2017 So Far

With the bulk of 2017 sessions now adjourned we wanted to give an update for what we’ve been working on besides keeping the scrapers running & what’s coming next.

scraper commits for 2017; https://github.com/openstates/openstates/graphs/commit-activityscraper commits for 2017; https://github.com/openstates/openstates/graphs/commit-activity

Diving into Open Civic Data

In May, with the help of dozens of new contributors, we finished converting all of our scrapers to the Open Civic Data ecosystem. This was our big push for the first half of the year and it is fair to say that this is the biggest improvement to the Open States project since 2012, when we released openstates.org.

For now the impact is mostly behind the scenes, but it lays the groundwork for the future of Open States, and provides a modern and reliable platform for us to build upon, a platform that we’ll share with a larger community who are already contributing to the Open Civic Data toolset.

What’s Next in Infrastructure

Hitesh’s 2017 Google Summer of Code project is progressing well, it will enable us to better monitor and augment the quality of Open States’ data. (Unfortunately our other student had to withdraw from this summer’s program for personal reasons.) We’ve also decided to invest in a design refresh of openstates.org, which we’ll update you on in the coming weeks.

In the lab, we’re designing version 2 of the Open States API, leveraging our new OCD data structure. You can follow along or join the conversation on GitHub; implementation and beta testing will begin in the near future. Let us know on Slack if you’d like to be involved.

Making Open States Sustainable

Another major goal is ensuring the long-term sustainability of Open States.

We took over this project last fall, right as new legislators were being elected and eventful special sessions were being held, and just weeks before the rush of scraper-updating and -rewriting that comes in the wake of elections. We ensured that Open States remained a continuously available resource, and put most of our effort into making sure our scrapers were as reliable as possible and our short-term server bills were covered. Now, with that mostly accomplished, we want to reflect, and focus on making sure Open States remains available and accurate for years to come.

This means seeking funding so that at least some of the core team can dedicate themselves to this project over the long term. We’ve begun several promising conversations and have also been seeking feedback on what Open States is worth to those that use it most. If you’re an Open States user and would like to help us, please consider taking our quick survey.

(And of course, if you’re able to make a contribution today, our general support fund is still active on Generosity.)

Stay in Touch

Stay tuned for more; we’ll have announcements later this summer on version 2 of the Open States API, and more!

Originally published at blog.openstates.org.