Sprint note: 18-31 Jan 2017

This sprint was a bit of a counter to the last sprint with a wider focus and more smaller developments, rather than the whole team focussed on a single goal as was the case with getting to the ‘thin slice’ last sprint.


Our work on the next iteration of chartbuilder reached a good point this sprint with the latest version being passed over to our publishing team to put it through its paces in their ‘sandpit’ testing environment. The initial take from the team was that the updates will make a big difference for them and the output areas in getting the charts to present as they would like and address the main requests they get regularly.

Between now and getting this live we have identified a few bugs that will need to be resolved and will be looking to finalise the colour defaults for the charts with our Data vis and Design teams this week.

Data discovery

Work has progressed well on Data Discovery with us starting to flesh out this thin slice completed last sprint. There are not a lot of sprints left on this and with our GDS service assessment booked in it is good to see it all coming together.

A lot of this sprint has been looking at how we store and serve dimensions with hierarchies and has resulted in a rethink on our database structure which we will be feeding into the current sprint.

This sprint saw us able to navigate or search from the ONS homepage and go all the way through the journey. I have been keen (ok, a little obsessed) that this work should feel be embedded as part of the site and not a addition so this is great to see. The focus now becomes getting more data in and we are also working towards opening this up to more users in the near future.

We have also been building out the first stage of getting metadata, the data about the data, into our database and again will be looking to build on this this sprint.

Search prototype

Alongside our data discovery environment we have been working to build out a prototype so that we can start testing search. We know how important a tool this is for users and it’s great to get an early start on how we can make the best use of the additional data and metadata we will have available in the future.

We are looking at this separately from the main environment and full journey to allow us to get going much earlier. The prototype will allow us to load example metadata from a wide variety of datasets, much more than will be available as the complete ‘end-to-end’. This will give us the ability to start to tune the algorithm and feed in any requirements that this generates into the beta at a really early stage.

What else?

As well as the changes detailed above we have also;

  • made an update to allow longer titles for time series to be fed through from the internal system that populates them
  • added additional metrics and analytics to the performance platform
  • explored how we can index more content/files to improve the current search (more to come on this in a separate post)
  • continued work to refactor the publishing process and document our API
  • fixed bugs on functionality to allow our publisher to reinstate content

If you have any thoughts or comments on any part of the website please do let us know in the comments on this blog post or on Twitter to @ONSdigital