Jason Cale by Jason Cale

Week 140

So here I am, at the helm of this weeks notes. We’re all jumping up at the gates of the weekend, so I’ll try and give you the good stuff before you head off into the wilderness, or at least the local pub.

Diving into gov.uk

Our intrepid voyage into the heart of our fair nation’s government began this week. Myself, James A, and Chris converged upon Lambeth to setup alongside the totally badass Government Digital Service (GDS) team.

With lots of familiar faces to greet our arrival on the 6th floor, and many more revered hands to shake, we were itching to get started.

What we are building

Our task is to build the ‘corporate’ publishing platform, which will replace the menagerie of existing solutions and hopefully enrich the working experience of those fine folks who will use it to put all that glorious information out onto the web.

We have decided to work in 2-week sprints/iterations (instead of our usual single week) to co-inside with the main team’s momentum, and have generated enough user stories to have a decent first offering for real users to play with after the first sprint.

Working with us to deliver the publishing platform is Peter Herlihy — our agile loving project manager — and Neil Williams on loan from the Department for Business, who is leading our team.

Neil is our man inside, with the brains and experience to ensure we deliver the all-killer-no-filler product that the publishing team deserve.

Slicing up the work

We began with the concept of creating and publishing policy documents, and have taken a thin end-to-end slice through the grand design in order to realise something of real value as quickly as possible.

You can see exactly what we have done so far as all the code is on github and freakin’ open source — just like it should be!

The only #dark period this week was when we had to figure out if our publishing platform was going to be a duplicate of effort when evaluated against some of the tools the main team have built so far.

However after a little bit of poking and beard scratching (which Chris’ beard provides ample utility for those of us who prefer to brave the world bare faced) we decided that we can safely forge ahead with our own solution for now at least.

We’ll revisit it later on to extract any common good and reuse useful components between the two projects.

Surnames of the apocalypse

Pete (our PM) discovered that all of our surnames at GFR are four letters long. Chris is now adamant that there is some divine message encased within this discovery, and has entered into a personal dark night of the soul in which he will uncover the true meaning of our union.

Alongside certain smaller discoveries reported this week, I’m sure you will agree it is indeed a baffling time for human understanding.

Getting closer to Clojure.

James Mead spent Monday and Tuesday kicking the tires of Clojure and attending Top Down TDD in Clojure with Brian Marick.

Maybe James might be up for writing about his experiences in the future, but in the meantime he has sent me a link to Robert Chatley’s thoughts for your digestion. If you look closely you can see our main man down on the bottom of the page, with his trademark grin — Hi James!

Frozen Rails

Tom shuffled off to Helsinki to attend Frozen Rails, and his top line editorial today was “Pretty cool. And wet”.

Seems like most of the ingredients for what the conference name suggests, but other than that I’m not had chance to delve into his experience more. So perhaps I’ll persuade Tom to write his thoughts somewhere for us to share.

Office nonsense

Our impending office move madness is still under way, to be honest it is a deluge of lawyers, estate agents and too many emails for me to really comprehend what is going on. But I’m told by my ever patient colleagues that we should be completing on Thursday next week, so that will be nice, and I can fulfil my job as “the designer” to buy flock wallpaper and look for suitably weathered chesterfields on Ebay.

Speaking in Bulgaria

Finally the time has come for me to fly over to Bulgaria next week to give my talk Emergent design: Practical approaches for agile web design to the attendees of DesignDay 2011.

Having spent so much time preparing and drawing silly illustrations for my slides, I’m itching to give it, but also to getting some of my life back (read: yoga and sleeping). Every time I agree to give a talk I seem to forget how much work goes into doing the blooming things. Most regrettably perhaps this forgetfulness also appears when I attend conferences as a punter, where I perhaps do not give enough due respect to those speaking as I ought…

Wrapping up

It’s been a full on week, writing this has taken me way longer than it should have, so I hope your pints slipped down well and you enjoy reading this whilst waiting for your curry to be delivered, whatever your weekend holds for you I hope it is a good one.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures in our helping to revolutionise the government, and unravelling the mysteries of the universe.

Until next time,


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