Update on our Web-based Legislative Editor

It’s been a while since my last blog post. I’ve been busy working on a number of activities. As a result, I have a lot of news to announce regarding the web-based editor, previously known as the AKN/Editor, that we originally built for the “Unhackathon” back in May.

As you might already have guessed, it has a new name. The new name is “LegisPro Web” which now more clearly identifies its role and relationship to Xcential’s XMetaL-based standalone editor “LegisPro”. Going forward, we will be migrating much of the functionality currently available in LegisPro into LegisPro Web.

Of course, there is now a new web address for the editor – http://legisproweb.com. As before, the editor prototype is freely available for you to explore at this address.

As I write this blog this early Sunday morning, I am in Ravenna, Italy where I just participated in the LEX Summer School 2012 put on by the University of Bologna. On Monday, the Akoma Ntoso Developer’s Workshop starts at the same venue. In addition to listening to the other developers present their work, I will be spending an afternoon presenting all the ins and outs of the LegisPro Web editor. I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn about the other developer’s experiences with Akoma Ntoso and to share my own experiences building a web-based XML editor.

Last month we demonstrated the LegisPro Web editor at the National Conference of State Legislators’s (NCSL) annual summit in Chicago this year. It was quite well received. I remain surprised at how much interest there is in an editor that is targetted to a tagging role rather than an editing role.

Of course, there has been a lot of development of the editor going on behind the scenes. I have been able to substantially improve the overall stability of the editor, its compliance with Akoma Ntoso, as well as add significant new functionality. As I become more and more comfortable and experienced with the new HTML5 APIs, I am starting to build up a good knowledge base of how best to take advantage of these exciting new capabilities. Particularly challenging for me has been learning how to intuitively work with the range selection mechanism. The origins of this mechanism are loosely related to the similar mechanism that is available within XMetaL. While I have used XMetaL’s ranges for the past decade, the HTML5 mechanisms are somewhat more sophisticated. This makes them correspondingly harder to master.

And perhaps the most exciting news of all is that the editor now has some customers. I’m not quite ready to announce who they are, but they do include a major government entity in a foreign country. As a result of this win, we will be further expanding our support of Akoma Ntoso to support Debate and Debate Reports in addition to the Bill and Act documents types we currently support. In addition, we will be adding substantial new capabilities which are desired by our new customers. I should also mention that Ari Hershowitz (@arihersh) has joined our team and will be taking the lead in delivering the customized solution to one of our customers.

Alongside all this development, work continues at the OASIS LegalDocumentML Technical Committee. Look to see me add support for the Amendment document type to the editor in support of this activity in the not- too-distant future.

All in all, I think we’re making terrific progress bringing the LegisPro Web editor to life. I started work on the editor as a simple idea a little more than six months ago. We used the “Unhackathon” in May to bootstrap it to life. Since then, it’s taken off all on its own and promises to become a major part of our plans to build a legitimate legal informatics industry around an Akoma Ntoso based standard.

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Categories: Akoma Ntoso, Hackathon, HTML5, Standards, W3C

2 replies

  1. What are your plans to make it completely accessible for blind users? A blind (and many low vision) user may be using one of several major screenreader programs and those programs incorporate keystrokes in their respective operating systems to navigate the applicaton. Hence, I would need to navigate and use the app with keystrokes only. (Examples: Tab and arrow keys for basic navigaton.)

    • It’s certainly something we can provide support for if a customer wants it. Our standalone LegisPro editor is already designed for blind users. It was used, for a time, by a blind attorney until he retired. At that time we worked with a consulting firm to ensure that all capabilities were accessible through key strokes and to ensure that screen readers (we used JAWS) would read what was presented on the screeen in a useful way.

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