Drupal 7 or 8 - you can choose
Drupal 8 isn't essential, we still support Drupal 7
If you're building a brand new website, or migrating a site from a different platform to GovCMS, consider using Drupal 8. it's been available for a few years and there are thousands of websites around the world already using it.
If you've already got a website running on Drupal 7, you don' t have to migrate to Drupal 8, but you should start planning for a Drupal 9 migration in the 2019/2020 financial year. It's not an upgrade, your existing Drupal 7 sites need to be rebuilt as part of any migration.
Long term support for Drupal 7
Drupal 7 (and Drupal 8) will be supported by the community until November 2021. Sites built on these versions of Drupal will continue to work after this date, but there will be no software updates, enhancements, or security releases.
Migrate or upgrade?
At the start of 2021, GovCMS will work with any agencies still using D7 or D8 to map out their migration or upgrade roadmap. Moving to Drupal 9 will need to be funded by agencies as part of the ongoing life-cycle of managing a website.
As part of running GovCMS, the Department of Finance looks after both a Drupal 7, and a Drupal 8 "distribution". A distribution, or distro, is a preconfigured package of modules, plugins, templates and code that get installed as part of the CMS software. Using the GovCMS distro means agencies can jump start development projects and use features and functionality that's been tested, is known to be secure, and is in use on a wide range of other government websites.
If you host your website on the fully-managed version of GovCMS hosting (SaaS) you must use one of the official GovCMS distributions.
The code and modules in the distribution isn't set in stone, but updates must be tested and implemented by the Department of Finance. The team at Finance has responsibility for security patching, critical updates and general maintenance of the CMS. Agencies using SaaS hosting can just focus on creating great content, and meeting the needs of their users.
If you host your website on the self-managed version of GovCMS hosting (PaaS) you can run one of the official distros, in fact, we'd encourage you to do so, but it's not mandatory. You can run any version of Drupal you like, and use any combination of modules, plugins and third-party tools. Whilst this may sound flexible, PaaS comes greater responsibility. You're responsible for all security updates, patching and maintenance. You will either need an in-house team or an ongoing support contract with a service provider. You're also responsible for security accreditations, penetration and load testing.
Drupal is free and open source
Open source software is released under a licence where the copyright holder gives users the ability to use, adapt, modify or distribute the software to others. It's usually developed in an open collaborative way with lots of different maintainers looking after the code. This is one of the reasons why the Department of Finance selected Drupal when GovCMS was first established. There is a world-wide network of developers all making contributions to Drupal, and the size of resource pool in Australia is very high.
Drupal itself is free to use. There are no licence fees to install and run the CMS. Costs arise when you start customising the code, making new modules or plugins, or when you want to create your own bespoke templates and designs. This is a key benefit of GovCMS, as new functionality is created, it only needs to be funded once. New modules and designs are made available to all agencies using GovCMS, and all other users of Drupal. The potential savings from government using open source software are significant.
GovCMS and Drupal helps you comply with the Digital Service Standard
Using GovCMS will make complying with the DTA's Digital Service Standard (DSS) a little easier, giving you a jump start on the following criteria:
- 4 - Understand tools and systems
- 5 - Make it secure
- 6 - Consistent and responsive design
- 7 - Use open standards and common platforms
- 8 - Make source code open
- 9 - Make it accessible
Now you can't just say "Yay Im compliant, tick the box" for the six criteria listed, as the site owner there's still a range of activities to complete and evidence you'd need provide in order to pass a service assessment, but GovCMS will enable you to make good progress early and easily. You still have to work to make sure that your service passes the assessment process. Using GovCMS will only get you part of the way.