Weeknotes 38: publishing stuff

I’ve been quite busy in the past couple of weeks looking after a small team putting the Government Digital Strategy online.

In the words of the policy professionals who actually wrote the words, it was published as a website rather than published on a website. This may sound like a small distinction, but it makes it easier for people to link to specific bits, and also means we get the benefit of analytics. I’m hoping that more government publications will start to be published in this way.

Jack, our front end developer, has already written up the geek-eye view of the project on the GDS blog , but the short version is that we had a properly multi-disciplinary team (policy, design, dev..) all working together using GitHub with some compile scripts which use Kramdown to turn the Markdown source files into HTML and PDF.

The best bit is that we’re not finished. As with any good online product, ‘launch’ shouldn’t mean it starts to die. We’ve continued to make small improvements (you can see them for yourself in the GitHub commit history).

We’re also refactoring to extract useful functionality into other projects. The best example so far is the code that Tim and Jack developed to create accessible jQuery bar charts from HTML tables. We’ve refactored that out to be its own open source project called Magna Charta and there are some early working examples of it in action here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to look after ERTP (demo-ing to the House of Lords recently, a task which required the rather unusual step of wearing of a suit to work).

I’ve also been picking up the product management for a management information dashboard tool, which I can’t really talk about yet but is moving into a second phase of prototype development. (No, it’s not that one.)

I’ve missed doing these weeknotes. I might try to make it a habit.