At its core News Sauce is all about data, and as with any data-driven project the first step has to be getting to grips with what you have. It’s a process Tom Armitage very aptly described as “data exploration”. For the UK Government edition of News Sauce that meant very quickly pulling in as many government news feeds as we could to get a sense of the stream of information, and then soaking in it for a while.
It turned out that a great tool for doing that is Development Seed’s Managing News product. It’s a drupal distribution optimised for aggregating and visualising data from RSS feeds, and using it meant that we could be up and running in a couple of hours, and begin to see maps, graphs and other windows into the data we were gathering.
We were (and still are) so impressed with Managing News that we did consider simply using it as it was for the News Sauce platform. But as we began to consider features that would be useful, such as commenting, rating, and even simply being able to link to our representation of stories, we realised that that wasn’t going to work. So we built up from that prototype until we had something new.
The version you see now is actually still built on the foundations of that Managing News prototype. We’ve got a new version waiting in the wings that has been rebuilt (still on drupal) from the ground-up, giving us a much cleaner base for future development and making it easier for us to roll out future editions. If all goes well, you won’t notice when we switch over to the new version, but hopefully before long you’ll notice features we’ll be able to add as a result!
We made it (well, almost)!
Today we’re launching a beta version of a product we’ve been quietly building over the last couple of months: News Sauce.
‘We’ are Justin Kerr-Stevens (dreamt up the idea and then irritated people to make it happen); James Weiner who designed most of it; James Stewart who built it; and Jenny Brown who visualised it and made it happen.
News Sauce is a service that displays all the different bits of news and media published by an organisation in one place. If an organisation has Twitter, Flickr and YouTube channels you’ll find content from those places alongside written press releases.
It stems from an idea the I had many moons back, which was to aggregate UK government news in one place so I could quickly and easily see what was happening and when. I had some ideas back then about what I would like to do with all the government information i kept finding but to be honest wasn’t quite sure it was possible and needed some help refining the offer… cue Jenny and the lads from Ket Lai.
So, true to form, the team and I have started with what we (well, most of us) know best – which is gathering news and media from UK government departments. This is just the start of what we’re planning to do and we’ll be setting up News Sauce editions for other sectors in the future.
We owe a massive thanks to all the people that have helped test and refine the core offer over the last few weeks. I won’t name and shame them all here but just to say thank you and you’re on the top of the list for schwag (when it’s delivered!) and drinks… which of course are easier to do!
Hopefully you can tell we’re really excited about News Sauce and we hope you’ll join us as we continue to develop it into the future.