Weeknotes: 065


  • The highlight of the week has been tracking down the cause of a Javascript error to the side-effect of a dependency upgrade in July. If you click the “Request an accessible format.” links on a recent statistical publication (like Quota use statistics), nothing happens. However, the same links on recent guidance (like Plant imports: authorised border control posts in the UK) do work, revealing a hidden paragraph which tells you how to ask for an accessible version of the file.

    With a bit of digging, and asking frontenders for help, I learned that the problem is that the broken links are missing a data-module="toggle" attribute in the enclosing div tag, and the working links have that. So an attribute is missing somewhere. The strange thing is that both types of page use the same erb template, and it does have the attribute.

    Anyway, after two hours of investigation, me and the other developer on support this shift tracked down the likely culprit: an update to govspeak, GOV.UK’s markdown variant. Govspeak seemed to be the culprit, because the difference between the guidance pages and the statistical data set pages is that the attachment HTML for guidance pages is rendered as-is, but for statistical data sets it gets reinterpreted as govspeak.

    We confirmed this hypothesis by looking up things published around the 19th of July, and became pretty confident that that’s when things broke. So, time to dig into Govspeak…

    Here’s an interesting excerpt from the Govspeak changelog:

    BREAKING CHANGE: Input is sanitized by default, to use unsafe HTML initialize with a sanitize option of false

    We disabled HTML sanitisation in Govspeak, and confirmed that the data-module attribute didn’t get stripped. So in the end, the fix was very straightforward. But not straightforward to find.


  • I’ve been commuting from my new flat for a week now. It’s not so bad, getting a seat in the mornings seems a bit hit-or-miss (but it was like that with the bus too); but the station outside the office is the end of the line, so getting a seat in the evening is pretty easy. I’ve been reading during the trip.

  • I’ve read three books this week I’ve not read for several years:

  • The last 5 Wheel of Time books arrived, so I’ve started on those.