OpenBlock Blog: Archive
January 2012
3 posts
OpenRural: Ryan Thornburg on challenges of... →
Jan 3rd
OpenBlock Geocoder, Part 3: External Geocoders →
The Caktus developers working on OpenRural continue their excellent dive into OpenBlock’s geocoder.
Jan 3rd
1 note
OpenBlock Geocoder, Part 2: Text Parsing and... →
The Caktus developers continue their excellent series on geocoding with OpenBlock.
Jan 3rd
1 note
December 2011
1 post
OpenBlock Geocoder, Part 1: Data Model and... →
The guys at Caktus have started an excellent blog about their OpenBlock work. The first post is a quick - but detailed - tour of using OpenBlock’s spatial data. Very well done!
Dec 12th
November 2011
1 post
OpenBlock at Kent State and University of Kansas
We’ve just learned about two efforts to work with OpenBlock at university journalism schools! From Through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, AEJMC has funded ten proposals to develop innovative and creative academic applications of projects already funded through the Knight News Challenge… Jacqueline Marino, Kent...
Nov 8th
October 2011
2 posts
“This is an America where people still read and trust the local newspaper, where...”
– Ryan Thornburg writes about OpenBlock in IdeaLab.
Oct 28th
1 note
OpenBlock 1.1 Released
OpenBlock 1.1 has been released today! Highlights of this release: Big shareable maps, for example Comments on NewsItems. User-contributed “Neighbor Messages” and “Neighbor Events” news types. Better support for running in a multi-city area. Import Places from a CSV file via the admin UI. Date and time picker widgets on...
Oct 20th
1 note
September 2011
4 posts
OpenBlock presentation at PyGotham, 2011-09-16
Paul Winkler will talk about OpenBlock, an open-source (GPL) hyperlocal news website / service built on Django. This talk will be an overview of the project: what it does, how it works, its history and future. And a brief live demonstration. “OpenBlock: Hyperlocal Django” by Paul Winkler at 3:15 EDT, Friday 2011-09-16 Room 6 PYGOTHAM: Registration:...
Sep 15th
Flickr photos on the OpenBlock demo. →
Sadly I ran out of time to enable this before this morning’s screencast.
Sep 8th
“OpenBlock is OpenPlans’ hyper-local news and data platform. How local? Hyper...”
– OpenBlock is featured this week on the OpenPlans blog.
Sep 7th
News from the hyperlocal news world
Here’s our latest email update, featuring the forthcoming demo screencast ONA11 highlights of version 1.0 a cute graphic of OpenBlock awesomeness if you’d like to get the next update direct to your inbox, sign up from our homepage.
Sep 1st
August 2011
2 posts
Join us for an OpenBlock screencast, 9/8
Curious about OpenBlock? Want to hear more about what goes on under the hood? Wondering how to go hyperlocal? Tune in next week for an introductory screencast to the wonderful world of OpenBlock. We’ll explain some typical uses for OpenBlock, give a demo of current features, and take questions. Thursday September 8th, 11am-noon EDT.  Join the screencast here For...
Aug 31st
OpenBlock 1.0 beta 1 released
OpenBlock is rapidly approaching a 1.0 release! You can install the beta from python packages without needing to use git. This is documented in the updated install docs: Highlights of this beta: Different map icons for different news item types. To enable this, you can use the admin UI to configure “map icon url” or “map color” for a...
Aug 18th
June 2011
5 posts
OpenBlock Rural is a winner of 2011 Knight News... →
This was just announced today. Congratulations to Ryan Thornburg, we’re very excited to see this happening!
Jun 22nd
Openblock at IRE 2011
We’re at IRE 2011 in Orlando, exhibiting OpenBlock and spreading the good news about open source hyperlocal. Find us in the lobby area, or come and see a demonstration at 2:15pm! Our session will be a gentle introduction to the wonders of OpenBlock. Paul will demo the latest features and the admin interface, and Frank will chat about the project. We’ll cover what OpenBlock is, and...
Jun 10th
OpenBlock 1.0 alpha 1 released
Just in time for the IRE conference, here’s our first official (alpha) release of OpenBlock! If you’ve been considering installing OpenBlock, now is a good time to give it a whirl. Download a zip file of the code here, then head on over to the new improved installation docs.
Jun 10th
3 tags
OpenBlock at IRE conference in Orlando June 9 & 10
This Thursday and Friday, we’ll be demoing OpenBlock at the 2011 Investigative Reporters & Editors Conference in Orlando, FL. On Friday from 2:15-3:15 PM, we’ll be doing a demo and talking about the project in Oceans Ballroom 01. Here’s the schedule. Otherwise we’ll be at our table in the exhibitors hall:
Jun 8th
10 notes
Little Columbia Is Big On Experimentation →
NetNewsCheck writeup of local news development in Columbia, MO; several mentions of our OpenBlock work for the Tribune.
Jun 2nd
May 2011
4 posts
GeoWorld Summit impressions
On May 12, I attended the GeoWorldSummit in Brooklyn. Some quick impressions: It was a bit of a bust as far as OpenBlock-related networking; I didn’t meet anybody during the pre-talks shmoozing, and unfortunately wasn’t able to stay for the 8 PM reception. Somebody was there from the OGC and I would’ve said hi but I never found them. Most of the panels were about...
May 31st
REST API docs online →
OpenBlock’s REST API has not been finalized, but the docs for the current (pre-alpha) version are now online.  Try using the API at !
May 20th
Widget docs online →
Widgets allow you to easily embed OpenBlock content in other sites. Soon I’ll work on putting up an example widget or two embedded in this blog. EDIT: That was easy. Here’s one that just pulls local news headlines from It took me 1 minute to set up the widget on the OpenBlock side, and considerably longer to figure out how to embed javascript widgets on...
May 20th
GeoWorldSummit in Brooklyn today 5/12/2011
I’ll be at the GeoWorldSummit today, hoping to interest people in OpenBlock and network with other people working on hyperlocal projects. It’s a bit hard to find the address on the event’s web page. More than a bit. It’s at 155 Water St, Brooklyn, NY.  I’ll be wearing a gray OpenPlans T-shirt.   - Paul Winkler
May 12th
March 2011
2 posts
OpenBlock at the Knight News Innovation Lab,...
On Thursday 3/17/2011, from 4-7pm CST, Paul will be demoing OpenBlock at the Knight News Innovation Lab’s “News Technology Fair”. It’s being held at Northwestern University’s McCormick Tribune Center in Evanston, IL. Also present will be representatives of several other Knight-funded projects, including DocumentCloud. If you’re anywhere near Evanston, come...
Mar 15th
New OpenBlock theme
We recently integrated - and launched on the demo site - a new theme for OpenBlock designed by Phillip Ashlock. Thanks Phil! It’s still a bit rough around the edges - there are some pages that still need attention. But I think you’ll agree that this is a big improvement already. You might also notice that the base map tiles are now using Google Maps. This was because we were...
Mar 8th
February 2011
1 post
OpenBlock website updated
It looks a lot nicer now. (We’re using a Woo theme.) And I’ve started a FAQ.
Feb 7th
January 2011
3 posts
OpenBlock Admin UI Plans →
This page on the OpenBlock developer wiki describes the features we’d like to implement in the administrative UI.  Some of this stuff comes for (almost) free, just by enabling various bits of the standard Django Admin UI.  Some of it will require more work. Discussion welcome, as always, over on the ebcode google group.
Jan 28th
OpenBlock REST API plans →
This page on the developer wiki describes what we’d like to see in an OpenBlock REST API, and current status. Comments welcome over on the ebcode google group.
Jan 28th
Hackathon revisited
Two notable followups of the 2010/10/30 Boston Hacks/Hackers hackathon: Adam Marcus and Tim Danford have continued trying to extract OpenBlock’s geocoder into a standalone package. Their work is on github, called djeocoder.  They are working on removing dependencies on postGIS and other specific parts of the OpenBlock stack, so it can be used by a wider audience. We’ve talked a...
Jan 6th
December 2010
2 posts
Demo update 12/2/2010
Notable since the last update: avoid adding duplicate news items got the updater daemon running, so we’re always loading fresh news! more sensible amount of news items on maps some speed improvements a little more admin UI work Also, here’s a fun toy: Luke added a (not pretty) view to play with the address extraction / geotagging features.  Try typing in some random text here,...
Dec 2nd
We have docs online. →
These have actually been up since before the 10/30 Hackathon. Generated using Sphinx of course.  Lots of work to do but this is a good start. Luke got the ball rolling on these, thanks Luke!
Dec 2nd
November 2010
3 posts
OpenBlock for Ottawa | Chris Taggart →
Another OpenBlock instance gets rolling…
Nov 28th
More demo updates: more maps, police reports,...
Just a few nice new things added to the public views lately: police reports restaurant inspections (browseable by violation type too) added a map to the filter pages.
Nov 9th
Nov 1st
October 2010
3 posts
Oct 30th
Come hack on OpenBlock in Boston on Oct. 30th!
The Boston Hacks/Hackers Meetup is hosting a hackathon for building apps based on OpenBlock, to “figure out what cool things we can do with Boston data”, as Joel from the Globe puts it.  Even if you don’t live in Boston, it might be worth a trip if you’re interested in hacking with OpenBlock. The hackathon will be October 30 from noon to 8pm, at the new MIT Media Lab...
Oct 12th
Everything you wanted to know about the Knight... →
Nick Grossman of Open Plans will be talking about OpenBlock at the Neiman Journalism Lab on Tuesday 10/19 at 6pm. (Also on the bill are Jenny 8. Lee, one of the judges, and John Davidow of WBUR, a past winner)
Oct 12th
September 2010
5 posts
Demo update 9/27: zips, neighborhoods, lots of...
Another openblock demo update yesterday. What’s new this week: Better Boston neighborhood boundaries (now visible on maps!) Zip codes added too Some admin UI fixes (not visible to the public). Several 500 and 404 errors fixed We’ve turned on aggregate statistics on news type summary pages. This gives you a nice overview of when and where each type of news is happening. Also lots...
Sep 28th
Demo update
Luke and I updated today. Notable new things: We’re now displaying issues from SeeClickFix We’re now running Django 1.2 Blocks data fixed, we were missing a ton of Boston blocks before. You can’t see it without an admin account, but the django-admin interface is now starting to be functional. We hope to update the demo frequently, at least...
Sep 16th
Last week, Paul, Nick and I met with folks from The Columbia Tribune and The Boston Globe to talk about what we’ve learned about OpenBlock so far, and to talk more about their plans for putting the OpenBlock software to use.  I think their ideas are going to be great for the project — both will push things ahead in interesting and complementary ways.  For the Globe, we’ll be...
Sep 8th
Tech survey: installation options →
We want to come up with an OpenBlock installation strategy that will get the software into the hands of as many news organizations as possible. If you work for a newspaper or other news outlet that is interested in OpenBlock, please fill out the survey!
Sep 7th
Road map
We’ve started planning out our road map. Take a look at for an overview of where we’re headed.  Subject to change, of course.
Sep 2nd
August 2010
3 posts
Come say hi
If you want to talk about the open-source openblock/everyblock code, or anything related, you can find us on the #openblock channel on (we’re most likely to be there during US/Eastern working hours). We’re also on the ebcode google group. Come say hi!
Aug 27th
Demo site is up. →
Plenty of known rough spots: The homepage map doesn’t have popups yet, and the theme could use work, and there are some broken pages. And there are no maps on pages other than the front page.
Aug 27th
Hello, World.
Updates from the OpenBlock project coming your way.
Aug 3rd