[Open-Legislation] at4am (dot) eu (was: RE: French civil code on git)

JOSEFSSON Erik erik.josefsson at europarl.europa.eu
Wed Apr 8 13:26:41 UTC 2015

Well, it is so easy to table amendments with at4am that MEPs can do it themselves :-)

No special training is needed!

The "slogan" on the at4am.eu home page is actually a quote. I have heard it many many many times.

So, amendments themselves are really important vehicles for propagating political will.

You might remember the famous "amendment 138"?

There has been many "send MEPs a postcard" campaigns like this one http://www.nopnr.org/pnr-postcard-campaign/

I can easily imagine "send MEPs an amendment" campaigns.

Best regards.


From: Jörn Erbguth [joern at erbguth.net]
Sent: Wednesday 8 April 2015 15:06
To: JOSEFSSON Erik; 'Francis Davey'; 'stef'
Cc: 'open-legislation'
Subject: AW: [Open-Legislation] at4am (dot) eu (was: RE: French civil code on git)

Hello Erik,
thank you for that info. I think while you can learn a lot from Git it does not make sense to use Git or GitHub directly.

I think the old and odd process of drafting changed laws on paper or dumb word processing tools, manually producing an amendment law and with this consolidating the current law manually again needs to be revised.
Since many people involved in drafting amendments to a law don’t do this on a regular basis, specialized solutions based on XML editors that need special training don’t work. Paper and MS-Word can be used by everyone and hence do work. However lack of structure render them quite ineffective. Git might seem like a commonly known standard tool to a programmer – however it is neither known to most law makers neither to most citizens. At the same time GIT still lacks some structure.
AT4AM seems to provide an easy to use user interface while managing laws and amendments in a structured manner.
The other issue seems to me that changes to the law usually do not start with proposing specific changes to the code. Compared with programming changes to the law start by creating an Epic in Jira, adding Issues and then modifying the code. It’s like programming: You first need to specify what the result should be. Then you can start implementing it in the code while carefully watching for side effects and external references to the code that you are going to change. To my knowledge “Extreme Programming” does neither exist nor make sense for legal code. Prototyping and testing is much more difficult than with computer code.


Von: open-legislation [mailto:open-legislation-bounces at lists.okfn.org] Im Auftrag von JOSEFSSON Erik
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 8. April 2015 14:01
An: Francis Davey; stef
Cc: open-legislation
Betreff: [Open-Legislation] at4am (dot) eu (was: RE: French civil code on git)

AT4AM is, litteraly, an automatic tool for amendments that we use in the EP. Here's a demo: https://vimeo.com/17598642

The the key purpose of the .5 M€ Pilot Project 26 03 77 05 is to make AT4AM look, feel and behave the same
for all - citizens, MEPs, assistants and staff alike. Money is expected to be allocated before summer.

DFRI keeps one old AT4AM version up and running:


Currently we're trying to run the last version and get a grip on what is different between that version and the EP version:


If you want to help getting more money for this projects, now is the time to write up Pilot Project proposals and try to have them tabled by supportive MEPs:


Would be lovely if you’d subscribe and share your ideas on the at4am.eu list. Here's the archive:


Best regards.

From: open-legislation [open-legislation-bounces at lists.okfn.org] on behalf of Francis Davey [fjmd1a at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday 8 April 2015 12:34
To: stef
Cc: open-legislation
Subject: Re: [Open-Legislation] French civil code on git

2015-04-08 11:20 GMT+01:00 stef <s at ctrlc.hu<mailto:s at ctrlc.hu>>:

well the data is there, to show diffs, you really don't need git. by using
github, you only 1/ put yourself at the mercy of a commercial service provider

The data may be "there" but I don't know where "there" is for French legislation - so this is nice because I can find it easily.

2/ externalize the development costs of a proper userinterface for doing
diffs. 3/ you ignore at4am.

I spent 5 minutes at at4am and have no idea what is usable there.

Eg the page:



Provide the URL to an Akoma Ntoso document in argument of the editor URL:

But what editor is this? Where do I get it. Hard to tell. For example:


has a two word README that doesn't tell me what I am supposed to do with the source once I have got it. Presumably there's a java applet or something that I run somehow.

There's just nothing obvious on that site on *how* I actually make use of anything there, so I hope that explains why I might be pleased to see some other tool that I do understand how to use.

Are there amendments to the French Civil Code there (for instance)? If not, then it is hardly an alternative. Maybe they are available somehow that way, but in an undocumented way.

So, indeed, github is a commercial service, but so are most web services. At least it uses a standard system (git) which can be used elsewhere.

> Github also makes it easy to clone the corpus elsewhere.

that is a feature of git, not github. also why would you do that? how often is
that a requirement, and how often is git data the best format to do further

What alternatives are there? I mean ones I can actually use right now and that don't require me to write extensive code to access? I had a look at Akoma Ntoso and decided that it was hopelessly wrong in design for representing actual legal texts and haven't bothered to look further.

Being able to clone onto my desktop means I can read it when I am offline, simply, without having to worry about a brand new bit of software and framework.

> I agree that pull requests may be unrealistic, but there is nothing even

hah, of course. but even blame is unrealistic.

I didn't suggest blame as a reason. That was someone else.

> vaguely like that for professional engagement with UK legislation. Drafting
> amendments to existing law would be easier if they could be submitted like
> that.

to me this looks like people with hammers running around and seeing nails

Not me.

Francis Davey
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