The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.
From today, the "series" format in the departments and policy section will metamorphose to become "collections". This post contains essential information for publishers about the change.
What has changed
Far more than just a name change, we have completely remodelled how the format works.
Whereas "series" was coded as a distinct format, the new "collection" format which replaces it is based on the same, editionable document format that we are using for publications, policies and announcements.
This delivers the following benefits, all of which are things departments have told us they wanted:
- workflow, so that collections can be prepared in draft, submitted for review by a 2nd pair of eyes, scheduled for future publication and revised with full audit trail. (Previously changes to "series" went live immediately, which was difficult to work with)
- editorial remarks, so you can communicate internally about changes made to a collection
- the ability to feature collections on organisation pages. (Later, we will extend this to topics too)
- the ability to unpublish collections and redirect their URLs. (Initially this is by request to GDS, but we are will roll out self-service tools very soon)
- the ability to share collections between organisations, so that for example we can have a single collection listing all departments' organisation charts
- the ability to tag collections to policies and topics (the information doesn't yet display on the public site, but it will)
Sharing the same code as other document formats also helps simplify the software, and means that collections will now benefit from the same ongoing improvements as those formats.
All existing series will be automatically migrated to the new collections format (at new, shorter URLs) and the previous URLs will be redirected.
What the change means for publishers
On the public site, the name is the only visible sign of change. But things will be a little different in the publishing tool. Here's three things you need to know.
- There will no longer be a "document series" option in the main menu. Instead, "document collection" has been added as one of the formats you can create from the main "create document" button.
- To find existing collections, filter by "document collection" on the documents tab.
- To add a new document to an existing collection, you now need to create a new edition of the collection. This is an extra step but - we hope - worth it to get the benefits listed above.
What collections are for
Collections are for grouping related documents which users need to find together. Within a collection page documents can be further grouped by theme.
A good example of a collection is the National standards for driving and riding which collects together all the documents that set out standards on what it takes to be a safe and responsible driver and rider. The documents are grouped by kind of vehicle, eg standards for car and light van, or standards for moped and motorcycle. Another example is the National Curriculum collection which brings together all the documents from the recently published curriculum.
You might want to review your existing collections and see whether you can make them more user-friendly by adding sub-headings and grouping the documents.
Future plans (and why the name changed)
In future we plan to develop the publication format so that the current and all past issues of a regularly issued publication (eg a monthly release or an annual report) can be grouped onto the single publication page. This will mean "collections" can be freed up to be much more useful thematic groupings of related content.
We also plan to provide a route to browse to collections from topics and organisation pages.
We will be updating editorial guidance soon on how to get the best out of the collection format.