Graduate Trainee Scheme in BBC Future Media: Working on iBroadcast

Graduate Trainee

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Hi! I’m Phil and I am on the BBC’s Digital Media Graduate Scheme. I should probably begin by explaining what this is all about.

On this scheme I rotate around BBC Future Media every six months for two years. This provides me with the opportunity to understand the overall picture of how the BBC’s interactive media is created including Smartphone apps, Red Button and BBC iPlayer.

The scheme, which has been running since 2011, is available to recent graduates and is run by the BBC Future Media division with a new intake every year. You can find out more about the scheme on the BBC Careers website.

I have just finished my first rotation with the team developing iBroadcast. My colleague Matt Browning has blogged in detail about iBroadcast.

The credits and contributors pop-up lightbox

iBroadcast is the web solution used across the BBC to manage programme meta-data such as video clips, images and rights and scheduling information across BBC online.

This includes content which sits on,, and iPlayer.

I am one of the people ensuring that the product is shiny for the BBC production teams using it and that it talks to the right data streams when changes are made.

Besides the product owner and project manager, our team consisted of 10 members and is set to expand. These are split between front and back-end developers, testers and UX designers.

While in this team I have been working on three main areas: credits and contributors, versions and scheduling and the migration of audio and video encoders from the old system to the new.

I use HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP in my day-to-day development process.

The work I have done on credits and contributors involved translating the product owner’s and UX designer’s requirements, such as the search functionality, placement of the thumbnail image and saving mechanism, into a functional part of iBroadcast.

This involved a team planning session, clarifying the user needs and splitting the requirements down into individual developer tasks.

For credits and contributors I have implemented a pop-up ‘lightbox’ so that the user stays on the same page in iBroadcast rather than being sent to different parts of the site. I used AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) to handle the data between the user’s input and the BBC’s databases as they are interacting live with the page.

This particular feature was developed in two weeks in order to add new contributor information.

Following the completion of this we had an additional four weeks to give users the ability to directly import contributor information from existing programmes. This was a little more complicated than adding new data as we had to implement a search function and ensure that the information being copied is accurate.

As for the versions and scheduling system, this was put together over the Christmas period and is where I took significant responsibility over the implementation around the visual and functional side.

The goal was to enhance an existing feature in order to give the user more control over regional variants and timing of any scheduled programme in the system.

During the development of this section, my focus was programming in JavaScript, and I had to ensure that my code conformed with the standards of others who have worked on iBroadcast much longer than I have. It was honestly an exciting experience!

The User Experience & Design team crafted the layout to ensure that end users can get the most out of the information presented to them, and to keep this new feature in line with the iBroadcast styleguide.

The iBroadcast team follows the agile software development methodology and thoroughly uses scrum as a way to iterate through the development lifecycle.

Overall, I feel that I have gained a wealth of experience in my first placement by understanding the foundations of the meta-data found across the BBC’s online presence. I also cannot thank the team enough in providing me a warm welcome to the organization and assisting me in understanding the structure of BBC Future Media. I would have become lost without them!

I will continue to write about my experiences during my time at the BBC. If you have any feedback of what you would like me to discuss in my next post, please leave a comment and I’ll take it into consideration!

Philip Whitehall is a BBC graduate trainee.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Nick Reynolds

    on 2 Jul 2013 12:31

    Hi twofivepie,

    the blog has a category for linked data so you may some of these blog posts of interest:


  • Comment number 1. Posted by twofivepie

    on 2 Jul 2013 08:04

    Philip - as you asked about ideas for future topics, a couple of things:
    - it would be really interesting to hear about the BBCs use of 'linked-data'.
    - it would also be interesting to know if the BBC uses an Enterprise Architecture framework and thus if it has something along the lines of TOGAF's Technical Reference Model for applications?

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