Archives for November 2012

Parallax Scrolling: James Bond

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Helene Sears Helene Sears | 12:00 UK time, Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My name is Helene Sears and I'm an Editorial Designer for BBC News.

My team produces a huge range of visuals including all of the daily charts, maps and infographics that accompany our online news stories.

We also work on longer interactive features which have ranged from visually explaining the Eurozone crisis to a calculator that tells you where you are on the global pay scale.

Recently developer Steven Atherton and I did a first for BBC News: we created an infographic using parallax scrolling - a technique originally used in 2D video games to create a 3D look and feel.

James Bond: Cars, catchphrases and kisses on BBC News

James Bond: Cars, catchphrases and kisses on BBC News

The subject we chose was a feature about the James Bond movie franchise reaching its 50 year anniversary - not urgent or the highest priority - but a good place to experiment.

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BBC iPlayer October Performance

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Dave Price Dave Price | 09:18 UK time, Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I’m Dave Price the head of BBC iPlayer and we’ve just published our monthly iPlayer performance pack for October.

We thought the Olympics was the highlight of the year but I’m delighted to tell you that we have broken the 200-million-requests-per-month mark, with 213 million requests for TV and radio programmes last month across all platforms.

This is an increase of +20% year-on-year boosted as usual by the great new autumn TV schedule delivering fantastic stats for iPlayer.

Choosing programmes by genre on BBC iPlayer

October trends

As we also saw during the Olympics, the way people are watching iPlayer on multiple different platforms and devices is changing.

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Connected Studio: BBC iPlayer Brief

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Adrian Woolard | 16:15 UK time, Monday, 26 November 2012

The ideas wall at a recent Connected Studio

The next couple of weeks are set to be very busy for the Connected Studio team as we prepare for a new year which will involve our back to back Creative Studios - BBC iPlayer and News.

We are still in the middle of our BBC Sport events which I will be posting a full update on soon but for now I am very happy to say that the iPlayer Innovation Brief has been released today and can be found on the Connected Studio site.

The iPlayer product team has focused on three themes:

1. Encouraging users in a continuous experience - what's the easiest and most natural journey from one programme to the next or deeper into related content?

2. Reminding users there's a smart alternative - how could iPlayer remind existing users to return more often? How can iPlayer reach out to users wherever they are? How can existing users help to make the first experience of non-users less overwhelming?

3. Enabling the discovery of hidden treasures - how can we make the browsing experience better, uncovering less obvious gems for new audiences?

A very important thing to note when getting to grips with this Brief is that the iPlayer team are not looking for dual screen/companion ideas or ideas that focus on individual programmes, but rather enhancements that scale across the product.

They will of course consider ideas for specific devices or platforms if they answer the challenges above.

We are now open to applications and details of how to get involved are on our website. The iPlayer Creative Studio does have the potential to fill up quickly - one way to keep right up to date is to join our mailing list, which you can do by emailing

Please find details of our event schedule below:

  • December 18-19: Sport Build Studio - Salford
  • January 22: TV iPlayer Creative Studio - London
  • January 21: News Creative Studio - London
  • February 11-12: TV iPlayer Build Studio - London
  • February 13-14: News Build Studio - London
  • February 21: Knowledge and Learning Creative Studio - Salford
  • March 5: Radio and Music Creative Studio - London
  • March 13-14: Knowledge and Learning Build Studio - Salford
  • April 23-24: Radio and Music Build Studio - London

If you would like to know more about Creative Studio pilots now in development Eleni Sharp, Senior Product Manager for Homepage has been working with Red Badger on their HPSN pilot Now and has written a great blog on how they are getting on.

Adrian Woolard is Programme Lead, BBC Connected Studio.

User Experience and Design: Developing BBC iPlayer Radio

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Yasser Rashid Yasser Rashid | 09:45 UK time, Monday, 26 November 2012

I'm Yasser Rashid the Head of User Experience and Design for TV & iPlayer, Radio & Music. My team work across a range of different digital propositions in the TV and Radio space that include improving current experiences and thinking about future ones.

The launch of BBC iPlayer Radio in October was an important step in the evolution of BBC Radio online. It's the first time we have been able to think about the future of the radio websites in a holistic way.

For the User Experience and Design team responsible for iPlayer Radio it was more than just a redesign. It was a complete rethink of the BBC Radio digital portfolio.

We've made a video to give an insight into what we do and who we are. It's only an overview but if you do have any questions about specific user experience topics then it would be great to hear them.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

There will be a blog post soon about the iPlayer Radio design process.

Yasser Rashid is the Head of User Experience and Design for TV & iPlayer, Radio & Music.

What's on BBC Red Button 24 November - 1 December

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Sorcha Clifford Sorcha Clifford | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 24 November 2012

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Attenborough.jpgDavid Attenborough past and present

David Attenborough - the early years

Delve into David Attenborough's remarkable 60 years of wildlife broadcasting with specially selected clips from BBC Four's collection on the Red Button.

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Comments and Cakes

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Eliza Kessler Eliza Kessler | 16:00 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2012

Hi, my name's Eliza and I'm the new content producer on the BBC Internet blog. It's my job to get people from around BBC Online to write about the work that they and their teams do.

I have been at the BBC for around five years, have worked across lots of different departments and consider it a big privilege to be able to highlight the innovative and cutting edge work carried out by my colleagues all across the organisation.

The events of the last few weeks have thrown a shadow over all of us, but I continue to believe in both the BBC and its values. We are impartial and honest and that means we should be transparent and open about what we do. This blog, like many BBC blogs, is a place to do that.

However, the Internet blog isn't just another forum for us to talk to you. It also gives us a chance to listen to what you have to say to us: to tell us what you think of our online products, to feedback on changes that have been made to them, to tell us about things you don't like or and maybe even occasionally to give some praise.

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Connected Studio: Now pilot

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Eleni Sharp Eleni Sharp | 10:15 UK time, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

In May the BBC Homepage became the first product to take part in the new Connected Studio initiative.

As product manager for the Homepage I was really looking forward to this and couldn't wait to hear the ideas which were going to be pitched to us.

The Creative Studio Workshop Day

The Creative Studio Workshop Day

Over six months have now passed since the initial creative studio day and the pilots are now well underway. One of these pilots is called Now by creative software team Red Badger.

As the champion for the Now project I thought I would share my experience so far.

As the name suggests we want to create a time based Homepage to give a real feeling of liveliness.

By offering different levels of manual and automatic personalisation the user gets live information on things that they are most interesting in, be it Strictly or F1.

This 'fast lane' of content, which is relevant to you, sits on the right hand side of the page and updates dynamically.

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What's on BBC Red Button 17-24 November

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Sorcha Clifford Sorcha Clifford | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 17 November 2012

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The Rolling Stones ©Rolling Stones Archive

The Rolling Stones

Rock legends The Rolling Stones are 50 this year and we've got some brilliant extras coming up on the Red Button to celebrate. Speaking to Radio 2's Jo Whiley and Huey Morgan just before their 50th anniversary tour, the band reveal the highs and lows of five decades in rock 'n' roll.

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Dick and Dom's Hoopla: Gaming on CBBC

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Sophie Bradshaw Sophie Bradshaw | 12:00 UK time, Friday, 16 November 2012

Hello I'm Sophie Bradshaw, Technical Project Manager in Future Media Children's.

When CBBC legends Dick and Dom announced that their newest show was going to be a bungalow inspired show taking place in a battered old fairground in Devon, we knew straight away there was a great opportunity for some exciting interactive CBBC content.

Dick and Dom's Hoopla

Dick and Dom's Hoopla

In their latest outing, Dick and Dom's Hoopla, the pair take their version of a carnival to the unsuspecting public.

As ringmasters they host a combination of silly and messy games, circus and music acts and some terrifying clowns to create a show full of mystery, silliness and a good helping of grossness all of which we wanted to re-create online.

With our interactive offering we wanted to bring our audience closer to the fun and mayhem of the carnival atmosphere.

Together with external interactive specialists Team Cooper of Sheffield we spent three months in the Dick and Dom mind-set creating a suite of games to take the Hoopla experience beyond TV and onto the website.

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Barlesque: Going responsive

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Dan Forys Dan Forys | 12:15 UK time, Thursday, 15 November 2012

Hello I'm Dan Forys a software engineer in the Future Media Platform team. I work in a small team dedicated to front-end frameworks and libraries used by the rest of the BBC. One of those frameworks is Barlesque.

Ostensibly Barlesque is the header and footer of most BBC web pages. In reality it's a framework providing global templates, styles and modules.

It currently provides three main versions - a 'Legacy' version for older pages, a fixed-width desktop version and a mobile version - 'Mobilesque'.


Today, delivering two different versions of a page for mobile and desktop is not always desirable. There is a development overhead to creating and maintaining two different codebases and users don't want to learn different interfaces on different devices.

Also, increasingly there is no clear delineation between what constitutes a mobile device and a desktop device. Supplying a 'desktop' experience with a (normally) higher download weight to a netbook on a train with poor connectivity might be a poor experience, even though it is equipped with a desktop-grade browser.

Similarly, a connected TV - whilst not physically mobile - might have poor browser support for a desktop-grade experiences.

As a result there are many teams now working on device-agnostic responsive products and Barlesque has to work in a similar way.

Because Barlesque is the 'glue' that binds the page together with every other team's products we need to be one step ahead to deliver optimal experiences, whatever the device.

With this in mind a few months back we started developing a new version of Barlesque - codenamed ORB - or 'One Response Barlesque'. The One Response referring to our goal of having a single, cacheable response that will be quick to load on slow devices and connections.

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New carousel for the BBC Homepage

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Eleni Sharp Eleni Sharp | 09:29 UK time, Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Changes to BBC Homepage carousel high-lighted

Changes to the BBC Homepage highlighted - a new flavour bar and a simplified carousel

Hello, I'm Eleni Sharp, Product Manager of the BBC Homepage.

I'm delighted to tell you about a development on the Homepage which the team and I have been working on and which went live yesterday.

We have been developing the following new features to the carousel which takes up the top half of the page. The changes are based on how we can see the audience have been using the page and also what people have told us about the page during audience feedback sessions.

From today the Homepage has changed in the following ways:

• There's a revised content mix in the carousel

• There's a new flavour bar in the middle of the page

News and Sport are no longer grouped together

• Carousel rotations are no longer dependant on interaction with the flavour bar, hopefully making it easier for people to see more content

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What's on BBC Red Button 10 November - 17 November

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 10 November 2012

What's On 

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Six New Comedy Award finalists

New Comedy Award Live

Who will be crowned the king, or queen, of comedy at this year's New Comedy Awards? Find out on the Red Button as we host the grand final live from Blackpool. From 800 entrants, six funny hopefuls will battle it out, hoping their killer lines will deliver them the New Comedy Award 2012 title.

Host Patrick Kielty will be joined by a comedy panel including Stephen K Amos, who will give their verdict on the performances before handing over to the public vote. Don't miss your chance to get involved - you can vote for your favourite online or by SMS.

Find out more about the BBC Radio New Comedy Award here.

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Connected Studio Sport brief: my take

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Matthew Clark | 10:40 UK time, Tuesday, 6 November 2012

BBC Sport on many different devices

How can BBC Sport make the best use of new technologies, ever-increasing Internet connectivity, and social media growth, to offer more to audiences?

I'm Matthew Clark, Senior Technical Architect for Future Media Sport.

As I wrote in my last blog post, it's been a busy year, due to a plethora of new features made in time for this summer's Olympics. With the Games now over, it's time to consider what's next: what is the future of online Sport coverage? How can we make the best use of new technologies, ever-increasing Internet connectivity, and social media growth, to offer more to the BBC's audiences? That's a big question, so it's excellent timing that we have the Sport Connected Studio to help.

The BBC Connected Studio programme has its own website with all the details, but here's a summary:

Over the course of the year the programme works with ten BBC Online product teams of which BBC Sport is the 6th. You can attend as an individual or a business/organisation, and there's some financial support available for the later stages. (See the FAQ for more.) To give you an idea of Connected Studio's ambition and what has happened so far you can have a look at a post from Adrian Woolard, Programme lead on Connected Studio going through all the current pilots.

So, on to the brief for Sport. You can view it here, but here's my take.

We're focusing on live sporting events - moments where major sport events are happening and large numbers of people are following it online. What can be done to make this a more rewarding experience? In particular, we're looking at two scenarios:

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Delivering the Digital Olympics: a programme management perspective

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Mark Smith | 09:50 UK time, Monday, 5 November 2012

BBC Olympics programme management chart

Product releases in the run-up to the Digital Olympics

The BBC's digital coverage of this summer's London Olympic Games has been widely recognized as a great success, with audience online viewing figures and feedback exceeding expectations, as detailed in Cait O'Riordan's post "The story of the digital Olympics".

Reporting to Cait, as the L2012 programme manager, I was responsible for the delivery of the product development and in this blog, I'll review some of the challenges we faced in delivering this coverage, how they were met by the BBC's Future Media delivery team, the key lessons we learnt along the way and the legacy that remains for the coverage of future major events.

This blog post is aimed at project and programme managers, but will be of interest to anyone facing the challenge of managing large software projects.

Organisation and Development Approach

The complexity of delivering 24 hour live coverage of every event, with up to 24 streams of video, web pages for each of the 30 venues, 204 teams, 10,490 athletes and the results of every event, alongside coverage of the Torch Relay and 2012 cultural events, required a large team of product development staff working alongside key suppliers, over an 18 month period up to the Games.

The team had significant experience in 'agile' website development using scrum and kanban techniques, but had to define how this would work alongside the more traditional 'waterfall' development with an immovable deadline. We were also working with partners to deliver the new technologies needed to deliver the 2500 hours of video and data driving the dynamic creation of thousands of web pages, which added to the complexity of coordinating the programme of work.

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What's On BBC Red Button 3rd November - 10th November

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Tess Foster Tess Foster | 06:00 UK time, Saturday, 3 November 2012

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Florence + the Machine live in concert

Radio 2 In Concert: Florence + the Machine

Join us live on the Red Button from the beautiful Rivoli Ballroom in South East London for BBC Radio 2 In Concert with Florence + the Machine on Thursday 8th November. Florence and the band will be performing classic tracks and songs from their latest album Ceremonials, plus talking to Jo Whiley straight after the show. You can also watch at or on BBC Big Screens.

Watch highlights of the concert and interview on the Red Button and online from 9pm on Friday 9th November.

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Developer refreshed

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Chris Harrod | 10:29 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2012

a high level view of the development process

A high level view of the development process

Hi, I'm Chris Harrod, and I work within the Online Technology Group of BBC Online.

I have been involved in making some improvements to the look, feel and navigation of Developer the website that provides information about how to develop for the BBC. Developer gives you the first steps towards access to the BBC's back end systems, the platform on which much of our online technology is built, and the tools we use to build our web applications and delivery systems.

While a lot of people know the BBC web offerings as a place to consume content - sites such as BBC iPlayer, Sport and News - we also encourage some coders to interact directly with our systems. Therefore we have had a number of initiatives such as Backstage, and the Connected Studio, where developers can use our Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to mash up our content into new and pleasing formats.

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