Well, we made it this far! it has been a rollercoaster ride but we finally have the new site up and running. When I first took on the role of Head of Data.gov.uk I knew that we had a challenging task ahead; making the best government data portal around into something even better. I think the amazing team at Data.gov.uk has achieved just that.
Adopting the mantra of 'meaningful experience' we wanted to achieve several things:
- Simplify the process of finding data without taking away the more complex aspects expected by the seasoned users
- Expand the amount of information available around a dataset as to promote better contextualisation
- Make it easy to 'discover' data be it through search or through perusal of publishers or tags
- Make the engagement aspects of the site more comprehensive, dynamic and substantial
- Strengthen the location data presence across the site
- Bring back the emphasis on new developments and innovation around open data technologies
- Make it easier and better for data owners to publish more data
With this in mind we set out to re-rationalize the experience of the site, as a result you will notice a series of new functionalities both in the catalogue and the engagement section.
The catalogue, as many of you know, is running on an instance of Ckan, the open source data cataloguing software. We took the latest version and expanded its features to fit the needs of the large volume of datasets in our catalogue. The new site's catalogue (the data tab in the new menu bar) runs exclusively in Ckan and allows us to take advantage of its advanced catalogue management functions.
Search is now more accurate and the search results page has been redesigned to make it easier both visually and in practice to find data and filter it further. You will notice many small details that will give you far more power to work with your search results.
The dataset record page has been greatly simplified for ease of read and compacted so you can quickly find the information that is important to you. We have also added information on how to contact the data owner, relevant tags, new details such as an openness score based on Tim Bernes-Lee’s 5 start rating for open data, A unique URI and a Json format link to be used with our API.
Each file (resource) in a dataset now has a record page providing further information, if available and allowing, if the file is a CSV or spreadsheet, to preview the contents of the file within the record.
New ways of browsing data
We have added new ways to discover and find data. The publishers option allows you to search through all of our data publishers by alphabetical listing, by autocomplete in a search bar and by a hierarchy tree. The Publisher ‘home page’, a combined search result page, provides you with all the information you need to browse across the whole hierarchy of a given publisher.
The tags browser is simply an alphabetical listing of all of our tags in a way that makes it visually easy.
We have also strengthened the code behind our map search and map preview functionality, with a new preview cart feature embedded throughout the search results and the dataset records.
Other data sources have also been updated, the organogram tool, an RDF based preview feature to display posts and salaries across public services, has been updated and a ‘time’ slider has been added so you can travel back in time to previous organograms for a given institution as well as a function to download different aspects of an organogram in several open formats.
This new section, encompassing our traditional forum, blogs and ideas, aims to be a more cohesive social engagement area by allowing us to highlight stories, discussions and topics as well as creating new engagement points.
We have also brought in new Location content from the UK Location Project and have extended the linked data section to provide yet more information and to facilitate better interaction in the future.
We now have a library where we can provide you with guidance on using the site, related documents and other useful assets to compliment the site.
These are just a few of the improvements we have made to the site, have a look, do a data search and pay close attention to the options offered to you, you will notice the difference. As always, we are keen to hear from you, so if you can also jump over to forum or drop us a note right here, we’d love to hear from you.
PS - We are not done with the site, we are always making it better, so new functionality and tools to use and view our data will be forthcoming, in the next few weeks we will publish on the site our 'tracker' information so everyone can see what we are working on.
For those interested (thanks to the OKFN for the links):
All the code for the CKAN part of Data.Gov.UK is open-source and available on github:
Some of the other extensions used:
- CKAN Harvest extension
- CKAN archiver extension
- CKAN CSW extension
- CKAN INSPIRE extension
- CKAN QA extension
- CKAN Spatial extension
- CKAN Social extension
15/2/13 UPDATE: For the latest links to the code, see: http://data.gov.uk/about-technical-details
Head of Data.gov.uk