[sprintnote] Catchup.

…and we’re back.

Sorry for the radio silence but now the election is over we can return to our policy of (over) sharing the progress on the ONS.Beta project as well as the other activities of the ONS Digital team.

FlorenceThe Beta project has been moving along at pace. Florence, our publishing platform, is coming along nicely with a beautiful interface and a workflow that is entirely user driven thanks to regular input and usability testing from members of the publishing support team.

In many ways the system is pretty bare-bones – it is focused on a relatively small amount of user stories and offers far less than an off-the-shelf CMS. What it does offer though are features and flow specific to the needs of a statistical publisher. From a personal (geeky) point of view I am very pleased with the extent to which the system provides wonderfully structured content via Markdown/JSON which opens up all sorts of future opportunities for reuse.

It is early days but the work the team has started on an integrated chart/table builder (which will provide responsive outputs in SVG based on a brilliant set of guidelines from our colleagues in the Data Visualisation team) is really very exciting. Getting charts and tables right is so incredibly important for a site like ours and achieving that in a way that actually improves the outcomes while making it easier for publishers will be something special.

There has been a reinforced commitment to ‘test driven development’ on this project and a suite of automated integration and browser tests are now in place. The team are rightly proud of what they have implemented and I’m sure we will be sharing a blogpost exploring the ins and outs of it sometime soon.

Part of the team has been hard at work converting existing content into Markdown to get us ready for the migration and micro-content, meta-data and lede copy has been polished and improved by an expert content designer. This pain-staking work is vital as anybody who has ever been through a major web re-development project will have horror stories about the migration process so preparation is everything.

There has also been a lot of work and a number of breakthroughs in looking how we can consume, transform and present data beyond just the time-series examples that worked so well in the Alpha. This is going to be a work in progress and it is going to take time before we can offer all we want in the kind of format we are pushing but it is pleasing progress.

A couple of members of the Alpha team have rejoined the project. Jonathan has returned to continue his work with our users and to translate that research in to the insights (and wireframes) that drive our decisions regarding the user experience. Bren has also returned in the last few days to lead the build of the ‘website’ starting by ripping out the remaining Angular functionality. It is good to have them both back.

That pretty much covers what has been happening the last few weeks. Throughout May we will be publishing posts that look at a few elements in more detail.