ICYMI: Drupal GovCon 2020


ICYMI: Drupal GovCon 2020

Drupal GovCon is an annual event that "brings together people from all over the country who use, develop, design, and support the Drupal platform with a focus in government."

This year the event (Sept. 23-25) was held virtually through Zoom presentations and YouTube Live. Despite the virtual setting, MetroStar had three employees present their work for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Farmers.gov

Jason and Matt

On Thursday, Sept. 24, Matt Calvert and Jason Glisson presented on post update scripts to deploy content across environments. At MetroStar Systems, Calvert is a Software Developer and Glisson is a Senior Drupal Developer.

Their presentation ran through the issues developers face when setting up large, interactive tools on a website. Drupal's updated script allows for complete tools and large sections of a website to be easily rolled out with all content pieces in the correct place.

"One of the problems we solved was handling massive amounts of content that needed to be quickly deployed across multiple environments," Glisson said.

Drupal software helped Jason and Matt "roll out high volumes of blocks and paragraphs that would take hours on end to set up manually," on the USDA's Farmers.gov website.

"This was my first Drupal GovCon, and it was great to see and hear what other people are doing with Drupal and how they handle the hurdles presented to them," Calvert said. "Even though it was virtual, it all went very smoothly. Having it run on YouTube Live was a great idea as I could play it on my television at home."

Jason and Iva

On Friday, Sept. 25, Iva Hutson and Jason Glisson presented on ways to improve a federal agency's user experience. Hutson is a UX Architect for MetroStar.

Their presentation gave insight into how "MetroStar's Lean/Agile approach enabled an iterative development of a popular USDA web tool that matches farmers with potential disaster assistance programs." Their work helped create a customer-centric Farmers.gov website. This website serves American farmers and gives them access to critical information.

Quote from Jason Glisson that says, "We knew we needed a tool that could be used by rural Americans, because many people still have dial-up."

One of the key roadblocks they ran into was ensuring the website was accessible to rural Americans who may have slow broadband. This would make it difficult for users to access information quickly, or at all. Drupal's software allowed them to develop a website that could be loaded by many more rural farmers.  

Virtual Environments and Next Steps

As many events have been pushed onto online platforms this year, it can be difficult to know if they will translate well. MetroStar employees agreed that the event went exceptionally well, and they are excited for next year.

"Drupal GovCon 2020 was a free online conference that gathered practitioners from across the spectrum of IT work in the federal government to share ideas, insights, and best practices," Hutson said. "The three-day event had close to 2000 registered participants, and many were waiting on a waiting list to be accepted."

The details for Drupal GovCon 2021 have yet to be released, but Glisson has been invited to be an organizer for next year's event.

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