Autocar is one of the UK's most long-established motoring magazines and its online version is one of Haymarket Media's Drupal sites. We worked alongside the internal team to upgrade the site from Drupal Six to Seven.
The upgrade posed a number of technical challenges around integration of vehicle data from external sources and migration of existing site data. As with most popular sites, there's no question of taking the site offline while data is moved; the business requirement is to migrate all the data and allow editors to continue adding new content right up to the point when the switchover happens. The Drupal Migrate module is essential here because it allows for differential content migration, picking up only on new or changed content. This means you can test your migration plan early and run it periodically throughout a project.
Reviewing the project with the Haymarket team, one of the big wins in the project was how much responsiveness we managed to get into the new theme despite the project being essentially a life and shift for a site with a desktop grid layout.
In this case, we worked alongside the Haymarket team, with our developers in complete charge of planning and development decisions, and the Haymarket team providing testing and quality assurance. This type of close collaboration is characteristic of many of our projects where we provide a mix of extra resource and specialist expertise. This approach enables internal teams to get on with the business as usual work which often leaves little space for one-off projects. Of course, it all depends on being able to apply team development techniques such as continuous integration, shared tracking systems, and zero-touch deployment.
Extending Four Four Two
Working on Four Four Two brought back a lot of memories for our developer Mark Davies, who read it avidly as a boy and continues to play football several times a week. The challenge on this site was to extend an existing site to introduce new features in time for the 2014 World Cup. These included improved internationalisation to support Indonesian and also to address cases where multiple languages were being shown inconsistently. This tends to be a problem in Drupal where a site has lots of contributed or custom modules; Drupal core does a good job of supporting multiple languages but it gets tricky to enforce the logic across custom code.
On top of that challenge, Four Four Two relies heavily on integration with a custom application called Statszone that provides a mind-numbing level of statistical detail about football matches. And of course, it all had to be in place and performing well for the World Cup when the site gets a big spike in traffic. To be honest, our developers love that kind of technical challenge.