This post has been written by Wendy Thomas, IATI Technical Lead based at Development Initiatives.
Welcome to the IATI Technical Team’s quarterly update. Every quarter, we update our community on the progress made on IATI tech and share our plans for the next quarter. The Technical Team’s quarterly plans are approved by IATI’s Governing Board technical focal points. You can read the last quarter's update here.
Update Q4 October - December 2019
At the start of this quarter we worked closely with the Zimmerman & Zimmerman team to review feedback received following the launch of the new IATI Datastore API. In October, the IATI Technical Team and Zimmerman & Zimmerman released the Query Builder for a month of testing. We would like to thank members of the IATI community who engaged in testing both the API and Query Builder. A number of bug fixes and functionality improvements have already been implemented based on the public feedback. We are now evaluating which outstanding bug fixes and functionality enhancements are required to be implemented before the product can be fully launched. For a full list of issues that have been raised, please see the GitHub project board.
The new IATI Validator launched in mid- November for a month of testing. We have implemented different feedback mechanisms for users and encourage everyone to test the new Validator and share their feedback! We will also run a webinar on 27 November to support users and answer their questions directly.
The Technical Team has worked with Data4Development to make sure the IATI Validator follows all IATI rulesets. The rulesets are now hosted on the Data4Development GitHub repository; starting in early 2020, we will start to work to move the code over to IATI’s repository, to effectively replace the current Ruleset codebase.This will bring file format consistency to the SSOT (everything will be XML/XSLT) and allow external tools to directly reference the Ruleset XML files and XSLT tests without having to reinterpret them on their side.
We continue to explore options for improving the IATI Registry, which stores the links to all publishers’ IATI XML files, in order to provide a more stable situation and avoid problematic bug fixes.
CSV Converter and Previewer deprecation
The CSV Converter and IATI Previewer are awaiting deprecation and will be replaced by the Datastore and Validator respectively. These two tools are used through the IATI Registry and linked directly from the platform, which means we have to wait for their replacements to be live and operational before they can be deprecated. We will be working with the supplier of the Registry and aim to complete this switch without downtime.
We look forward to working with IATI’s dedicated community for another successful year in 2020.
Looking ahead to 2020
Members of the Technical Team participated in a Secretariat planning session in October, to outline areas of work for next year and beyond in preparation for the IATI Board meeting held in November. All IATI technical work will be shared as part of the overall IATI 2020 Workplan and once finalised, will be posted online. We look forward to working with IATI’s dedicated community for another successful year in 2020.
Recap on Q3 July - September 2019
The big news this quarter was the initial launch of the new Datastore, with the Datastore’s API released for testing in mid-August. The new IATI Datastore aims to offer a robust online service, providing access to data published according to the IATI Standard. The IATI community provided feedback on the API via Github, which worked well and proved to be a successful way to test a product. Whilst the API testing was underway, we continued to work with Zimmerman & Zimmerman to develop the user-friendly Datastore Query Builder and prepare it for public testing in October.
We made considerable progress on preparing the new Validator with Data4Development for launch later in the autumn. This tool will allow publishers, users and developers to check if data published complies with the IATI Standard. The Technical Team tested the implementation of the IATI rulesets in the Validator this summer, creating XML test files for IATI rules to enable automated checks to be performed. Data4Development shared a staging site with us in August, to enable us to complete testing and provide feedback on the front-end design. The Technical Team also worked on a communications plan for the Validator and shared a pre-launch Q & A document via this newspost.
We launched the separated versions of the IATI Dashboard and Publisher Statistics this summer, bringing improved and updated performance. Previously the Dashboard took three days to update. Now, both tools can aggregate, crunch and rebuild the pages on a daily basis. This improves the user experience and will make it easier for the Technical Team to investigate and debug anything that does not function properly. More details are here.
Throughout this quarter the Technical Team has continued to work with UX designers to expand the iatistandard.org website so that it can include the content currently held on http://reference.iatistandard.org. In addition, we have been investigating navigation improvements and changes to the homepage and the data use section.
IATI Standard Guidance Review
Over 30 technical and data experts from the IATI community came together virtually in August to help the Technical Team review and develop guidance to enable both publishers and data users to better interpret the IATI Standard. The Technical Team reviewed existing materials, identified inconsistencies or gaps and proposed changes for consultation with the wider IATI community, who fed back directly and attended two webinars to discuss the findings. In this first round, 12 guidance documents representing the ‘bread and butter’ of IATI guidance were reviewed and are now available on both the Activity and Organisation overview pages of the IATI Standard Reference site.
Organisations are encouraged to begin publishing their data to the IATI Standard following the IATI SDG Publishing Guidance.
IATI Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) guidance
In September we launched new guidance on Publishing data on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using the IATI Standard, which was finalised by the SDG Working Group after consultation with the IATI community. The new guidance is specifically targeted at organisations that are already familiar with publishing data according to the rules and guidance of the IATI Standard. Organisations are encouraged to begin publishing their data to the IATI Standard following the IATI SDG Publishing Guidance.