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March 2021 Release Notes

Release Notes
Related Documents API Service for Congressional Bills and Bill Status; Download up to 1,000 Search Results; Additional Citation Search Patterns for Bills, Public and Private Laws

The govinfo team marks the first major deployment of 2021 with a wealth of new features, functionality, and an upgrade to our search engine. This release included 78 individually tracked changes since the last deployment in early December. This article highlights some of these changes including a new Related Documents API Service for two collections, the capability to download up to 1,000 search results in bulk, additional citation search patterns, as well as numerous upgrades, fixes, and enhancements to govinfo functionality.

New Content: More than 38,600 content packages (a package is roughly equivalent to one bound printed document) have been made available since the beginning of December. Notable content submissions since the last release include the 2020 edition of the United States Policy and Supporting Positions (Plum Book); 2020 edition of the Women in Congress eBook; and judicial opinions from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

Feature Articles: Fourteen articles were featured since early December including announcements celebrating govinfo's achievement of being recertified as the only ISO 16363 Certified Trustworthy Digital Repository in the world, govinfo turning five years old, and reaching the milestone of 140 Federal courts that publish their opinions on govinfo. Other features showcased proceedings of the Electoral College over the years, as well as articles commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidential Inaugural Addresses, Black History Month, Presidents’ Day, and Women’s History Month.

Related Documents API Service for Congressional Bills and Bill Status collection:  The development roadmap regularly incorporates updates to the govinfo API. The API is intended to provide data users with a simple means to programmatically access govinfo content and metadata, which is stored in self-describing packages. We are pleased to launch the initial version of the new Related Documents service within the govinfo API. This new service provides the capability for API users to identify documents within the complex web of relationships among Federal publications published in govinfo. This is similar to functionality that we make available on govinfo Details pages.

The first relationships available through the new API functionality are for the Congressional Bills and Bill Status collections. From a BILLS or BILLSTATUS package summary, a user can query the API to see the available relationships. Available linked relationships include the following:

  • Bill Versions (BILLS)
  • Presidential Signing Statements (CPD or "Compilation of Presidential Documents")
  • Congressional Reports (CRPT)
  • Bill History (HOB or "History of Bills")
  • Public and Private Laws (PLAW)
  • Statutes at Large (STATUTE)
  • United States Code (USCODE)

Please see the API documentation to give it a try.

Here is an example of a set of relationships for a Congressional Bill:

side-by-side screenshot showing the related documents feature on the govinfo website and the equivalent functionality in the govinfo API

Download up to 1,000 Search Results: One year ago, govinfo launched the capability to download search results in bulk in machine-readable formats, supporting 100 results in JSON and CSV formats. This release, the amount has been increased to 1,000 results to better meet users’ needs. Fields include the publication title, date, and teaser text, and links directly to the content files and Details pages. To use this functionality, perform a search in govinfo and then look to the top right of the Search Results page to click on the orange download icon.

Download modal for Search Results

Additional Citation Search Patterns for Congressional Bills and Public and Private Laws: As of this release, new citation search patterns are now supported for Congressional Bills and Public and Private Laws collections on govinfo. Expanding options for citation patterns supports flexibility with how users prefer or are taught to structure citations within a search, as this can differ widely. View all supported citation search patterns, including examples for each within the govinfo Help information for Congressional Bills and Public and Private Laws. Please note that these changes require content to be republished for the updates to take effect, and this will be completed over a period of time.

Search Engine Upgrade: An upgrade was performed on our search engine, which is a key component of the system that fuels govinfo's robust, metadata-powered search experience. This upgrade enables us to make additional future enhancements to the search engine to further customize and enrich the search experience.

Internal Repository Enhancements: Internal components experienced a number of upgrades to keep pace with the latest features and technologies. These included an upgrade to the toolset that is used to work with PDF files, an upgrade to the technologies that support the Related Documents functionality, and also database upgrades. The repository also now supports improved publishing processes for multiple renditions within documents for the Miscellaneous Government Publications (bulk publishing) collection.

Other Fixes and Improvements

  • Added new parameter so that API users can specify a bill version in the collections and published endpoints.
  • Adjusted the API for the Congressional Record to correctly display 3 or more books on one day.
  • Created a new RSS feed that shows only new and updated Enrolled Bills.
  • Fixed edge case where certain full-text of some documents were not being indexed in the search engine.
  • Resolved issue within content ZIP files where /uslm links were not correctly showing up within Dissemination Information Packages (DIP); this impacted Congressional Bills, Public and Private Laws, Statute Compilations, and U.S. Statutes at Large collections.
  • Fixed a Congressional Record parsing issue to correctly identify House Managers in Senate Impeachment trials documents.
  • Updated descriptions populating meta tags for social media sharing purposes on About, Features, and Help pages.
  • Adjusted Document in Context styling of buttons and alignment on Code of Federal Regulations Details pages.
  • Fixed an issue with indexing About, Feature, and Help pages when content was updated or edited.
  • Fixed an issue with U.S. Courts RSS feeds.
  • Fixed USLM buttons on Committee browse pages which previously were labeled as XML.
  • Made the display of format buttons for documents consistent across Search Results, Browse, Document in Context, and Download locations.
  • Fixed an issue with the display of the sorting button on Budget and other GPO collection browse pages and also enabled copy/paste accordion accuracy.
  • Updated error display messages for Bulk Data pages.
  • Adjusted reports provided to stakeholders per request.
  • Added CongMember Party Types to the Metadata Editor.
  • Changed Statute Compilations in the Metadata Editor for the title field to be editable.
  • Fixed shortTitle level attribute issues across collections in the Metadata Editor.
  • Corrected personalAuthor issue within Public and Private Laws in the Metadata Editor.
  • Fixed a CSS issue within the Metadata Editor’s Date Picker functionality for several collections.
  • Made modifications to improve rules for submission warning and error notifications.
  • Expanded automated testing for internal components to include new test cases.
  • Performed scaling activities for analytics and metrics reporting to include monitoring and alert enhancements and performance tuning.
  • Enhanced internal functionality to support bulk loading of content with manual metadata edits.
  • Fixed specific Code of Federal Regulations conversion issue from the source format to XML.
  • Added additional storage for upcoming new collections and digitized content.
  • Implemented routine component upgrades, license and software updates, and security enhancements.
  • Performed integration activities in preparation for transforming Statute Compilations into USLM XML and making the files available as bulk data.
  • Updated functionality and processes in preparation for receiving files from GPO’s XPub system and making the files available on govinfo.

Coming Soon

  • Continue analysis and design for the upcoming Digitized Serial Set collection, working toward further development in the coming months.
  • Explore caching efficiencies and events handling technology solutions for improved performance.
  • Continue integration activities in support of new formats produced through GPO’s XPub and USLM initiatives.

About Release Notes – Changes to govinfo components are made through code deployments on a quarterly release cycle. Release Notes are published after deployments to highlight some of the key changes, summarize other noteworthy activities, and recap new content, feature articles, and top searches since the previous release Read previous editions of Release Notes.