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Roadmap update: Friday 5 December

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Your regular update on recent and planned changes to GOV.UK, including the December edition of the product roadmap.

 Download the December roadmap (updated 02.12.2014)

January firebreak

Following nearly 3 years of continuous sprinting to build the single domain, GOV.UK product teams will spend January addressing technical debt, improving our development process and regrouping. More on this in a blog post next week.

This means there will be no roadmap document next month. The next issue of the full roadmap will be in early February, including updated goals for 2015-16.


Priorities remain unchanged. With mere days left to go, we’re continuing to prioritise above all else the product changes which enable us to transition HMRC, agencies and non-departmental public bodies onto GOV.UK by Christmas.

Beyond transition, our priorities are to:

  • 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 21 November

For end users

We’ve released some big changes in the past couple of weeks, including:

Looking ahead to next year’s election, in recent weeks we’ve also developed and tested some prototype designs of how we might handle policy changes and deal with deprecated content if there’s a change of government, so we can hit the ground running to make the necessary product improvements from February. A blog post about the details will follow soon.

Smaller changes in support of transition include improvements to HMRC contact pages and importing content into the finders for transport accident reports.

For government publishers

For our users around government, we’ve:

  • started 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
  • held a content clinic at the Home Office for 20 content editors, and begun another round of spot checks to give feedback to department and agency publishing teams on style and quality
  • continued with improvements to the publisher GDS uses to manage mainstream content, especially around the workflow for reviewing content
  • improved the journey in our Signon application when users have a forgotten and expired passphrase

Technical and process improvements

We've continued to invest in improvements to our applications and technical architecture, including:

  • scripts to make it quicker and easier for developers to make changes to sub-topic tags. This work reduces completion time by 70% and reduces the risk of errors
  • made good progress towards being able to separate the end-user-facing and publisher-facing functions of the Whitehall application so it is less complex to use and to build upon, including beginning to add support for translations in the new frontend application

Things we plan to do next

In the next couple of weeks, we plan to:

For end users

  • complete transition of agencies and HMRC, including populating all the finders with content, enabling email alerts from finders and publishing them in Beta on GOV.UK
  • complete changes relating to the UK centralisation of the process of registering a birth or death overseas for a further 83 countries
  • release a new tool to help users find embassies and consular offices (pending FCO content changes)

For government publishers

  • keep supporting HMRC to hook up their manuals publishing tool to test the publishing of manuals onto GOV.UK through our API
    continue spot checks, sending reports out to departments and agencies as we go
  • begin work on a ‘downtime manager’ to allow GDS content designers to schedule messages on the start pages of services with scheduled downtime
    start work on improving the journey around changing the email address associated with Signon accounts

Technical and process improvements

  • clean up some technical debt relating to the recently shipped latest and email alerts features on sub-topics
  • complete the migration of register a birth and start migrating register a death to use Smartdown, our new syntax which separates the business logic from the code in the smart answers format so we can maintain them more efficiently in future
  • continue to separate Whitehall frontend and backend functionality, focusing on archiving, unpublishing, and scheduled publishing in the new government-frontend
  • continue work towards a single publishing pipeline focusing on the ability to preview draft content in the new system

Deployment freeze

The last day for deploying changes to production before Christmas will be 18 December. We avoid making changes to the live site when there are fewer people around to fix any unforeseen issues.


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 by Keith Prust posted on

    Thanks Neil

    I don't understand what you mean by "The last day for deploying changes to production before Christmas will be 18 December."

    Do you mean you won't be making any changes to the services and information pages after 18 December?

    When will you be able to begin making changes again?



  2. Comment by Neil Williams posted on

    Hi Keith, this refers to functional changes which need software applications to be deployed from our development environment to the live site. Content changes will continue during the freeze, on working days. We will return to normal from 5th Jan.