Open Source Meets Journalists' Needs for Quick Results
Idea-to-application in less than a week
The Client, a national publisher with local business publications in major U.S. cities, wanted to supplement their print and online publications with web applications that presented supporting data from their articles allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. This meant that each application had to be conceived and executed in the same week to coincide with the release of the associated print article, a process that could not be easily achieved with legacy programming technologies.
Speed, control, and flexibility
The client was serious about developing a better way to present information dynamically as part of their reporting process. For example, if they were running a story on their website about foreclosures, they would provide a link to the unfiltered source data that would be updated on a continuous basis. The obvious advantage was that the original story did not have to be re-written or republished every time the data changed.
The challenge was developing the supporting application within days of the editor's request. To keep the information fresh, the applications had to scale to accommodate spikes in traffic associated with their release, and had to be interactive enough to allow readers to explore data and draw their own conclusions. In many cases, the Client knew that application ideas would be vague at best, leaving the implementation details to the development team. The team would have to show a large amount of initiative and self-direction in order to fulfill the Client's vision, despite the fact that the vision might not be fully described until hours before launch time.
Flexible tools paired with flexible processes
PSC implemented Trac, an Open Source collaboration tool that allows for development by groups spread across a large area. PSC was able to closely monitor the lifecycle of an application by properly identifying tasks and assigning them to a team of developers. To meet the “instant” nature of this new way of reporting, PSC was able to provide multiple resources, ensuring quick delivery, timely communication, and quality execution. Where an application would have taken a long period of time to implement in the past, PSC was able to deliver software that fulfilled publication needs in just a few short days. During the dynamic and somewhat chaotic development process, demos of the developing product were presented to the client on a near-hourly basis in order to minimize rework and ensure that the Client's vision was being realized.