Desk-Net – Solution for Newsroom Management

Desk-Net – Solution for Newsroom Management

Objective

Objective 1: Developing a browser-based secure web application that would allow users to plan their everyday work.
Objective 2: Continuous system enhancement.
Objective 3: Production server support.

Challenge

Intetics’s Client is a Hamburg headquartered company rendering website development and management services for publishing houses. Specializing in news website concepts and design, our Client has rich experience in providing solutions for the publishing industry in Germany.

Their new project “Desk-Net” was aimed at helping publishing houses to plan work of their editorial departments: arrange appointments, manage stories and coordinate staff. The Client was going to sell this application using the SaaS model, implying that all customer organizations would use the single-entry point.

Our Client needed a custom software development provider with expertise in the relevant field to help them implement their idea. They turned to Intetics to assemble a dedicated development team at one of their Offshore Development Centers.

Solution

The Client and Intetics started their collaboration with the development of the main application. Major processes for automation included:

  • Appointment planning
  • Staff co-ordination
  • Storyboard management

These tasks were easily handled with the new Desk-Net solution which made the whole range of publishing processes less time-consuming and more productive. The software allows managing appointments of reporters, photographers, etc. efficiently thanks to the following functionality:

  • Import of external appointment data feeds (e.g. from Reuters, AP, etc.) or from internal appointment databases;
  • Easy-to-use and fast entry of appointments;
  • Express Entry – a mechanism for quick entering of stories/appointments using a special set of commands;
  • Detailed Entry – a panel used for entering detailed information related to a story/appointment, which includes: responsible persons, formats of story content, info about when & where the appointment will be held, story/appointment-related files, etc.
  • Enter appointments once into Desk-Net – no double work;
  • Assignment of staff to appointments;
  • Daily, weekly and long-term appointment overviews;
  • Special templates for print-outs;
  • The alert page displaying all unassigned appointments;
  • Reminders for repeating appointments.

Stories and appointments could be easily assigned to employees. Every Desk-Net user had a personal site where the assignments could be tracked. A simple and easy-to-use “Notes” function enabled managers to inform their staff. Specific days and sections could be selected for targeted communication. Personnel – internal or external – could get access to certain sections only, thus being restricted in viewing information that is not directly related to their work. Automated email notifications are sent out to inform Desk-Net users about new entries or changes in existing ones.

Editing a story for print is not an easy task as it is. Nowadays, a story must be also produced for online and mobile platforms. Cross-Media Story Management provided in the solution allows doing this on the basis of the customer’s editorial processes. Other Desk-Net features for story management involve:

  • Personal story repository;
  • Idea-list;
  • Story search;
  • Series planning.

Sure enough, such a large-scale system has a well thought out and rich administrator part. It gives the possibility to create the organizational structure from scratch including hierarchical departments, publishing objects, pages, and page elements. User management is based on access rights to different editorial departments.

We applied an iterative agile-based approach to development. The project was divided into milestones which in turn were divided into short development iterations. We used a constantly updated list of requirements assigned to every iteration. In seeking to improve quality and accelerate the development process, we followed a test-driven development technique and continuous integration which provided us with the benefits like:

  • A scheduled build process which checked out all of the code builds the entire application, executed all unit tests, checked code style and reported the results to the developers. If there were any issues in the build, they could be immediately found and corrected;
  • At any time QA engineers had the last application version for testing.

Almost all functionality requirements were covered by test cases, some of them were fully automated.

Technologies Utilized

  • Java Enterprise Edition;
  • GWT;
  • Spring, Hibernate;
  • XDoclet, XSLT;
  • Oracle XE;
  • My SQL, Tomcat 5;
  • Amazon EC2, Amazon S3;
  • CruiseControl, Ant, Checkstyle, Cobertura.

Results

The project was successfully launched for pilot customers. It allowed publishing houses to migrate from outdated paper planning to productive and reliable automatic planning. Nowadays the service is used by about 8 companies which are not only Germany-located. The number of customers continues to expand.

Development of the application continues. Almost every month another version with new features and clients’ requests is delivered to the production server. No technical department is required to support this system on the client side.

Case Study

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