Improving the Developer Experience: New Libraries and SDKs, Community Contributions, and More

As part of our continuing effort to improve the experience for our community of civic developers, I’m pleased to make several important announcements about our developer program.

Swift SDK

First and foremost, I’d like to announce the general availability of our new Swift SDK and sample app for Apple iOS 8. Swift is an exciting new programming language from Apple. Part of the release of iOS8 for mobile devices and OSX 10.10 Yosemite for Mac hardware, it makes it dramatically easier to develop native Cocoa and Cocoa Touch apps without needing to write Objective C.

What does this mean? With Socrata’s Swift SDK, you’ll be able to quickly and easily build mobile applications for the iPhone and iPad that make use of open data made available via the Socrata Open Data API. We’ve even included a sample application and Xcode project to get you started as quickly as possible.

Community-Developed C# .NET Libraries

One gap in our collection of libraries and SDKs has been a mature, well-supported C# .NET library. That’s why we were so excited to see  Kegan Maher and his team at the City of Santa Monica reach out to us (via a pull request) to announce that they’d released their own full-featured C# .NET library.

We love to see governments interacting with their citizens through tools like Github. And seeing them contribute code to the developer community is even better. We’re embracing this movement for community-developed open data tools by adding a new “Community” section to our listing of libraries and SDKs on our developer portal.

According to Maher, “the idea of open-sourcing the library was something we thought about from the beginning. This is an unprecedented time for community cooperation with local government, and the ability for local government to connect with and have a two-way conversation with its constituents. It’s an area that the City of Santa Monica is very excited about, and one in which we will continue to make meaningful contributions.

“Socrata is helping to fuel this collaboration. SODA and the various resources out there go a long way in the right direction of supporting development staff both inside government and in the public. So many of the government-focused vendors out there fall flat when it comes to first-class developer support. For those of us that value the flexible, long-term solutions that really require custom development work, it is refreshing to see Socrata take that aspect of their customer relations so seriously.”

It’s awesome to see more tools in the toolbox for our developer community, and even better to see them coming from the community itself.

“Cookbooks” and how YOU can contribute

Did I mention we love pull requests? One of the best parts of my job is getting to interact with our community, and love to see it when our community members help their friends and colleagues by contributing back to our shared resources. Everything Socrata releases on Github is open source, and we can all work together to make them better.

One of the great ways you can contribute back to the community is by submitting a code sample or walk-through, like this one on how to use our KML export API with Google Maps. Submitting one is easy - just fork our developer portal, write up your idea, and submit it via a pull request. Worried that it’s not perfect? Don’t worry, we’ll help clean it up and you’ll still get credit for your submission! If you’ve got something smaller to share, like some fun way of using the Socrata Query Language that you’ve figured out, you can also submit a cookbook, like this one on how to aggregate data by month or year.

If you’d like to learn more about civic development using the Socrata Open Data APIs, make sure you attend our webinar on September 30 at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET. Click here to learn more and register to attend.

We look forward to seeing what the open data and civic developer communities will build with these new tools, and we’re excited to keep building and growing! Thank you all for your contributions and support!