Reading before writing (about alpha.gov.uk)

I’ve been working on an entry for the Alpha.gov.uk blog for publication later this week. The idea is to give a quick overview of how we’ve approached the technical side of building that prototype. It’s been tricky as we have a very diverse audience and a lot of ground to cover, but hopefully it’ll be a helpful start and the coming (post-reveal) weeks will allow a bit more space to expand on some of the key components. Maybe even open source a thing or two?

As I was writing a few links crossed my radar that felt relevant but didn’t fit in the post itself, so I thought I’d compile them here. None of them have had a direct impact on my post, but there are tangential connections aplenty.

Varnish 3.0 Changes: We’re using Varnish quite heavily so it’s good to see some momentum behind its new version. We were bitten by the behaviour of Edge-Side-Includes with gzip’ed content so I’m particularly pleased that that’s getting some love.

If all you have is a hammer…: Rachel Andrew explains why she uses wordpress rather than one of her company’s CMS products. It’s a very good response, and I’m hoping we’ve exhibited a similar pragmatism in architecting (which sounds overly grandiose, perhaps “piecing together” would be better) Alpha.gov.uk.

What is #devexp?: Adewale Oshineye’s write up of a set of ideas around how to improve the experience of using development tools and libaries: “Developer Experience (#devexp) is an aspirational movement that seeks to apply the techniques of User Experience (UX) professionals to the tools and services that we offer to developers.” It’s a far cry from where we currently are with Alpha.gov.uk tools but I’d hope some of this thinking will be included in any future development programmes.

Summary of the Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS Service Disruption in the US East Region: We’re heavily dependent on Amazon EC2 for alpha.gov.uk so I was glad they published such a thorough explanation of what caused their recent outage and what they’re doing about it.

Alpha Conversation: Richard’s post on accessibility kicked off a flurry of discussion on Saturday morning. Public Strategist pulled some of it together. It’s great to see our work triggering public debates in just the way it should.

Cloud Foundry Blog: VMWare’s work on CloudFoundry is really impressive and if it had come along a couple of months earlier we might well have been tempted to make use of it. As it is, I’m looking forward to playing with it more once alpha.gov.uk settles down a bit.

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