Commons rewrite progress
Several years ago I released an Android app called Commons which aimed to make it easier to keep up-to-date with UK politics. It looked nice and made a lot of data readable and easy to access... but outside of the time I spent developing it, I never actually used it. It was ultimately an encyclopaedia which failed to make its content engaging.
It also suffered from a very basic backend which required a lot of manual intervention to update.
I still believe the idea behind the app is a good one so last year I started to work on a remake - the primary goals being:
- Engagement - give people (myself included) a reason to use the app regularly.
- Users can discuss and vote on any parliamentary divisions, bills, election results, etc.
- Users will be able to follow and get updates on particular bills as they progress through parliament
- Accessability - data needs to be well-structured, readable, and easy to find.
- Maintainability - data updates are now fully automated.
- Transparency - source code is public for server and client.
So far I have built a proper backend using Django that automatically handles data updates, enables meaningful relationships between data, enables user interaction, and exposes a useful API.
More recently I have started to write the new Android client. I am very much still in the early stages of figuring out the UI - the overall navigation structure, how to display various datasets, general layout - but most of the actual functionality is there!