The UK government meets docs as code


Just a few years ago, the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) didn’t have a technical writing team. Documentation was often written by technologists (if at all) and GDS teams were building so fast they had no choice but to cobble docs together with a mix of tools and processes.

For users, this meant an inconsistent experience. For technologists, this meant constant confusion about where and how to document things. And for newly-hired technical writers, it meant learning a new toolset every time we moved teams. So we decided we needed to overhaul the lot.

Three years on and GDS uses a docs as code approach for all our docs. We’ve debated static site generators, wrangled legacy content, switched hosting options, grappled git workflows, introduced and swiftly backtracked on features, and tested repeatedly with our users. It’s not perfect, but we’ve learnt an awful lot along the way.

This talk is the story of how docs as code has fundamentally changed the role of documentation creators in government, how we side-stepped pitfalls and fell head first into others and - if we had the chance - whether we’d do it all again.

  • Conference: Write the Docs PRAGUE
  • Year: 2019

About the speaker

Jen Lambourne