Sprint notes – CMD Beta -Sprint 12


December. We are in the actual December. I am writing this on a cold bus and this week the soundtrack is provided by James Yorkston. Good.

As a reminder (featured in episode 6) a large part of the development team are focusing on a Beta project phase we are referring to as “Customise My Data” this is a project to allow users to find data more easily, break down data into small chunks and to add geography as an additional view on our information. That project is now 12 sprints old, but only forms a part of what the whole team is working on. These notes started from describing the progress of just that Beta phase, but have evolved to me talking more widely about the Digital Publishing team [1].

Sprint 12 then. Nearly there. We have nearly got the features finished to get this out to you, our dear users.

The UX and front end team have been focusing on making sure the interaction design needed to break down the wide variety of different datasets we produce can then be dealt with by a simple and small collection of patterns. So far this has been going well. Our remaining areas of focus have been ensuring that each of the steps in this process as sufficiently distinct that a user always knows where in the journey they are.

The back end team has been building out the feature sets within some of the core APIs that power the project. Recently, this has been focusing on the ensuing that metadata can flow through the project and be made available to users as they download data.

With this, the teams have delivered some important bits of functionality.

Data preview
We have been running user research throughout this project and one of the key refrains we here is “don’t make me download it to find out what is in it”. This is in relation to the collection of spreadsheets ONS produce. This project is looking to combat that by having lots more metadata available up front and this new preview. Effectively this produces a mock up of the first ten rows of the dataset a user is interested in. This means they can check if the columns and values match what they were expecting. 10 rows has proven to be the sweet spot here. This is regarded as useful by our users and “achievable” by the developers who have to get this data from the database.

Data download
We have been tinkering with this one for a good while now. But, yes. We have a some consistent formatting added to the new download format and it works well.

As suggested in the Leigh Dodds Mega Brain Messages from earlier in the year, we are making sure we maintaining a strong focus on metadata (aka, our collective love letter to the future). This list sprint has seen the creation of a simple text file that can be associated with each new csv file created.

The big news from “Dev Ops” [2]  Lloyd, James is we have our Beta environment built. We will do a separate post on this one, as the sheer scope of this sentence does it an astonishing disservice.

Other news
Elsewhere in the team we have fired up some amazing articles on our visual site (and, in low key but brilliant news, published these on our existing blog and for the first time, in the main ONS site as well)

The team continues to gently expand, with our beloved publishing team (the hardcore who actually use our CMS to publish statistics at 9.30) shaping up for a very busy festive season. Stats, we should note, never sleep.

Away days
Finally our Senior Team had an away day in which we did Myers Briggs. It turns out I, your trusted guide for these last few months, am an introvert. Who knew? Anyways, I will be at the Y Lab What’s Next event in Cardiff on Wednesday 6th. Quiet conversation appreciated. Data Visualisation‘s own boy Rob Fry is also at Oxford University today as part of our own going desire to be make sure we look out of the office as well as in.

(If you got this far, product Matt has been picking songs to describe his week, have a treat from last week.)

[1] Digital Publishing is the team of absolute heroes that run the ONS sites and most of the digital stuff that goes around it.

[2] It isn’t a role, more of a way of working, right?