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Roadmap update: Monday 20 October

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: What we're working on

Our fortnightly look at what the GOV.UK team has just released and what we're working on next, plus a view of our current priorities.

See the previous post for the monthly downloadable roadmap document.


We're prioritising changes to GOV.UK which:

  • enable us to complete the transition of agencies' information publishing to GOV.UK by Christmas
  • reduce the complexity of our software, so development of GOV.UK does not slow down
  • meet mainstream users’ needs to check their eligibility under new or changed government schemes
  • ready GOV.UK to meet users’ needs around the 2015 election

Things we’ve done since 29 September

For end users

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve:

  • completed transition of 11 more agencies including Highways Agency and Natural England, leaving 42 agencies to go
  • moved 4 major topics from HM Revenue and Customs including VAT and PAYE
  • set the default list of results for searches which begin on the Environment Agency and Legal Aid Agency pages to list only results from those organisations (this builds on the experiment we started with Land Registry which we’ll blog about soon)
  • made progress on adding email notifications to sub-topics and to the 2 finders for drug and medical device safety information (these finders won’t launch until the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency - MHRA - completes its transition to GOV.UK)
  • allowed contacts to be related to each other in the beta of the contacts application, in support of HMRC users’ needs
  • completed a round of user research on a Shared Parental Leave tool for employees - a new smart answer tool for calculating leave entitlement, launching soon

For government publishers

For our users around government, we’ve:

  • produced revised publishing guidance in one place that brings together all previous guidance in a consistent format
  • introduced a grace period of 3 days for auto-suspension of unsuspended user accounts for our publishing tools
  • sped up the load time of the document creating and editing form in Whitehall publisher and improved the performance of large HTML attachments
  • built a feature which shows a warning when an editor chooses a document title that is identical to one that already exists, which will reduce duplication
  • iterated the publishing workflow in Whitehall publisher, so that a creating editor can review and publish a document if another editor submits it
  • built an internal tool to crowdsource improvements to our data about user needs, so we can start to publish them along with metrics about our performance in meeting them (we’ll blog about this later this week)

Technical and process improvements

In the past few weeks we’ve continued work towards a single publishing pipeline with a focus on URL arbitration (stopping applications from trying to use the same URL for different pages).

Things we plan to do next

For end users

In the next couple of weeks, we plan to:

  • continue to transition more agencies onto GOV.UK, including the Youth Justice Board
  • continue working on the new tool for calculating parental leave entitlement incorporating new Shared Parental Leave rules
  • build a tool which lets users find the right Valuation Office Agency contact for their property based on postcode
  • complete the work of adding email notifications to sub-topics and to the 2 finders for drug safety updates, alerts and recalls for drugs and medical devices
  • show users related contacts pages from the contact page they’re looking at in the contacts finder application (currently only used by HMRC)
  • release a new tool to help users find embassies and consular offices (the FCO team is currently busy making content changes so this can launch)

For government publishers

We will:

  • make several small improvements to the user experience of the Whitehall publisher, including publications on other websites being modelled as external attachments so you can control the display order, and allowing the tagging of statistics announcements to multiple topics
  • provide a way for publishers to export lists of documents in a CSV format, to make it easier for them to audit their content
  • continue to work on publishing user needs and usage data about GOV.UK pages to help content designers measure performance and improve content
  • continue to make progress on a tool to make it possible for GDS content designers to build and update smart answers, freeing up developers to work on features
  • retire the manual curation step in the process of sending email alerts about content relevant to local government (we’ll blog more about this soon)

Technical improvements

On the tech side, we will:

  • start serving assets (files and images) from behind a second content delivery network, increasing our resilience
  • continue work towards a single publishing pipeline with a focus on the ability to flexibly tag related items of any kind to one another - this is important work so that GOV.UK can remain flexible and continue to grow

If any of this is unclear, or if you have feedback on whether we’re prioritising the right stuff, please comment on this post to let us know.

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  1. Comment by John Ploughman posted on

    Hi Neil

    Something that would be useful for publishers is sorting out what happens with content that's been unpublished and redirected to other content.

    At the moment it's reverted to draft - and forever sits in the list of draft stuff. This isn't great for trying to see what's actually really draft content, and what's content that is no longer published.

    Getting this fixed would be great.

    • Replies to John Ploughman>

      Comment by Lisa Scott posted on

      Hi John
      Appreciate the frustrations you and others have with unpublishings remaining in draft. We started some discovery on this a while back, and have some early ideas for improvements, but we won't be able to get to it this year I'm afraid.

      • Replies to Lisa Scott>

        Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

        If it may take a while to get a technical solution, could any interim steps/guidelines be included in the manual
        For example, could the word 'ARCHIVED' be placed in the title before completing the archiving, so when it reverts to draft it will be clearer it isn't a 'real' draft?

        • Replies to Andrew Robertson>

          Comment by Lisa Scott posted on

          Hi Andrew
          Thanks for the idea. It's a good one, and we're looking into a possible way of doing this.