Thursday, July 16, 2009
Discontinuance of Billtracking.org
by Larry Geller
For the many (over 400) users of Billtracking.org over the years, this is to let you know that I plan to discontinue the service now that the 2009 legislative session and the veto dance is over.
I wrote the programs in 2005 for myself and a few friends and put it on a server in 2006 for anyone to use. This little server has pumped out tens of thousands of notifications since then. It has sent status messages with changes highlighted in yellow, and attempted, with more or less success, to do the same with the text of bills as they were amended. It wasn’t perfect, but it was useful. I loved seeing what little changes a committee chair tried to sneak in, now standing out in yellow.
At the same time, the Capitol website has begun to use RSS feeds which, while not showing up in your email inbox, are almost as good. Using a free newsreader you can get reliable information now on bill updates directly from the Capitol website. The Senate has been particularly good about updating the bill status after a vote. There’s no yellow highlighting for you, I’m sorry about the loss of that.
With all the Microsoft patches piled onto it, the poor server is getting old and tired.
Early on, the website was supported by a generous donation from ADA, Americans for Democratic Action, Hawaii (thank you again), but other than that, support has been minimal, and every time the Legislature makes a significant change to their website data structure, it takes a bit of work to modify the program and keep it going. I need to move on to other things.
Before the next legislative session I'll post how to use a newsreader to track legislation.
Thanks for using Billtracking.org!