Inside Inside Government


HTML publications are on their way

Today we have taken the first steps towards being able to create HTML versions of publications on Inside Gov.

By HTML publications, we mean a digital-first publication experience a bit like the Government Digital Strategy - publications that are designed to be read on screen and easily portable to other formats. (Mainly we mean “not PDF”).

This feature is still very much a work in progress, with barely any frontend styling in place. You should avoid using it until it’s more developed. If you’re curious though, feel free to have a play In the preview environment.

Here’s a very brief summary of what we’re doing:

  • LIke the Government Digital Strategy, HTML publications on Inside Gov will feel like a stand-alone entity - something users access through GOV.UK rather than something that is part of GOV.UK.
  • Users will access them through the existing publication format on Inside Gov. Whether the user is downloading a file or opening a digital publication, we believe it makes sense to always provide a cover page on Inside Gov which brings in all the metadata (like ISBN and other refs, dates and change notes) and associations (to orgs, topics and document series), so that the publication is anchored into the architecture of Inside Gov.

Here’s what we’ve implemented so far:

  • We’ve added 2 new fields to edit screen for publications, like so:


  • If you put text and markdown into these new fields, the HTML version will appear as the primary document on the published publication page. (The way this currently displays is a bit crude, with some less than ideal wording and no cover image: just ignore these issues for now).
  • The workflow of the HTML version is tied to the workflow of the publication cover page. To edit the HTML version you have to edit the whole publication record (as is already the case for the PDF and Word versions).
  • When a user follows the link on the frontend they will effectively leave Inside Government and get something a bit like the government digital strategy, with a ‘back’ link to go to the publication record page. They can also stem the URL to go back - the slug of the HTML pub is appended to the URL of the parent publication record.

There’s loads of iteration needed to get this into a useable state. Among the first things we’ll be doing are:

  • applying frontend styles
  • adding a table of contents with anchor links
  • adding support for inline images

We have big ambitions for the use of this format in future, and intend that it over time it should become the default way to produce publications instead of PDFs.

Watch this space, and meanwhile, I repeat, don’t be using this stuff on production please. We’ll keep you posted here and let you know when it’s ready.