Video created by the Open Berkeley team to promote it internally.

UC Berkeley has hundreds of campus websites, including sites for its departments and their initiatives. All sites need to have consist branding and (like all Drupal sites) need to be updated for bug fixes and security advisories. But budgets are tight and not all departments have staff with technical skills!

That’s why the Central IT department created Open Berkeley, a Drupal distribution that any campus department can choose to use for their new site.

Users get a site that follows brand guidelines out-of-the-box, meets accessibility requirements and has the basic functionality that most UC Berkeley sites need. And this allows Central IT to continue to develop the distribution and regularly release new versions to their users with new features, bug fixes and security updates.

And since all sites get to benefit from the work that Central IT is doing, the cost is shared across the whole university, rather than requiring the departments that own the site bare the full cost!

Read more to learn how we helped take Open Berkeley to the next level!

The goal (aka "general availability")

One day soon, anyone on the UC Berkeley campus will be able to fill out a form and launch a new Open Berkeley site. By paying a small monthly fee to the Central IT department, they'll continue to receive updates with new features, bug fixes and security updates as well as training and support.

This is what the Open Berkeley team is calling "general availability": when the fire hose is turned on and the number of sites moves beyond a small group of beta and VIP users.

But how did they get here?

Open Berkeley circa de June 2014

For how awesome Open Berkeley is, it was originally developed and maintained by a very small (but extremely talented!) team consisting of only 4 people, all of whom have other responsibilities in the Central IT department beyond their work on Open Berkeley.

In June 2014, development had already been going on for a couple years. At that time, there were about 50 sites on Open Berkeley in two different flavors: the legacy version based on Panopoly 1.0-beta4 (released in June 2012) and "the new platform" based on the latest Panopoly.

Not all the configuration was in the distribution proper and new sites were being launched with a process that involved importing the database from a "golden site."

Open Berkeley had proven that it could take advantage of economies of scale and the university was excited to start taking advantage of it more widely - but there were a number of technical challenges that needed to be handled first!

This is when were brought on to accelerate development and lend our experience in building Drupal distributions.

Open Berkeley today (and how we helped)

Since June 2014, a lot of work has been done and Open Berkeley is almost ready for "general availability!"

Of the work done, here are some of the things we helped with (of course, the rest of the Open Berkeley team was involved too):

  • Getting all configuration into Features and the distribution, in a way that matches best practices. Open Berkeley no longer needs to import the database from a "golden site" to launch a new site! It's just a matter of clicking a button in the Pantheon dashboard, and a new site (with some example starter content) is ready to go in minutes.
  • Creating a new Radix-based theme to match newly published brand guidelines. The legacy Open Berkeley theme conformed with old UC Berkeley branding guidelines as well as older web-development techniques. A modern, responsive theme based on Radix was created to match newly published UC Berkeley brand guidelines.
  • Patching Panels, CTools and Panopoly to meet UC Berkeley accessibility requirements. UC Berkeley has an expert accessibility team that tested Open Berkeley and made recommendations for changes, that we then helped make to upstream Drupal modules (so the whole Drupal community benefits too!).
  • Assisting in the creation of Behat tests and continuous integration. Panopoly has a Behat test suite that can be included and extended for use in child distributions - we extended and improved it for Open Berkeley's needs, as well as helped in writing Open Berkeley specific tests.
  • Helping to develop a migration process to move legacy sites to the new platform. There's only only 35 legacy sites remaining, and that number goes down every week.
  • Fixing numerous bugs in Panopoly and other upstream Drupal modules. We helped to fix a number of very complex bugs that came from Drupal modules included in Open Berkeley. In all cases, we contributed these bug fixes back to the upstream projects (so, again, all users of these projects benefit!).
  • Consulting on best practices with regard to distributions and other areas of expertise. While we did contribute significantly to development, we also consulted on the architecture features implemented by other members of the Open Berkeley team.

We're super proud of all the work we've done in Open Berkeley over the last year and look forward to continuing to help improve it!

Hey, we could help you too!

Do you work at an organization with lots of Drupal sites? Do you have a Drupal distribution or are considering building one? We can help!

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