Thursday, 21 August 2008

The Third Man

It's completely been a day of two halves. The morning was spent at Northcliffe HQ in Derry Street, meeting our web developers and discussing priorities for the next batch of upgrades and fixes to our sites. It was a really useful meeting, not least because it's always good to actually meet people you're working with. Now, when our web support bod Martin says "it's on the development list", instead of visualising a big list of tasks which need doing, I will think of a busy team of developers working on them.

Then, back to the office, to put the finishing touches to our big ambitious multimedia project, which goes live tomorrow. In the unlikely event anyone's reading this before 7am tomorrow, here's the preview page (I'll update tomorrow morning with the live page).

The one thing I'm most annoyed at is that I can't for the life of me get the Dipity timeline embedded - weirdly the CMS just keeps deleting all the code whenever I press save. Which, after this morning - and coming hot on the heels of Twittergeddon - has got me thinking about the value of third party software vs in-house solutions.

Now, chief photographer and videographer David Berman has been having all kinds of problems with our video hosting service, so much so that we've ended up using vimeo instead. Not an ideal solution in terms of branding (although but you could argue we've ended up with better looking videos as a result). However, we will need to get them onto our official one eventually, so they stay in our burgeoning video archive.

For me, there's no in-house solution available for interactive timelines and maps, so it was third-party or nothing. But having met our web developers today, I'm confident that one day we will have. Maybe not in the near future though, looking at that list . . .

It's also striking the two biggest headaches we have - video hosting and comments - are both outsourced.

So, where does that leave us? While we'll definitely keep using free services like Dipity and vimeo, it would obviously be better to have our own solutions. Otherwise, there's always the sense you're trying to force a square peg into a round hole - and of course, there's always the threat they suddenly cease to be.

But then, there's so much going on out there. Will our web team, however good, ever be able to keep up with the explosion of creative solutions to web publishing that's out there? And should they even try? Where do you draw the line on providing services yourself, and finding them elsewhere?

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