1. KohoVolit.eu this week

    KohoVolit.eu team has posted three times this week, which is really great – the more posts, the better! Today we have learned more about the developments from this week. According to Jaroslav their database of MP’s is almost ready – and all they need to ad now is documentation:

    The database represents constituency areas as simple inclusion and exclusion of administrative areas. Employing Google Maps API to translate the typed address to administrative areas it is located in, we have a very elegant way of finding the appropriate representative without necessity of a database of all addresses and their respective representative. Besides to be rather huge, such database is not publicly available. I guess, that approach will be really useful for WTT in other countries as well.”

    The team is currently finishing work and will need create the documentation of the API for accessing the database:

    “It was more labor to properly comply with the RESTful principle than expected, but it is worth of the effort to use an existing standard rather than inventing a new one. REST (here) utilizes the standard means of the HTTP protocol for the API requests, responses and error handling. The API is not only for other websites interested in our data but it provides the layer the WTT application as well as our other projects will access the database through.”

    Really great to have these insights! Keep them coming!:)

  2. KohoVolit.eu this week


    This time a quick update on work of KohoVolit.eu, in Jaroslav’s words:

    “I am designing and implementing API in these days – it is an interface that will make all our data accessible to other sites. Our applications will access the database by this way as well. A pilot implementation of API is expected in a couple of days.

    Concerning WTT – while waiting for Lithuanian beta to be refactored and internationalisation ready, we discussed the first step of writing to MPs – “find your representatives” for our countries with Michal. We are going to utilize Google Maps API for turning the (maybe incomplete) addresses given by users to the respective administrative regions that MPs are responsible for. This helps to save us from building a huge database of all addresses in our countries.”

    If you have any tips or thoughts on that, do let us know!

  3. KohoVolit.eu and WriteToThem


    As a result of the meeting in Belgrade KohoVolit.eu team will be joining the international team of developers working on cloning of the WriteToThem website in several countries of Central and Eastern Europe based on the Lithuanian beta site. Jaroslav has also sent us the requirements his team can forsee at the stage of the process:

    “The features that are definitely needed in WTT for our countries are openness to implement a custom search of representatives to write to and a possibility of sending the message to more than one representative.

    Another one is a customizable form for writing of the message – we have already discussed it with Darius at Saturday night and it is pretty simple to achieve by Django templating system. This can be employed also to template the initial message body and other generated e-mails.

    Generally, the process of selecting the right representatives might be usefull to have separated from writing and sending of the message to such extent that allows implementation of the search in a different language. The results would be passed to the second step (writing of the message) in URL or in HTTP request by the POST method.”

    We will keep you posted!

    Update: You can read about it on the new KohoVolit.eu blog in English! We are really, really happy to see this new blog! Go and say hi to the team on their own site;)

  4. More on communication

    Yesterday I have posted about the meeting in Belgrade, but I would like to add few words on the topic of communication.

    KohoVolit.eu team has decided to host weekly Skype calls to ensure that the entire team is always up to speed with all developments, so I was fortunate that I could take part in the first one today. It looks like we will have another blog from them, this time on the project domain, so we will be able follow the more technical developments there. I find it really useful to be able to get in touch with all of them over Skype and hope to join them on a weekly basis.

    Jaroslav is very happy with the meeting in Belgrade and starts discussions on how the team can join the idea of common platform for Write To Them. He finds the meeting really effective and looks forward to the next one.

    I received the same feedback from Danko (Serbia). He found the chance to meet off-line and discuss various aspects of all projects really beneficial. In his words:

    “Our projects are compatible with each other, so there is a common ground for cooperation.”

    He pointed out that his background differs slightly from others, as he comes from a civil society organisation, but the key here is successful communication. Looks like the off-line meeting was exactly what they needed. Danko himself realised one more thing:

    “It is really great that couple of us from different countries are creating something valuable that even citizens of other countries that are not involved in this project right now could use in the future.”

  5. Write To Them meeting in Belgrade

    Last weekend Tony Bowden met up with Darius (WTT in Lithuania), Jaroslav (WTT in Slovakia) and Danko (upcoming WTT in Serbia) to discuss the processes and best practices around the international collaboration on cloning of the Write To Them website. Danko, the Serbian project’s representative, whom I hope to introduce soon in more detail,  has agreed to use the common platform built by the Lithuanian team. As Darius stated:

    “That of course means that Lithuanian WTT will have to be internationalised”

    Jaroslav will meet with KohoVolit.eu team soon to discuss similar proces soon, so I hope to tell you more about it as well.

    I have also learned that the meeting in Belgrade, at least in its form, will be repeated on a fairly regular basis to ensure the best possible channel for discussion and common developments. Once again quoting Darius:

    “The meeting was great, very productive and I look forward for future meetings like this”.

  6. More info from KohoVolit.eu


    I have posted about KohoVolit.eu this week already, but I think it is important to tell you a bit more about it. This time let me share an update from one of the project developers, Jaroslav Semancik on their current approach:

    “We are designing the ER (entity-relation) model for the database now, which specifies entities needed to represent (MP, party, letter) and relations between them (MP may be a member of a party, letter is addressed to an MP, etc.). Attributes characterizing the entities in detail are also specified (eg. first name, last name, sex, etc. for MP and like). Those entities, relations and attributes then define database tables.

    This model reflects only the facts, we really need for WTT application, not the full complexness of the reality. As such it depends on functionality and features of the application we are clarifying now as well. Currently we count with search of MPs based on geographical location and also on groups in parliaments (political groups, commitees, etc.). There are respective tables for MPs, their offices, groups, roles in groups, constituencies and places falling into them. There is also a table for letters sent to MPs that were marked public.

    Some of the tables are going to be shared by other modules we are working on (MP profiles, votes tracking).

    The model is sketched in a diagram depicting the tables and relations between them. Attributes (columns of the tables) are specified directly in SQL scripts for tables creation.”

    Thank you, Jaroslav!