The Legal Innovation & Technology Lab's Form Explorer Alpha
@ Suffolk Law School Last updated 2022-08-23
What is the Form Explorer?
We're collecting existing pdf forms from multiple jurisdictions and making it possible for folks (e.g., courts and non-profits) to turn them into beautiful webapps with ease. Eventually, you will be able to go from form to prototype webapp in a few clicks. As time goes by, we'll grow the number of jurisdictions and improve our tools' performance. They'll never do all of the work, but they help plot a course for what otherwise might seem an "impossible" task. They'll help make things concrete, allowing for stakeholders and developers to edit their way to a production-ready solution built on suggestions rooted in years of form building experience.
For many, interaction with a court involves completing a "form," and often, this means filling out either a paper form or pdf facsimile. Occasionally, the latter can be found online and come with embedded fillable fields. Most of the time, however, this just means one can type in the fields before printing the form. The infrastructure that has grown up around court forms too often focus on delivering either a physical form or pictures of such to the court. Very rare is the form that can easily be filled out on a phone absent specialty software, and even more rare is the form that helps guide users through the process. There are exceptions, like the forms found at LawHelp Interactive or the growing constellation of A2J Author-driven forms found across multiple jurisdictions. Yet, the majority of court processes linked to forms have failed to keep pace with our technical ability to offer context-aware mobile friendly fully-electronic interactions. This Form Explorer is part of a broader open-source effort—the Document Assembly Line—aimed at changing this. To learn more about how we got started, check out Digital Curb Cuts: Towards an Inclusive Open Forms Ecosystem, a law review article describing the project's genesis.
On this site you can explore the connections between forms and get a feel for populations of existing forms, allowing you to strategize how best to redesign or translate flat forms into vibrant interactive web apps.
Currently, we've downloaded and parsed 10281 forms from 24 jurisdictions. Use the menu above to explore, or download summary data here: form_data.csv And please remember this is a work in progress. So, everything here is subject to change including things like fields we find and how we calculate readability.
To mine data from these forms we created an open source python package—FormFyxer. You can find it and its documentaion on GitHub here: https://github.com/SuffolkLITLab/FormFyxer