Supporting the nearly two dozen sites was simple enough: push security updates to the Distribution, then—one at a time—cascade those updates to each of the sites, checking that everything still worked as expected, and then deploying each site.
“Simple” didn’t mean “quick,” however. Eventually, the sheer amount of time consumed by even a small update drove us to look for a different solution.
That’s when we created Webpac, a custom “next-level” Distribution that was key to the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s continued ability to roll out websites.
Where a Distribution full of pre-assembled “bundles” of features had represented a leap forward from vanilla Drupal, Webpac was a similar leap again.
In a Webpac Distribution, a core group of features would roll out automatically to every new site. However, site owners could also choose from optional pre-approved, pre-coded features that they could enable or disable with the click of a mouse.
Suddenly, if a particular Department wanted a new feature—professor biographies, for example—getting it was as simple as pushing a button.
Two basic rules governed Webpac.
First, no new website could auto-install a feature that hadn’t already been tested and made available to every other site.
And second, if one or more Departments did need a new feature, they could get it by paying to have it created, tested, and made available to all the others.
In this way, we were able to maintain the integrity of the Webpac Distribution, reduce maintenance, and ensure that Webpac would continue to power each new site added to the fold.