What’s new in version 1.7

You may have updated CapitolBuddy to the latest version on Friday. If so, getting news on legislators at the capitol just got easier — I’m happy to introduce Public Notes.

Public Notes

Think of it as a place to share your good news and bad news on legislators, hearings, and anything going on at the capitol. News stories are always a good thing to share, maybe news on an upcoming vote, maybe congratulate a legislator on an award by letting everyone on CapitolBuddy know. The options are open for how you use CapitolBuddy.

Reorganized Menu

The old menu didn’t really put the emphasis on the right features. I saw users struggling to create teams, usually they didn’t even know it was a thing. Now it’s right in the main menu and the screen includes some instructions to get you going. The whole thing could probably use a tutorial still, but we’ll get there, when necessary.

District Lookup

Thanks to the Sunlight Foundation API and Google Maps API, it’s very easy to look up the state legislators for an address. So District look-up has also been added to the main menu — that’s a feature people are often looking for.

NEW District Maps

No more PDF maps on your iPhone. The new map section is a legitimate apple map, with overlays of each district. You can search to find a specific one and tap the pin callouts to be taken to a legislator’s profile. The very first time it loads, the maps will take a while because the app has to download the boundaries for every district. But after that first load, you’ll have quick and easy access to interactive district maps.



May 8th RI Capitol Notes

For my second observation day at the Capitol this week, I tried to talk to a few more people about the app and their work. But mostly I just watched people.

I think one of the most interesting things to note is which groups were there. Today’s focus seemed to be a children and developmental disabilities. I saw two press conferences, but there may have been more. One was on developmental disabilities funding. They had a press conference just outside the entrance to the building with several legislators and candidates present, including Sen. DiPalma (D-12) and Rep. Hull (D-6) (Yes, I did use CapitolBuddy to store notes on those two — I even made them public, so everyone can see).

I believe the other press event had to do with Home Care services. And some children’s groups like RIght Now for Kids had booths set up.

The most exciting piece of news is that CapitolBuddy will be getting a place in the State House Library’s info stand. Ask and ye shall receive.

I did watch the lobbyists mingle outside the door after the gavel rang to start the floor meetings, as I has planned. It’s not much to gaze upon — but it would be a good time to tap a shoulder and do a user interaction survey. So that’s my goal for next week, get some feedback and watch people interact with the app.

Home care press conference

Home care press conference

5/8 at the Capitol

5/8 at the Capitol

Get the news on legislators

A new addition to the legislator profiles is the “Recent News” button. It’s pretty simple in that it takes you to a google news search of the Rep. or Sen. But I used it the other day to see that my own state representative was elected as the Chairwoman of the board for John Hope, a local non-profit day-care. Good to know what your legislators are up to, right?

iOS Simulator Screen shot Oct 9, 2013 12.35.45 PM

Rate your legislators in CapitolBuddy

I’ve added a simple feature that should be useful for most folks at state capitols. Now you can add a rating to each legislator on the notes page. There’s a slider that let’s you change the rating on a 0 to 5 scale, with increments of one tenth. Then you save it like you would save your notes. Here’s what it looks like:

iOS Simulator Screen shot Oct 8, 2013 1.24.34 PM

Your ratings are completely private, just like your notes. I have not put the rating into the text of your message when you click “Email”. I know some people guard their legislator rankings like their social security number.

My question for you is, would you like to be able to do even more with the rating? Because I’m considering a re-ordering or re-categorizing tool if you want to sort people by the rating you’ve given them — I think it’s something that would go in the Vote Count section of the app.

For example, you could add all your ratings of 4 and up to the YAY votes tab, and add all your 2’s and below to the NAY votes tab. Keep 3’s in the swing votes. Basically, I’m curious how people will want to use the ratings and the Vote Count feature together.

So, please let me know if you want to be able to do more with your legislator ratings. And look for CaptiolBuddy in the App Store in the next week.