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Major relaunch of data.gov.uk goes live

June 28, 2012 in Deployments, News

One of the first major sites running CKAN was data.gov.uk, the UK government’s data portal, which first went online in 2009. The site was built using the content management system Drupal, which handled all requests for web pages: CKAN was used as a back-end data catalogue, which Drupal could talk to using CKAN’s powerful machine interface (API).

All that has changed today, with the launch of a substantial overhaul and facelift of data.gov.uk. CKAN is now directly visible to users of the site when searching for data, with Drupal handling other parts of the site. At the same time, the site has upgraded to the latest version of CKAN, version 1.7.1. As a result many CKAN features are now available for the first time, including improved faceted search and CKAN’s QA extension.

[IMG: old DGU site] [IMG: new DGU site]
Searching for data on the old data.gov.uk site (left) and the new (right)

In one of the most significant changes, the new site uses CKAN’s data viewer capabilities. This means that for spreadsheets in particular, previews will be available using Recline. This ability to peek inside the data before downloading it will save a significant amount of time for users of the site.

Data.gov.uk’s lead CKAN developer David Read has written a blog post highlighting the technical aspects of the upgrade. As he says, “The new data.gov.uk site is fizzing with new features to benefit both data consumers and data providers.”

In another post on the site Antonio Acuña, the head of data.gov.uk, explains the rationale for the upgrade – including simplifying the processes of both finding and publishing data, giving a richer search experience, and more information about the data. He points out how CKAN helped achieve these goals: “The new site’s catalogue runs exclusively in CKAN and allows us to take advantage of its advanced catalogue management functions.”

The UK government led the way in Open Data when data.gov.uk was first launched under the guidance of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web. Now the site has thousands of users every day – from government officials and political staff to journalists, researchers and students. The relaunch ensures that data.gov.uk will continue to meet the diverse needs of its increasing numbers of users.

The Code

All the code for the CKAN part of Data.Gov.UK is open-source and available on github:

Some of the other extensions used:

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