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WRAL builds award-winning app with DocumentCloud API

Apr 7th, 2016


Anthony DeBarros

A big congratulations from the DocumentCloud team to Tyler Dukes, public records reporter at TV station WRAL in North Carolina. Dukes received a 2016 Sunshine Award from the North Carolina Open Government Coalition for work including a custom document-search application he built using the DocumentCloud API.

The API is a powerful piece of the DocumentCloud platform, a web service that lets you interact programmatically with resources such as documents, projects and entities. Various API methods let you upload files, create projects, update document data and embed assets via oEmbed, among other tasks.

When the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released hundreds of thousands of pages of documents gathered during an independent investigation into academic fraud involving faculty, staff and student athletes, Dukes turned to the search method of DocumentCloud’s API to build a web application that let users find and read documents by keyword or key people in the investigation.

“We wanted to build something to allow users to browse and search hundreds of thousands of pages of documents all in one place,” Dukes said. “DocumentCloud’s existing embeddable search was close, but because the documents were arbitrarily spread across hundreds of batches, I was concerned it would be too confusing for the average user.

“The API allowed us to very quickly prototype and roll out exactly what we wanted for this very specific circumstance,” he said. “We used the API to pull every page from documents stored in a single project and display them in an intuitive application that allows users to read page by page (or even random pages) or search everything at once. We’ve updated the application twice now, and we’re currently up to 680,000 pages and counting.”

Dukes’ project is one of several in recent months that have used our API or components to give readers custom search and viewing, including a Wall Street Journal application to let readers tag Hillary Clinton’s emails and La Nacion’s election crowdsourcing application VozData.

If you’re interested in using the DocumentCloud API, check out our help documentation and don’t be shy about getting in touch.

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