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View Full Version : Gov.uk named THE BEST THING Britain has made all year



Sysman
17th April 2013, 13:53
Yep, your new portal into all things governmental has won a Design of the Year 2013 (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/17/gov_prize_design/) award, soundly beating the likes of Raspberry Pi, The Shard, Olympics et al.

To be honest it looks like something I wrote in raw HTML about 10 years ago.

Oops. More taxpayers' money down the drain?

doodab
17th April 2013, 14:06
t saw off last year's dazzling Olympic opening ceremony's cauldron of fire and London's 1,016-ft skyscraper The Shard - neither of which didn't even win their respective categories.

I don't think the reg can talk, grammar like that makes my ******* eyes bleed.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 14:07
It's exceptionally good because it completely eschews the frippery and excessive adornment that clutter so many sites, in favour of serving its primary purpose: to convey information as clearly and efficiently as possible.

As with so many things that appear simple and straightforward, this has only been achieved through an enormous amount of hard work by highly experienced designers, developers, user experience specialists, and not forgetting the infrastructure people that have put together a reliable platform for it to run on, and all at much less than most Government IT projects manage to spend on paper clips.

Obligatory disclosure: I know and, at other times and places, have worked with a number of people on the Gov UK team. They're some of the smartest, most talented, and most dedicated people I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

Bunk
17th April 2013, 14:18
Hold on, are we saying that this is actually a successful government IT project?

:eek:

What is the world coming to?

doodab
17th April 2013, 14:20
This bit looks interesting:

About - Technical Details | data.gov.uk (http://data.gov.uk/about-technical-details)

I'm guessing the big oursourcers had sweet **** all to do with this project?

VectraMan
17th April 2013, 14:25
It has larger fonts than most websites. You have to give them that.

doodab
17th April 2013, 14:30
This bit looks interesting:

About - Technical Details | data.gov.uk (http://data.gov.uk/about-technical-details)

I'm guessing the big oursourcers had sweet **** all to do with this project?

I'm a bit less excited now that I've tried it.

Average Earnings Index / December 2009 - Dataset - Resource - DGU (http://data.gov.uk/dataset/average_earnings_index/resource/bee375c6-3b87-4587-9ce5-e921bf7caecc)

points to

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp19975_29746.xml

which is broken. Ho hum.

vetran
17th April 2013, 14:39
Its a bit cleaner but hardly a major step forward.

Comments on el reg & here suggest that multiple links are broken so they are failing to police links effectively which based on their design should be a daily activity. Also some suggestion that the accessibility side could do better.

Nice idea, mediocre implementation, using opensource though.

Savings ?? well at least it wasn't billions poured down the drain.

I'll take the Pi or the Shard.

Sysman
17th April 2013, 14:48
It's exceptionally good because it completely eschews the frippery and excessive adornment that clutter so many sites, in favour of serving its primary purpose: to convey information as clearly and efficiently as possible.

Fair comment.


Obligatory disclosure: I know and, at other times and places, have worked with a number of people on the Gov UK team. They're some of the smartest, most talented, and most dedicated people I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

<Cough>

Why does it tell me I need to upgrade my browser?


GOV.UK uses cookies to make the site simpler. Find out more about cookies

I was under the impression that sites had to ask for consent before using cookies. The above doesn't say that to me.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 14:49
I'm guessing the big oursourcers had sweet **** all to do with this project?

Correct. It's a team that comes under the Cabinet Office, though they work in offices in High Holborn. A key idea was not to let the big consultancies get their hands on it, but instead to build a team within the Civil Service that could actually get stuff done. Lightweight, agile, and works; hence:


Hold on, are we saying that this is actually a successful government IT project?


Correct :)


I'm a bit less excited now that I've tried it.

Average Earnings Index / December 2009 - Dataset - Resource - DGU (http://data.gov.uk/dataset/average_earnings_index/resource/bee375c6-3b87-4587-9ce5-e921bf7caecc)

points to

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp19975_29746.xml

which is broken. Ho hum.

There's an unbelievably huge amount of content and data that hasn't yet been brought across to gov.uk. This is an ongoing process, and one of the most important principles is that, when existing content such as a departmental site is brought across, there are correct redirects in place for every single piece of content, so that all old links will bring you to the new place.

One problem they can't solve is when a department whose site hasn't yet been moved breaks the old site. As you can see from that URL the link is to the existing ONS site at ons.gov.uk, and if whoever runs that site - probably one of the big consultancies - breaks a link without telling the Gov.UK team, they have to wait until somebody reports it to them. They can detect and fix 404s in their own logs, but not somebody else's.

So report the broken link: they have people to fix it, because they believe it's important to fix stuff like that :)

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 14:53
Why does it tell me I need to upgrade my browser?


Because you're using an obsolete browser would be my guess.



I was under the impression that sites had to ask for consent before using cookies. The above doesn't say that to me.

No, they don't. Almost everything that was said about the cookie law turns out to have been utter bollocks :) Also, no consent is required for cookies that don't store any information that can be tied to you personally, or for cookies that are needed to ensure the correct and efficient operation of the site. So just about everything except ad tracking is exempt, really.

doodab
17th April 2013, 14:54
So report the broken link: they have people to fix it, because they believe it's important to fix stuff like that :)

Which of the Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ links do you think is most appropriate? As they don't seem to have an obvious report broken link link....

Also, the http://data.gov.uk/contact page takes me straight back to the main page, I then have to hit back a few times to get back to where I wanted to be.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 14:57
Which of the Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ links do you think is most appropriate? As they don't seem to have an obvious report broken link link....

There's a link to "Support" in the page footer, which includes a link to "Errors and broken pages (https://www.gov.uk/support/broken-pages)" as well as FAQs and so on.

Bunk
17th April 2013, 14:58
Fair comment.



<Cough>

Why does it tell me I need to upgrade my browser?



I was under the impression that sites had to ask for consent before using cookies. The above doesn't say that to me.

They warn you that they use cookies. By continuing to use the site you are implying consent.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 14:59
Also, the Contact | data.gov.uk (http://data.gov.uk/contact) page takes me straight back to the main page, I then have to hit back a few times to get back to where I wanted to be.

data.gov.uk != www.gov.uk. The site that I'm talking about is www.gov.uk; data.gov.uk is a pre-existing site that's going to be brought into the fold. But report it to the link I posted above, and they'll see it's addressed by the right people if they can't fix it themselves.

vetran
17th April 2013, 15:03
There's a link to "Support" in the page footer, which includes a link to "Errors and broken pages (https://www.gov.uk/support/broken-pages)" as well as FAQs and so on.

cough..

Link checker | drupal.org (http://drupal.org/project/linkchecker)

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 15:10
cough..

Link checker | drupal.org (http://drupal.org/project/linkchecker)

The broken link isn't on their site, so there's not much point them using that.

Also, the site is written in Ruby on Rails, not Drupal :)

Sysman
17th April 2013, 15:11
Because you're using an obsolete browser would be my guess.

Bang up to date, but I think the answer is that I visit new sites with NoScript turned on.

The Beeb do a decent job of working out when JS is disabled and issue an appropriate message.


No, they don't. Almost everything that was said about the cookie law turns out to have been utter bollocks :) Also, no consent is required for cookies that don't store any information that can be tied to you personally, or for cookies that are needed to ensure the correct and efficient operation of the site. So just about everything except ad tracking is exempt, really.

Ah, so it was all bollux.

Sysman
17th April 2013, 15:12
They warn you that they use cookies. By continuing to use the site you are implying consent.

I wish they would state that more clearly.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 15:16
I wish they would state that more clearly.

They still don't need your consent to use them.

If you follow the link, you'll find that they give you a lot more information about the cookies they use than any other site I've seen: https://www.gov.uk/support/cookies

But they don't have to give you so much information, and they don't need your consent to set those cookies.

Sysman
17th April 2013, 15:17
cough..

Link checker | drupal.org (http://drupal.org/project/linkchecker)


Also, the site is written in Ruby on Rails, not Drupal :)

Sorry, which site is written in RoR?

The gov.uk preview/beta was definitely done in Wordpress and hosted in the US.

minestrone
17th April 2013, 15:19
It's exceptionally good because it completely eschews the frippery and excessive adornment that clutter so many sites, in favour of serving its primary purpose: to convey information as clearly and efficiently as possible.

As with so many things that appear simple and straightforward, this has only been achieved through an enormous amount of hard work by highly experienced designers, developers, user experience specialists, and not forgetting the infrastructure people that have put together a reliable platform for it to run on, and all at much less than most Government IT projects manage to spend on paper clips.

Obligatory disclosure: I know and, at other times and places, have worked with a number of people on the Gov UK team. They're some of the smartest, most talented, and most dedicated people I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

They also eschew alphabetical ordering.

minestrone
17th April 2013, 15:25
To me the thing is a complete feckin mess.

I have an opinion that using a website that continually changes layout and position of menus & number of menus etc is the same as a call center forwarding you round different people in different departments, you are constantly needlessly readjusting.

Mich the Tester
17th April 2013, 15:29
To me the thing is a complete feckin mess.

I have an opinion that using a website that continually changes layout and position of menus & number of menus etc is the same as a call center forwarding you round different people in different departments, you are constantly needlessly readjusting.

So send them an email and suggest a better layout.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 15:32
Bang up to date, but I think the answer is that I visit new sites with NoScript turned on.

The Beeb do a decent job of working out when JS is disabled and issue an appropriate message.


Ah yes, I happen to have disabled JS in Chrome just now and I can see it. I'll mention that to them when I'm next in touch.

doodab
17th April 2013, 15:35
They are even tackling unemployment

https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch

Looks like C++ is booming....

https://jobsearch.direct.gov.uk/JobSearch/PowerSearch.aspx?rad=20&rad_units=miles&pp=25&sort=rv.dt.di&vw=b&re=134&setype=2&tjt=software+engineer&where=london&q=C%2B%2B

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 15:35
Sorry, which site is written in RoR?

The gov.uk preview/beta was definitely done in Wordpress and hosted in the US.

www.gov.uk is in RoR, and always has been AFAIK. Remember there are a lot of sites at somethingorother.gov.uk, all of which are gradually being phased out: www.gov.uk is the new one under which all the others will eventually be moved.

Pondlife
17th April 2013, 15:35
Ah yes, I happen to have disabled JS in Chrome just now and I can see it. I'll mention that to them when I send them an invoice for all the testing you get when you say a website is good on the internet..

FTFY :D

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 15:37
To me the thing is a complete feckin mess.

I have an opinion that using a website that continually changes layout and position of menus & number of menus etc is the same as a call center forwarding you round different people in different departments, you are constantly needlessly readjusting.

You're probably following links out to old sites that haven't been brought under www.gov.uk yet.

vetran
17th April 2013, 15:37
The broken link isn't on their site, so there's not much point them using that.


strange looks like it does the needfull.


The Link checker module extracts links from your content when saved and periodically tries to detect broken hypertext links by checking the remote sites and evaluating the HTTP response codes. It shows all broken links in the reports/logs section and on the content edit page, if a link check has been failed. An author specific broken links report is also available in "My Account".





Also, the site is written in Ruby on Rails, not Drupal :)

point taken read the link in earlier post, can't immediately see the technical detail on the gov.uk but as an example of a problem already fixed elsewhere and core to the sites design it does look like they reinvented the wheel not fixed the problem.

One assumes that they have a dedicated security team working on the site and worldwide security authorities reviewing it daily to look for holes?

Personally I would have used Drupal or similar and contributed to any modules I needed, that way I would be in a big pool of companies watching out for security issues.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 15:40
They are even tackling unemployment

https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch

Looks like C++ is booming....

https://jobsearch.direct.gov.uk/JobSearch/PowerSearch.aspx?rad=20&rad_units=miles&pp=25&sort=rv.dt.di&vw=b&re=134&setype=2&tjt=software+engineer&where=london&q=C%2B%2B

That's a good example of a case where the site that has the ultimate content is still outside: direct.gov.uk is the old "portal" from Mr Blair's era which is in the process of being supplanted.

doodab
17th April 2013, 16:01
That's a good example of a case where the site that has the ultimate content is still outside: direct.gov.uk is the old "portal" from Mr Blair's era which is in the process of being supplanted.

TBH I think the main issue here is that they are calling themselves gov.uk. To my and many other peoples mind that means anythingatall.gov.uk. So they are going to take the stick for everything else that isn't working.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 16:24
TBH I think the main issue here is that they are calling themselves gov.uk. To my and many other peoples mind that means anythingatall.gov.uk. So they are going to take the stick for everything else that isn't working.

Eventually, everything will be under them. For example, go to http://fco.gov.uk/ and it will redirect you to https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office as of a few months ago. However it doesn't make sense to wait until everything can be moved in one fell swoop. That would be an unimaginably huge project, and those are what got government IT into such a state in the first place.

By starting small, they've been able to get a scalable infrastructure in place, and test it thoroughly on less important stuff. Now they've been able to take what they learned, and the tools they've developed along the way, and apply all that to bigger fish like the FCO.

Eventually everything will have been moved, but there's no point foregoing the benefits of making the new site and its improved facilities available as and when things are moved across rather than waiting several years for the big reveal.

The key point is, they've explicitly rejected the old ways of doing government IT, because they simply don't work.

doodab
17th April 2013, 16:27
The key point is, they've explicitly rejected the old ways of doing government IT, because they simply don't work.

Which is cool, but to many people the government is the government, so they are going to end up taking the blame for a lot of stuff that doesn't work which wasn't their fault or anything to do with them. Just an observation.

NickFitz
17th April 2013, 16:50
Which is cool, but to many people the government is the government, so they are going to end up taking the blame for a lot of stuff that doesn't work which wasn't their fault or anything to do with them. Just an observation.

They can handle it ;)

darmstadt
17th April 2013, 16:57
The broken link isn't on their site, so there's not much point them using that.

Also, the site is written in Ruby on Rails, not Drupal :)

I don't know much about this new fangled technology but shurely:


Overview

data.gov.uk runs on a mix of Drupal and CKAN. To read more about the architecture see: Integrating CKAN and Drupal.

Sysman
17th April 2013, 17:47
FTFY :D

Ooh Ooh Ooh.

Where do I send my invoice too?

vetran
17th April 2013, 17:48
I don't know much about this new fangled technology but shurely:

That got me as well
the gov.uk is home brew Ruby on Rails.
data.gov.uk is on Drupal.

we have similar stuff where some expert won't use off the peg and writes their own. Then the off the peg moves forward with an upgrade and the home brew breaks completely at which point we panic because the guy who wrote the home brew stuff has retired.

Still think a broken link report is required.

EternalOptimist
17th April 2013, 17:50
I understand you banging the drum Nick, you have an interest. But you shouldn't tell the customer how great it is, you should ask him
and as a customer, I say it's crap


I have to start doing my paye on it soon, and Im blooming dreading it.


:rolleyes:

DaveB
17th April 2013, 21:15
It's exceptionally good because it completely eschews the frippery and excessive adornment that clutter so many sites, in favour of serving its primary purpose: to convey information as clearly and efficiently as possible.

As with so many things that appear simple and straightforward, this has only been achieved through an enormous amount of hard work by highly experienced designers, developers, user experience specialists, and not forgetting the infrastructure people that have put together a reliable platform for it to run on, and all at much less than most Government IT projects manage to spend on paper clips.

Obligatory disclosure: I know and, at other times and places, have worked with a number of people on the Gov UK team. They're some of the smartest, most talented, and most dedicated people I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

Which didn't stop them completely screwing up all the public info on Clients old web pages when they transferred it, rewriting chunks of it without asking and leaving us with a site we constantly have to apologise for when external users tell us how bad it is.

SueEllen
18th April 2013, 07:00
That got me as well
the gov.uk is home brew Ruby on Rails.
data.gov.uk is on Drupal.

we have similar stuff where some expert won't use off the peg and writes their own. Then the off the peg moves forward with an upgrade and the home brew breaks completely at which point we panic because the guy who wrote the home brew stuff has retired.

Still think a broken link report is required.

RoR isn't homebrew as you call it. It's been around since 2004.

vetran
18th April 2013, 07:58
RoR isn't homebrew as you call it. It's been around since 2004.

Maybe its me, I'm not explaining myself well enough.

RoR=Development language with a framework (like C++ or Java)
Site Built on RoR= Internally developed solution for content management.(Homebrew)
Site Built with Drupal/Joomla=out of the box content management.(off the peg)

Forth & Visual basic have been around for decades but they aren't content management systems. If I developed a content management system in these to fix my own singular problem I would call it homebrew.

vetran
18th April 2013, 08:02
also agree with the earlier point this is not a personal slight on NickFitz , it was a series of suggestions for improvement to an "award winning project" that I and others felt didn't cut the mustard.

Sysman
19th April 2013, 16:12
That's a good example of a case where the site that has the ultimate content is still outside: direct.gov.uk is the old "portal" from Mr Blair's era which is in the process of being supplanted.

Here's another example: DWP - Services and benefits online - What do I need? (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/eservice/need.asp)


The service does not work properly with Macs or other Unix-based systems even though you may be able to input information.

You are likely to have problems if you use Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Windows Vista or a smartphone. Clearing temporary internet files may help but you may wish to claim in another way.

...
What the service was designed to work with

The service was designed to work with the following operating systems and browsers. Many of these are no longer available.

Microsoft Windows 98:

Internet Explorer versions 5.0.1, 5.5 and 6.0
Netscape 7.2

Microsoft Windows ME

Internet Explorer version 5.5 and 6.0
Netscape 7.2

Microsoft Windows 2000

Internet Explorer version 5.0.1, 5.5 and 6.0
Netscape 7.2
Firefox 1.0.3
Mozilla 1.7.7

Microsoft Windows XP

Internet Explorer 6.0
Netscape 7.2
Firefox1.0.3
Mozilla 1.7.7


:rollin:

Sysman
19th April 2013, 16:21
Maybe its me, I'm not explaining myself well enough.

RoR=Development language with a framework (like C++ or Java)
Site Built on RoR= Internally developed solution for content management.(Homebrew)
Site Built with Drupal/Joomla=out of the box content management.(off the peg)

Forth & Visual basic have been around for decades but they aren't content management systems. If I developed a content management system in these to fix my own singular problem I would call it homebrew.

s/homebrew/bespoke/g

?

vetran
19th April 2013, 16:37
s/homebrew/bespoke/gl

?

Bespoke is passable description as well.

I chose Homebrew to give it an amateur feel.These guys whilst they may be adept with a sewing machine haven't sewn thousands of suits already and acquired a shop on Saville Row. This is the first garment they have made together.

My worry is that they could have used an existing standard tool and got support from people who have years of experience using it. There are security tools that know how to scan it and its monitored code in case of exploits.

There are thousands of installs of things like Drupal run by big and technically competent organisations, the bugs are beaten out.

This would be the safest solution for the size & criticality of the install. They could have also slid the link tester module in overnight.

By all means contribute to open source, maybe they could have forked a dotgov variant tuned to their needs but they have started from scratch. I predict in 5 years there will be 3 people in the world who can support it and they will charge £5K a day.

Sysman
19th April 2013, 17:20
By all means contribute to open source, maybe they could have forked a dotgov variant tuned to their needs but they have started from scratch. I predict in 5 years there will be 3 people in the world who can support it and they will charge £5K a day.

Point taken and in Drupal's case there are regular security alerts which means plenty of competent folks are keeping their eyes on the ball.

FWIW a mate who was working in a university until he retired recently said a few years ago that RoR was all the rage with his students, so it's probably another case of using the latest and greatest fad toolset.

That £5K a day does sound attractive though :D