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Re: [govtrack] I need help!

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  • Josh Tauberer
    ... Most things I have in mind are meant to be done by an automated process, not manually editing bills. There are some things that would be nice to do with
    Message 1 of 24 , Jun 29, 2008
      Harvey Frey wrote:
      > Would there be some way to list the bills which you would like
      > someone to work on, and allow individuals to sign up to work on them,
      > and "lock" those bills so that one person won't overwrite another's
      > changes?
      >
      > I doubt that you want just anyone uploading changes to your site. How
      > would you control uploads of edited bill text?

      Most things I have in mind are meant to be done by an automated process,
      not manually editing bills. There are some things that would be nice to
      do with human editing, of course, but they are much more complicated
      projects. More below. First to address some other points:

      > Would someone be interested in writing a script which could recognize
      > a statutory reference and generate an appropriate hyperlink?

      I've already done that for U.S.C. references. They are hyperlinked on
      GovTrack already.

      > Even there, there's a problem since most of the USC sites don't have
      > embedded pinpoint anchors to subsections. Would you want to keep
      > local marked up copies of those too?

      If necessary absolutely, but I could talk to someone at the Cornell LII
      website if we wanted to do something more with them.

      > Do you have a preferred technique for handling this problem?

      ReadableLaws by Matt Burton tried an approach to annotating bills and we
      were talking about how to collaborate.

      I general I think the right approach is going to depend on the specifics
      of the goal. Whether it's marking up how a bill modifies the US Code or
      something else.

      > Are you willing to save marked up copies of bills on your site? Apart from
      > the massive storage needed

      This is not a problem.

      > how would you (we) keep them current?

      This is one of the reasons this is a very complicated project to do
      correctly.

      An approach, for which I have the basis in the works, is to tie mark-up
      to the bill on a paragraph-by-paragraph level. Each paragraph gets an
      id. And these ids carry through as the bill is revised (automatically).
      Some ids disappear when paragraphs are deleted, and new ids come in as
      paragraphs are added. (It would be nice if Congress provided these ids,
      but they don't, so I'm working on generating them.)

      There are some very useful projects in here, in terms of human editing,
      but it's one of the most ambitious types of projects to tackle.

      --
      - Josh Tauberer
      - GovTrack.us

      http://razor.occams.info

      "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
      falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
      Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
    • Harvey Frey
      ... GovTrack already.
      Message 2 of 24 , Jun 29, 2008
        Josh:

        >I've already done that for U.S.C. references. They are hyperlinked on
        GovTrack already.<

        Oh, good! In annotating the USA Patriot Act, I found that they often
        made reference to a law by its NAME, which meant I needed to find the PL
        number and then, if possible the USC cites. <G> I think this was intentional
        obfuscation, and would be hard to follow automatically.

        >ReadableLaws by Matt Burton tried an approach to annotating bills and we
        were talking about how to collaborate.<

        Thanks for that reference! I'll check it out. I've attended several
        conferences on Legislative markup, but didn't find much of value, especially
        as I'm interested primarily in Semantic annotation, and the state of the art
        still seems to be syntactic (dates, addresses, etc.)

        What is your preferred language for the scripts you write to manipulate
        the bill text?

        Do you have an ontology for the XML you generate? That would be a
        starting point for those of us who might be interested in helping. I've
        developed a primitive 'folksonomy' for myself, but it's primarily aimed at
        court decisions rather than legislation.

        Harvey



        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Josh Tauberer
        To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 5:01 PM
        Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!


        Harvey Frey wrote:
        > Would there be some way to list the bills which you would like
        > someone to work on, and allow individuals to sign up to work on them,
        > and "lock" those bills so that one person won't overwrite another's
        > changes?
        >
        > I doubt that you want just anyone uploading changes to your site. How
        > would you control uploads of edited bill text?

        Most things I have in mind are meant to be done by an automated process,
        not manually editing bills. There are some things that would be nice to
        do with human editing, of course, but they are much more complicated
        projects. More below. First to address some other points:

        > Would someone be interested in writing a script which could recognize
        > a statutory reference and generate an appropriate hyperlink?

        I've already done that for U.S.C. references. They are hyperlinked on
        GovTrack already.

        > Even there, there's a problem since most of the USC sites don't have
        > embedded pinpoint anchors to subsections. Would you want to keep
        > local marked up copies of those too?

        If necessary absolutely, but I could talk to someone at the Cornell LII
        website if we wanted to do something more with them.

        > Do you have a preferred technique for handling this problem?

        ReadableLaws by Matt Burton tried an approach to annotating bills and we
        were talking about how to collaborate.

        I general I think the right approach is going to depend on the specifics
        of the goal. Whether it's marking up how a bill modifies the US Code or
        something else.

        > Are you willing to save marked up copies of bills on your site? Apart from
        > the massive storage needed

        This is not a problem.

        > how would you (we) keep them current?

        This is one of the reasons this is a very complicated project to do
        correctly.

        An approach, for which I have the basis in the works, is to tie mark-up
        to the bill on a paragraph-by-paragraph level. Each paragraph gets an
        id. And these ids carry through as the bill is revised (automatically).
        Some ids disappear when paragraphs are deleted, and new ids come in as
        paragraphs are added. (It would be nice if Congress provided these ids,
        but they don't, so I'm working on generating them.)

        There are some very useful projects in here, in terms of human editing,
        but it's one of the most ambitious types of projects to tackle.

        --
        - Josh Tauberer
        - GovTrack.us

        http://razor.occams.info

        "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
        falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
        Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
      • Joe Germuska
        ... Regarding the idea that it would be nice if Congress provided these ... It seems worthwhile to me that citizens push for a more modern approach to
        Message 3 of 24 , Jun 29, 2008
          On Jun 29, 2008, at 7:01 PM, Josh Tauberer wrote:
          (It would be nice if Congress provided these ids, but they don't, so I'm working on generating them.)

          Regarding the idea that it would be nice if Congress provided these IDs, and also things like this from Readable Laws:
          When translating laws, pay special attention to de-referencing them. One of the reasons bills are so hard to read is their failure to actually say what they are doing. Instead, they often just modify existing laws. Here's an example from the USA PATRIOT Act:
            Section 105(e)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1805(e)(1)) is amended by-- 
             (A) inserting `(A)' after `except that'; and 
             (B) inserting before the period the following:...
          
          It seems worthwhile to me that citizens push for a more modern approach to legislation.  It is nonsense that something like the above would not also include the updated text in its entirety, especially in an electronic age.

          I understand that GovTrack is focused on machine-solvable problems, so maybe this question is better targeted at the Open Gov Data mailing list or some other community–but I know there's a lot of overlap, and this thread is here.  So: is there any traction in Congress itself or in the activist community to push for some process rationalization? Is this hopelessly naîve?  I am pretty far removed from both of those communities, but I think it's time we start pointing out to Congress that we can already see the ways in which they simply block progress and that we want that to change.

          I'm going to try to attend the IGOTF meeting in Chicago in August (since I live here). This is the kind of thing I hope to talk about with people and find out how I can help.  

          Joe

          -- 
          Joe Germuska
          Joe@... * http://blog.germuska.com    

          "I felt so good I told the leader how to follow."
          -- Sly Stone 

        • Josh Tauberer
          ... If you learn anything interesting, I d love to hear about it. ... I use Perl. If I were to start over again today I d probably use Python. But, to the
          Message 4 of 24 , Jun 29, 2008
            > I've attended several
            > conferences on Legislative markup, but didn't find much of value, especially
            > as I'm interested primarily in Semantic annotation, and the state of the art
            > still seems to be syntactic (dates, addresses, etc.)

            If you learn anything interesting, I'd love to hear about it.

            > What is your preferred language for the scripts you write to manipulate
            > the bill text?

            I use Perl. If I were to start over again today I'd probably use Python.
            But, to the extent anyone wants to contribute, I would prefer Perl so
            they could reuse my existing routines, but I would gladly accept Python
            and maybe other languages.

            > Do you have an ontology for the XML you generate?

            I have some documentation of most things here:
            http://wiki.govtrack.us/index.php/Data_Directory

            But it doesn't include anything about the structure of bill text XML
            that I generate, in part because it comes from HTML from THOMAS and I
            don't have a complete (or any) description of that.

            --
            - Josh Tauberer
            - GovTrack.us

            http://razor.occams.info

            "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
            falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
            Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
          • Josh Tauberer
            ... Actually I sympathize with the bill writers, who are often, I believe, from the Office of Legislative Counsel (OLC), separate for House and Senate it
            Message 5 of 24 , Jun 29, 2008
              Joe Germuska wrote:
              > On Jun 29, 2008, at 7:01 PM, Josh Tauberer wrote:
              >> (It would be nice if Congress provided these ids, but they don't, so
              >> I'm working on generating them.)
              >
              > Regarding the idea that it would be nice if Congress provided these IDs,
              > and also things like this
              > <http://readablelaws.org/index.php?title=Help:Contributing> from
              > Readable Laws:
              >> When translating laws, pay special attention to de-referencing them.
              >> One of the reasons bills are so hard to read is their failure to
              >> actually say /what/ they are doing. Instead, they often just modify
              >> existing laws. Here's an example from the USA PATRIOT Act:
              >> Section 105(e)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1805(e)(1)) is amended by--
              >> (A) inserting `(A)' after `except that'; and
              >> (B) inserting before the period the following:...
              > It seems worthwhile to me that citizens push for a more modern approach
              > to legislation. It is nonsense that something like the above would not
              > also include the updated text in its entirety, especially in an
              > electronic age.

              Actually I sympathize with the bill writers, who are often, I believe,
              from the Office of Legislative Counsel (OLC), separate for House and
              Senate it seems. When writing code --- be it legal or computer --- you
              want to be as concise as possible. The fewer words the less likelihood
              of errors, and the easier it is to see exactly what the precise
              modification is (though more difficult to understand it).

              So I would prefer separate annotations.

              > I understand that GovTrack is focused on machine-solvable problems

              Only because that's what I've been capable of doing. Crowd-sourcing is
              certainly on topic for this list.

              > So: is there any traction in Congress itself or in the
              > activist community to push for some process rationalization?

              I haven't heard of anything significant.

              > Is this hopelessly naîve?

              Depends on what you want. Additionally writing annotations doesn't seem
              like something particularly difficult for the OLC to do, but it would
              require funding.

              Grander process changes are probably hopeless without small incremental
              steps.

              > I'm going to try to attend the IGOTF meeting <http://igotf.org/> in
              > Chicago in August (since I live here). This is the kind of thing I hope
              > to talk about with people and find out how I can help.

              Wish I could go.

              --
              - Josh Tauberer
              - GovTrack.us

              http://razor.occams.info

              "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
              falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
              Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
            • Harvey Frey
              It s really odd that the OLC has no drafting standards. The Dutch and Italians are way ahead on that, and the UN is supporting Akoma Ntosa for new African
              Message 6 of 24 , Jun 29, 2008
                It's really odd that the OLC has no drafting standards.
                The Dutch and Italians are way ahead on that, and the UN is supporting Akoma Ntosa for new African states.
                 
                Such standards could certainly be imposed here by statute, but I can't imagine who in Congress would be interested in pushing that.
                 
                Ambiguity often suits the purposes of the legislators by:
                allowing irreconcilable parties to believe that they had agreed to different policies; making it hard for rank and file to know what they're actually being asked to vote for; providing deniability when things work out poorly; and, as we see in the USA Patriot Act, making it difficult for potential critics to even determine what the law says. 
                 
                But there might be a benefit to an independent program which could objectively parse the logic of proposed bills and provide that to congressional staff.
                 
                Just providing internal hyperlinks would make it so much easier for staffers to understand a bill that they might study that instead of the official version, once they learned it could be trusted to be non-partisan.
                 
                Harvey
                ----- Original Message -----
                Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 10:15 PM
                Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!

                Joe Germuska wrote:
                > On Jun 29, 2008, at 7:01 PM, Josh Tauberer wrote:
                >> (It would be nice if Congress provided these ids, but they don't, so
                >> I'm working on generating them.)
                >
                > Regarding the idea that it would be nice if Congress provided these IDs,
                > and also things like this
                > <http://readablelaws.org/index.php?title=Help:Contributing> from
                > Readable Laws:
                >> When translating laws, pay special attention to de-referencing them.
                >> One of the reasons bills are so hard to read is their failure to
                >> actually say /what/ they are doing. Instead, they often just modify
                >> existing laws. Here's an example from the USA PATRIOT Act:
                >>   Section 105(e)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1805(e)(1)) is amended by--
                >>    (A) inserting `(A)' after `except that'; and
                >>    (B) inserting before the period the following:...
                > It seems worthwhile to me that citizens push for a more modern approach
                > to legislation.  It is nonsense that something like the above would not
                > also include the updated text in its entirety, especially in an
                > electronic age.

                Actually I sympathize with the bill writers, who are often, I believe,
                from the Office of Legislative Counsel (OLC), separate for House and
                Senate it seems. When writing code --- be it legal or computer --- you
                want to be as concise as possible. The fewer words the less likelihood
                of errors, and the easier it is to see exactly what the precise
                modification is (though more difficult to understand it).

                So I would prefer separate annotations.

                > I understand that GovTrack is focused on machine-solvable problems

                Only because that's what I've been capable of doing. Crowd-sourcing is
                certainly on topic for this list.

                > So: is there any traction in Congress itself or in the
                > activist community to push for some process rationalization?

                I haven't heard of anything significant.

                > Is this hopelessly naîve?

                Depends on what you want. Additionally writing annotations doesn't seem
                like something particularly difficult for the OLC to do, but it would
                require funding.

                Grander process changes are probably hopeless without small incremental
                steps.

                > I'm going to try to attend the IGOTF meeting <http://igotf.org/> in
                > Chicago in August (since I live here). This is the kind of thing I hope
                > to talk about with people and find out how I can help. 

                Wish I could go.

                --
                - Josh Tauberer
                - GovTrack.us

                http://razor.occams.info

                "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation!  Yields
                falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)

                ------------------------------------

              • Pierre Demester
                any thoughts of using Coldfusion ? Pierre _____ From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Josh Tauberer Sent: Monday, June
                Message 7 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                  any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?
                   
                  Pierre
                   


                  From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Josh Tauberer
                  Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 1:04 AM
                  To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!

                  > I've attended several
                  > conferences on Legislative markup, but

                  didn't find much of value, especially
                  > as I'm interested primarily in
                  Semantic annotation, and the state of the art
                  > still seems to be
                  syntactic (dates, addresses, etc.)

                  If you learn anything interesting, I'd love to hear about it.

                  > What is your preferred language for the
                  scripts you write to manipulate
                  > the bill text?

                  I use Perl. If I were to start over again today I'd probably use Python.
                  But, to the extent anyone wants to contribute, I would prefer Perl so
                  they could reuse my existing routines, but I would gladly accept Python
                  and maybe other languages.

                  > Do you have an ontology for the XML you
                  generate?

                  I have some documentation of most things here:
                  http://wiki. govtrack. us/index. php/Data_ Directory

                  But it doesn't include anything about the structure of bill text XML
                  that I generate, in part because it comes from HTML from THOMAS and I
                  don't have a complete (or any) description of that.

                  --
                  - Josh Tauberer
                  - GovTrack.us

                  http://razor. occams.info

                  "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                  falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                  Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                • Josh Tauberer
                  ... I actually don t know the first thing about ColdFusion. -- - Josh Tauberer - GovTrack.us http://razor.occams.info Yields falsehood when preceded by its
                  Message 8 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                    Pierre Demester wrote:
                    > any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?

                    I actually don't know the first thing about ColdFusion.

                    --
                    - Josh Tauberer
                    - GovTrack.us

                    http://razor.occams.info

                    "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                    falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                    Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                  • Pierre Demester
                    Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open source)... in that it is a scripting language. PHP has Object Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF)
                    Message 9 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                      Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open source)... in that it is a scripting language.
                       
                      PHP has Object Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed (Jeremy) Allaire and Ben Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe) resembles HTML.
                       
                      I, unfortunately have not had the opportunity (not currently cost effective to upgrade) to use CF 8 - which I think includes OO... but I might be incorrect.
                       
                      If you know HTML - you can learn CF fairly quickly.
                      -- to fully utilize PHP... you need an understanding of OO.. which is a barrier that most people cannot cross.
                      --- therefore, most PHP installs are not fully utilized. The "power is there"... the knowledge lacks.
                       
                      Another major difference is that PHP is free.
                      -- CF starts @ $700... $2500 if you need the Enterprise edition. Most people don't.
                       
                      My take - you get what you pay for, Free is nice. There's a price for Quality.
                       
                      A third obstable is the installation base. Because PHP is free - there are literally thousands (upon thousands) of companies who "toss in" PHP for free.
                      -- PHP is part of the standard linux install. All of my servers have PHP - I rarely use it.
                       
                      Because CF has a cost... the number of companies providing hosting services drops dramatically.
                      - most companies who switch to CF... provide their own hosting services
                       
                      It's the same issues with databases
                      -- MySQL (free / open source / hosted by 1000's upon 1000's)
                      -- as compared to Microsoft SQL Server (very expensive / professional results).
                       
                      Many large entities use CF... Amazon.com, EBay.com, Senate.gov, Jaguar (the car manufacturer)... literally too many to list.
                      - the number of PHP / MySql installations are uncountable.
                       
                      I think I've even come a Whitehouse.gov section that was CF based.
                      -- some entities develop their entire site with CF - others only develop a portion.
                       
                      CF works with Sun Solaris, Windows IIS, and Linux.
                       
                      Pierre
                       
                       
                       
                       


                      From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Josh Tauberer
                      Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:33 AM
                      To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!

                      Pierre Demester wrote:

                      > any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?

                      I actually don't know the first thing about ColdFusion.

                      --
                      - Josh Tauberer
                      - GovTrack.us

                      http://razor. occams.info

                      "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                      falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                      Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)

                    • Derek Willis
                      Please, please, not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster). ... -- -- Derek Willis dwillis@gmail.com http://www.thescoop.org/docs/
                      Message 10 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                        Please, please, not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster).

                        On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM, Pierre Demester <pierre@...> wrote:
                        > Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open source)... in that it
                        > is a scripting language.
                        >
                        > PHP has Object Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed
                        > (Jeremy) Allaire and Ben Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe)
                        > resembles HTML.
                        >
                        > I, unfortunately have not had the opportunity (not currently cost effective
                        > to upgrade) to use CF 8 - which I think includes OO... but I might be
                        > incorrect.
                        >
                        > If you know HTML - you can learn CF fairly quickly.
                        > -- to fully utilize PHP... you need an understanding of OO.. which is a
                        > barrier that most people cannot cross.
                        > --- therefore, most PHP installs are not fully utilized. The "power is
                        > there"... the knowledge lacks.
                        >
                        > Another major difference is that PHP is free.
                        > -- CF starts @ $700... $2500 if you need the Enterprise edition. Most people
                        > don't.
                        >
                        > My take - you get what you pay for, Free is nice. There's a price for
                        > Quality.
                        >
                        > A third obstable is the installation base. Because PHP is free - there are
                        > literally thousands (upon thousands) of companies who "toss in" PHP for
                        > free.
                        > -- PHP is part of the standard linux install. All of my servers have PHP - I
                        > rarely use it.
                        >
                        > Because CF has a cost... the number of companies providing hosting services
                        > drops dramatically.
                        > - most companies who switch to CF... provide their own hosting services
                        >
                        > It's the same issues with databases
                        > -- MySQL (free / open source / hosted by 1000's upon 1000's)
                        > -- as compared to Microsoft SQL Server (very expensive / professional
                        > results).
                        >
                        > Many large entities use CF... Amazon.com, EBay.com, Senate.gov, Jaguar (the
                        > car manufacturer)... literally too many to list.
                        > - the number of PHP / MySql installations are uncountable.
                        >
                        > I think I've even come a Whitehouse.gov section that was CF based.
                        > -- some entities develop their entire site with CF - others only develop a
                        > portion.
                        >
                        > CF works with Sun Solaris, Windows IIS, and Linux.
                        >
                        > Pierre
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ________________________________
                        > From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                        > Of Josh Tauberer
                        > Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:33 AM
                        > To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                        > Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!
                        >
                        > Pierre Demester wrote:
                        >> any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?
                        >
                        > I actually don't know the first thing about ColdFusion.
                        >
                        > --
                        > - Josh Tauberer
                        > - GovTrack.us
                        >
                        > http://razor.occams.info
                        >
                        > "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                        > falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                        > Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                        >
                        >



                        --
                        --
                        Derek Willis
                        dwillis@...
                        http://www.thescoop.org/docs/
                      • Pierre Demester
                        there ya go. I knew there would be at least one. Pierre _____ From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Derek Willis Sent:
                        Message 11 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                          there ya go. I knew there would be at least one.
                           
                          Pierre
                           


                          From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Derek Willis
                          Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 10:19 AM
                          To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!

                          Please, please, not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster).

                          On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM, Pierre Demester <pierre@.... us> wrote:

                          > Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open source)...
                          in that it
                          > is a scripting language.
                          >
                          > PHP has Object
                          Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed
                          > (Jeremy) Allaire
                          and Ben Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe)
                          > resembles
                          HTML.
                          >
                          > I, unfortunately have not had the opportunity (not
                          currently cost effective
                          > to upgrade) to use CF 8 - which I think
                          includes OO... but I might be
                          > incorrect.
                          >
                          > If you know
                          HTML - you can learn CF fairly quickly.
                          > -- to fully utilize PHP... you
                          need an understanding of OO.. which is a
                          > barrier that most people cannot
                          cross.
                          > --- therefore, most PHP installs are not fully utilized. The
                          "power is
                          > there"... the knowledge lacks.
                          >
                          > Another major
                          difference is that PHP is free.
                          > -- CF starts @ $700... $2500 if you need
                          the Enterprise edition. Most people
                          > don't.
                          >
                          > My take - you
                          get what you pay for, Free is nice. There's a price for
                          >
                          Quality.
                          >
                          > A third obstable is the installation base. Because PHP
                          is free - there are
                          > literally thousands (upon thousands) of companies
                          who "toss in" PHP for
                          > free.
                          > -- PHP is part of the standard linux
                          install. All of my servers have PHP - I
                          > rarely use it.
                          >
                          >
                          Because CF has a cost... the number of companies providing hosting services
                          > drops dramatically.
                          > - most companies who switch to
                          CF... provide their own hosting services
                          >
                          > It's the same issues
                          with databases
                          > -- MySQL (free / open source / hosted by 1000's upon
                          1000's)
                          > -- as compared to Microsoft SQL Server (very expensive /
                          professional
                          > results).
                          >
                          > Many large entities use CF...
                          Amazon.com, EBay.com, Senate.gov, Jaguar (the
                          > car manufacturer) ...
                          literally too many to list.
                          > - the number of PHP / MySql installations
                          are uncountable.
                          >
                          > I think I've even come a Whitehouse.gov section
                          that was CF based.
                          > -- some entities develop their entire site with CF -
                          others only develop a
                          > portion.
                          >
                          > CF works with Sun
                          Solaris, Windows IIS, and Linux.
                          >
                          >
                          Pierre
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          ____________ _________ _________ __
                          > From:
                          href="mailto:govtrack%40yahoogroups.com">govtrack@yahoogroup s.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroup s.com] On Behalf
                          > Of Josh Tauberer
                          > Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:33
                          AM
                          > To:
                          href="mailto:govtrack%40yahoogroups.com">govtrack@yahoogroup s.com
                          >
                          Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!
                          >
                          > Pierre Demester
                          wrote:
                          >> any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?
                          >
                          > I actually
                          don't know the first thing about ColdFusion.
                          >
                          > --
                          > - Josh
                          Tauberer
                          > - GovTrack.us
                          >
                          >
                          href="http://razor.occams.info">http://razor. occams.info
                          >
                          >
                          "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                          > falsehood when
                          preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                          > Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher,
                          Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                          >
                          >

                          --
                          --
                          Derek Willis
                          dwillis@gmail. com
                          http://www.thescoop .org/docs/

                        • Mark Fredrickson
                          I call bikeshed on this discussion[1]. Code is gold: if you can write something in Coldfusion, do so. If you can write it in something else, do so. Best of
                          Message 12 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                            I call "bikeshed" on this discussion[1]. Code is gold: if you can write something in Coldfusion, do so. If you can write it in something else, do so.

                            Best of luck,
                            -M


                            On Jul 2, 2008, at 9:19 AM, Derek Willis wrote:

                            Please, please, not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster).

                            On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM, Pierre Demester <pierre@.... us> wrote:
                            > Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open source)... in that it
                            > is a scripting language.
                            >
                            > PHP has Object Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed
                            > (Jeremy) Allaire and Ben Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe)
                            > resembles HTML.
                            >
                            > I, unfortunately have not had the opportunity (not currently cost effective
                            > to upgrade) to use CF 8 - which I think includes OO... but I might be
                            > incorrect.
                            >
                            > If you know HTML - you can learn CF fairly quickly.
                            > -- to fully utilize PHP... you need an understanding of OO.. which is a
                            > barrier that most people cannot cross.
                            > --- therefore, most PHP installs are not fully utilized. The "power is
                            > there"... the knowledge lacks.
                            >
                            > Another major difference is that PHP is free.
                            > -- CF starts @ $700... $2500 if you need the Enterprise edition. Most people
                            > don't.
                            >
                            > My take - you get what you pay for, Free is nice. There's a price for
                            > Quality.
                            >
                            > A third obstable is the installation base. Because PHP is free - there are
                            > literally thousands (upon thousands) of companies who "toss in" PHP for
                            > free.
                            > -- PHP is part of the standard linux install. All of my servers have PHP - I
                            > rarely use it.
                            >
                            > Because CF has a cost... the number of companies providing hosting services
                            > drops dramatically.
                            > - most companies who switch to CF... provide their own hosting services
                            >
                            > It's the same issues with databases
                            > -- MySQL (free / open source / hosted by 1000's upon 1000's)
                            > -- as compared to Microsoft SQL Server (very expensive / professional
                            > results).
                            >
                            > Many large entities use CF... Amazon.com, EBay.com, Senate.gov, Jaguar (the
                            > car manufacturer) ... literally too many to list.
                            > - the number of PHP / MySql installations are uncountable.
                            >
                            > I think I've even come a Whitehouse.gov section that was CF based.
                            > -- some entities develop their entire site with CF - others only develop a
                            > portion.
                            >
                            > CF works with Sun Solaris, Windows IIS, and Linux.
                            >
                            > Pierre
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ____________ _________ _________ __
                            > From: govtrack@yahoogroup s.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroup s.com] On Behalf
                            > Of Josh Tauberer
                            > Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:33 AM
                            > To: govtrack@yahoogroup s.com
                            > Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!
                            >
                            > Pierre Demester wrote:
                            >> any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?
                            >
                            > I actually don't know the first thing about ColdFusion.
                            >
                            > --
                            > - Josh Tauberer
                            > - GovTrack.us
                            >
                            > http://razor. occams.info
                            >
                            > "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                            > falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                            > Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                            >
                            > 

                            -- 
                            --
                            Derek Willis
                            dwillis@gmail. com
                            http://www.thescoop .org/docs/


                          • Neil Rest
                            Code has to be maintained. When a development project goes live, less than half its full life-cycle cost has been spent; the rest is modification. Personally,
                            Message 13 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                              Code has to be maintained.
                              When a development project goes live, less than half its full
                              life-cycle cost has been spent; the rest is modification.
                              Personally, I'm thumbs up on PHP (objects available, not mandatory,
                              btw), and thumbs down on ColdFusion (proprietary add-on to a graphics
                              package), but regardless, one of the first rules of good code is Make
                              it readable, Make it modifiable.
                              It might run like gold and still be bad code.


                              At 09:27 AM 7/2/2008, Mark Fredrickson <mark.m.fredrickson@...> wrote:
                              >I call "bikeshed" on this discussion[1]. Code is gold: if you can
                              >write something in Coldfusion, do so. If you can write it in
                              >something else, do so.
                              >
                              >Best of luck,
                              >-M
                              >
                              >[1] <http://www.bikeshed.com/>http://www.bikeshed.com/ and
                              ><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_of_the_bikeshed>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_of_the_bikeshed
                              >
                              >On Jul 2, 2008, at 9:19 AM, Derek Willis wrote:
                              >
                              >>Please, please, not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster).
                              >>
                              >>On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM, Pierre Demester
                              >><<mailto:pierre%40in.ternet.us>pierre@...! .us> wrote:
                              >> > Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open
                              >> source)... in that it
                              >> > is a scripting language.
                              >> >
                              >> > PHP has Object Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed
                              >> > (Jeremy) Allaire and Ben Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe)
                              >> > resembles HTML.


                              Neil
                              --
                              NeilRest@...

                              Plato had defined the human being as an animal, biped and
                              featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought
                              it into the lecture-room with the words, 'Here is Plato's human
                              being.' In consequence of which there was added to the definition,
                              'having broad nails'.
                            • Pierre Demester
                              i agree Pierre _____ From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mark Fredrickson Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 10:27 AM To:
                              Message 14 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                                i agree
                                 
                                Pierre
                                 


                                From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mark Fredrickson
                                Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 10:27 AM
                                To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!

                                I call "bikeshed" on this discussion[1] . Code is gold: if you can write something in Coldfusion, do so. If you can write it in something else, do so.


                                Best of luck,
                                -M


                                On Jul 2, 2008, at 9:19 AM, Derek Willis wrote:

                                Please, please, not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster).

                                On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM, Pierre Demester <pierre@.... us> wrote:
                                > Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open source)... in that it
                                > is a scripting language.
                                >
                                > PHP has Object Orientation (OO) - whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed
                                > (Jeremy) Allaire and Ben Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe)
                                > resembles HTML.
                                >
                                > I, unfortunately have not had the opportunity (not currently cost effective
                                > to upgrade) to use CF 8 - which I think includes OO... but I might be
                                > incorrect.
                                >
                                > If you know HTML - you can learn CF fairly quickly.
                                > -- to fully utilize PHP... you need an understanding of OO.. which is a
                                > barrier that most people cannot cross.
                                > --- therefore, most PHP installs are not fully utilized. The "power is
                                > there"... the knowledge lacks.
                                >
                                > Another major difference is that PHP is free.
                                > -- CF starts @ $700... $2500 if you need the Enterprise edition. Most people
                                > don't.
                                >
                                > My take - you get what you pay for, Free is nice. There's a price for
                                > Quality.
                                >
                                > A third obstable is the installation base. Because PHP is free - there are
                                > literally thousands (upon thousands) of companies who "toss in" PHP for
                                > free.
                                > -- PHP is part of the standard linux install. All of my servers have PHP - I
                                > rarely use it.
                                >
                                > Because CF has a cost... the number of companies providing hosting services
                                > drops dramatically.
                                > - most companies who switch to CF... provide their own hosting services
                                >
                                > It's the same issues with databases
                                > -- MySQL (free / open source / hosted by 1000's upon 1000's)
                                > -- as compared to Microsoft SQL Server (very expensive / professional
                                > results).
                                >
                                > Many large entities use CF... Amazon.com, EBay.com, Senate.gov, Jaguar (the
                                > car manufacturer) ... literally too many to list.
                                > - the number of PHP / MySql installations are uncountable.
                                >
                                > I think I've even come a Whitehouse.gov section that was CF based.
                                > -- some entities develop their entire site with CF - others only develop a
                                > portion.
                                >
                                > CF works with Sun Solaris, Windows IIS, and Linux.
                                >
                                > Pierre
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > ____________ _________ _________ __
                                > From: govtrack@yahoogroup s.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroup s.com] On Behalf
                                > Of Josh Tauberer
                                > Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:33 AM
                                > To: govtrack@yahoogroup s.com
                                > Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!
                                >
                                > Pierre Demester wrote:
                                >> any thoughts of using Coldfusion ?
                                >
                                > I actually don't know the first thing about ColdFusion.
                                >
                                > --
                                > - Josh Tauberer
                                > - GovTrack.us
                                >
                                > http://razor. occams.info
                                >
                                > "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                                > falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                                > Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                                >
                                > 

                                -- 
                                --
                                Derek Willis
                                dwillis@gmail. com
                                http://www.thescoop .org/docs/


                              • Dale Moore
                                Is c#, .NET or MONO an option?
                                Message 15 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008

                                  Is c#, .NET or MONO an option?

                                • Jeremy Dunck
                                  ... I use Perl. If I were to start over again today I d probably use Python. But, to the extent anyone wants to contribute, I would prefer Perl so they could
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                                    On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 10:53 AM, Dale Moore <DaleEMoore@...> wrote:
                                    > Is c#, .NET or MONO an option?
                                    >

                                    In case you didn't see Josh's prior response, quoting:

                                    > What is your preferred language for the scripts you write to manipulate
                                    > the bill text?

                                    I use Perl. If I were to start over again today I'd probably use Python.
                                    But, to the extent anyone wants to contribute, I would prefer Perl so
                                    they could reuse my existing routines, but I would gladly accept Python
                                    and maybe other languages.
                                  • Pierre Demester
                                    I m a little confused - Coldfusion (proprietary add-on to a graphic package) ??? Are you saying Coldfusion is a graphic application ? ... As for PHP - it s not
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                                      I'm a little confused
                                      - Coldfusion (proprietary add-on to a graphic package) ???
                                       
                                      Are you saying Coldfusion is a graphic application ?
                                       
                                      -----------------------------------
                                       
                                      As for PHP - it's not a bad language - like any language... it has it's benefits and drawbacks.
                                       
                                      In my own opinion - proprietary is not always a bad choice. Most of the application we develop and have developed - have been for proprietary purposes.
                                       
                                      The scale and use of our applications are always a large consideration when reviewing the range of choices (development languages) available.
                                       
                                      Our actual preferred language is C++... though not very useful as web language - it suffices well for backend development.
                                       
                                      We primarily use it for real-time interaction.
                                       
                                      Pierre
                                       


                                      From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Neil Rest
                                      Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 11:03 AM
                                      To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: Re: [govtrack] I need help!

                                      Code has to be maintained.
                                      When a development project goes live, less than half its full
                                      life-cycle cost has been spent; the rest is modification.
                                      Personally, I'm thumbs up on PHP (objects available, not mandatory,
                                      btw), and thumbs down on ColdFusion (proprietary add-on to a graphics
                                      package), but regardless, one of the first rules of good code is Make
                                      it readable, Make it modifiable.
                                      It might run like gold and still be bad code.

                                      At 09:27 AM 7/2/2008, Mark Fredrickson <mark.m.fredrickson@ gmail.com> wrote:

                                      >I call "bikeshed" on this discussion[1] . Code is gold: if you
                                      can
                                      >write something in Coldfusion, do so. If you can write it in
                                      >something else, do so.
                                      >
                                      >Best of
                                      luck,
                                      >-M
                                      >
                                      >[1] <
                                      href="http://www.bikeshed.com/">http://www.bikeshed .com/>http://www.bikeshed .com/ and
                                      ><
                                      href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_of_the_bikeshed">http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Color_of_ the_bikeshed>http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Color_of_ the_bikeshed
                                      >
                                      >On
                                      Jul 2, 2008, at 9:19 AM, Derek Willis wrote:
                                      >
                                      >>Please, please,
                                      not cold fusion. -1 (or as many as I can muster).
                                      >>
                                      >>On Wed,
                                      Jul 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM, Pierre Demester
                                      >><<mailto:pierre% 40in.ternet. us>
                                      href="mailto:pierre%40in.ternet">pierre@...! .us> wrote:
                                      >> > Coldfusion is similar to ASP (Microsoft) and PHP (open
                                      >> source)... in that it
                                      >> > is a scripting
                                      language.
                                      >> >
                                      >> > PHP has Object Orientation (OO) -
                                      whereas Coldfusion (CF) (developed
                                      >> > (Jeremy) Allaire and Ben
                                      Forta, then sold to Macromedia, bought by Adobe)
                                      >> > resembles
                                      HTML.

                                      Neil
                                      --
                                      NeilRest@rcn. com

                                      Plato had defined the human being as an animal, biped and
                                      featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought
                                      it into the lecture-room with the words, 'Here is Plato's human
                                      being.' In consequence of which there was added to the definition,
                                      'having broad nails'.

                                    • Josh Tauberer
                                      ... Okay, okay, let s not have this list turn into a discussion about programming languages. The priority should be finding a *civic project* to work on, not
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Jul 2, 2008
                                        Pierre Demester wrote:
                                        > I'm a little confused
                                        > - Coldfusion (proprietary add-on to a graphic package) ???

                                        Okay, okay, let's not have this list turn into a discussion about
                                        programming languages.

                                        The priority should be finding a *civic project* to work on, not what
                                        language to use for the project. Project first, language second.

                                        Josh
                                      • Gabe Hamilton
                                        Hi Josh, I have some availability to work on GovTrack over the next few months. My interest is in state legislation, however I m happy to start with some of
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Jul 3, 2008
                                          Hi Josh,
                                              I have some availability to work on GovTrack over the next few months.  My interest is in state legislation, however I'm happy to start with some of the higher priority items.

                                          My question is, would it make sense to start a govtrack-development group?  Obviously we don't want to debate programming languages, but there  are probably some architectural questions that will inspire just as much traffic.

                                          Some examples of things that could be discussed in a new group:
                                            Since GovTrack is in .NET and Perl, is there a way for PHP/Python/Ada programmers to contribute?
                                            Should GovTrack use a DB as well as XML?
                                            Anyone know how X works?
                                            I get error Y when running piece Z of govtrack, anyone know why?

                                          I think Yahoo Groups will do polls, do you want to create a poll for whether a development group is needed?

                                          -Gabe


                                          Gabe Hamilton



                                          On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 8:50 AM, Josh Tauberer <tauberer@...> wrote:

                                          Hi guys.

                                          With the recent discussion about writing bills on a wiki, I know there
                                          are people here with good technical skills! So I'm writing my periodical
                                          pitch to get some help with GovTrack. If you want to earn some money
                                          helping GovTrack, that might also be possible to arrange.

                                          I've been expanding my list of project ideas here:
                                          http://wiki.govtrack.us/index.php/Projects

                                          Here are a few:
                                          - Display on a bill page a list of sections of the U.S. Code that would
                                          be modified, by looking for references in the bill text.
                                          - Researching what the different types of votes are (like 'motion to
                                          recommit with instructions') and adding explanatory text to the site.
                                          - Tagging bills (crowd-sourcing)
                                          - Make the website fully compliant with accessibility standards

                                          Need I say that GovTrack is quite popular and your contributions will
                                          benefit thousands of people each day? :)

                                          --
                                          - Josh Tauberer
                                          - GovTrack.us

                                          http://razor.occams.info

                                          "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                                          falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                                          Tortoise (in "Godel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)


                                        • Josh Tauberer
                                          ... Hey, Gabe. Glad to hear you could help out. Don t flake out on me now. :) ... I think when the time comes we ll deal with it then. (Any lurkers that have
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Jul 3, 2008
                                            Gabe Hamilton wrote:
                                            > Hi Josh,
                                            > I have some availability to work on GovTrack over the next few
                                            > months. My interest is in state legislation, however I'm happy to start
                                            > with some of the higher priority items.

                                            Hey, Gabe.

                                            Glad to hear you could help out. Don't flake out on me now. :)

                                            > My question is, would it make sense to start a govtrack-development
                                            > group? Obviously we don't want to debate programming languages, but
                                            > there are probably some architectural questions that will inspire just
                                            > as much traffic.

                                            I think when the time comes we'll deal with it then.

                                            (Any lurkers that have an opinion on what they'd like to receive on this
                                            list are welcome to email me off list with opinions.)

                                            Josh
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