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LocalGov Drupal Beta Sprint 10 Notes

DrupalCon Europe 2021

It was perhaps a mixed blessing to have DrupalCon Europe fall in the final sprint of LocalGov Drupal Beta, taking significant time out of the team's calendar. However, we did have 4 sessions accepted, all with links to the LocalGov Drupal project, all of which needed preparing and presenting. The fact that we were publicising the distribution at an international conference (again) also acted as a useful and immovable deadline, providing a strong motivation to get our public facing website up to date and the install profile as ready as possible for others to test and demo.

LocalGov Drupal demo site with the Scarfolk theme
LocalGov Drupal demo site with the Scarfolk sub theme.

Our first session was Drupal Distributions - common challenges and solutions, a panel session with four people discussing our distributions. I was both facilitating and participating in the discussion, which included Mohammed Razem from Varbase, Daniel Bosen from Thunder and Nick Veenhof from RocketShip. I was a little nervous at the start, but got into my flow after a bit and learned some really interesting things from the discussion. For example, a discussion about approaches to major upgrades: some distributions are just meant as a starter-kit and thus don't consider supporting upgrades to the next major version, while for others this is the single largest challenge. LocalGov Drupal is somewhere in the middle on this one, but we will continue the conversation in the monthly meetups organised on or in the Slack channel. This collaboration between distributions is hugely valuable for LocalGov Drupal and hopefully others in the wider community.

On Wednesday we had another three presentations. First, Distributed governance in a distribution for local government with Aaron and Maria sharing our governance evolution and growing use of sociocracy. Then Theming for Distributions: Sub-theming Like a Pro with Maria and Mark and about 91 attendees who enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of the base theme and how easy it is to create a sub theme. Last but by no means least, Alex and Will shared Why UK councils chose LocalGov Drupal (and didn't) with some of the highlights of our research findings.

Selecting a new sub-theme in LocalGov Drupal.
Maria and Mark presenting how easy creating a sub-theme is in LocalGov Drupal (DrupalCon Europe 2021)

Overall it was great publicity for publicly funded open source and a great opportunity to meet other people to grow the collaboration.

Slide showing pie chart of interest in LocalGov Drupal.
Alex and Will presenting some of the research findings (DrupalCon Europe 2021)

Rapid designs

A big thank you goes out to Sally, who joined the communications team over the last two sprints to address a number of important design tasks: creating and iterating on the designs for the public facing website, whipping up a new mission patch (featuring Andy’s dog, Mutley), updating the designs of our LocalGov Drupal slide decks for Drupalcon and the final report, creating some social media branding, and a new template for our newsletter. That was a whole bunch of creative work in a short space of time, thanks Sal! 

LocalGov Beta Mission Patch

New release LocalGov 2.3.0

The 2.3.0 release now includes the Open Referral work that Ekes has been leading for the last few sprints, so it is great to finally have the code and functionality reviewed and merged ready for councils to test in the wild. This release adds support for the Open Referral UK open data standard. Specifically it adds the optional LocalGov Drupal Open Referral module and optional integration with LocalGov Directories feature. This integration has been marked experimental for now, to allow councils to test and report back before confirming its stability.

Both the Open Referral UK and the LocalGov Drupal project have been supported by the LocalDigital Fund, so this integration between the two projects is a great outcome and an exemplar for publicly funded open source collaboration. This release is the culmination of lots of development and testing work, led by @ekes, reviewed and tested by @Adnan-cds@andybroomfield@stephen-cox@finnlewis and others with additional documentation from @msayoung. Thanks team! 

LocalGov Scarfolk subtheme

In the previous minor release, we included the Localgov Scarfolk subtheme as a default theme in the LocalGov Drupal install profile, to make things look a bit better out of the box and act as an example of how easy it is to sub-theme the LocalGov Drupal Base Theme.

The Localgov Scarfolk sub theme has been built to work well with the updated LocalGov Drupal demonstration module module, to allow developers to rapidly test example content. This demo content is also deployed on the site. 

For anyone not familiar with Scarfolk, it is a fictional town in England that is forever stuck in the 70s. So when we were looking for a council sounding name for a sub-theme, but not a real council, Scarfolk seemed like a good choice. You can find out more about Scarfolk on BlogspotWikipedia and Twitter!


The documentation continues to improve with new sections in the docs site for content designers on LocalGov Workflows and LocalGov Directories, as well as more technical developer focused documentation on the LocalGov Workflows and LocalGov Directories features.

To support all this lovely written documentation, we now have a number of fresh how-to videos produced by Ben Hills-Jones, Will Callaghan and his son Adam (thanks Adam!), aimed primarily at content designers new to the content types that come with LocalGov Drupal. See and check out some of the videos on YouTube. Oh, and please do subscribe to the LocalGov Drupal YouTube channel, we can get a real slug once we have over 100 subscribers!

Governance of the project

As we come to the end of the funded beta phase, the governance work comes to a natural pause as we report on our progress and apply for more funding. The recently formed steering group is now meeting regularly, the technical group has been recently rebooted and the product group is undergoing a similar process right now. With 19 councils and 7 suppliers actively engaged in the project, we have significantly more time and energy from councils and suppliers which is building the momentum we need to ensure the sustainable growth of the project and the community. As the LocalGov Drupal governance lead, Aaron has taken the time to bring together all the relevant governance work into a single Miro board that helps to keep a log of our evolving governance meetings and workshops. Thanks Aaron!

LocalGov Drupal legal structure exploration miro board.

Next steps

The final report will be submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (Formerly the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government) in the next week or two and will be publicly available for all to review and learn from. This will include links to all the publicly available research and assets that have been generated through the project.

Following this, we will be applying for further funding to help with the ongoing growth and sustainability of the project, hopefully with a new legal entity at the centre to help generate revenue to fund the core running costs of a growing open source community. 

We will write more about specific aspects of the project in due course, but please do get in touch if you have questions or would like to get involved in any capacity.

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