Publishing across platforms using the Wrapper Pattern

I spoke at the Paris Web conference 2018:


What will the Web of tomorrow look like? With an increasing array of publishing platforms to think about, from AMP to Apple News to Facebook Instant Articles, the very principles of the Web are being tested. A URI – Unique Resource Identifier – is no longer particularly unique when it’s being duplicated in many forms.

In this talk I will explore the implications of this technological landscape: the pressure on publishers to get their content out to where audiences now live; the siloing effect of multi-platform delivery (audiences no longer need to leave their bubble to get content). Mostly, I will describe the technological challenges associated with managing this increased complexity, and how we have dealt with the challenges in the Visual Journalism team at the BBC.

We’ve developed an innovative “wrapper pattern” which isolates our code from the environment in which it is shipped, so that we can write the code once and deploy it to multiple platforms, avoiding handling edge cases in each platform and leaving this complexity to the abstraction layer.

The technical solution requires collaboration with multiple teams, as each platform delivery team has to adopt the naming convention we’ve used for our content and how it is represented in the CMS.

It’s by no means a silver bullet, and even with the wrapper abstraction we have to deal with the edge cases of certain platforms under certain conditions.

I will explain the thinking behind the wrapper pattern, how we’ve implemented it, and how we tackle problems that we continue to face with it.