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Roadmap update: Friday 21 November

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Read about the latest changes to GOV.UK and what’s changing next.

We post these updates about twice a month, to show what the GOV.UK team has recently changed and what we’re working on next. Once per month, the update includes the latest issue of a downloadable product roadmap which gives a longer-term view of the changes we’re planning. The latest one was published on 7 November.


We’re continuing to prioritise changes to GOV.UK which:

  1. enable us to complete the transition of HMRC, agencies and non-departmental public bodies into GOV.UK by Christmas
  2. reduce the complexity of our software, so development of GOV.UK does not slow down
  3. meet mainstream users’ needs to check their eligibility under new or changed government schemes
  4. ready GOV.UK to meet users’ needs around the 2015 election

Things we’ve done since 7 November

For end users

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve:

  • completed transition of more agencies including Copyright Tribunal, Certification Officer and the Homes and Communities Agency leaving 28 agencies to go, and continued transition of HMRC including topics on Capital Gains Tax, Paying HMRC and Share Schemes
  • released a new tool for calculating parental leave entitlement incorporating new Shared Parental Leave rules
  • begun to test new designs for presenting information about government policies, and ideas for better handling of deprecated content, so we can meet users’ needs to understand what’s changed after the election (we held a show and tell with some department stakeholders this week, and will blog about it soon)
  • completed the work of adding email notifications to finders (these will be switched on in stages between now and early January after further testing with each of the agencies)

For government publishers

For our users around government, we’ve:

  • worked with HMRC to complete the first end-to-end test publish of a sample of one HMRC manual from their internal tool into GOV.UK via the new publishing API. We made changes to the API, and ensured that manuals and their sections appear in GOV.UK search pages
  • provided a way for publishers to export lists of documents in a CSV format, to make it easier for them to audit their content (available from Monday - we’ll blog about it then)
  • updated the guidance on using open formats, the anonymous user feedback explorer, and the CSV download feature (which will be published on Monday when it’s available)
  • made it easy for publishers to switch organisation pages from a 'news priority' layout to a 'service priority' layout
  • made improvements to workflow in the publisher GDS uses to manage mainstream content, addressing some of the most common pain points for content designers
  • made it easier to find statistics announcements with no linked publication, to help departments improve how they're publishing them
  • improved the emails about locked user accounts and improved how we handle passphrase reset requests for suspended accounts

Technical and process improvements

In the past few weeks we’ve:

  • started a project to break up the Whitehall application into smaller single-purpose parts, so we can continue to iterate the /government parts of the site and devolved publishing tools. So far we’ve started work on a new application that will be responsible for displaying Whitehall content on GOV.UK via the new publishing APIs
  • completed and deployed the first version of a content register, which will enable the search and browse team to link content together

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 and transition more HMRC topics including Construction Industry Scheme, bereavement and inheritance tax, capital allowance and goods from abroad
  • complete the work of adding email alerts to sub-topic browse pages (these will be switched on gradually as sub-topics are populated)
  • add a sub-topic ‘latest’ view page showing all related content as it is changed or added to GOV.UK, presented in reverse chronological order
  • add the ability to display a public note whenever there is a substantive change to mainstream content, so we can reliably notify email alert subscribers about all the content they’re interested on a given sub-topic
  • completed changes relating to the UK centralisation of the process of registering a birth or death overseas for a further 83 countries
  • begin another round of spot checks to give feedback to department and agency publishing teams on style and quality
  • release a new tool to help users find embassies and consular offices (pending FCO content changes)

For government publishers

We will:

  • continue to scrape and import content into the various new finders for transitioning agencies
  • keep supporting HMRC to hook up their manuals publishing tool to test the publishing of full (albeit redacted) manuals onto GOV.UK through our API
  • start work with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service to look at third party publishing, via a new API, of a page on GOV.UK for every court and tribunal
  • hold a content clinic for departmental and agency editors at Department for Transport on Thursday 27 November
  • continue with improvements to the publisher used by GDS content designers, making it easier to manage the content awaiting review
  • allow managing editors to manage featured links on organisation pages on behalf of their agencies
  • start sending out content spot checks to departments and agencies

Technical and process improvements

On the tech side, we will:

  • take a single format in the Whitehall application and publish it to a new frontend application via the content store, deployed to preview, staging and production environments (this is the “steel thread” to get something working end-to-end, from which we will build outwards)
  • continue to tweak performance in the transition tool so it continues to respond well as more data is added
  • continue work towards a single publishing pipeline with further work on the ability to flexibly tag related items of any kind to one another, and the ability to preview draft content in the new system

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

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Stephen Edwards posted on

    It is good to see that work appears to be starting on things that may address some of the specialist user needs that have been neglected on GOV.UK for far too long (as evidenced by the complaints from tax professionals, immigration lawyers et al). At the moment, a user journey through specialist content on GOV.UK. is often broken, with no clear path and lots of dead ends. I'm optimistic that the work you are doing on the content register, sub topics, email alerts etc may go some way towards making the experience for specialists, such as tax professionals like myself, much less painful on GOV.UK. and eventually get it back on a par with the agency websites that are being switched off.

    This work may also help to ensure that the high quality mainstream content is not subject to unfair criticism from specialists simply because they are unable to dig deeper into the /government/* part of the site to find the technical content that is more appropriate for them. It is shame that the award winning part of GOV.UK. is being criticised because the specialist part of the site still has some way to go.