expands Open Source Efforts

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, IP Communications Magazines  |  August 17, 2010

The White House has jumped aboard the open source bandwagon. And we’re not talking about some cleverly named Silicon Valley upstart. This is the real deal.

In late April, White House blogger Dave Cole announced plans to release some of the custom code the White House has developed.

“This code is available for anyone to review, use, or modify,” wrote Cole. “We're excited to see how developers across the world put our work to good use in their own applications.”

The majority of the code for already is open source. The open source platform in use by tens of thousands of people and organizations. What’s new, according to Cole, is code that brings new accessibility, communication and scalability to the table.

On the scalability front, is releasing a module called Context HTTP Headers, which allows site builders to add new metadata to the content they serve. 

“We use this to tell our servers how to handle specific pages, such as ‘Cache this type of page for 15 minutes or that type for 30,’” Cole writes.

A second module addressing scalability is Akamai, which allows the Web site to integrate with content delivery network provider Akamai (News - Alert).

The enhanced communication features relate to mailing lists and preferences.

“Many government agencies have active e-mail programs that they use to communicate with the public about the services they provide,” writes Cole. “We have a mailing list for the White House where you can get updates about new content and initiatives. To enable more dynamic e-mails tailored to users' preferences, we've integrated one of the popular services for government e-mail programs with our CMS in the new module, GovDelivery."

And to enable better accessibility, wants to make sure all images on the site have the appropriate metadata to make them readable via screen-reading software.

“To help us meet this, while making it easier to manage the rich photos and video content you see on our site, we've developed Node Embed,” writes Cole.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi