To its credit, the Obama administration has been far more tech savvy than any before it. One of its defining moments in this area was the building of the We The People Web site and making the software behind it open source. Now the White House is ready to move on to the next step, but wants input from developers along the way.
The White House announced today that Petitions 1.0, the code that the We the People site runs on, is finished. Now the team will be working on Petitions 2.0. Here's the details from the White House blog:
In software development, when you go from one version number to another it means that something big is going on. We're taking a new approach to how the application works, one that starts with the assumption that it should be as open, transparent, and flexible as possible.
As a result, Petitions 2.0 is based on an application programming interface, or API, that we will release to the public in the coming months. The first set of methods, Read API, will be released in March, 2013 and will allow anyone to retrieve data on petitions, signatures, and responses. Later, we'll release a second set of methods, Write API, that will allow other websites and apps to collect and submit signatures without directly sending users to WhiteHouse.gov. With this API in place we'll be able to decouple the presentation and data layers of the application and build a new, streamlined signature process. This also means that developers who reuse our code will be able to choose which database the application relies on. Between that and our continued work on a white label theme, Petitions 2.0 will be easier for others to contribute to and reuse.
Before any of this is made public, however, the White House staff will be inviting a small number of developers to the White House Open Data Day Hackathon. Those invited will receive access to the new API methods before the event so they can mess around with it for a bit. At the event itself, developers will show off what they have done, and submit examples to be included with the public SDK.
Are you interested in building the next open platform of citizen/government relations? If so, you can apply to join the hackathon here. If you are selected, you'll be notified no later than February 8.