Associated New Media (ANM)
New Media lays groundwork for internal Web site development
(seated) Joann Weedon, Kenn Jordan and Matthew Clifford
(standing) Robert Boyle and Emmanuel Mrakpor
In June 1999, Associated
New Media (ANM), the London-based Internet division of Daily Mail General
Trust and publisher of the ThisIsLondon.com, ThisIsMoney.- com and UKPlus.com
sites, decided to broaden its horizons and test another market. "ANM identified
that a women's destination site in the U.K. is one of the most crucial areas
of the Internet marketplace to own," said Kenn Jordan, technical and design
director, "tying in with the highly female bias of its national newspaper
titles to allow for extensive cross-promotion and co-advertising deals."
Thus, CharlotteStreet.com was
born, a place, as it says on its Web site, "where women meet on the Web."
The site provides information on pregnancy and babies, health, education,
fitness, fashion and beauty, careers, personal finance, food, home and
garden, weddings and travel.
the development of ANM's Web sites.
ability to design, develop and manage interactive Web sites, as
well as the ability to redevelop ANM's sites internally.
But more than just tapping
into another U.K. market, Charlotte- Street.com provided ANM with a way
to centralize the development of all of its Web sites. In order to create
CharlotteStreet.com, ANM created an engine that allows it to design, develop
and manage interactive Web sites.
Prior to CharlotteStreet.com,
all of ANM's development work was prototyped internally and then given
to an external team who built and hosted it. CharlotteStreet.com was ANM's
first completely internal venture, laying the groundwork for future internal
Programmers and designers needed
to experiment with code and design to find the best possible solution
to each project requirement. In the beginning, the team concentrated its
efforts on high-risk areas, such as interfacing Macromedia Flash with
the middle and back-end systems. This process of addressing high-risk
areas first proved very beneficial in allowing the application to evolve
faster. The development team used objectives to manage the project. The
app was split into functionality areas that translated into objectives.
Team members had to then meet those objectives in a timely fashion.
Visio, ERwin, MS-Excel, MS-Word, MS-Project
SilverStream, Oracle 8.05, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia Flash,
Macromedia Generator, CorelDraw, Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe ImageReady,
JASC PaintShop Pro
Although successful, the project,
which began at the end of June 1999, took longer than anticipated. The
team had hoped to finish before the end of September, but had to push
their original deadline back. In the end, CharlotteStreet.com did not
go live until October 11, 1999, approximately 3.5 months after its inception.
"It took longer than anticipated
to recruit the right resource," said Jordan. The right resource turned
out to be ANM's own full-time Java developers with Web experience. "We
became too reliant on contractors who had good Java skills, but their
Web knowledge was little to none," he added.
Three Java developers, two database/Java
developers, a Macromedia Flash/ Generator developer, a technical
and design director, a project manager, a design manager, a Macromedia
Flash designer and a Flash/Web designer
The project's major technical
challenge was meeting the need for one content database that was able
to serve multiple presentation devices at the same time. Editorial content
was to be captured once and presented to any device making a request.
Two devices identified for phase one of the project were Web browsers
using HTML and Web browsers using Macromedia Flash. In the future, ANM
plans to use WebTV and digital TV, mobile phones and personal digital
To meet the content database challenge,
the project team developed a device detection system and a content markup
scheme. The content markup tags let the editorial team choose what parts
of an article or feature are available for what devices. This required
viewing an editorial piece as an object made up of other objects. For
example, a feature is made up of paragraphs and, by using the content
markup scheme, pagination and layout can be controlled.
The team used SilverStream for
application development and as a Web application server, and Oracle 8.05
was used as content, object and code store. Macromedia Dreamweaver was
used in HTML and DHTML page production, while Macromedia Flash and Macromedia
Generator were used in Flash development and as a Flash movie generator.
CorelDraw handled vector graphics production, while Adobe PhotoShop dealt
with graphics production. Adobe ImageReady and JASC PaintShop Pro were
used in graphics optimization. Products were chosen based on robustness,
scalability, reliability, ease of use, and speed of implementation/integration
with other systems. All of the Web surfing takes place on Windows NT.
The development team also used
Visio for diagramming, ERwin and Microsoft Excel for data modeling, Microsoft
Word for document production, and Microsoft Project for creating project
plans that were also exported as Web pages.
Now that CharlotteStreet.com has
proven successful, ANM can use the same concepts to redevelop its other
Web sites internally. ANM has successfully revamped its UKPlus.com site,
building it on the same architecture as CharlotteStreet.com, using an
Oracle database and SilverStream. Developers have also started working
on the ThisIsLondon.com site.
The biggest benefit
of developing internally, said Jordan, is not being reliant on a development
resource and the timing of an external company. "We have to move very
quickly," he explained. "It's difficult for us to properly plan that when
we're reliant on an external company." In addition, by developing all
of its sites internally, ANM can track users across all the sites. Internal
development also provides cheaper bandwidth, added Jordan, having the
sites "all in one pipe, rather than four big pipes."
— Lana Gates
submission hits the target for innovation by tackling a problem
that even commercial content management systems have not addressed
successfully. The application uses a variety of technologies and
tools (SQL, DHTML, graphics, movies, etc.) to achieve component
reuse, which allows multiple Web sites to be built and managed cost
This entry received its
winning votes because the architecture is sound for both current
technologies and emerging ones such as Web TV, PDAs, mobile phones
and so on. The implementation allows users to format the same source
document for multiple output devices.
Finally, the new system
allows the development team to quickly design, develop and centrally
manage multiple Web sites, saving time and money in future development
and support costs.
The submission could have
been improved with more details on the business purpose of the project,
as well as the addition of brief descriptions of the components
shown in the architecture diagram.
Joseph Kirpes, senior national enterprise architect
Vincent D'Amico, solution development practice manager; Shirish
Jamthe, account manager and chairman of the Architecture Review
Board; Naia Kirkpatrick, security architect; and John Varga, principal