Archives for December 2007

"The WWW Info-Rainforest"

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Alan Connor | 00:00 UK time, Tuesday, 25 December 2007

...and other analogies that didn't catch on

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

THE BBC is launching an on-line service from May 11 through the BBC Networking Club. Members will be connected through PCs and modems to a bulletin board where information and real-time conversation can be exchanged with others. A password will give members access to The Internet and more than 20m people worldwide. The cost of joining will be £25 and a monthly fee of £12. Details on 081-881 8236.
From The Sunday Times, April 17th 1994

babhead.gifOne of the frustrating things about the image of one of our first homepages as seen below is that you can't (yet) click away and see what the pages looked like.

Well, since it's Christmas, Cathy Smith of BBC Information & Archives has let the Internet Blog into her world of floppies and laserdiscs to catch an exciting glimpse of some Beeb HTML from around February 1995.

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New BBC Home Page: Your Reaction

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Richard Titus Richard Titus | 21:13 UK time, Friday, 21 December 2007

When Nick Reynolds asked me if I would write a blog post I assumed that few people would read it and even fewer would care.

At the end of my first post I asked you for your comments and promised to engage in a conversation. I expected maybe a dozen or so replies. So imagine my astonishment when, as of this morning, more than 280 + of you have taken time to give us your views and criticisms on the new betahomepage.

This level of engagement is exactly why I came to the BBC. The generally positive nature of the feedback was even more wonderful. The success of the web as a media platform has been driven by its ability to rapidly connect people and ideas. Delivering a better BBC homepage must be based on a lively and frank conversation with our audience, so thank you for keeping up your side!

The team and I have been reviewing the feedback over the past few days, from the original post, the wider blogosphere and the feedback form on the home page.

Despite some unconstructive, or should I say, 'personal' responses, ("yankee go home" was my favourite) I am delighted that so many of you have taken time out to explore the new page and tell us what you think.

Some of the key points...

Customisation and Personalisation

One of the fundamental challenges you raised was the philosophy behind our introduction of customization and personalization (as I'm a Yank, please note my use of the Z in personalization rather than personalisation. it seemed disingenuous of me to change to an s when I so prefer the letter z).

Some suggested this indicates that the BBC no longer has a voice or knows what it wants to say. I disagree.

Customization is about collaborating with our audience. As a linear broadcast medium, the web is no better and in many ways far worse than other mediums. The web's power comes from several key strengths...

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A Facelift For The World Service Website

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Sally Thompson | 15:31 UK time, Thursday, 20 December 2007


I'm Sally Thompson, and I head up the web team at the World Service. And while the BBC's domestic home page has had a "lick of paint", we've been busy too with a relaunch of the BBC World Service site.

free_to_speak.pngI can't believe that it's been more than four years since we last relaunched, but this December is the World Service's radio station's 75th anniversary and so an ideal occasion for for a much-needed facelift. Very neat.

For the past four years, our site's front page has effectively been a clone of the BBC News website's. We did not make it easy for people to find out more about what was in our programmes - or to listen to them, for that matter.


Times have changed and so we turned our focus to what our users expect from a website that showcases the diverse nature of BBC World Service's radio output. How could we best serve the savvier user who just doesn't have the time or inclination to dig through a site in the hope of finding something they may have heard on air?

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Herding Digital Cats - Pt 2

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Martin Belam | 09:50 UK time, Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Or, Ten Years of Information Architecture at the BBC

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

The BBC has two domains in use for public service content - and It ended up that way more by accident than design. Why not, for example, or Or, for that matter, why not just

Promoting everything on TV and Radio with the mantra "Bee bee cee dot co dot ukay slash whatever" implies that the site is one, rather than a collection of mini-sites. Other UK broadcasters have chosen a different path, using a selection of content or channel specific top level domains like,, and so on.

If you promote one URL - - then as a consequence you have to put something for everyone on the front door. Initial homepages for the fledgling BBC web services in 1997 were graphic heavy, and had content areas very much classified by the departments that made them. The labels are not terribly intuitive for the user.


Looking back on it now, I have no concept of what I would actually get if I clicked the link labelled "Technical Services", and why that would be any different from the link labelled "IT" on the other side of the page.

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Brandon's History Of Online BBC

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Brandon Butterworth | 13:27 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Brandon Butterworth is a Principal Technologist in the BBC's research and development team and the man who first registered the domain. He's such a key figure in the history of the BBC's technical infrastructure that he has a room named after him at towers. This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of [Update 24/9/09: Brandon is now Chief Scientist, BBC.]

Imagine there's no interweb...

...that's unpossible. We have a lot to thank the internet for - besides a new language and LOLcats.

The first 10 years were the best

bbc_button.pngWhen I put the BBC on the net, it wasn't a 2001 moment; we had to keep banging the rocks together for a while. We had email, file transfer, BBS, Usenet and piracy since the late 1980s, ours via dial-up UUCP through Brunel University to UKnet.

The USA had proper internet.

I wanted it.

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John Birt on the birth of

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Alan Connor | 13:20 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

John Birt, as mentioned below by Ashley Highfield and Claire Barrett, was the BBC's Director General at the start of the ten years we're currently celebrating.

Radio 4's iPM has interviewed the man now known as Lord Birt about the big changes of a decade ago. You can listen to the interview below and leave a comment at iPM.


Alan Connor is co-editor of the BBC Internet Blog.

The World's Favourite Website At 10

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Ashley Highfield | 12:00 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

bbc_pioneers.pngI've only been with the BBC for seven years, so much of the hard work on - getting it up and running in the first place - had already been done by the time I arrived, and my hat goes off to those founding heroes: John Birt, Brandon Butterworth, Mike Smartt, and Jonathan Drori all spring immediately to mind.

My history therefore starts from 2000, when was the tenth most used website in the UK - about 3.5m users, reaching a quarter of the then online population of 14m. It's been a long and sometimes winding road since then to get us to where we are now - ranked in a recent Ipsos Mori poll as the highest quality media service in the UK - and this post is a hopefully honest recollection of the highs and lows on this journey.

The early lead we gained online during the first few years was critical. is nothing without News and its sister sites, Sport, Weather, and regional output. They are at the heart of the offering, pumping the life-blood around the site, giving it its vitality and essence. Richard Deverell, Pete Clifton, Ben Gallop and the team built a rock solid heartland audience, and a global reputation for quality.

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Herding Digital Cats - Pt 1

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Martin Belam | 10:04 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Or, Ten Years of Information Architecture at the BBC

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

In his introduction to this set of tenth birthday articles, Nick Reynolds said that he couldn't recall a time when the BBC didn't have a website. This raises the question: if the BBC's Director General woke up tomorrow, and suddenly realised that the BBC had forgotten to ever build a website - what would Mark Thompson ask to be built?

If you set yourself the task of imagining building from scratch, there are quite a few things that probably wouldn't look much different. A page for every programme? That makes sense. A place to download TV programmes and catch-up on radio? Likewise - although the way we now take listen again and DRM-free podcast downloads for granted belies the innovation, technical and legal complexities in delivering those services.

You'd probably also think about building something pretty similar to the BBC News site. I suspect, though, that it in the regulatory climate of 2007 it would be rather harder for the BBC to launch. The howls of protest to the BBC Trust Ofcom and the DCMS from the commercial news sector would be deafening.

There are some things that, on reflection, you probably wouldn't build.

Why have BBC only TV listings on, when BBC Worldwide has a perfectly good Radio Times site covering much more, and, as the TV promos might have said, "other listings web sites are available"?

09_01-babel-fish.pngThe Telegraph recently ran an article with a list of rather odd bits on the fringe of the site that the BBC could perhaps cull - although visiting the ever-entertaining h2g2 in order to look for something obscure or esoteric was rather like shooting Babel fish in a barrel.

Since the breadth of coverage on BBC Online has always been vast, and because in 1997 the BBC was so wedded to the concept of being a linear broadcaster, it has been problematic to organise the site.

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From Microsoft To The BBC

Erik Huggers Erik Huggers | 11:50 UK time, Monday, 17 December 2007

It has been six months since I joined the BBC as Group Controller in Future Media and Technology and while flying back from Rome to London, I figured that this was a good time to join the conversation.

Many people have asked me: “why on earth did you join the BBC? They have no stock options and by the way do you realise that you are now a civil servant!?!” Believe me, there are days that I ask those questions myself!

99% of the time however, I am exceptionally pleased, excited and proud to be part of this organization and to serve the licence fee payer. The BBC is unique in so many ways that I do not even know where to start; perhaps a better way to start is why I left Microsoft...

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Nigel Chapman | 10:01 UK time, Monday, 17 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

In early 1999, the web and the BBC presence there was like a goldrush in the Wild West. All the programmes were putting stakes in the ground for their individual sites, but few people outside News had looked around and seen that people were increasingly navigating by genre or subject, not programme title. That had to change - and we did by 2000 - but it was very difficult.

The other big challenge was technology, and how to produce web pages efficiently and quickly for areas like sport. News had invented its own brilliant Content Production System, but everyone else had methods more like bespoke tailoring than mass production. Ambitions to produce a single BBC system floundered on cost and political infighting. Eventually, News and Sport agreed to use News CPS to drive both sites - that took some brokering and that gave the second biggest genre on the web its BBC breakthrough.


1999-2000 were exciting times, but exhausting. People had big ambitions, talked a big talk, but were simply unaware (with the exception of BBC News) of what it took to support major web operations across such a wide waterfront.

But crucially, a cup half full was a lot better than most other broadcasters, and all in the UK. It may have been bumpy, but that landgrab has served us well. Others are still catching up in the UK.

Nigel Chapman is Director, World Service.

Remembering myBBC

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Martin Belam | 12:00 UK time, Saturday, 15 December 2007

...the previous personalised BBC homepage

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

The freshly redesigned BBC homepage comes complete with a swishy new interface that allows users to customise the way the page appears to them. It isn't the first time the BBC has dabbled with personalising homepages.

For some time now, users have been offered personalised weather on the BBC homepage, and BBC News has had a small panel for UK users allowing them to get their local stories straight away by entering their postcode.

The BBC homepage also used to have "targeted" promotions in the early 2000s. As users visited places around the BBC, a cookie would pick up where they went, and identify them as one of four types of the BBC's web audience. When they visited the homepage, they would see a promotion appropriate to their audience type - i.e. whether they were a soaps/entertainment type, or a Radio 4/factual type.

The biggest attempt at personalisation on the BBC site, though, was a service launched in 2000, called myBBC. In some ways, it was rather ahead of its time.


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Podcast Interview: Anthony Rose

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Matthew Cashmore | 10:23 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2007

Well, it's podcast time again and yesterday I got the opportunity to speak to Anthony Rose - head of all things iPlayer here at the Beeb.

We managed to talk for several minutes before DRM was mentioned, but this is a great listen if you want to know a little about the man behind the future strategy and tech delivery of the BBC's iPlayer project.

Listen to the podcast at Backstage.

Matthew Cashmore is Development Producer, BBC Future Media & Technology, Research and Innovation.

A lick of paint for the BBC homepage

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Richard Titus Richard Titus | 14:30 UK time, Thursday, 13 December 2007 least, that was the job spec I was given on my second day as Acting Head of User Experience at the BBC.

(You may also find James Thornett's post about the 2011 BBC Homepage beta of interest - inserted Ian McDonald 21 Sep 2011)

I joined the Beeb after moving to the UK with my wife just over a year ago. I needed a fresh challenge and was excited to be part of a truly world-renowned media company with a public service remit which makes it 100% user-focussed. For me, the BBC is one of the last great important places.

So when the BBC's Internet Controller Tony Ageh suggested - or, should I say, vehemently recommended - that we give the BBC homepage a "lick of paint", it seemed the ideal way to get my head around the BBC and its immense universe of content and services.


We drew inspiration for the new page from a variety of sources.

It was a no-brainer to move to a layout that would be cleaner, more open and more easily readable. There was also a desire to get away from the tired and monotonous blue base colour of the original page.

From a conceptual point of view, the widgetization adopted by Facebook, iGoogle and netvibes weighed strongly on our initial thinking. We wanted to build the foundation and DNA of the new site in line with the ongoing trend and evolution of the Internet towards dynamically generated and syndicable content through technologies like RSS, atom and xml. This trend essentially abstracts the content from its presentation and distribution, atomizing content into a feed-based universe. Browsers, devices, etc therefore become lenses through which this content can be collected, tailored and consumed by the audience.

This concept formed one of the most important underlying design and strategic elements of the new homepage. The approach has the added benefit of making content more accessible, usable, and more efficient to modify for consumption across a wider array of networks and devices.

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Razzmatazz, Fame And Fortune

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Jonathan Drori | 11:03 UK time, Thursday, 13 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

Before BBC Online, I'd been working in BBC Education for some years. I'd found the work there very rewarding and the opportunity to invent interactive output for the web with a group of expert colleagues was fantastic. I think we had a level of autonomy perhaps only enjoyed by BBC News and Current Affairs at the time. Then the BBC Online job came up and with it the possibility of creating a coherent BBC website, with razzmatazz, fame and fortune.

The role of the BBC was clear in news and in education (where we had been so desperately wanting interactivity for years) - but for the rest of the BBC, I think it was less certain. Just what we should be offering for children, teenagers, new mums, businesspeople and everyone else across every subject area (sport, cookery, gardening, science and nature, film, entertainment...) needed to be debated. That was the easy bit.

Audiences were telling us that they found aspects of confusing. We wanted to give them some consistency, with common navigation and branding across the whole site. This was easier said than done, as the BBC at the time (not now of course) was a series of fiefdoms, each of which argued strongly that they needed their own totally different system of navigation and very distinct and assertive branding.

On top of that, in a medium without channel slots and with unlimited airtime, everybody wanted to be a commissioner. I seem to remember matters coming to a head when the BBC very nearly had separate Edinburgh Festival websites from Scotland, Entertainment, News, Drama, Education and several others.

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The Days Before Launch

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Mike Smartt | 12:03 UK time, Wednesday, 12 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

It is only ten years ago, but it seems a lifetime away.

Actually, it is nearer twelve years since BBC News decided on an internet presence, but it took almost two to launch News Online. The Corporation doesn't do much in a hurry, which is probably a good thing when there are big sums of public money at stake.

msbbclogo.pngIn those two years, MSNBC might have been MSBBC instead.

There were exploratory talks with Microsoft - but, after the software giant suggested it might like some editorial input, the BBC pointed out its independence was sacrosanct, and that was that. Microsoft also thought of starting its own rival to the internet and we trialed the company's own HTML-killing programming language called Blackbird, which wasn't bad.

But then Bill Gates came to his senses, realising that actually - by the mid-nineties - the internet was already too well established to defeat.

So eventually, after expensive outside consultants had spent several weeks preparing a report for the BBC on the pros and cons of a technology not even experts understood, the okay was given for BBC News Online. And, inevitably, after months of stop-stop-stop, it was suddenly go-go-go.

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Tomorrow's World

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Katharine Everett | 12:33 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

If nostalgia is not your bag, then read no further!

tomorrows_world.pngI remember vividly my first encounter with the internet. It was in 1995, and took place fittingly in the office of Edward Briffa, who was then the editor of Tomorrow's World and who was to become launch director for

I had asked him to explain the internet to me. He showed me what I now know to be a website and said excitedly: "It's amazing, There is this huge warehouse full of books somewhere in the US. You can order any book you want from this computer and it will be sent to you."

It's impossible for me now to remember what a world without Amazon was like. It was the first place I conducted an internet transaction and is one of my four most used websites. Though I haven't yet cracked the problem of owning more books than my bookshelves can accommodate - and no, I haven't read them all and never will.

But back to the early days. My second clear memory was a couple of years later; I was in charge of launching the BBC's first digital entertainment channel, BBC Choice. I recall a meeting in the BBC's council chamber of a number of "digital friendly" senior creative leaders, being encouraged to share their knowledge of the web (which took abut five minutes) and to hear from Edward and his strategy team about the upcoming launch of

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"And If You'd Like To Contact The Programme..." Pt 2

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Martin Belam | 12:32 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of Part 1 is here.

In my last post, I was looking at how email and message boards have revolutionised the relationship between the BBC and what used to be a much more passive audience - even if the technology powering those boards was a little temperamental at times.

By 2003, it was clear that the BBC needed to move to a new system, and the decision was taken to migrate the message boards to the DNA software that the BBC had acquired when it purchased the Douglas Adams-inspired h2g2 site in 2001.

06_01-pov-sky.pngAshley Highfield wrote on this blog the other week about his so-called public "spat" with James Murdoch, but Sky haven't always had a rough deal from the BBC's New Media department. In 2004, one of the first boards to move to the new system was Points Of View, which fell under my remit. In the process, I inadvertently signed off as approved a design that included a very prominent Sky remote control in it, rather than the more neutral "sticky-backed plastic"-type of branding that BBC regulations require.

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"And If You'd Like To Contact The Programme..." Pt 1

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Martin Belam | 09:52 UK time, Monday, 10 December 2007

"...send a stamped, addressed envelope to..."

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of Part Two is here.

05_01-swap-shop.pngIt is easy to forget how rapidly email has revolutionised the way that the public interact with organisations like the BBC. I still remember the phone number of Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop, and the postcode of Radio 1 from when I was a kid. Now a good proportion of interaction is done rather more rapidly via SMS and email. In 2004, Chris Kimber, then Head of Interactive at BBC Radio & Music, said:

"Only 10 years ago, radio was a one-way experience, but digital technology has given the radio ears that provide programme-makers with instant feedback. Before they had to rely on getting letters back but now we have chat rooms, message boards, text messaging and e-mail. Programmes can really connect with audiences in a way that 10 years ago they could not".

The recent furore over the Radio Five Live phone-in about the Madeleine McCann case highlights how real-time this feedback loop is.

The BBC has often struggled to deal with the sheer volume of correspondence it receives.

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Mind The Gaps: The BBC's Website Archives

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Martin Belam | 10:20 UK time, Friday, 7 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of

If you extrapolate current statistical trends, by 2025 40% of the UK population will be obese, 1 in 3 of us will be Elvis impersonators, and increased electronic storage will mean that you'll be able to carry a video of your entire life around with you at all times.

Well, maybe not quite, but it's certainly true that over the last ten years physical storage of digital media on servers and removable storage has got cheaper and smaller - and it wasn't exactly big in 1997.

All of which raises the question - why can't I just link to the 1997 version of the BBC website, or the 2000 version, or to exactly what it was like on Christmas Day 2002? A lot of those things are simply not there anymore.

When I joined the BBC, I was always told that Andrew Neil had the first individual programme support site - but that, for example, is no longer on the BBC site. The pages credited the production of the HTML to Mark Himsley, just as the BBC would do for a television programme.

Even in cases where an original BBC website from the 1990s is preserved, there is no guarantee that any of the functionality will survive.

In 1997, the BBC covered a general election online for the first time. The pages are still on the web, but sadly, Peter Snow and company no longer swing like they once did. Clicking the 'Interactive' option from the menu generates a 403 Forbidden error.


Sometimes, although the HTML has been kept live on the BBC's front-end web servers, some of the dynamic applications at the back-end have been decommissioned, accidentally wiped, or have simply broken as the BBC's technical infrastructure evolved.

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Ask Us A Question

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Nick Reynolds Nick Reynolds | 12:27 UK time, Thursday, 6 December 2007

In a week's time we'll be recording our very first podcast (or perhaps more accurately, download of an interview in audio) for this blog.

rory_cellan_jones.pngRory Cellan-Jones (technology correspondent, BBC News) has very kindly agreed to act as interrogator.

And sitting around the microphones will be Matthew Cashmore and Ian Forrester of BBC Backstage, James Cridland of BBC Audio&Music Interactive, Giles Wilson (editor, BBC News blogs) and last, and very much least, myself.

The discussion will be about how the BBC is using blogs to try and talk to licence fee payers, ("blogs as accountability", if you like), rather than the technical or broader editorial questions about the BBC's blogs, which have been covered by Robin Hamman here and here.

But I suspect and hope the conversation will range far and wide. So if you have any questions you would like Rory to ask, please do leave a comment on this post.

The results will be published before Christmas.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog

External Web Istructurenfra

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James Cridland James Cridland | 12:01 UK time, Wednesday, 5 December 2007

There's been quite a lot of discussion about a recent post on I am Seb, which was prompted, in part, by a piece on the BBC's Radio Labs blog about a product we're internally calling "Perl on Rails". Much of this discussion has spilled over to places like Slashdot, too.

Parts of these discussions haven't been too accurate; but all of them have been interesting and useful to read, and have been discussed internally here. Tom Scott, the original poster of the Radio Labs blog entry, has also replied to some specific points on his own blog.

barcamplondon3.pngWe demonstrated one of the products built on top of "Perl on Rails" at BarCampLondon3 last week, to a good reaction - at least, we filled up the room! And, after a discussion with our colleagues, I'm pleased to be able to let you know that, yes, we will be adding this to the BBC's open source projects. More details will appear on the BBC Radio Labs blog when we're ready.

I think it's fair to say that the BBC's external web infrastructure isn't the world's most advanced - deliberately so, given the amount of traffic we have to deal with on some occasions like emergencies. However, as Seb says, there is some work in place to refresh this (not quite using the stack he suggests); it's been given new vigour by some of the new senior management team who've recently joined the BBC; all going well, you should see some of the fruits of this project in the new year.

On the other side, our internal tools use a variety of different technologies (I've seen PHP, Ruby/Rails, Perl and ASP at least), so if you're thinking of working for us don't think that you're totally useless to us if you don't

sub job_requirement {
my $target = shift;
$target = 'perl' unless defined $target;
return "understand $target.\n";
print job_requirement("this");

James Cridland is Head of Future Media & Technology for BBC Audio & Music Interactive, and wrote his last line of Perl in 2000.

Revolution Not Evolution

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Alan Connor | 16:29 UK time, Tuesday, 4 December 2007

This week's edition of Ariel, the BBC's in-house weekly magazine (and website!) has a feature by Claire Barrett on the official first ten years of It's called Revolution Not Evolution: The Birth of, and we've asked to republish the piece here on the Internet Blog as part of our tenth birthday celebrations.

john_birt_portrait.pngCaricatured as a Dalek, and famed for making decisions after rigorous analysis, exhaustive research and thorough documentation, it must have been a madcap moment back in December 1996 that saw John Birt act on impulse.

At the eleventh hour, the former director general reneged on a deal struck with computer company ICL to create a commercial website, called, for BBC content. He withdrew news and sport from the equation, deciding instead to make them public service offerings. And so the we know today – the UK's third most popular site with 16m unique domestic visitors every week – was conceived.

"It was the most important thing he ever did," reckons Jem Stone, the FM&T exec producer who was one of the first BBC web producers. "To this day, news and sport account for 50-60% of the traffic to the site. They are the very heart of"

Ten years on from its official launch on December 15, 1997 – when the DCMS approved a one year trial (ratified a year later) – there can be no underestimating Birt's hunch.

To boldly go...

"He’s not my cup of tea," admits Bob Eggington, former project director for BBC News Online, "but had he not brought his determination and authority to the internet, it just wouldn't have happened."

Indeed, the early history of is full of bold moves, as the pioneers trusted their instincts, dodged bureaucracy and forged a path through unknown territory. "We were making it up as we went along," confesses Eggington. "It was an immature industry."

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Accessibility In A Web 2.0 World?

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 15:14 UK time, Monday, 3 December 2007

accessibility_podcast.pngOne of the less talked-about issues recently has been accessibility. The web has moved on quite a bit in recent years, but it seems like we may be making some of the same mistakes we made back in 1999.

The latest in our BBC Backstage podcasts looks at this very difficult area of web development/design - and thanks to our participants, it's a lively and positive discussion.

There are more details on who's in the episode and how to get it at the Backstage Blog.

Ian Forrester is Senior Producer, FM&T projects.

The BBC's Homepage On July 7th 2005

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Martin Belam | 14:12 UK time, Monday, 3 December 2007

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of


Although I was Senior Development Producer for the BBC's homepage at the time, I wasn't actually in the office to help with coverage of the July 7th bombings. By the time I'd started travelling that day, television was already reporting "power surges" on the London Underground.

The BBC, of course, has a whole raft of plans and procedures for national emergencies. There was already an established process of handing control of the main picture promotional area of the homepage directly over to BBC News in the event of a major story breaking. However, that didn't seem to go far enough that day.

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