Week 44

I’m kind of in-between projects now at GDS. User Needs is winding down a bit and we’re starting to have conversations about the new project I’m moving onto in the new year. I’m told it includes improving search, browse and the homepage, building navigation for ‘specialist’ users and then finding places for the 'specialist’ content to live. That’s a ton of really interesting challenges.

Nevertheless, the User Needs fort is still quite busy. I’m keen to make sure that we get the things we’ve built out to our users before we leave the team, so this week we’ve rolled out Maslow to the content designers from the Mainstream team, and a couple of people from the Transition team too. They’ve been creating new needs and assigning them to content, which means that we’ve now replaced old needs with Maslow needs in some of our most active pieces of content.

I finished adding the 'generic’ needs for Inside Government into Maslow. I added a notice to those needs to show that they are common across government. I’ve also built a feature to mark a need as out of scope for GOV.UK. Until now, we’ve kept well away from giving a need any kind of state, but this is the first step to making decisions on whether we meet a need. I like to think of it as being able to put the need into a 'no’ pile, whilst saving judgement on the 'yes’ and 'maybes’.

Away from User Needs, I hacked a little bit on our Plek gem to try and make it easier to run bits of our platform on their own. Until now, every service had to exist at unique and specific hostnames, based on a naming pattern. That’s not always straightforward to set up, especially in the dev environment, so I’ve added the ability to override the location returned for a particular service using environment variables. I’ll try and document this, and what it means for people trying to use our code, in a bit more detail soon.

I had a chat with some of the Young Advisors Group this week about Code Week. On the back of the success of the first event, we talked how the event could grow next year. I like the idea of a broader movement to help join up all the code clubs and events and help them to share their best practice and experience.

And it wouldn’t be right if Thursday’s GDS Christmas Party didn’t get a mention. It was a good night: I really like it when everyone gets together in the same room. On the way back, Dai, Lindsey and I did a good deed and looked after a girl who was very ill on Oxford Street until an ambulance arrived.