Extreme Makeover, Data.gov Edition

Earlier this week, Data.gov relaunched with a beautiful new redesign. Behind it is a powerful CMS platform called WordPress. The previous version of the site ran on a mix of Drupal and other proprietary systems, but as Marion Royal points out in a blog post explaining the relaunch, development on the previous version of the site was done behind closed doors. Marion goes on to explain the open source ethos that was put into play with this update of the site:

Now we’re using open source systems, including WordPress and CKAN. Most importantly, the development is public from the beginning on GitHub so you can see how the site came to be, and will continue to grow. We’ve already had significant help from the open source community and look forward to more.

Data.gov is one of the most innovative initiatives inside of the federal government. A talented team of designers and developers are working hard to expose millions of pieces of government data from across the entire government so that citizens, along with government entities, can leverage that data for good. From the Data.gov website:

Data.gov is the home of the US government’s open data. You can find Federal, state and local data, tools, and resources to conduct research, build apps, design data visualizations, and more. The Data.gov team works at the U.S. General Services Administration, but the site itself is open source, and we’d love your help making it even better.

I have personally worked closely with many of the developers who helped to steer this project. I have been continuously impressed by their level of dedication to opening up government data and putting it into the hands of those who want to use it to make America a better place. I expect big things out of this team, and I believe that Data.gov — and other similar initiatives — can help redefine the way citizens view the work that the government does. It’s an exciting time to be working on these issues and I’m very excited to see WordPress at the center of the action in Washington, DC.

Data.gov on GitHub.

The White House launches Next.Data.Gov on WordPress

The White House just announced that they are launching a new generation of Data.gov, moving to a WordPress / CKAN based approach with their newest iteration called: Next.Data.Gov. Here’s a quick look at the new site:

Next.Data.Gov

Here’s more from the White House’s blog:

Last week, President Obama talked about the importance of opening government data to the American people, so entrepreneurs and business owners can use those troves of information to create jobs and solve problems that government can’t solve by itself. In remarks last Monday, he noted many examples of the Administration’s progress toward making that happen, saying:

“At Data.gov, you can search through and download more than 75,000 data sets – data on everything from what different hospitals charge for different procedures, to credit card complaints, to weather and climate measurements.”

And:

Scalable and Open Source: Next.Data.Gov was built using new tools. This project tapped into two very active open source projects: WordPress and CKAN. The content and community sections of Next.Data.Gov are powered by WordPress. The data catalog is powered by CKAN.

Building Next.Data.Gov Together: The Next.Data.gov interface launching today is an early peek at the future Data.gov experience. Because many of you depend on Data.gov for critical functions, Data.gov will be maintained in its current form and will remain fully accessible while the Data.gov team continues to iterate and improve upon Next.Data.Gov. Going forward, expect regular design and software updates.

Next.Data.Gov - mid-page screenshot

There is a ton of interesting data (the site notes 75,714 datasets) being ported into this site from across many key government agencies, including the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, whose website is also powered by WordPress. Visitors can also get access to data on education, energy, finance, global development, health, research and safety. As the White House’s blog post notes:

The team studied the usage patterns on Data.gov and found that visitors were hungry for examples of how data are used. The team also noticed many sources, such as tweets and articles outside of Data.gov featuring Federal datasets in action. So Next.Data.gov includes a rich stream that enables each data community to communicate how its datasets are impacting companies and the public.

Similar to NASA’s Data.NASA.gov project, WordPress is instrumental in bringing data closer to the public, and making it useful and beautiful, too.

Want more information about WordPress for government or enterprise sites? Contact WordPress.com VIP Services.

The StartUp Government Agency – A Case Study on Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

Dan Munz, Product Director at consumerfinance.gov, CFPB; Greg Boone, WordPress Developer at Excella Consulting & David Kennedy, Interactive Designer at Rock Creek Strategic Marketing present “The StartUp Government Agency – A Case Study on CFPB” at the recent WordPress in Government workshop.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, consumerfinance.gov, was created a few years ago by the U.S. government, and they chose WordPress to run their popular consumer-facing site. The team explains the decisions they went through before choosing WordPress, how they use behavior-driven WordPress development, and the lessons they learned along the way.

Want more information about WordPress for government or enterprise sites? Contact WordPress.com VIP Services.

WordPress Powers Sites.usa.gov

James Mathieson, Product Manager from Sites.USA.gov, General Services Administration, presented “WordPress Powers Sites.usa.gov” at the recent WordPress in Government Workshop.

Sites.USA.gov is a shared service to help government agencies focus on creating content rather than building systems to deliver that content. James’ presentation is an introduction to the platform, how it was built on WordPress and who should use it, and why WordPress is the solution for an open content management system when it comes the federal digital strategy.

Want more information about WordPress for government or enterprise sites? Contact WordPress.com VIP Services.

Andrew Nacin: Scaling WordPress & Optimizing Security

Andrew Nacin, WordPress Lead Developer and Tech Ninja at Audrey Capital, presented two topics at the WordPress in Government Workshop: “A Crash Course in Scaling WordPress” and “WordPress.org & Optimizing Security for your WordPress sites.”

A crash course in scaling WordPress

In this talk Andrew explains how WordPress can scale (spoiler: and it’s easy!) by delving into how nginx can play a role in multiple ways, and tips on tweaks to perform at the PHP and WordPress software levels, as well as hardware.

WordPress.org & Optimizing Security for your WordPress sites

In this presentation Andrew walks through the differences between major and minor WordPress releases, the philosophy on backwards compatibility, and a basic crash course in WordPress security. Click through his slides to learn more.

Want more information about WordPress for government or enterprise sites? Contact WordPress.com VIP Services.

State of WordPress in Government

Peter Slutsky, Director of Platform Services at Automattic/WordPress.com presents “State of WordPress in Government” at the recent WordPress in Government workshop.

Peter takes us through the current WordPress ecosystem, and touches on the highlights of the WordPress software when it comes to integration, scalability, security, and mobile.

Want more information about WordPress for government or enterprise sites? Contact WordPress.com VIP Services.

WordPress in Government Workshop

wp-in-government

A few weeks ago in Washington, DC, WordPress.com VIP hosted a half-day workshop focusing on WordPress in Government, which was co-sponsored by our friends at GovLoop.com. The workshop was a huge success and I wanted to take just a few moments to share with you some highlights from the day’s events.

First off, why government? WordPress powers close to 19% of the top 10 million websites on the planet and we’re seeing major growth in all areas. The government sector, from federal to the state level and all the way down to local cities and towns, is experiencing some major technology shifts which have led to big changes in the way average citizens relate to and get information from their government. It’s an exciting time to be a technologist or developer at any level of government and it’s leading to some really interesting opportunities for WordPress, as there’s real interest on the part of government to move towards open source software and the availability of responsive platforms that help deliver on-demand information and government services.

We wanted to showcase some of the innovation that’s happening with WordPress for the government sector, so we hosted a workshop at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC. We gathered over 115 key technologists and decision makers who work inside and outside of the government to network and to hear some presentations about some innovative things happening with WordPress in government. The attendees represented a big cross-section of agencies and organizations and many discussions centered on what they’re currently doing with WordPress and how they plan to scale their platforms.

We had attendees from:

  • Department of State
  • Peace Corps
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Millennium/Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • US Navy
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Patent and Trademark Office
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Commerce
  • And more…
  • We’ve gotten some great feedback so far on the content of the event, and over the next few weeks we’ll be posting various presentations from the workshop here on VIP News so that you can learn more what’s happening with WordPress in government.

Here are some of the presentations from the event (we’ll be adding more as they become available):

You can read through some of the tweets and real-time reaction that was taking place through the event on Twitter (see below). #WPGov tweets can be found here, and thanks again to GovLoop.com for partnering with us on the event.

Here are some pictures from the workshop:

If you have any questions about WordPress inside your government agency, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Read more about WordPress in Government.

Dispatch From The White House Hackathon

White House - We The People Logo

This past week, our very own Mo Jangda, WordPress.com VIP Lead Developer, along with Carl Danley and Christopher Cochran from 10UP (WordPress.com VIP Featured Service Partners) participated in We the People‘s second White House Hackathon. They were chosen to attend with the goal of building a plugin that allows WordPress users to install a petition tool that connects directly, via API, to the White House’s We the People platform. For those who aren’t familiar, you can learn more about We the People from the White House’s website:

Carl at 10UP published a blog post detailing the events of the day. Below are some key excerpts (you can read the full blog post here):

The event is an open-ended civic hack day where developers of all stripes from across the United States are invited to create applications in languages like Python and JavaScript. The purpose of the event was to create resources for websites, smartphones and other platforms that build on We the People.

The entire experience was incredible. Located in the EEOB, we worked alongside employees from organizations like NASA, Google, and Github. Alongside these fellow developers, we spent June 1 hacking on the We the People API, building public, ready-to-launch applications, with the intention to make them available at the end of the day.

Christopher, Mo, and I built a WordPress plugin called WP the People, which enables WordPress publishers to embed petitions within their sites. The plugin offers three unique views:

  • Basic petition view shows the petition information, signatures, and a progress bar.
  • Geographical view shows who signed the petition based on their location within the United States.
  • Timeline view shows the petition’s progress, deadlines, and when it met signature milestones. Anyone who uses this view can choose between vertical or horizontal orientation.

We focused on making this plugin extensible, so other developers can build additional petition views.

Joining Christopher, Carl and Mo was Steve Grunwell from Buckeye Interactive who built his own WordPress plugin, We The People WordPress plugin, which is already live in the WordPress plugin directory. You can read more about Steve’s experience here.

As Carl notes in his post, this plugin isn’t live yet, but we’re working on it and will post an update as soon as it’s ready to use. Our team will continue to work closely with the White House as they extend their API’s so that millions of WordPress publishers will have the ability to leverage their readers to help petition the power brokers in Washington on important issues that matter to them. Thanks to Mo and the team from 10UP for their exceptional work on behalf of a more open, more powerful democracy and web. Here are some pictures from the White House (courtesy of Mo):

Macon Phillips, who is the White House Director of New Media at the White House posted this Vine video – it’s a cool little snapshot of the hackathon in progress.

NASA’s Open Government Initiative Websites powered by WordPress

“We use WordPress as a flexible platform – it’s a CMS that we adapt to a whole bunch of needs,” – Sean Herron, Technology Strategist, NASA.

The NASA Open Government Initiative team is responsible for fulfilling the Open Government directive, which challenges federal agencies to become transparent, participatory, and collaborative.

“We’re dedicated to making it easier for citizens to interact with NASA and engage in what NASA is doing; to understand our mission and all the programs we have, and to leverage government data and technology in novel ways,” said Nicholas Skytland, Program Manager for NASA’s Open Government Initiative.

To accomplish this mission, NASA’s Open Government Initiative team hosts a series of related websites, many of which are powered by the Open Source WordPress Content Management System.

“Open Source is a core part of the agency’s Open Government Plan and we knew we wanted to base our site off of open source technology.” – Sean Herron, a NASA contractor and Technology Strategist on the NASA Open Government team. “We use WordPress as a flexible platform – it’s a CMS that we adapt to a whole bunch of needs.”

open.NASA.gov: Sharing and transparency

Continue reading

WordPress Powers Politics

WordPress is the most powerful content management system in the world – today it powers just under 17% of the top one million websites in the world. Millions of people from across the globe turn to WordPress to build websites of all shapes and sizes and across all different categories.

Now that the political conventions are over and we have officially turned the corner towards the November election, WordPress.com VIP is proud to release this infographic which clearly shows that WordPress is now the backbone that powers websites from across the political spectrum.

Check it out!

This research project started when we began to notice that more and more political websites were being built on WordPress. We focused on a couple of key categories: state parties, U.S. House races, U.S. Senate races, and Gubernatorial races. We looked at all of the major-party candidates across these categories and manually checked to see what content management system was being used. We were excited by the results and thus, they became the impetus for this lovely infographic.

If you want to learn more about WordPress for your political website, or any other purpose, get in touch with the WordPress.com VIP team here.

Spread the Word

Copy the embed code below to share the infographic on your own site:

<a href="http://vip.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/wordpress-powers-politics/"><img title="WordPress Powers Politics -- compiled by WordPress.com VIP: Enterprise Hosting and Services for WordPress" src="http://vip.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/wordpress-com-vip-politics-infographic-final-1.png" alt="WordPress Powers Politics - Infographic" width="759" height="1896" /></a>