MuckRock Release Notes: More transparency in more ways

MuckRock Release Notes: More transparency in more ways

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Edited by JPat Brown and Beryl Lipton

This past week we’ve launched an improved composer window, more improvements to our crowdsourcing tool Assignments, and a few API tweaks for those who want to build transparency resources on top of MuckRock.

For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and if you’d like to get a list of site improvements every Tuesday - along with ways to help contribute to the site’s development yourself - subscribe to our developer newsletter here.

What’s new on MuckRock

Even better Assignments

We pushed out a few small tweaks to the Assignments tool:

  • If you embed an Assignment with an iframe on a page, it will now thank users for contributing so that they have some feedback that it worked.
  • If you are the owner of an Assignment, you can now set it to email a copy of incoming responses to multiple email addresses (the responses will still be stored on the backend). This is great if you want to queue up tips for review or otherwise have a handy copy of responses. This can currently be set when creating a new Assignment.
  • Some unicode characters were causing errors on submission of Assignments. You can now em-dash to your heart’s content.

Composer window now expands to fit your text

Thanks for all the feedback on our new request composer tool! We fixed some bugs that were causing it to not always show agencies we had in our database, but those were pretty rare.

More importantly, we’ve fixed the composer window so that as you write a longer request, the form expands so that text is not hidden - no more wondering where the bottom or top half of your request went.

API calls to agency type now case insensitive

Thanks to Matt Chapman for suggesting we make API calls relying on agency type case insensitive. On the backend, we store metadata about the type of agencies, although this data is very incomplete. We hope to do more with agency type data in the future. We also fixed up some other minor bugs that were introduced with our major rewrite of the request tool.

In the meantime, read more about MuckRock’s API and see some example API scripts. If you’ve got a cool project that uses - or could use - our API, let us know! We’d love to feature it and help debug.

Join our new developer newsletter

We have a growing group of volunteer hackers helping to make MuckRock better every day. We want to make it easier to contribute, so we’re launching a new weekly developer newsletter, currently dubbed “Release Notes.” Register to get a summary of site updates each week, a list of issues you can help with, and details about our Code for Boston meetups.

Plus, we’ll include exclusive data sets, FOIA-related scripts, and other transparency hacker tidbits exclusively for subscribers. Subscribe to our developer newsletter here.

Come hack on MuckRock

If you do want to contribute to helping build better FOIA tools for thousands of requesters, there’s a number of ways to help. If you find a bug you can email us directly or open an issue on GitHub.

If you do the latter, please search open issues first to make sure it hasn’t already been reported. If it has been reported previously, please leave an additional comment letting us know it’s an issue for you, particularly if you can provide more details about when it crops up or what you think is causing the problem.

For those who want to contribute design, code, or otherwise add more directly to the site, in addition to the new newsletter, we have a developer channel on the MuckRock Slack. You can also join us at Code for Boston’s weekly hack nights, which take place Tuesday evenings in Kendall Square. We might not make it to every one of them, so if you want to meet up there it’s a good idea to check in on Slack first or check the newsletter. We will not be at tomorrow’s meetup.

Image via Wikimedia Commons