Release Notes: Export your FOIA requests your way with updated API scripts

Release Notes: Export your FOIA requests your way with updated API scripts

Plus check out the powerful DocumentCloud API

Written by
Edited by Beryl Lipton

No user-facing feature updates this week, but we updated the API instructions and have a new sample script that helps export request data any way you need it.

For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and if you’d like updates emailed to you — along with ways to help contribute to the site’s development yourself — subscribe to our developer newsletter here.

Export your request data as a spreadsheet with notes included

Sometimes it’s easier to analyze your requests as a spreadsheet, which is why Pro users can export any request search results as a spreadsheet. But while we formatted this spreadsheet to meet the most common needs, sometimes you need a few fields we didn’t include or the data formatted a little differently.

If you know a little Python (or have someone who does who can help you out), the API can offer deep customization and allow you to format exports however you’d like, including grabbing all your requests as a spreadsheet or downloading all the communications as separate files.

We’ve updated our export your requests as a list script here to help you get started, and it now includes a few additional features:

  • Easier resume.
  • Better logging.
  • Include notes as a field in the spreadsheet.
  • Include full agency names and full jurisdiction names.

There’s also an example of exporting FOIA requests as files here.

To get your API key and get started, go to your profile page and scroll down to the bottom left of your profile to find it.

Be sure to check out DocumentCloud’s API, too, which has been revamped for the Beta.

MuckRock and DocumentCloud are open source, and you can help us make them better

There are a number of ways to help us continue to improve the core MuckRock site experience. We have a developer newsletter, “Release Notes,” that highlights everything we’re working on. Register to get an occasional summary of site updates 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 developer 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