Open Legislation v1.5: Dusty Daedalus

March 31, 2010

It has been almost one year since we originally launched the Open Legislation service here at the NY Senate CIO Team. Since then, we've updated the service a number of times, all of them culminating in this fifth major release, "Dusty Daedalus" v1.5. All of our releases are named with astronomical themes, since we are always trying to shoot for the stars.

Along with the normal fixes and enhancements, this release features a major overhaul of our search functionality. OpenLeg now integrates the open-source Lucene search engine, which not only enables lighting fast searches, but also extremely complex, multi-part queries.

This means you can search across all the open legislative content types (Bill, Meeting Agenda, Floor Calendars, Active Lists, Floor Transcripts, Bill Actions, Floor Votes and Committee Votes), and use words like AND and OR and wildcards * to fine tune your search criteria.

Here's an example of the type of complex searches you can now perform (click on the linked text to see the results):

 

These are just a few examples. We expect that every constituent visitor will have their own idea about what they want to drill down on. Ultimately our goal is simply to help you find the legislative information that you are looking for with less hassle. 

For those more technical users and developers out there, we offer XML, JSON and RSS feeds for every search, as well. This is part of our new Search API that we will release documentation for shortly, but feel free to start playing with it now. For developers who have already started working with OpenLeg, the previously released Collection API still exists and won't be going anywhere.

The mobile web interface to the service has also been updated, with access to the complete set of legislative content types and the same search functionality as the full web interface. We will be releasing a smartphone app in April for Android, iPhone and newer Blackberry devices, but for now, this mobile web app should provide all the data you need.

Finally, we are experimenting with a new change notification service powered by a free (and ad-free) third-party service. On every page in OpenLeg, in the upper right hand corner, you will notice a box where you can enter your email. This brings up a popup window for subscribing to alerts. Once you do this, you will receive a notification anytime that anything changes on the page. You can also easily unsubscribe at any time. 

Visit Open Legislation now at http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation and take all of these new features for a whirl.

In addition, Open Legislation is still considered very much a "Beta", so please report any and all bugs, feedback or other issues through our beta feedback form.