Beta begins

On Monday we quietly removed the password from the ONS Beta website and made it public for the first time. There remains a huge amount to do to get it in to a position where it can replace the existing site but as Linus’s law states “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” and working in the open is the default option of this team anyway.

Unlike the Alpha this site represents a truly end to end website – with a bespoke publishing application managing the content and a front-end that should operate on all of our supported browsers (I say should because we are having ongoing issues with our internal build of IE9).

One of the big complaints about the current ONS website is the weakness of the site search and throughout the life of the Beta we will be iterating and improving our search offering – at the moment it is far from perfect but every time somebody runs a search it helps us tune the software and improve results in the future. So please feel free to give it a hammering.

09.30 publishing is a constant thorn in the side of our publishing team and we will be experimenting constantly with how we can ensure this 1 minute publish task. The Beta will be publishing approximately 30 hours behind the current ONS website to avoid any confusion about the current main home for data but we will be publishing ‘as live’ (including adding artificial load) to test it as realistically as we can.

There are dozens of little improvements we want to make, an enormous amount of content still to add, a backlog full of features we want to introduce and weeks of sense checking as accuracy is so vital to our work but it is a start and we wanted to share it with everybody given just how much support and assistance we have had from the ONS community.

The intention is to deploy changes everyday – some large, some small but always something and the more feedback we get the better we can make this site.

Thanks.

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