We’ve added a new functionality to the Alaveteli Pro codebase, allowing you to download a zip file containing all correspondence and attachments from a batch, and a spreadsheet (csv) to show the progress status of every request.

Alaveteli Pro is our tool for professional users of Freedom of Information. If you’re UK-based, you’re probably most familiar with our local iteration WhatDoTheyKnow Pro — but don’t worry: when we talk about improvements to Alaveteli Pro, you can be sure they’re also part of the WhatDoTheyKnow toolkit.

How to export

You’ll find these tools at the foot of the batch container in the requests list.

zip downloads of batch FOI requests

Why data exports?

Of course, we like to think Alaveteli Pro is a useful tool in its own right: there’s a lot you can do within the Pro interface, and it was built specifically to help you keep track of all your FOI activity in one place.

But sometimes users want to use external tools – either because they’re just more familiar with them, or because they want to do something beyond the functionality we offer.

Now there’s a simple way to get data out of Alaveteli, allowing you to analyse it with the tools of your choice, or perhaps send a progress report to a supervisor or editor.

It’s part of a programme of work to support cross border journalism between European organisations, supported by Adessium Foundation, allowing us to refine and improve the codebase for the benefit of all Pro users.

The technical bit

Those with a bit of coding knowledge may be interested to hear how we approached the zip download functionality. mySociety developer Graeme explains:

“With batch requests potentially going to as many as 500 different authorities, each request can receive several responses and attachments in return.

“All these emails and files mean that compiling the zip for download could be a lengthy job and would normally cause the request to time out. So for this new feature we’re utilising file streaming to send chunks of the zip as they become available.

“This means that the zip starts downloading immediately and you don’t have to sit watching and wondering whether anything is happening – you can see more and more data being transmitted.”

We hope you find this new feature useful. Please do let us know how you’re using it and any feedback you may have.

Image: Startup Stock Photos

 

Original source – mySociety

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