dxw blog

ConsultationXML Update

Mark Little kindly reported some bugs in the ConsultationXML distribution. The INSTALL file was missing a couple of salient details: ConsultationXML requires the PHP HTMLTidy extension The pdf directory in ConsultationXML’s root directory needs to be writeable. We had also unwittingly left some Javascript in the codebase, which was responsible for displaying the welcome page […]

ConsultationXML is now Open Source

We’re terribly, fantastically pleased to announce that after a bit of wrangling, Steph Gray and I are able to release ConsultationXML as open source software under the GNU Affero license. The recent report on open source software in Government hinted that departments ought to try to release source code for the software they commission, and […]

The Twitter blackout and User Interfaces

Really good user interfaces are effortless. You understand what’s happening and what to do without thinking about it all. This means that the best, most essential bits of good user interfaces are often, by definition, the things you don’t notice at all. This has really been brought home to me over the last couple of […]

Comment on the Power of Information Taskforce’s report

The Power of Information Taskforce have been figuring out how to liberate public sector information, how to facilitate better use of the modern, social web in government, and how to support the efforts of those outside government who are doing worthy things. All in all, they’re a great bunch of people, doing great work. They’ve […]

Scraping Civil Service Vacancies

Back in July, we were asked to make a prototype system for the Central Office of Information and the Cabinet Office. For some time, they have wanted to put civil service job vacancies together in one place so people can find them more easily and reuse the data in their own applications, much as we […]

ConsultationXML: the mashups have landed

People have already started doing interesting things with ConsultationXML. I have to admit — I couldn’t be more pleased! Richard Goodwin took PDF attachments from the London Gazette, uploaded them to ConsultationXML, got the HTML preview output and fed it into Wordle — and voila! A Wordle map of the London Gazette’s honours list was […]

Innovation in Government: SchoolClosures.org.uk

I was at the UKGovWebBarcamp last weekend, and among the talks I attended was one by the Directgov Innovate team. This team has been recently formed, and is a really good development. In their own words: Directgov have created the innovate.direct.gov.uk developer network to inform the greater developer community about available resources, to provide a […]

ConsultationXML: getting reusable data out of horrid PDFs

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with Steph Gray of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills on making consultation documents easier to reuse. DIUS are doing some fantastic things with consultations. Typically, a formal consultation is a pretty tedious process: a department will write up a big PDF document, print it, send […]

Automatic emails: “Please don’t reply”

If you’re a business, you should make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you. Sometimes, you’ll want to send customers an email automatically: “Your order is on its way” is the canonical example. These emails may be automatic, but there’s no reason why they have be engineered to prevent people from […]

DCSF Statistical Releases, the BBC and Better Data Formats

Simon Dickson picks up an interesting story from the BBC’s Editors’ blog about official releases of statistics. Usually, when the Department of Children, Schools & Families releases new statistics, they’re given to the media in advance. The media need this lead time to be able to format all their articles and tables and make sure […]