5 November 2020
Phillipa Martin

DrupalGov was a little bit different for us this well as attending en-masse and sponsoring, we were also the lead event organisers. Those who weren’t on the organising committee still got to hang out in sessions. Here are some Salsarians’ thoughts on the day…

Keynote: Government as a platform

Speaker: Lee Dowsett, Enterprise Architect (NZ) 

The first of three keynotes for the day, Lee spoke about the concept of government as a platform.  

Emil’s key takeaways: Sharing of information via open APIs is key to open government and government as a platform. If trustworthy information can be shared with less effort we increase the pace of change and innovation. There are challenges, of course, but we need to maintain vision, focus and faith. Build open APIs, create government as a platform opportunities, and it will happen.

Facelift your administrative experience - the future of Drupal Admin UI

Speaker: Sascha Eggenberger

Greg’s key takeaways: Lots of work to modernise and improve the look and functionality of the default Drupal admin UI with the Claro theme. The Claro theme has been designed with accessibility first and has many improvements on the default Drupal Admin UI. There are plans to make it into Drupal 9 by June 2021 to replace the legacy default theme. Sascha also spoke about Gin, which uses Claro as the base theme and thus has Claro’s benefits and more. 

The future of Drupal multi-sites

Speaker: Michael Schmidt, CTO

Awang’s key takeaways: Containerise everything! Michael presented the virtues of containerised approaches and how this helps upgrade, test, and deploy processes as well as scaling up/down of production sites. He also covered how control is afforded over different site configuration and how implementing a base image workflow takes the stress out of deployments and provides flexibility and confidence.

Documentation is like a plant - you need to tend to it!

Speaker: Alanna Burke,

Julie’s key takeaways: There are no shortcuts to good documentation (sadly!). It’s important to make sure documentation is:

  • Complete
  • Current (not out of date)
  • Accessible
  • Inclusive in its language

Some good resources include: and

Lego up a bootstrap Drupal theme

Speaker: Yi Jiang, ABS

Nick’s key takeaways: More technical frontend session on how to build a bootstrap theme in Drupal 8. Session looked at a comparison between Radix vs Cootstrap storybooks, use of Laravel, Webpack.mix.js and provided a developer use-case outlining the following steps:

  • Write a component (twig, sass, action.jss)
  • Wrap with a stories.js
  • Laravel mis and storybook.js to compile to assets folder
  • Drupal will load to site automatically

Automated vs manual accessibility testing: What's the difference?

Speaker: Danielle Sheffler, Booz Allen and Salsa Digital

Greg’s key takeaways: Danielle started by looking at some important statistics, namely the fact that one billion people live with a disability (15% of the world population). Making websites and digital technology accessible helps create an inclusive environment for all. She then moved onto a definition of accessibility testing — checking that a website's components and theme are usable for those with visual, auditory, motor, cognitive and dexterity disabilities. With some foundation info in place, Danielle reviewed the pros and cons of automated accessibility testing (using automated tools) and manual testing (turning off sound, not using a mouse or trackpad, and using assistive tech such as screen readers and speech-to-text). 

Automated testing is easy, requires less time, no need for much prior knowledge, software usually free, less expensive, covers around 25% of standards/issues and is inconsistent. In contrast, manual accessibility testing is thorough, takes time, requires expertise/specialists, software may not be free, is more expensive, and covers most standards/issues. 

Creating high performing teams

Speaker: Nicole Ritchie,

Julie’s and Nick’s key takeaways: Nicole started off looking at five stages in group development: 

  1. Forming — Well-behaved team leaders need to ensure roles/responsibilities — may have a team charter.

  2. Storming — People test barriers and there’s a potential for conflict.

  3. Norming — Team members know each other better, trust and respect each other and their skills. However, there may still be some conflict and the team isn’t quite performing at its best yet.

  4. Performing — All friction resolved, high level of trust and mutual motivation. Team leader can step back a bit because the team is performing well. Scrum master/team leader steps in as needed. Important to celebrate successes along the way. 

  5. Adjourning — Added later, basically as the team begins to disband and move on to different projects and responsibilities

Drupal 9 and CiviCRM

Speaker: Vladimir Roudakov, Tomato Elephant Studio

Greg’s key takeaways: CiviCRM is a standalone, open-source CRM (constituent relationship management) system that allows you to build, engage, and organise your constituents. It’s used by more than 11,000 non-profits as an alternative to proprietary CRMs like Salesforce and MS Dynamics. It also integrates with many popular CMSes such as Drupal, Backdrop, Joomla and Wordpress.

Applying agile in real-world scenarios

Speakers: David Scott, Doghouse Agency and Elisa Berg, VCAT

Nick’s key takeaways: Session focused on uptake of agile methodologies in traditionally risk-averse government environments, focusing on recent project experience at VCAT. David and Elisa covered the need to shift focus from fixed deliverables to ‘value’ during project initiation. They also covered some of the benefits of agile, including: 

  • Transparency and values-driven analysis

  • Emphasis on time-boxed delivery of POCs/MVPs mitigating risks of not delivering outcomes

Highlighted results include:

  • Efficiency
  • Tailored product
  • Business value

DruxtJS: An introduction to decoupling with Nuxt and Drupal

Speaker: Stuart Clark, Realityloop

Najmeh’s key takeaways: Stuart introduced Druxt JS as an open-source, more focused tool that acts as a bridge between NuxtJS in the frontend and Drupal in the backend. He covered the benefits of decoupling for reusability of the presentation in different applications. The different properties of DruxtJS were introduced like a wrapper, entities, campaign pages. It has many capabilities in handling data and creating a particular user environment. It can even be used in creating and designing video games.

Keynote: 2020. That was epic! A tale of gargantuan scale

Speaker: Nathan Wall, GovCMS

Paul’s key takeaways: Fantastic talk, really enjoyed the insight and Nathan’s take on it! My key takeaways were:

  • 2020 was challenging with the amount of change

  • The GovCMS DoF team embraced the change, planned what could be planned and had confidence in the team to get through the rest

  • Fully remote working has been challenging in terms of not feeling isolated — while being isolated

  • Be human, including being a little silly at times, it helps!

The UX of content guidance

Speaker: Matt Fenwick, Oxide Interactive

Julie’s key takeaways: Matt looked at how influencing or changing behaviour means you need to create habits. From the content perspective, this means embedding the style guide into the authoring experience itself. Matt also looked at handy tools such as MasterDocs and GatherContent. 

Yes we can do modern Javascript development!

Speaker: Jack Taranto, PreviousNext

Nick’s key takeaways: This session looked at how to do Javascript in Drupal inside the theme. Jack talked about a six-step process to modernise Javascript development in Drupal:

  1. Stop using jQuery

  2. Stop using Drupal.behaviours

  3. Write your own Javascript (native) your way

  4. Use your own dependencies

  5. ES6 imports (natively supported in most/all browsers)

  6. Use Rollup code splitting (or Webpack)

Crisis project management — 12 ways to successfully lead engagements in times of emergency

Speaker: Ian Laslett, EY

Nick’s key takeaways:

  1. Focus on users’ information needs

  2. Localised information is often key

  3. Change freeze — not the right time to fix non-critical issues

  4. Develop a second team to provide an alternate solution/source of information

  5. Maintain team motivation, avoid crisis fatigue for team

Julie’s key takeaways: Julie agreed with Nick’s key takeaways but also added two more:

  • Ensure the system and architecture is ready, e.g. develop a true multi AZ redundancy, think about caching, set up monitoring, think about social, etc.

  • Have feedback mechanisms set up

The weather is changing — a progressively decoupled approach in the BoM website

Speakers: Joshua Li, Accenture & Ben Di-Lorenzo, Bureau of Meteorology

Awang’s key takeaways: This session focused on decoupled strategy, with the following key points: 

  • Each paragraph in Drupal will be rendered as a React component instead of regular Drupal theme (twig)

  • Paragraph logic will be in React, then many versions of paragraph can be created in React

  • Routes/path will be handled in Drupal, then Drupal will render each paragraph and its React component

Awang’s thoughts: It will give frontend dev more flexibility on how to render the paragraph, instead of relying on Drupal-generated markup, which is sometimes difficult to work with.

Running workshops in 2020: How to work together in isolation

Speaker: Richard Sison, PreviousNext

Julie’s key takeaways: Workshops are tough to run remotely, so you need a lot of structure, such as grouping activities into phases. Richard suggested the following phases:

  • Context (research findings, why are we here, etc.)

  • Diverge (exploration, understanding the problem space, generating ideas)

  • Converge (narrow down the options and develop stronger ideas)

  • Commit (commit to a direction, push ideas further, take emotions out of the ideas and get to what's best) — a great tool to use in the commit phase is a decision matrix.

Strategies for managing a fleet of Drupal projects

Speaker: Nick Santamaria, Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet

Awang’s key takeaways: Nick started by looking at the problem space, including issues like an unsustainable knowledge-sharing burden, tech debt becoming a growing security risk and out-of-the-box tooling not being designed for scale.

The solutions presented were: 

  • Automated patching (loose constraints, frequent updates, automated test, temporary environment)

  • Decentralised automated update

  • Centralised automated update, using ansible to orchestrate

    • Advantages — write once, run everywhere; centrally manage tooling config files; detecting failures is easier

    • Disadvantages — lends itself to manual process; takes a long time to run; more complex and error-prone

  • Configuration as code 

Nick also looked at monitoring and access control. 

An analysis of Government sites in Australia

Speaker: Murray Woodman, Morpht

Julie’s key takeaways: 1600 sites were analysed using a variety of tools such as Lighthouse, Wappalyzer and custom code to give security code and custom design system detection. The objective was to review the sites’ SEO, accessibility, adherence to best practice, performance and security. Key findings were:

  • Drupal sites scored the highest in pretty much all categories, but performed especially well in best practice, performance and security

  • The Australian design system is just behind GovUK but doing really well in terms of overall score.

  • Ripple is also doing great in terms of design system standard deviations, but not so great on performance.

  • Two of the top sites are the Attorney General's site and the GovCMS site 

Tip: Use Lighthouse extension to see how your site is doing. 

GovCMS and Drupal 9, roadmap and Q&A

Speakers: Alistair O’Neill and Joseph Zhao from GovCMS and Akhil Bhandari, Salsa Digital

Greg’s key takeaways: Drupal 8 becomes end-of-life at the end of 2021, so agencies on GovCMS 8 should start planning their move to GovCMS 9. Moving from GovCMS 8 to 9 will be an upgrade, so it should be easier and should take less time/effort/cost. Drupal 7 becomes  end-of-life at the end of 2022 (a year after Drupal 8), so agencies using GovCMS 7 have additional time to prepare. Moving from GovCMS 7 to 8 or 9 does not have a direct upgrade though; it will instead require either a migration or a complete site rebuild, which takes more time and costs more. Agencies should start planning and budgeting their move as soon as possible. 

Understanding automated tests in Drupal

Speakers: Ridhima Abrol & Sujeet Verma, Srijan Technologies

Govind’s key takeaways: This session looked at how to set up a test framework on local (Drupal 8 with PHPUnit) and then covered the different types of tests:

  • Unit test —  UnitTestCase class, write to check for methods, classes, etc. non-interaction with Drupal

  • Kernel test — Create for Drupal interaction, no browser support

  • Functional test — End-to-end functionality, integration testing as an end user

  • Functional browser test — Execute in real browser

Keynote: Why Drupal accelerates digital transformation in the Western Australian Public Service

Speaker: Bill Bell

Alfred’s key takeaways: Bill started with the high-level goal — transactional and smarter platforms getting citizens to transact online rather than at physical storefronts. He also covered the many benefits, such as: 

  • Predicated savings of A$900K 

  • Licensing cost savings, duplication savings

  • Greater accessibility 

  • Greater mobility

  • Citizens are staying longer on the sites

  • Agencies are seeing less activity on physical channels

  • Increase efficiency on the cost to serve the citizen!!

  • Saving $25M over 10 years

  • Can save $2.2B... if reduced half of its snail mail and telephone transactions happened online