Those of you who heard Chris Chant’s infamous unacceptable speech will have heard the horror story of the £20,000 bill to change a single line of code.
A simple comment in our customer feedback channel yesterday afternoon showed just how GOV.UK is transforming the way government does digital. We accepted our first user-contributed code submission to the GOV.UK codebase.
Matthew Somerville, a notorious polymath (and former civil servant) found an issue with our bank holidays page. On our GOV.UK Get Satisfaction feedback page he said that the Scottish bank holiday on 3 January is in fact New Year’s Day, as the date of the Scottish bank holiday on 2 January by law cannot be adjusted as a ‘substitute day’.
He downloaded the code for that particular page from our open source code repository, and then corrected the code and uploaded the changes to GitHub. He submitted a pull request (ie he proposed that we include his changes). After careful testing and checks, we have now included his contribution into the GOV.UK code and the change will appear on the site soon.
According to Wikipedia:
“In production and development, open source is a philosophy, or pragmatic methodology that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details”
As Mike Bracken says, we are not just improving the online experience for users but demonstrating real innovation and cost savings for government. In the old ‘unacceptable’ world, how much would this simple change in code have cost?
Written with Jordan Hatch