Innovation Projects
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There are a number of reasons we chose digital forms to pilot a microservice approach. To begin with, the form module used in City’s current CMS has been a pain point for years, lacking with regards to both design and functionality. As a result, departments have implemented numerous other solutions. Looking at these turned up issues surrounding ADA compliance, user experience, and integrations with enterprise platforms—to speak nothing of cost-sharing and consistency for our end users.

We can and must do better. Forms are critical element of the City’s online services, often serving as our digital front door. As Boston.gov puts it in the README of their Forms repo:

If you want to come to City Hall to do business with us, we’ll be here for you. But if you have to come to City Hall to do business with us, then we’re not doing our job.

We will be working with several departments—Development Services, EMS, Fire, and Public Health—to assess needs from the perspective of municipal service providers. From there, we’ll narrow our scope and identify our prototypes. Right now, we’re looking for forms we can build that have one or both of these currently unmet needs:

  • Integration with a widely-used enterprise system
  • Complex user interfaces that would benefit from advanced frontend logic and design

As we gather requirements and begin our design/build/test iterations, we’ll continue to research best practices and explore what other organizations have done with forms and microservices. So far, we’ve interviewed Boston.gov, who is using SeamlessDocs, and have reached out to Vets.gov to find out more about the custom form tool they built in house. If you know someone we should speak with, let us know!