Stream Congress: A real-time data stream for Congress


Stream Congress

Last month, we announced a preview of Stream Congress, and today we’re making it available for general consumption. Stream Congress gives you a quick look into what exactly your members of Congress are up to. Resembling a lifestream (but for Congress), the app takes in data points from various sources and combines them into a clean, real-time interface.

For the Labs community, I’d like to share two important points. Although you won’t see any related updates today as Congress is not in session, Stream Congress makes extensive use of our new Real-Time Congress API. Look for a full announcement from Eric about the API some time soon. Once Congress gets back to work, Stream Congress will serve as a good example of what the Real Time Congress API provides: floor updates, bill status, floor votes, committee hearing notices, and much more.

Second, if you read the original blog post from last month, you’ll know that I spent a good deal of time discussing the upcoming web standard called WebSockets. In the spirit of full transparency, you should know that WebSockets are no longer used in Stream Congress. Because of some serious security issues raised about them, both Firefox and Opera have removed support in their latest browsers. Rather than relying on a Flash socket fallback, it was more prudent to revert to AJAX polling for the live update mechanism. I still hope that the WebSocket spec gets fixed and widely implemented, as native TCP sockets in the browser will be very useful for real-time web apps.