Open source powers Florida county's revamped website

Officials in Manatee County, Fla., recently revamped an aging website and technology infrastructure to more effectively interact with a growing and diverse population. The new site, mymanatee.org, uses an open-source content management system from Magnolia.

Officials from Manatee County, Fla., recently revamped an aging website and technology infrastructure to more effectively interact with a growing and diverse population.

The new site, mymanatee.org, uses an open-source content management system from Magnolia. The company's CMS Enterprise Edition lets users from various departments create and edit content on an intranet and the website without assistance from the Information Services Department.

The older website was hard to use, with no easy way for content authors and editors to see editing results. As a result, they would rely on ISD to add and edit content and upload files, said Larry Colbert, systems and development manager for Manatee County.

Located on Florida’s west coast, Manatee has about 315,000 residents, but during a typical tourist season that number can increase by as much as 150,000. The information services team is charged with providing accessible services online to a growing population that includes diverse cultural groups and a large number of seniors.

To that end, the IS Department had to revamp an older infrastructure during the recession, when funds were limited. To reduce system development expenses and prevent vendor lock-in, county officials decided to move toward an open-source platform for content management.


Related coverage:

Government IT shops get a store for open-source apps 


The older website was built around a proprietary content management system based on IBM Lotus Domino. The infrastructure ran on Sun Microsystems Solaris servers, which are considered open source.

ISD has moved to implement an infrastructure that includes Magnolia CMS Enterprise Edition, Tomcat application server, Oracle databases, Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Hewlett-Packard servers and VMware virtualization software.

“Things change so rapidly that there is the general feeling in our groups that you have to be nimble and respond rapidly to emerging” technology," Colbert said. When locked into a proprietary system, Manatee’s IS team has not always been able to respond to new standards and technology, he said.

ISD decided to develop an intranet portal first to test Magnolia in a production environment and train users before launching a public-facing Internet site. The intranet helped the department work out issues and encourage adoption among users in the various county departments.

“It allowed them to probe and touch the editor elements and get use to the notion that behind the Web front end there is a hierarchical meta-structure for organizing information better,” Colbert said.

The beginning of this year, the IS team implemented Magnolia’s CMS Standard Templating Kit. This allowed IS to build templates that pulled data directly from existing application environments such as Oracle, IBM Domino and ESRI’s ArcGIS mapping platform.

ISD is able to use data stored in Domino and stream that legacy information into Magnolia for reuse. Domino has a pretty sophisticated calendar feature that people use to manage things, Colbert said. But now they can use Magnolia to recast information on the Web as needed, which is pretty powerful, he said.

Magnolia is helping with the move toward a service-oriented architecture in which Magnolia serves as the Web front end. .

With the old CMS system, editors couldn’t share documents, said Matthew Arriaga, a software designer with Manatee’s ISD. Magnolia contains a content document management system that allows for the sharing of documents. The documented management system also eliminated the need for ISD to develop mechanisms to work around the older system’s limitations.

Plus, “we developed custom templates so editors could create maps,” Arriaga said.

“We’ve connected databases so users can create their own reports they put on Web pages,” noted Jim Hanson, a systems analyst with ISD. That is what ISD is driving at when the team talks about replacing the front end of applications with Magnolia, he said.

“We visualize down the road when we write an application that the interface will be Magnolia to get data in and out of the database,” Hanson said.

The previous CMS system only had 17 content editors for the entire county because it was so hard to use. Now there are a little over 150 editors and authors from the various departments working on content for the web site, said Hanson.

The only thing ISD is controlling now is the final publishing of content. The next stage is to expand the number of people who have publishing permission, to push that down into the departments, Hanson said.

 

 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.