We quietly opened DocumentCloud’s catalog to public searches in January, and we’ve been working since to do more with the great documents that reporters have added to our catalog.

When Vancouver Sun investigative reporter Chad Skelton asked if there was a way to automate display of the growing cache of documents he was retrieving from the city’s ferry authority, the best answer we could offer was to point his readers to a search for the DocumentCloud project he was stashing them in. Our goal from the outset has been to help news organizations make their own substantive reporting more engaging online, not to drive traffic to DocumentCloud.org. Moreover, Chad was far from the only reporter asking us to make it easier to embed whole document sets. Homicide Watch even built a JavaScript widget to embed their sets. So the latest DocumentCloud feature, built out by our own Samuel Clay, is embeddable document sets.

Any DocumentCloud user can embed pretty much any set of documents on their site. It works whether or not the user’s own newsroom originally published the documents. This means that the Vancouver Sun can embed their ferry documents, and that any user can embed a set of documents matching a search for Scientology. Documents initially published by the New Yorker will open on newyorker.com while documents that were published by ProPublica will open there. Someone could also embed the complete set of public documents that match a search for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich:

More Tools

We’ve added plenty more tools to help newsrooms get the most out of DocumentCloud, too. A dozen different “How do I …” questions led us to dramatically increase the options available when users publish documents. Plus, a brainstorming session with American Public Media’s Andrew Haeg in the halls of this year’s Online News Association conference led to a tool newsrooms can use to share documents with reviewers outside of the newsroom.

Our users continue to help us make the most of the tools we’ve built, too. It’s been a few weeks since the unstoppable Chicago Tribune news apps team released dcupload, but the python script, written against our API, makes it a whole lot easier for DocumentCloud users to upload a great heap of documents in one fell swoop.