BOSTON – Thursday, October 27, 2016 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a milestone in the development of the City of Boston’s website: three months after launching a redesigned Boston.gov, the City has released the site’s source code to the public domain as an open source project.
“The City’s website will have to constantly evolve and change to meet the needs of the people of Boston,” Mayor Walsh said. “By open sourcing Boston.gov, we’re opening up our website to a community of software developers and designers who can help us build for the future.”
The City’s Digital Team led the effort to open source Boston.gov after building and launching the redesigned website this year. Open sourcing Boston.gov allows the City to democratize the development of Boston.gov, working with outside organizations and academic institutions to build new features for the City’s website. Software developers can now view the City’s public repository on GitHub and propose code contributions to improve the website. The City gave advance access to groups including Boston University to begin reviewing the code and making contributions.
“Since we launched, many people in Boston have reached out to us looking to help with Boston.gov, and many other cities have looked to us as a model,” said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s Chief Information Officer. “By releasing the website as open source, we’ve taken a huge step to engage our local tech community, and the many other government technology innovators across the country.”
This step makes Boston the first major US city to open source its full website. Additionally, the City of Boston will make future web applications and improvements that it develops open by default. The source code for the Drupal-based website will be made public, but no sensitive information will be released. Open source systems are often viewed as more secure due to the extra scrutiny they receive from a wider community of developers.
Importantly, opening the website also allows the City of Boston to share useful features of Boston.gov with other cities and government agencies.
“We talk regularly with cities in the region and around the country who are looking to redesign or improve their websites,” said Boston’s Chief Digital Officer Lauren Lockwood. “Releasing Boston.gov in the public domain empowers others to reuse the code underlying our site without building it from scratch.”
In opening the site, Boston joins a growing number of cities, states, and federal governments releasing applications and websites as open source projects. It also adds to the City’s ongoing efforts to share data and technology. The City recently launched an open source toolkit for CityScore, the City’s daily performance management system, and the City’s Open Data portal has also become an important resource for municipal data.
About the City of Boston’s Digital Team
The Digital Team is part of the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and focuses on delivering digital services that are welcoming, highly useful, and designed around the needs of the Boston community. As part of that effort, they launched the City’s redesigned website, Boston.gov, in July 2016.