Publisher turns to open source for speedy site

Publisher turns to open source for speedy site

Web tools allow Scholastic UK to cut costs and development time of online book club

Scholastic UK, the subsidiary of the world’s largest children’s book publisher, has used open-source development tools to speed up the creation of its web site.

The Scholastic Children’s Book Club Online provides young readers with a colourful web environment and information about their favourite authors, games, quizzes and book reviews, and the ability to create their own member pages.

The site was built using open-source application Ruby on Rails, with supplier New Bamboo project managing the development.

The company was keen to minimise the time it took its four-man development team to create the site, and to add new functions and applications to meet print publishing deadlines, said Scholastic UK web project director Peter Mahnke.

Using Ruby on Rails and agile programming techniques, New Bamboo was able to help Scholastic UK break down the typically long development cycles into a
series of small components and functions that can be built within two weeks.

“It really makes it easier and more dependable to make sure the critical things are done on time while having a completely usable site,” said Mahnke.

“Most of the other web integration firms we looked at were freelance or tiny companies, which meant we would have been left to manage the development 100 per cent by ourselves. New Bamboo was the only firm we could find that would take on a front-end management project.”

The entire project cost just £30,000 and shortened development time by about 20 per cent, said Mahnke.

He expects to recoup costs in the short term because extra developers do not need to be hired, and the new site is expected to deliver increased book orders.

“It is also about holding the kids’ interest and encouraging them to order books more frequently ­ if they have a site that engages them and creates more of a community feel, it should help with the frequency and amount of books they order,” said Mahnke.