The date in this footnote is correct — we really did check this section earlier today. In addition to rolling out the Texas statutes, we’ve made Texas the first state in our new “Cloud”-based statute processing pipeline. This new platform retrieves, scans, and publishes changes to statutes on a daily basis. It finishes up by creating links to the sources so readers can “trust but verify”.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be migrating California, New York, and Oregon over to this new system. One note: although Texas is online, we have a lot more work to do for it to meet our standards for a usable, modern reference site. Coming soon are internal hyperlinks, an error checking review, “semantic” searching, and more.
I spent a couple of hours today looking at web fonts for legible reference text. After reading the New York Times experiment finding that Baskerville is “the king of fonts”, I thought I’d give it a try, comparing it with a couple of others for legibility.
I first researched web fonts that I could test inexpensively. Then I tested them on a real web page. Here’s what I found. Currently, text (and nearly everything else) is Helvetica Neue. (All screenshots from a Mac. I’ll post IE tests soon.)
The sidebar is Trebuchet because I found that it’s more legible for small numbers. I like the way this looks, simply visually. But legibility-wise, I believe the text (“The presidential…”) is harder to scan with the eye than it ought to be.
Font of the Baskervilles?
While looking for Baskerville web fonts, I found Buenard via Google Web Fonts. It’s very close to Baskerville, and I find it amazingly legible:
Finally, all the fonts for comparison:
My take: In Buenard, the words hold together the best. The letter spacing is tight and the font is heavy. I feel like it’s super-easy to read. In comparison, in Caslon and Helvetica Neue, the words don’t hold together as well. The fonts look good, but for web text to be read on a screen, I think that Buenard is the best here.
I’m working on getting the California Codes online, focussing on the user’s experience: reading, searching, and accessing. This weekend I thought I had found an error in the numbering in the state’s online version, and so I headed to the law library to open a real book and see what’s going on. I was surprised to see that the printed text is the same. (West’s annotated and non-annotated editions.)
Here are three examples from the Code of Civil Procedure. The first, sections 676 et. seq. are the way I’d expect, in so-called natural sort order:
But here, a mathematical decimal ordering is in use:
Weirder still, both kinds are used in this group of codes:
I’ve been doing a lot of work to get the California Codes online, and I now have something to show for it. This is a screenshot of Business & Professions Code Section 22947.4, an anti-spyware statute. (Which is pretty cool; I wonder if Oregon has something similar. Anyone know?)
For comparison, here’s the original code as its presented on the state’s website. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the fonts, white-space, outlining, and navigation. Ahead on my roadmap:
- Print feature
- Citations to sources
- Legal news
- Interlinked & related statutes
- Smart search
I’ve just completed importing the 2011 ORS into OregonLaws.org. It’s been a busy time of year, and I appreciate everyone’s patience waiting for this update.
Coming next: easy access to superseded editions 2009, 2007, and earlier, if there’s a demand.
We’re pleased to introduce our second sponsor for OregonLaws.org, John Gear, of the John Gear Law Office, LLC. John practices in Salem, where he specializes in consumer law, elder law, and nonprofit law. He’s flexible in accommodating clients’ needs: “On a typical day without appointments in court or at a client’s house, I arrive at the office late in the morning and stay into the evening. I am happy to modify my schedule to accommodate working families who need to see me in the evening or even on the weekend.”
John was awarded the Lawyer of the Year award for his pro bono work with Marion-Polk Legal Aid Services elder law clinic known as ELVIS (Elder Law Volunteers In Service).
If you’re interested in joining our sponsors, you can get started here.
We just finished a great new feature: Notices about amended and repealed statutes.
Every year, the Oregon legislature meets and passes new laws. Many of these update the ORS in various ways. However, the ORS is published only every two years. Therefore, to know whether a statute is really the latest version, getting the latest ORS (currently 2009) is just the first step. One needs to then find out if the section has been amended or repealed. The legislature makes all this information available online: here are the laws passed in the 2010 special session, and here’s the main page for bills and laws.
Luckily, the legislature’s documents allowed us to parse their documents and integrate the information into the web site. This is because of their very clear structure and concise style. After parsing the data and adding it to the database, we inserted icons and notifications everywhere that made sense. Besides the amended/repealed status, we display the effective date, bill number, session name, hyperlink to the original document, and a summary of the changes. We aimed to make the icons show a little splash of color without distracting much from the content. Personally, I like the way the Chapter pages look now; giving an overview of amended and repealed sections all on one screen. We have some good ideas for taking this further. Examples: viewing the list of amendments, sending e-mail notifications for changes in particular areas of law, and viewing the changes to the ORS in a time line. As always, feedback is welcome.
ORS 659A.033 — Violation of ORS 659A.030 by denying religious leave or prohibiting certain religious observances or practices, amended, effective July 1, 2011. ORS 166.274 — Relief from prohibition against possessing or purchasing firearm, amended, effective 3/18/2010; ORS 348.117 — Repayment of loans for nursing program, amended, effective 3/10/2010.
Chapter screen providing an overview of amended and repealed sections
Similar to TinyThom.as, which provides permanent links to THOMAS documents, the new weblaws.org/tm creates permalinks to USPTO trademark registrations.
Here’s the backstory on how it came to be.
The story’s gotten a little more complicated: In the past day or so, I discovered that it’s possible that my work is superfluous: The “TARR” USPTO web app provides single-document retrieval via URLs that don’t time out. Many (most?) practitioners seem to only know about the TESS service, though, which *does* time out. Also, the TARR data seems to come from a different source, and is definitely a different format. For example, the IBM registration I use as an example:
…can be linked to directly on TARR:
However, like I mentioned above, TARR only seems to give single-document retrieval. TESS will return the results of a query like “All TMs owned by so-and-so.” I’ve been planning to expand my service to create PURLs for these kinds of TESS look-ups as well. (This was the motivation for me to make the service in the first place: I had run a query finding six TMs that I wanted to share with a colleague. But the URL of the search results timed out before he saw my email.)
OregonLaws.org now provides the latest edition of the Oregon Revised Statutes. For example, here is the new law that prohibits cell phone use while driving:
A person commits the offense of operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device if the person, while operating a motor vehicle on a highway . . .
(Hanukkah fell during finals this year, so there was no way I could get it done in time.)
Up until now, authors had to resort to tortured instructions when linking to N.Y. laws. Here’s how the Citizen Media Law Project does it in their excellent document, Forming a Corporation in New York:
. . . You can find the New York statute relating to the organizational meeting at N.Y. Bus. Corp. Law § 404 (link is to entire code, you need to click on the Business Corporation section, then choose Article 4 and locate the specific provision). . . .
Oy. Reminds me of the problems linking to Thomas documents. The issue here is that the state of New York doesn’t create permalinks to the statutes. I gave this a lot of thought, and created permalinks that look like this:
I wasn’t quite sure exactly what format these should take. The current scheme balances these competing concerns:
- People blog and write web pages with many different citation formats:
- A scheme that follows the Bluebook would start with N.Y. Bus. Corp. Law § 404. I saw this used by law review blog posts and the Citizen Media Law document, above.
- I found a state source that would write NY Business Corporation Law 404
- I found one law professor who’d write the equivalent of NY Business Corporation Law Section 404
- I found another who’d write NY Business Corporation Law sec. 404
- The URL is an interface between the website and search engines and web services, not just web authors.
- I’m unsure about how often (1) the consolidated laws are updated and (2) how often the state’s website is updated. I’ll add a date/revision notation to the permalink in a backwards-compatible way when I nail this down.
So the scheme above is what I settled on. Why can’t every state be like wonderful, efficient Oregon? We’ve got ORS 163.095, and the Bluebook/ALWD Or. Rev. Stat. § 163.095, and that’s it, really.
EDIT: I’ve discovered the Tanbook.