Time for some (series) updates

Today we have launched some fairly substantial changes to the individual time series pages on the website, as mentioned in our last release note. This is the result of work and conversations over the last couple of sprints and is aimed to clarify this content and address some problems identified since we have launched.

Whilst these updates change the structure of these pages we have made sure that the current locations for any given time series do not break, including the ‘/data’ version. These URLs will continue to give the latest version of the data.

What’s different?

The website now offers an additional layer of information and options for each time series. These options are linked to the datasets that these time series are populated from and aimed to clarify to users exactly what data is being displayed.

Source dataset:


The top block identifies the dataset you are currently viewing the data of. All the data shown will be from this particular dataset giving a consistent picture.

Other variations of this time series:


All other variations on this time series, and the dataset that updates them, are then available further down the page and can be viewed by following the links.

For an example, take a look at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/timeseries/abmi/ukea

In addition each of these variations will be available separately from the time series tool.

Why change?

The aim of the time series structure implemented through the beta was to provide users with a consistent location where they could access the latest estimate for any given series. This structure also allowed us to support user needs such as being able to search by series ID.

Now we are into the production cycle on the new website we identified that the implementation did not support some of the ways we publish, where due to differences in the way revisions were handled or for consistency with the wider datasets these series, although having the same ID could have different values on the same day.

This meant we needed to keep the version of data loaded from a particular dataset consistent with all the other values, and length of series, in that dataset rather than updating a ‘master’ version of data on the website as new figures became available.

If you have any thoughts or comments on these changes or any other part of the site please do let us know by email, the comments on this blogpost or on Twitter to @ONSdigital.

6 comments on “Time for some (series) updates”

  1. Would it be possible to restore the old interface for downloading CSV (or Excel, or whatever) data given only a dataset and CDID id? URLs like http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/datasets-and-tables/downloads/csv.csv?dataset=qna&cdid=ABMI used to offer a very simple API for downloading any current dataset, but all those URLs have been broken since the new site was deployed.

    (The best I can find now is the /generator? queries, but these require more than the dataset ID to identify a time series)

  2. Sorry for the (very) delayed response and thanks for feeding back. This is something that we want to look to provide, but is not available currently.

    As you rightly state at the moment you need to know where in the structure any series is in order to download it (this tool may help with this part if you have not already seen this – https://www.ons.gov.uk/timeseriestool). The thinking behind this change was to keep the latest data for a series at a single URL – rather than having to go to different ones each month as you would have in the old website.

  3. Rob, thanks for following up. I have indeed switched to using https://www.ons.gov.uk/timeseriestool/data?query=CDID queries to find the time series URL for a particular cdid, dataset pair. This seems to be reliable for now.

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