GovCamp

A unique new visual identity and custom Drupal web platform - working with Microsoft to use the site as a working example of Open Source software running on their Azure cloud hosting service

GovCamp takes a page from the 'unconference' movement in bringing together various groups of people to promote non-partisan dialog - specifically relating to the changing role of Government.

Microsoft recently launched a new cloud hosting platform called Azure and have been pretty active in promoting its inter-operability, reaching out to Open Source software projects to explore its suitability for hosting all sorts of software.  We got in touch with them and the founders of a Canadian event called GovCamp to build the event a website using Drupal 7 on Azure and see what we could learn along the way.  This post will introduce the project and relate our methods - for any of you reading this who may want to try your hand at deploying Drupal on Azure.

Founded in 2010, GovCamp takes a page from the 'unconference' movement in bringing together various groups of people to promote non-partisan dialog - specifically relating to the changing role of Government.  For its second-ever event this summer, organizers were aiming to bring 100s of people together in Toronto representing the grassroots, Government and Industry to spark dialog which could be communicated outside the physical event using the Internet and then into the future - with at at least annual sessions of GovCamp being held in Toronto.

In its first year, the event had used a simple Wordpress website (hosted on a standard Linux-based virtual hosting environment) and hadn't gone through any identity-defining exercise - its site didn't necessarily relate what the event was about but primarily allowed organizers to easily publish blog posts.

For 2011, the organizers were certain that they would welcome more attendees than the previous year and anticipated hundreds of people around the country (and internationally) wanting to clue into the day's happenings, despite physical separation.  They needed a website that featured a blog of event-related news, could be used to relate scheduling information as well as detail on who was presenting sessions in the schedule, and stream live video from the event.  After assessing the needs and wants of the project it was clear that Drupal would be an excellent platform for it - which we could use to build a robust dynamic website that would be easy to use whilst scalable and thus relevant after the event and again when next sessions of the event were held.

So, we decided to build a website using the latest available version of Drupal 7.x, with the newest versions of contributed modules that would offer the feature-set we needed.  Alone this would be an arduous task as this meant dealing with not-yet-stable code, but we further stressed the case by attempting (for the first time ever) to get it all working on Windows Azure - an effort in partnership with Microsoft to explore the ease of Open Source implementation in their cloud.

In addition to working out our approach for implementing Drupal on Azure and developing the new event website, this project entailed creating an entirely new visual identity for GovCamp - including a logo and word-mark, and then extrapolating aesthetic values from that work into a custom site design.  The visual identity was crafted to reflect:

  • Canada (seen through the Maple Leaf)
  • Movement (the rotation and reflection of the lead to imply left>right momentum
  • Engagement (the typeface reminiscent of fun in its roundness, to relate approachability and promote inclusiveness).

* You can view a full technical case-study of the project in our Why Drupal blog.

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