Working with Sector at Sparks Interactive
In 2015, Dave Sparks made a commitment to bring the web development and consulting work done by his company, Sparks Interactive, into the open source community and change the way the company works.
Sparks Interactive has focused on open source technology since its foundation in 2005. Looking at ways to contribute to the open source community, Sparks Interactive decided to publish their in-house Drupal base install profile as a Drupal distribution on drupal.org (www.drupal.org/project/sector).
Sparks published Sector D7 on drupal.org in 2016, followed by Sector D8 in 2018. Sector D8 is a new Sector version based on Drupal 8 - underlining Sparks’ long term commitment to Sector and the Drupal community.
The aim of Sector is to provide a sustainable and maintainable Drupal distribution that meets New Zealand-specific standards, performance, and compliance benchmarks, and supports a wide range of site architectures and navigation patterns. More than a technology platform, Sector has an open philosophy - treating content as an asset with an enduring lifespan longer than any one website.
Using Sector for a range of projects
By bundling common open source components with well-documented approaches, Sector enables a seamless handover of code, configuration and content from vendor to client team. This makes it easier for the client to get ongoing support and maintenance, and avoids the risks and costs associated with proprietary or custom code.
The process of delivering Sector products into client environments has proven an excellent introduction to open source for client teams, with the risk and cost benefits readily apparent to senior leadership and executive teams who have been burnt by vendor lock-in and custom code support requirements in the past.
Since July 2017, Sparks have published web projects based on Sector for numerous public and private entities in New Zealand - including nzfilm.co.nz, forestandbird.org.nz, lifeflight.org.nz, hotcity.co.nz, heritageequip.govt.nz, stopbeforeyoustart.co.nz, and many more.
Taking it further
Working towards and finally publishing a New Zealand Drupal distribution allowed Sparks Interactive to collaborate on custom Sector profiles with government departments that run sites for a department (or group of departments) from one blueprint - again, making it fast and efficient to launch as well as maintain sites. Even though not every aspect of closed custom Sector profiles can be open sourced, a large part of the feedback and ideas are applicable to the Sector base products and help us to improve our open sourced components.
The open source community
The Sector D8 distribution published in 2018 is an excellent example of how working in the open and contributing back to the open source community can improve both open source products and business processes.
Sector has also changed how Sparks Interactive works as a business and how staff collaborate. Becoming an active contributor in an existing community (in this case, drupal.org) allows staff to interact closely with the community in established processes. Closer collaboration equals a wider group for peer reviews - more eyes make better code! Many of the issues resolved by Sector are published as patches and available to other Drupal projects, or have been committed to the code base of Drupal modules. The resources and documentation on sector.nz allow us as well as other organisations to easily access and benefit from Sparks Interactive’s Sector distribution.
Sector Ecosystem - contribution and governance model
The Sector contribution and governance model will allow us to widen our own contributions as well as open Sector up to the larger Drupal community in New Zealand and elsewhere.