The White House has started work on version 2.0 of its online petition site “We the People” and is inviting a small group of programmers to Washington, D.C., for a hackathon on Feb. 22.
White House Deputy Director of Online Platform Peter Welsch wrote on the White House blog that Petitions 1.0, the code “We the People” runs on is complete, opening the door for the second version.
“In software development, when you go from one version number to another it means that something big is going on,” Welsch wrote. “We’re taking a new approach to how the application works, one that starts with the assumption that it should be as open, transparent, and flexible as possible.”
Welsch said Petitions 2.0 will be based on an application programming interface or API that will be released to the public in a few months.
The first set of methods – the Read API – will be released in March and will allow anyone to retrieve data on petitions, signatures and responses.
A second set of methods, the Write API, will be released later and will allow other websites and applications to collect and submit signatures without directly sending users to WhiteHouse.gov.
“With this API in place we’ll be able to decouple the presentation and data layers of the application and build a new, streamlined signature process,” Welsch said. “This also means that developers who reuse our code will be able to choose which database the application relies on. Between that and our continued work on a white label theme, Petitions 2.0 will be easier for others to contribute to and reuse.”
To help with the API, the White House will host an Open Data Day Hackathon. Prior to the event the White House will give participants access to the “We the People” Read API methods so they can use them, ask questions, provide feedback and “build cool stuff,” writes Welsch.
For the hackathon, participants will come to the White House to share their work, talk with the API developers and submit examples to be included in a software development kit.