Latest Updates: Our Blog

November 2009

Seeking Consultants (updated)

Posted
Nov 17th, 2009

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People

Author
Amanda Hickman

update: we have what we need for now, thanks.

Have you been watching DocumentCloud roll out code releases and wishing you could be part of it all? You can! We’re looking for a couple of consultants to help us build out Document Cloud: we need a JavaScript consultant to work with us on an ongoing basis over the next few months and a Posgres expert to do some intense consulting with us.

We’re building a research tool for reporters, a semantic search engine, an index of primary source documents with our grant from the Knight Foundation. DocumentCloud will be free and open source software.

We need a JavaScript developer to help build out a rich, web-based tool that journalists will use to search and organize documents, as well as visualize the relationships between documents. A strong foundation in HTML and CSS is required, bonus points for comfort in Ruby. If you think that doing full JavaScript MVC in the browser doesn’t sound like a crazy idea, then we want to hear from you.

We also need an expert-level PostgreSQL consultant to sit down with us and review and refine our architecture plans. We’re looking someone with plenty of experience working with sharded Postgres installations, someone skilled at tuning Postgres for full text searches over very large datasets (potentially approaching hundreds of thousands of documents) and well versed in best practices for deploying Postgres on EC2.

If either of these sounds like you, send your resume, a rate quote and a short description of particularly relevant work to: jobs@documentcloud.org with “JavaScript Developer” or “Postgres Consultant” in the subject line.

Hint: the subject line matters more than you’d think. Our “jobs” inbox has a procmail filter and three folders: JavaScript, Postgres and Trash.

Announcing Jammit: DocumentCloud’s Asset Packager

Posted
Nov 16th, 2009

Tags
Code

Author
Jeremy Ashkenas

The DocumentCloud prototype includes a “Journalist Workspace” — a tool for searching, organizing, and visualizing the relationships among documents. We’re building the workspace as a modern web application, which means that there’s a lot of static assets behind the scenes (JavaScript, templates, CSS, and images). The problem arises: how do you keep all of these assets organized while still delivering them as efficiently as possible to a web browser?

Our answer, Jammit, is a Rails gem that takes care of merging and compressing all of a website’s static assets. It runs JavaScript and CSS through the excellent YUI Compressor, zips them up for speedy downloads, and can embed small images right into the stylesheets. Using it in the DocumentCloud prototype has cut the time that it takes to load the workspace in half.

The project page contains complete overview of Jammit, including installation instructions, documentation, and examples. We hope you can use it to help speed up your Rails applications.

Staffing Up DocumentCloud

Posted
Nov 11th, 2009

Tags
IdeaLab

Author
Amanda Hickman

Cross posted from PBS Idealab.

A few months ago (three, to be precise), I quietly announced that I’d be leaving Gotham Gazette for parts unknown. I wasn’t making that up about “parts unknown,” but my announcement did get a few conversations started. The most interesting one turned out to be with Eric, Aron and Scott, who persuaded me to join DocumentCloud as their program director.

I’m pretty thrilled to be joining them: I care a lot about software freedom, improving access to information, and making great software accessible to small organizations. DocumentCloud gives me a great opportunity to approach access to information from a different angle, and to have a hand in developing undeniably excellent tools that will be (some already are) accessible to large and small news organizations alike.

I just started this week, but you’ll be hearing more from me as we proceed, about both our challenges and successes. The first challenge was realizing that it was time to bring someone on board to work with our document partners and help Jeremy Ashkenas, our lead developer, find beta testers to help keep him moving forward. I like to think we handled that one well, and I’m looking forwarded to more challenges to come.

Discuss Staffing Up DocumentCloud on PBS’s IdeaLab.

Our Second Hire

Posted
Nov 9th, 2009

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People

Author
Amanda Hickman

Here at Document Cloud we’ve finally hired ourselves a Program Director to keep Jeremy, our lead developer, company. Someone to manage our impressive and growing list of document partners and help them get the most out of Document Cloud. Someone to develop some training materials and help our beta testers get started beta testing. For her first challenge, we asked her to write a blog post in the third person.

Amanda Hickman joins us from Gotham Gazette where, as the Director of Technology, she managed development of a series of games about public policy issues, built a pretty cool database of candidates for local office and shared an ONA award for General Excellence with her colleagues there. Prior to joining Gotham Gazette, she worked as a Circuit Rider, providing technology assistance and training to low-income grassroots groups in the U.S. working on anti-poverty issues and as a consultant to foundations looking for ways to support their grantees’ use of technology in organizing work. She taught an undergraduate course at NYU’s Gallatin School on using the Internet as an organizing tool. An active local organizer, she’s got her hands in a few community composting and gardening projects, too. If you ever tire of hearing about semantic analysis of primary source documents, try asking her about the dwarf crab apple trees at Greene Acres or what she does with 1300 lbs of compost every week.

She’ll be back here answering all your questions just as soon as she can manage.