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July 28 2010

11:36

BBC News redesign architect gets technical about changes

If you are more interested in the cogs and wheels behind the BBC News site’s redesign than the end product, a post by their chief technical architect John O’Donovan this week should be of interest.

The BBC has one of the oldest and largest websites on the internet and one of the goals of the update to the News site was to also update some of the core systems that manage content for all our interactive services.

O’Donovan first outlines the reasoning behind keeping with a Content Production System (CPS), rather than moving over to Content Management System (CMS), before giving a detailed look at the latest model – version 6 – that they have opted for.

The CPS has been constantly evolving and we should say that, when looking at the requirements for the new news site and other services, we did consider whether we should take a trip to the Content Management System (CMS) Showroom and see what shiny new wheels we could get.

However there is an interesting thing about the CPS – most of our users (of which there are over 1,200) think it does a pretty good job [checks inbox for complaints]. Now I’m not saying they have a picture of it next to their kids on the mantelpiece at home, but compared to my experience with many organisations and their CMS, that is something to value highly.

The main improvements afforded by the new version, according to O’Donovan, include a more structured approach, an improved technical quality of content produced and an ability to use semantic data to define content and improve layouts.

See his full post here…Similar Posts:



10:41

BBC moves to more structured data in its relaunch

code behind BBC pages

Behind the story of the BBC website’s recent relaunch is, among other things, an update to their content management system. In a post on the changes, John O’Donovan explains how the changes mean that webpages will have a more structured and semantic quality:

“We will … no longer be using tables to layout the content, instead we will be rendering the pages using CSS layout and only using tables for data.

“There are lots of reasons to do this, but some include making the content more efficient, more standards compliant and faster to render. It also allows us to publish semantic XHTML, which means that content blocks are better marked up to describe what they are and has benefits like creating a better header structure to help screen readers.

“Better structure also means you will see a more consistent presentation of stories in Google and search engines with, for example, story dates and author information showing more clearly.

“This reflects a new content model which is now largely based around a simple and generic data model of assets and groups of assets which are typed (meaning we don’t just manage blocks of content, we use metadata to describe what is in the blocks of content) and publishing through templates and services based around Velocity.”

In addition code that now looks like the image above will mean that the site is better search engine optimised (as if a PageRank of 9 wasn’t good enough), more accessible, and it will be easier for developers to do interesting things with BBC content.

On the subject of SEO the site is simplifying URLs but still won’t be including descriptive words there – but “there is more work to do yet on how we might use even shorter URLs (such as http://www.bbc.co.uk/10250603) and longer more descriptive ones http://www.bbc.co.uk/story-about-something-interesting.”

July 12 2010

11:23
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