About NotGovUK

NotGovUK is an implementation of the GOV.UK Design System in React that provides support for writing internal applications in addition to public ones. (See also: Design decisions)

In addition to the components themselves, a full framework is provided enabling you to:

  1. quickly prototype services
  2. quickly develop multiple, secure, accessible applications
  3. publish and share any components or libraries your team builds
  4. document your project
  5. quickly set-up Continuous Integration (CI)
  6. work to common standards (See also: Getting started)

Warning: Whilst the components are fairly mature, the NotGovUK framework is a work in progress and should currently only be used in production by those prepared to contribute bug-fixes.

What is NotGovUK suitable for?

NotGovUK is intended for:

  1. public government websites served on service.gov.uk (when you want to use React instead of Nunjucks)
  2. public government websites not served on service.gov.uk
  3. internal applications for civil servants
  4. local councils*
  5. anyone else wanting to build a highly accessible website*
  6. design systems based on the GOV.UK Design System*

(* Some adaptation required.)

What does "support for internal applications" mean?

The GDS styling is only suitable for public facing applications that are to be served under service.gov.uk. This is because it uses the proprietary font, 'New Transport' which is only licensed to this sub-domain. In addition, GDS have requested that their crown logo also only be used in this context.

This is quite irritating for those building services within government departments as a lot of our work is on internal applications. For these applications we would like to take advantage of the good work that has been done in GDS on ensuring that applications are accessible with a good user experience. Also, as our work spans both public and internal applications we would like to be able to share components across both contexts wherever possible.

This is also quite irritating for local government, foreign governments, and indeed many other organisations who may wish to provide a good, simple, accessible user experience by building on the work done by the UK's GDS.

The GDS layout is also very narrow, probably as an optimisation geared towards simple, linear workflows such as filling out forms. This is unsuitable for less linear workflows that one might find in case-working systems or dashboards.

Why is it called 'NotGovUK'?

There is a tradition in the free software community of describing a replacement for X as 'What is Y? - Y is not X!' For example, the GNU operating system was started as a replacement for the proprietary Unix operating system with GNU being an initialism for 'GNU's not Unix'.

What is NotGovUK? Well, it's not GovUK but it's pretty damn close and even provides extra features.

'NotGovUK' is actually just a code-name; it might change. Then again, naming things is hard and it might not.

-- Daniel Martin, December 2019 (updated February 2024).