We’re extremely pleased to finally announce version 2.0 (Luanda) of the Ushahidi platform. This release marks the end of many months of work on new functionality and bug fixes based on feedback we’ve received.
Highlights of Ushahidi 2.0
The plugin system is something we’ve been working on for many months now, and we talked about it briefly back in July. This system allows us to do two things; First, it allows anyone to extend the capabilities of the platform. Second it allows us to focus on the core application itself. For the past few months, our community has been building plugins that you will soon be able to take advantage of via an Ushahidi App Market. In the meantime here are some resources to let you take advantage of this new functionality:
2. New and Improved API
Henry and Emmanuel have been working hard on the Ushahidi API which exposes the platform to 3rd party applications that you create. This API allows you to post or retrieve information from Ushahidi deployments. This in fact is how our Mobile applications (iPhone, Android, j2me) communicate with the platform. Our goal is to give you as many ways as possible to consume the data that Ushahidi deployments create. More information about the Plugin API can be found here. We hope you find new and interesting ways to use it. Soon, you’ll be able to administer Ushahidi deployments through 3rd party applications via an Admin API.
3. One-Click Upgrades (Beta)
Ushahidi deployments have been notoriously difficult to upgrade. You can now exhale, because we have been working hard at a one-click upgrade mechanism, so that you can upgrade to the latest version without losing some hair. We’re still working out some kinks though, but its closer to 100% done. The system will alert you to new version availability and give you the option to perform the one-click upgrade. Please note that the one-click upgrade will only be available for users of version 2.0. If you have an older version of platform, you will need to update your deployment to version 2.0 manually. Instructions on how to do this are on this wiki entry. Once updated, you will be able to use the one-click upgrade mechanism for future versions.
4. Improved Localization
With the platform’s continued use around the world in countries that speak anything other than English, it is increasingly important to quickly and easily localize the language used on the deployment. We now have a location on the web (Thanks to Brian) where you can help localize language packs for use on your deployment of the platform. Already, many languages have been added and the list of available languages continues to grow. Head over to Tafsiri (Swahili for translate) to get started.
5. SMS Providers
Version 2.0 of the platform now allows you to add other SMS providers into the system via the Plugin API. The platform ships with FrontlineSMS, Clickatell and now SMSSync. SMS providers either provide a mechanism for filtering text messages into the system and/or sending messages from the system.
6. Trusted Reporter Functionality
Popular deployments are sometimes inundated by reports and it becomes increasingly difficult for administrators to read through and approve incoming messages. With Ushahidi 2.0, it is now possible to tag certain phone numbers, email accounts or twitter users as ‘Trusted Reporters’ and their reports will be automatically approved by the system.
7. Improved Theming
With previous versions of the platform, theming was restricted to what you could achieve with CSS styles alone. In Ushahidi 2.0, you can now create new templates and change the structure of pages, allowing you to design completely new looks. The additional benefit is that you never have to tamper with the core code like you had to before.
8. Improved Reports Listing
Caleb has also been hard at work on the reports listing page. We’re trying to make this page as functional as possible and will continue to do so, so that we can convey different sets of information quickly and in a practical way.
9. Improved Reports Detail
The reports detail page has also been updated. You can go for wider or taller maps. You can also switch tabs to view images and other attached media.
10. Improved Scheduler
Certain tasks with the platform are executed at specified intervals like checking email, checking twitter, sending alerts etc. The improved scheduler allows you to set the frequency of such events.
11. Improved Caching and Speed
Moving forward we’ll begin to add some options for administrators to help optimize the loading of the platform. This is especially critical for high traffic deployments.
There are numerous other fixes and improvements and we hope you enjoy the hard work we’ve put in so far. As always we can’t ever get enough feedback so we’ll be waiting to hear from you!
We’ll also be going into detail in the next few blog posts about how to use some of the features I’ve mentioned above.