LocalGov Drupal – what we've been working on
New features are being added to LocalGov Drupal all the time. Here are just some of the ways we've been contributing to the project over the past few months.
LocalGov Drupal is a CMS created by councils for councils. It is the perfect example of how, by pooling their resources and sharing code, local governments can save money and have brilliant websites that better serve their communities.
It's a project that means a lot to us at Annertech, and we have worked with many councils, designing new websites, creating new features for them, and then experiencing the thrill of these new features being made available to other councils to use.
We've been working with LocalGov Drupal (LGD) for a few years now and are proud of our contributions to the project. The past few months have been really productive for the Annertech team's LGD offering – we've developed new features, created new tutorials, and more.
Open Digital Cooperative
Our Director of Development Mark Conroy has been involved with LocalGov Drupal since the project was in its beta phase. Mark is the project’s front-end lead, developing the theme and working with many councils to ensure that their websites look the way they want them to look.
Towards the end of 2023, Mark was elected to the board of Open Digital Cooperative, the body that oversees the LocalGov Drupal project. He is joined by:
- Will Callaghan, Friendly Digital
- Finn Lewis, Open Code
- Maria Young, Agile Collective
- Kate Hurr, Cumberland Council
- Michael Brown, Newcastle Council
- Jamie Dixon, Wirral Council
Irish Planning Notices
This module creates a content type and list for the weekly planning notices that all Irish councils are legally required to publish on their websites. It was funded by Carlow County Council, and also includes a new feature for the multilingual suite that allows these notices to be posted in Irish, boosting the crucial multilingual functionality of LocalGov Drupal sites.
LocalGov Content Access Control
Thanks to Essex County Council for funding this module, which allows you to enable editors to edit only certain sections of your website. It’s handy if you have external editors needing edit access to your site.
An example of this is for people from a fostering services department being able to log in and edit the fostering-related pages. Their access to other sections of the website could then be restricted. This is a great way of getting other departments involved in the website and also gives the website team the flexibility and governance needed when granting additional users access.
It's also easy to switch access on and off as needed.
Smart Answers/Decision Tree demo module
Smart answers or decision trees are a great tool for content designers to present complex information in a quick and simple way. Essentially, the module presents users with a sequence of questions that start from the symptom to get to the underlying root cause. It is an invaluable tool, as it quickly and efficiently directs users to the information they are looking for.
Mark has created a number of tutorials over the past few months. These are designed to help both developers and those who aren't developers but who work on LocalGov Drupal websites to get the most out of their CMS.
The tutorials demonstrate how to utilise the latest features that have been released on LocalGovDrupal. Mark has created step-by-step guides as well as easy-to-follow videos, making it really easy to add these features to a website.
Want to know how to add regression testing tools, get advanced layouts, create a "smart answers“ feature, control who has access to the website and change the settings for content that is unpublished? If you're looking to get the most out of LocalGov Drupal then the next section of this blog is the place to be.
Add regression testing tools to your LocalGov Drupal site
Backstop is a frontend regression testing tool used by developers to check that any changes they make to the frontend are deliberate, and do not cause regressions.
Here's a video showing how to add BackstopJS to your website to help with regression testing.
Adding Advanced Layouts to a LocalGov Drupal Website
The LocalGov Drupal Layouts module was created as part of the LGD Microsites platform, but was contributed back to the core LGD project. However, it is not turned on by default, so many people are unaware of it.
Here's a short demo of how to enable it and use it. Then you can extend it to add as many layout options as you want.
Using Drupal's Webform module to create a decision tree
Ever needed to create a "decision tree" or "smart answers" feature and didn't know where to start? It's pretty easy if you use Drupal's webform module and add conditional handlers for the confirmation settings (all through a few clicks in the webform UI).
Setting up access control with Drupal's Workbench Access module
Many (if not all) councils have been asking for a way to do "access control", whereby only certain editors can edit certain parts of the website. Mark put together the LocalGov Drupal Content Access Control module so there is a defined way of doing this, and all councils can have a similar approach.
Here's a short video explaining how it works (which might help people outside of councils who also need to set this up). It takes you through the steps of how to use the LocalGov Content Access Control module, based on Drupal's Workbench Access module.
Proposed new Theme Settings for LocalGov Drupal unpublished Content
By default, Drupal sets a pink background on unpublished nodes. This was recently added as a feature to LocalGov Drupal to distinguish between published and unpublished content.
Editors were not very impressed with this because – especially on new websites – there's lots of whole sections that are unpublished. And when trying to preview a full section to stakeholders and nearly every page has a pink background, including all the items in entity reference fields and other listings, the site starts to not look like what was designed.
To get around this, Mark proposed two site settings that can be enabled via the theme settings page if your theme uses LocalGov Base as its base theme.
Here's a short video to show it all working:
Public sector organisations, such as local governments, need to ensure that their websites are accessible by everyone. This is in accordance with various regulations, including the European Union (Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies) Regulations and the UK’s Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set out requirements that improve internet accessibility for people with disabilities. Public sector websites should by now have accessibility levels that conform to WCAG 2.1 AA.
Mark and Annertech’s accessibility advocate Tom Bamford have been working hard with an accessibility working group to ensure LocalGov Drupal is WCAG 2.2 AA compliant out-of-the-box.
LocalGov Drupal is an exciting project, which allows councils to create the best websites possible to serve their constituents. The Annertech team is committed to this fantastic CMS, and we work closely with council teams and other developers to create excellent experiences for the people who use these websites.
We’re continuing to develop new features and ensure that LocalGov Drupal sites are at the top of their game. So if you have a feature that you’d like to add to the LGD pot, get in touch and we can see what we can do.
Want to try LocalGov Drupal on for size?
Are you interested in using LocalGov Drupal for your website? Annertech is offering 10 councils the opportunity to really test it out, with a free hosted LocalGov Drupal developer sandbox environment for a minimum of six months plus three hours of expert consulting.
Alison Visser Head of Content
After more than two decades in journalism, Alison now collaborates with Annertech's clients to ensure that their content is the best it possibly can be.