Project Overview

Eye Witness News was designed by Saatchi and Saatchi. New Media Labs developed the backend on the Sitecore WCM platform. NML won best International Media Site of the Year 2012 Sitecore Content Management implementation for this project.

Technology

CMS

Combining ease of use with flexibility to deliver a powerful out-the-box Content Management Solution. Sitecore's CMS can be tailored to meet specific client requirements.

Implement prescribed business process around safe and responsible publishing (workflows)

Workflows have been built and customised around prescribed processes regarding content generation, approval, and publishing.

Ease of Search CMS maintains its own Lucene index out the box, making searching content inside the CMS intuitive, seamless and easy.

Sharepoint Integration Folders from Sharepoint (Digital Asset Management) are automatically synched into the Sitecore media library for seamless use in generating content for the site. Content is synched in both directions - new content uploaded directly to the Sitecore media library is available inside the Sharepoint library.

 

Content Tree: Ease of Site Taxonomy Navigation

The content tree is used to arrange content into manageable groups, based on date of creation – year/month/day.

Content is placed in the tree in a contextual arrangement i.e. images linked to an article are arranged as child items, assisting usability.

Mode Switcher for Login

User selects what mode they would like to use on login. In this way, they have control over what aspect of the environment they would like to see and edit in each session.

 

The Sitecore desktop resembles the windows operating system, and can be customised

 

Integration Points

Several third party partners are used to allow sharing to social media, mobile browsing, and access to multimedia.

 

Mobile

NML exposed APIs for the mobile site to expose the content and also give mechanisms for the mobile comments, votes, polls etc. to be fed back into the system via a two way API. This two way API was built using the Sitecore SDK.

Jainrain

Integration with the Janrain authentication service allows easy management of visitors using 3rd party authentication via Facebook, Twitter, G-mail and Yahoo! and provides seamless integration with Sitecore's user model for tracking ownership of user-generated content.

 

 

Log4net

Log4net logging was used for on-going monitoring and maintenance.

Media Player

MEJS player was used for Audio and Video Multimedia content.

 

 

Podcast server

Streaming Video and Audio are accessed via integration with the external podcast server.By storing references to the podcast links for use in the media player the CMS is not subject to bloating from audio and video data.

ShareThis

The ShareThis component was used for sharing content with social networks. Custom handling translates CMS data into a format more compatible with the ShareThis control. Implementation of the tinyurl API was also used to reduce bloating of the shared links.

Sitecore Implementation

Out-the-box and custom-built functionality we utilise in Sitecore. showcase_ewn_32_2_col.jpg 301 redirects Rule-based redirects for static URLs - configured in CMS by users. Redirects from old URL structure (e.g. items mapped by ID in CMS to properly named items)

Produces 301 redirect headers for SEO

Custom Fields

Custom CMS functionality, such as javascript-driven autocomplete search for items, using a Lucene index to avoid excessive DB hits while working, improved overall CMS performance for simultaneous users.

Data caching

Data cached inside the application based on context, such as query string, to reduce DB hits.

This is in addition to normal ASP.Net output caching on HTML.

 

Emailer template

The mailer is populated with content from the CMS (the mailer includes 3 most popular articles as well as the shared article).

The mailer is also viewable in a browser for users without an HTML-aware email client.

Unsubscribe functionality stores unsubscribed email addresses in the CMS.

 

EWN API

CMS data is accessible via a web service API, for use on the mobile site, built with scope for future extension. External XML feeds.

The site processes external XML feeds for news.

Data is stored in the CMS and new content in the external feeds is automatically detected and incorporated into the CMS.

This is primarily used for business and weather data from external vendors.

 

 

Facility to cater for multiple languages

The Sitecore CMS is language aware and capable of translating text. CMS items are versioned separately for different languages with intuitive corresponding URLs.

 

 

 

Image handling

Custom image handling, to render images resized and crop automatically according to specification.

 

 

 

iWitness Uploader

Multimedia uploader assists in facilitating contribution of user-produced content.

Images/Audio/Video and text are imported into the CMS and seamlessly added to workflow alongside CMS-generated content.

 

 

 

Location Based Browsing and Demographics for Analytics and Adaptive Rendering

Content is automatically displayed based on browser geolocation, displaying location relevant news and data to visitors.

Geolocation data is also available via analytics statistics for reporting.

 

 

 

Lucene

Industry-standard Lucene indexing used to reduce the number of expensive DB calls made.

Custom index fields have been implemented to improve on the standard Lucene logic.

Item hashing is used for duplicate item detection and filtering.

Media Browser

A custom media browser was implemented to reduce time required to find items in the Sitecore media library.

The speed of this module comes primarily from its Lucene indexing. Keyword searching rather than browsing the entire media library reduces the time required to locate content.

 

Sitecore Custom Controls: Carousels

Sliders are used to display frequently changing media content on the site. The content is cached to allow visitors to seamlessly switch between media content views.

 

 

 

Sitecore Custom Controls: Mega-menu

The mega-menu component aggregates cached content to increase accessibility and enhance user-experience. The mega-menu displays most recent items under each category, as well as the most popular tags associated with recent content.

 

 

 

URL rewriting

Automated URL rewriting produces visitor- and SEO-friendly URLs without compromising the underlying content.

 

 

 

 

Workflows and business process management

Custom workflow processes facilitate seamless editing and approval of CMS content, as well as background publishing of content to the live environment.

 

 

Infrastructure 

A sitecore installation consists of multiple instances, linked together to ensure that both content authoring and content delivery are performed with the minimum of disruption to users.

Deployment

Deployments are packaged by developers and applied to the UAT environment. Once tested and signed-off these are applied to the live environment Deployments consist of both code/mark-up changes and CMS changes. Sitecore packaged deployments are used for the CMS changes. In delicate situations, developers designate that small manual actions should be performed to make alterations. Once these changes are performed on the live environment, they are published inside of Sitecore and applied to the Content Delivery environment. 

Server Setup

Server setup was created with a separate production server at the client. A separate installation was configured at an external host for content delivery, utilising separate servers in case of server failure. The authoring server at the client performs Sitecore content publishing directly to the database used by content delivery. Content delivery is not dependant on the authoring environment If the link between the client and their external hosting goes down, the website continues to function.

UAT

The UAT Sitecore installation is intended to be as close to the production environment as possible. All new deployments are first deployed to the UAT environment and tested. In this way, deployments to prod are seamless and without error.

 

Design

The home page offers multiple avenues to navigate to content. The mega menu facilitates quick navigation of hierarchical organised content, allowing the use of icons and images to support navigation.

Editors are able to flag content and articles to appropriate locations via the CMS and assign priority to content. Content is published immediately to home page to facilitate breaking news.

Bulletins, traffic reports and weather is served according to user location.

Analytics suggests articles the user would be interested in, based on browsing behaviour.

Article detail pages offer content rich pages displaying related media and articles deemed to be of interest based on user analytics.

The Business Page shows a concise summary of recent business news, commodity/currency indicators, and graphs of relevant stock market indicators.

The Multimedia Page: shows multimedia not associated with articles. Users can filter and search this content. New content is available via RSS feeds

Architecture

A representation of news articles, associations between them, and related media.

Architecture

Multimedia: Audio

Audio items are not stored in the Sitecore CMS, and are referenced from the external Podcast server. Audio multimedia items are stored according to whether they are a child of an article, or standalone media item.

Multimedia: Image

All images are stored inside the Sitecore Media library. The solution supports both importing via the Sharepoint framework, and direct uploading of images into the CMS by the user. Image rendering is done both via standard Sitecore controls, and custom functionality for resizing and cropping images based on where images are required in the mark-up.

Multimedia: Video

Video multimedia items are represented with context – either attached to an article, or are to be viewable on the standalone media page. Video items are not stored in the Sitecore CMS, and are referenced from the external Podcast server.

News Article: In Focus

Articles are grouped into "in focus" items representing a larger story told across several articles over time. These items can be displayed on the homepage. If the user browses to an article that is part of an in focus group, a timeline slider is populated with other articles in the same group, for ease of browsing.

News Article: Popular

Popular topics across articles within a specific category are identified by a background process. This information is cached and associated with the category in the CMS for display in the mega menu.

News Article: Topics Topics are associated with an article to give more detail than a category or in focus tag would. In this way, articles are grouped in another interesting way, and articles with an overlap in topics are displayed in the "Related articles" slider on the article page.

Multimedia: Audio

Audio items are not stored in the Sitecore CMS, and are referenced from the external Podcast server. Audio multimedia items are stored according to whether they are a child of an article, or standalone media item.

Multimedia: Image

All images are stored inside the Sitecore Media library. The solution supports both importing via the Sharepoint framework, and direct uploading of images into the CMS by the user. Image rendering is done both via standard Sitecore controls, and custom functionality for resizing and cropping images based on where images are required in the mark-up.

Multimedia: Video

Video multimedia items are represented with context – either attached to an article, or are to be viewable on the standalone media page. Video items are not stored in the Sitecore CMS, and are referenced from the external Podcast server.

News Article: In Focus

Articles are grouped into "in focus" items representing a larger story told across several articles over time. These items can be displayed on the homepage. If the user browses to an article that is part of an in focus group, a timeline slider is populated with other articles in the same group, for ease of browsing.

News Article: Popular

Popular topics across articles within a specific category are identified by a background process. This information is cached and associated with the category in the CMS for display in the mega menu.

News Article: Topics Topics are associated with an article to give more detail than a category or in focus tag would. In this way, articles are grouped in another interesting way, and articles with an overlap in topics are displayed in the "Related articles" slider on the article page.

 

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