Release Notes: Refactoring GovLens

Release Notes: Refactoring GovLens

No new features, but you can help us by getting involved with our open source efforts

Edited by JPat Brown

Over the last week, we’ve been heads down on some big updates, so no new features on MuckRock were released. We did, however, start a major refactoring of GovLens to make it more accessible and easier to get involved.

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.

Site Updates

Refactoring GovLens

Every Tuesday night, we gather in Cambridge with a group of coders, designers, and others who want to see more open government. The past few months, we’ve been mixing MuckRock’s agency database with a set of scanners and scrapers to help gauge the accessibility, mobile-friendliness, and security of America’s digital infrastructure.

We’ve dubbed the project GovLens, and last week we spent some time refactoring the project to make it easier to get started for new contributors as well as setting up a better structure to keep things nice and tidy, including taking advantage of Cookie Cutter Django.

We also sketched out what we need to do to put together our MVP (Minimum Viable Product):

A sketch on a wall of a list of features that need to get for GovLens, with the features available for view at

Reporting bugs and submitting fixes

There are a number of other ways to help us continue to improve the core MuckRock site experience. We have a project and a weekly newsletter “Release Notes”, that highlights everything we’re working on. Register to get a summary of site updates each week and details on open issues you can help with.

Check out some of our issues labeled “help wanted” for ideas on where’s good to start, or just pop into our Slack’s #Developers channel.

Subscribers to the weekly newsletter get exclusive data sets, FOIA-related scripts, and other transparency hacker tidbits exclusively for subscribers. You can subscribe to the newsletter at the top or bottom of this page.

If you spot a bug or have a feature request, you can also help by opening an issue on GitHub.

If you do, 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.

In addition to the new newsletter, we have a developer channel on the MuckRock Slack.

Image via Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain.