Whenever you upload a document to DocumentCloud we send the contents to OpenCalais, a service that discovers the entities (people, places, organizations, terms, etc.) that are present in plain text. OpenCalais can tell us that “Barack Obama” is the same person as “President Obama”, “Senator Obama”, “Mr. President” … and even “he” or “his” in clauses like “his policy proposals”.
Last month, we stopped indexing entities for faceting because DocumentCloud has reached the point where our search index can no longer support the strain of keeping track of the millions of unique entities stored in our database. We still hope to bring back some form of entity faceting — a feature you may remember as the “Entities” tab — using a different implementation in the future. But for the time being, we have added a new feature that allows you to easily browse through all of the entities associated with a document:
The entities are displayed in a chart that shows how often each entity occurs across each page. Using this chart, you can see which companies and individuals tend to be mentioned together frequently, or which parts of a long document concern a certain topic. Hover over any mention (the small gray boxes) to see the surrounding context, and click on it to jump directly to that mention within the document itself.
If you want to try out an example, here is a link to a recent document that ran with a disability fraud story in today’s New York Times. Right-click on the document and choose View Entities from the context menu, or select the document and choose View Entities from the Analyze menu.
We’re still polishing these charts, so let us know if you have any ideas for improving them, or ideas for other ways that we can make extracted entities more useful for your reporting.
Users who tried to search for pretty much anything on DocumentCloud this morning noticed pretty quickly that there was something not quite right on our servers. The short story is this: the problem was caused by human error and our servers are in the process of rebuilding the index that failed.
The longer story, for those of you who’ve been have been tracking updates about our search outage, is this: Continue reading »
DocumentCloud now supports advanced boolean search queries, allowing you to more easily perform searches that hone right in on the documents you’re trying to find. You may be familiar with boolean operators from other search engines, but here’s a quick refresher on the available options:
- and: both terms must exist in the document Perry and Romney
- or: either term may match indicted or accused
- !: the term must not exist in the document obama !barack
- *: a wildcard to match any sequence of letters J*e Smith (Matches Joe, Jane or Jake Smith)
- ( ): group together words into a term (Perry or Romney) and governor
Here’s an example of what that last search looks like in action:
Behind the scenes, we’re using the latest stable release of the open-source Solr/Lucene search engine (3.4.0). It includes a new query parser called “edismax” that adds boolean operators to the previous implementation of full text search.
Give boolean searches a spin, and let us know if they’re working well for your ongoing projects.
We’ve been hard at work during our short Columbia, Missouri hackathon at DocumentCloud’s new home at the Investigative Reporters & Editors office. As a result we’ve rolled out a new feature for readers and journalists to print annotations made on documents.
Journalists have been publishing documents through DocumentCloud for a while now as well as annotating documents both for readers and for their own story writing processes. We think it’s just as important for DocumentCloud to make story writing quicker and easier as it is to help readers find primary source material.
So, when Marshall Allen of ProPublica told us that he would like to try using DocumentCloud to take his story notes, we did our best to help out. As a result, you can now select one or more documents in the workspace and choose “Print Notes” under the “Publish” menu.
This way you can annotate your sources in DocumentCloud, and have a single copy of all your research ready at hand for your copy editor or read when your flight attendant announces that all power switches should be in the off position.
And readers can find a “Print Notes” link in the sidebar footer of the document viewer too.
We hope this will help readers and journalists alike note and collect information in the format the best suits their workflows. Happy Printing (and remember to recycle)!
Back in August, we announced that we’d be welcoming a new lead developer, but he’s been on the job two weeks already and we managed to forget to say anything like “Welcome aboard!”
Well, better late than never.