Westgate

"Project Westgate" is a collection of websites deployed using a multi-site installation of the Drupal content management system. This system creates a federation of the websites deployed within, with systems build specifically to facilitate this. Westgate is the main development effort of the bikegeeks.

Purpose

The goal of Westgate is to provide a single web-based system, based on an open-source, popular, and well-maintained CMS system for all the websites of the various grass roots groups serving the BTG Member Organizations. This provides two basic and important things: First, it provides a unified web system for all of those websites.

More often than not, the same people in the the community were the ones to work on these sites (the folks that eventually came together and called themselves the 'bikegeeks'). It became frustrating to have so many different deployments out there, running on different servers, with different access rules and capabilities. Because Westgate is served from a single machine using a single system, site maintenance, deployment, and backup have become trivial. Moreover, having all those web sites running independently incurred far higher costs than running everything from one server. Second, it provides the stake-holder an easy way for them to maintain their own content. Before, most websites were deployed on servers using static HTML pages or simple PHP pages. Updating these pages required modification of the page itself, often accessible only via FTP. This forced the activists who ran the sites to interrupt their work to communicate their vision to someone who could work the technology -- this lost time and coherency, and often became a point of stress when schedules (since this is all volunteer work) didn't match up. The CMS allows the stake-holders to update their own sites which they can do whenever the thought hits them.

About the name "Westgate"

We took the name Westgate from the coffee shop we were meeting from at the time. The coffee shop, formerly on the corner of Madison and Sangamon, was a perfect meeting place for us. It was on Madison the North/South dividing line for the city, making it convenient for Northside and Southside geeks alike. They had tasty food, good coffee, and free Internet access. What more could a geek want? They also had a large group table near the back we could all sit around while we worked. We chose to take the name "Westgate" because the places was great (and because we couldn't think of a better one. When Westgate (the coffee shop) closed its doors, we were sorry to loose our meeting place, but glad to know our former meeting place's name would live on in this project...

Design Goals

We have sought to provide a slate of features that address the needs of the community it serves. Some of these features have been provided by standard Drupal functionality, and some require custom functionality implemented by the bikegeeks.

(Note, not all of these features have been implemented.)

Similarity To Other Community Sites
One big feature which is a natural by-product of having all the sites implemented on one system is that all the sites function similarly and experience using/updating one site transitions perfectly to another.

Single Login
Because all Westgate sites are deployed on a single Drupal instance, users only have to obtain a single login to access those features that require it across all Westgate sites

Shared Calendar
All Westgate sites have access to the Drupal calendar features to add events to a calendar displayed on the site. Westgate aims to display a calendar view showing all events over every Westgate site so site visitors can see, in one place, everything going on in the community.

Event 'Review'
In order to capture the reflections of the community on past events, Westgate can allow users to post reviews on past events. The canonical example is posting post-Critical-Mass ride reviews. The system will support adding appropriate media to the review.

Email Features
Westgate plans to offer a group of features around email systems

Email List Creation
Westgate sites will have an interface into mailman to allow site owners to create mailing lists at any time

Domain Email Alias Creation
Westgate will allow users to dynamically create email domain alias via an interface to the backing email system.

Organizational Features
Through integration of the CiviCRM software, Westgate will offer various tools to allow Break The Gridlock and its Member Organizations to organize their memberships.

Member Org Membership Tracking
Westgate will allow site users to self-affiliate with the various groups that have websites deployed in the Westgate system. These users then become the 'membership' of the group.

Online Donations
Westgate allows website visitors to make donations to any Member Organization that has elected to erect a donation page. The donation is made via PayPal and is delivered to the Member Organization via Break The Gridlock's account.

Contacting Membership
CiviCRM allows Westgate site owners to send email to those that have elected to be counted as members of that group.