New Directions

There’s been some radio silence here lately that has led to a few people asking about bigger picture questions, and we wanted to address some of these & make a few announcements regarding the direction of the project going forward. If you’re less interested in the “why” and more interested in the “what’s next” feel free to skip down to the relevant sections. To get the obvious question out of the way, we do not plan to shut Open States down. [Read More]

Open States progress report, March 2

Hi again! Checking in with another progress update, as I begin my third and final month staffed full-time on Open States. We’ve continued to maintain high data quality, as the nation’s legislative sessions move ahead in full-swing; over the past month, we’ve had over 100 code commits to the scraper repository, closing 37 tickets. I’ve been able to take care of most of these bugfixes and manual data corrections, and have also been helping onboard many first-time contributors who are coming to the project via Google Summer of Code. [Read More]

Open States & Google Summer of Code 2018

We’re excited to announce that Open States has been accepted as a participating organization in Google Summer of Code 2018! Last year we had Hitesh Garg help us break ground on a brand new data admin tool. We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with a couple of new students this year and see what great improvements we can build together this summer. For those unfamiliar, GSoC is an opportunity for students to work on selected Open Source projects. [Read More]

Open States progress report, February 2

Hi all! As promised, touching base with a quick update on my Open States progress from the past couple weeks. Our legislator and bill scrapers are now fully-functioning, pulling in new data nightly. Only Arkansas and Connecticut remain deactivated, since their legislative sessions haven’t yet begun, and their websites haven’t published pre-filed bills. As always, you can view Open States scraper status using our Bobsled tool: My other focus has been updating our legislative boundary lookup, which powers a popular API endpoint and the openstates. [Read More]

Using state flags as Slack emoji

Want to rep your home state in Slack? Or travel around a lot, and want to use your Slack status to represent your location? Want to react to a friend’s message, but can’t find a way to say “that’s sooo Kansas”? (Or, run an open-source project and need a cute way to refer to individual states across the country? ;) ) I got you. Hop over to my GitHub repository and you can load all 50 state flags (plus 6 territories’) into your Slack, as custom emoji! [Read More]

Scraper status report for the 2018 sessions

January’s always a busy time for Open States, as new legislative sessions are sworn in across the country. I’ve been hard at work making sure that our scrapers receive prompt fixes, as well as making manual data corrections as old legislators retire. Our scraper-status dashboard, http://bobsled.openstates.org/ Right now, we’re in a great place. Thanks to 70 code commits in the past two weeks, 42 of our 52 state scrapers are running smoothly. [Read More]

Bringing on Support for the 2018 Legislative Sessions

I’m excited to announce that Miles Watkins, a fellow member of the Open States core team, will be working on the project professionally during 2018’s most legislatively-active months. Between now and late March, Miles will dedicate most of his work week to supporting Open States, especially by improving scraped data quality and building out the infrastructure of the new openstates.org and the geospatial components of the API. Open States had no paid development staff in 2017, and our success relied on over a thousand volunteer hours from Miles, myself, and the rest of our contributors. [Read More]

The new openstates.org: a sneak peek

The current Open States website has served us well. It’s a crucial gateway for citizens to track, search, and learn about their representatives and bills, and receives hundreds of thousands of hits per month when legislatures are in session. But at six years old, the interface is starting to show its age, in both usability and visual design. Most significantly, openstates.org is not mobile-responsive, a bad experience for smartphone and tablet users. [Read More]

Open States in 2018 and Beyond

Open States will soon enter its tenth year as a project and second year as an independent entity. We wanted to take some time to reflect, and announce some changes that we’ll be making in 2018. We’re quite proud of all we accomplished in 2017. We focused on migrating the project to new & improved infrastructure, new data quality tools as part of our Google Summer of Code participation, and building relationships that will hopefully ensure Open States’ sustainability well into the future. [Read More]

Introducing the Upcoming Open States GraphQL API

The Open States API is arguably the most important part of the project after the scrapers. The API was launched in 2010 and now sees millions of requests a week. Today we’re announcing experimental availability of the Open States GraphQL API, our intended successor to the existing API. You can start experimenting w/ the API today: check out the alpha documentation or dive in! This API is currently in an early alpha state. [Read More]