Managing publications on a daily basis is an important yet often time-consuming part of digital publishing. Publication management needs to be easy to navigate and as time effective as possible, enabling media houses to spend time growing their business instead of performing administrative tasks.For over eight years, the Visiolink administration site has been an important development project forVisiolink, and it has been equally important to our customers and their daily publication management needs. Though the current Visiolink publication management system is very functional, it is not currently user-friendly, and it can by no means be considered modern.
In order to bring the publication management site up to date, a new site has been designed from the ground up, with heavy inspiration from the Material Design guidelines from Google. Before the development of a new site could begin, thorough research on the best possible web application technologies needed to be conducted. Google’s Polymer library immediately proved to be the ideal candidate.
In 2013, a team of engineers at Google started working on an experimental library that would later turn into Polymer. The library was created to bridge some of the gaps between browser vendors across all platforms and to give web developers everywhere a layer in which they could integrate their ideas for the future seamlessly and without immediate browser support.
In addition to the “polyfilling” capabilities, the library also aims to take web development a step further and make it even easier to develop smooth, robust web applications.
With concepts such as “Templates”, “Shady/Shadow DOM” and “Custom Elements”, the Polymer team is radically transforming web development and is already giving us a glimpse of the exciting things the future of web development holds.
In July 2015, the Polymer project team officially launched version 1.0 during Google IO, introducing a number of performance and stability improvements. The project is now formally considered “production ready”. The improved stability, combined with the platform’s Elements and continuous development, made it clear which technology should be used for the Visiolink Publishing Hub.
Elements – the Polymer building blocks
The building blocks of Polymer are called Elements. Using an almost LEGO-like approach, these blocks can be used to build advanced web applications. The Polymer team’s mantra is “There’s an Element for that”, meaning that most of the building blocks you might need have already been made into an Element. Due to a strong community and an active development team, the set of available Elements is growing rapidly.
Working closely with the Material Design team at Google, the Polymer team has already created a number of Elements that will make implementing Material Design on websites easier than ever before. These Elements, commonly known as Paper Elements due to their almost physical appearance, give developers ready-to-use components that follow the guidelines of Material Design.
In addition to the official and community-created Elements, the basis of any Polymer-based web application is formed using Custom Elements. Developers now have the tools to create their own self-contained Elements that can be used independently or as an integrated part of the web application.
Polymer summit – the beginning of the Visiolink Publishing Hub
In September 2015, we, the client-side developer team at Visiolink, went to a conference in Amsterdam to participate in the first official Polymer Summit, hosted by Google.
An evening of code labs followed by a day packed with inspirational keynotes and tech talks gave us the best possible foundation to start applying the library to our own projects. Most of these tech talks can be found on YouTube, and they are definitely worth a watch if you want to learn more about Polymer.
The decision to start using Google's library in Visiolink projects was easy to make once the simplicity and power of the library became apparent. The library has the potential to help creating future projects even easier and shorten development cycles.
The purpose of the Visiolink Publishing Hub
With almost a year of preparation, discussions, designs and countless mock-ups, the time has finally come to bring the Visiolink administration site, the Visiolink Publishing Hub, into the modern age in terms of layout, functionality and user experience.
The new site has increased focus on user flow, and it is our main objective to make the day-to-day management of a Visiolink solution even simpler and easier to frequent users as well as less frequent users. Users will experience:
- Improved user flow
- Modern and vibrant design
- Intuitive step-by-step workflows
Development of the new Visiolink Publishing Hub began in October 2015, incorporating the Polymer Library and Elements. Work on the new hub is coming along rapidly due to our dedicated, enthusiastic team of developers at the keyboards.
We are excited that we will be able to show our customers the new Publishing Hub very soon!