Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 18 months working at The Washington Post

December 19, 2013.

Yesterday was my last day as an employee of The Washington Post. I completely enjoyed working for a great institution. I've dedicated nearly the last 20 years to two foundations of democracy: newspapers and public education. The last 18 months at The Washington Post were great.

I’m very proud of the work I did on the mobile web version of The Washington Post. You can see it when you go to http://m.washingtonpost.com on your phone. On a desktop browser you can see it by going to http://m.washingtonpost.com/settings and setting mobile version. I came in late to the project and the initial development work was done by David Young and Thad Cox. I learned a lot from both of them. We were part of a great team. No other paper’s mobile web application supports offline reading as well as The Washington Post and has the performance this feature provides.

Live sports scores and other content like Post Pulse and Topicly are displayed in this version using wpwidgets. This is a technology that I developed and expect it will be used as long as the current platform is supported. It was one of my better accomplishments.

I am very proud of the implementation of comments on mobile web. I love the performance and the clean display using Joey Marburger’s design and Sean Soper’s excellent Argus platform. I came away believing adopting graph database technology to comments will revolutionize web comments especially with paywalls. That is for the future.

Another accomplishment was the 2012 Election Night coverage that was designed specifically for mobile. I had the privilege of working with the very talented Katie Park on this project. Nodejs was used on the backend to convert the Associated Press election results API into SVG maps. These were then converted into PNG maps on Amazon Web Services for mobile. Various techniques were used to take advantage of cache but still provide the latest results. One take away was that no news organization can report on elections without JavaScript.

Duncan Graham became a good friend at The Post. We worked together to host The Washington Post JavaScript Users Group. It was out of these meetings that I developed the concept of JavaScript Journalism and hoped that it could be a common vision for the newsroom and IT.

The final item I want to mention is the concept app called PostDeck. I’ll write up more details in a separate post. I completely enjoyed developing this design and tablet vision of a large newspaper. The feedback from my fellow developers was appreciated.

The Washington Post is very innovative and the entire industry has huge opportunities ahead. I wish my former colleagues the best. Thanks to all the staff, not just the ones mentioned above, for a great 18 months. I’ll miss working with you and look forward to seeing your great work for years to come.

I will be moving on to develop my own apps at http://daly-apps.com. I'll post more about these web apps separately. 

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