DocumentCloud looks ahead

The developers of DocumentCloud, an application that manages and annotates primary source documents, spoke Friday at an ONA10 conference session of the progress the nonprofit has made in its first year.

DocumentCloud was founded in 2009, when a group of online journalists felt newspapers were doing a poor job of making public the documents they use in reporting. That year, it won a $719,500 Knight News Challenge grant.

“It’s really important to, you know—like you did in your algebra class as a kid—show your work,” said Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news technologies at The New York Times and a DocumentCloud co-founder.

Since then, major news organizations like The Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune have all used DocumentCloud.

Amanda Hickman, DocumentCloud’s program director, highlighted some of her favorite implementations of the application on a number of websites, including The (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal and

As a condition of the Knight grant, DocumentCloud has released significant amounts of its source code.

A DocumentCloud module for Drupal, developed by Phase2 Technology, was also announced.

Still, as DocumentCloud is still considered to be in beta, its developers acknowledge that it’s a work in progress.

They hope to roll out better text recognition capabilities, make the application available to documents in languages other than English and develop a system to ensure that duplicate documents are not uploaded.

They also hope to work on a better way for journalism professors and students to use the system.