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IDT Migrates from Adobe to Drupal

An easy-to-use interface keeps pace with the company's fast-growing markets. 

Project Highlights

Integrated Device Technology, Inc (IDT), the market leader in timing,serial switching interfaces, wanted a new website without the hassle of maintaining the code of a homegrown Web Content Management System (CMS). IDT found it difficult and costly to keep its previous site's content current, as the staff struggled with the system's overall complexity and inflexibility. IDT approached Mediacurrent to help migrate the ColdFusion site to Drupal. The legacy site was starting to show signs of age, and IDT wanted to avoid being locked into yet another CMS that would fail to evolve.

IDT required a solution that would prove to be fast, have an extremely easy-to-use interface, scale to thousands of products and offer the flexibility to grow and change quickly to keep pace with the company's markets. Mediacurrent and IDT turned to Drupal to leverage its vast array of features that allow non-technical product managers to easily and quickly deploy product updates.

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Like the innovative engineering developments at IDT, there are risks and unknowns in any complex web design project. Mediacurrent’s highly-skilled team was able to mitigate our risks with a detailed specification and then tackle the unknowns with creative solutions. These skills coupled with a prowess in project management and clear communication makes for a valuable service.

 

 

Andrew Luchsinger Interactive Director, IDT

Challenges and Solutions

An Aging Proprietary Platform 

IDT's existing website was a homegrown ColdFusion-based framework that could not keep up with the pace of the ever-developing web and the flood of new IDT products. When a site is built on a homegrown framework authored by one person, clients must choose between implementing new features, fixing bugs, or updating content. Conversely, when a site is built on an open source framework like Drupal, bugs and security patches are maintained by the community so that time can be spent on customized solutions, and content can be managed by individuals who don’t have a technical background.

One of the largest technical hurdles that Mediacurrent faced was the limitations on JavaScript when rendered by older browsers. The primary issue is that some browsers have a maximum number of lines of code that can run before they display a "script timeout" error. Even though the Parametric Search script was running in just a few seconds the users would still see that error.

Solution: Infinite Scroll and JSON

Mediacurrent resolved the problem with a two-pronged approach. First, Mediacurrent moved pre-calculation into the related Drupal module and passed the pre-compiled HTML to the JavaScript via JSON. This allowed the JavaScript to be limited to handle basic input and output.

Second, Mediacurrent implemented an Infinite Scroll to address the issue that a single Parametric Search might have hundreds of products that could still trip the "script timeout" error. The Infinite Scroll solved the overall problem by only displaying the first 50 products when the page is first loaded. When a user scrolled to a pre-set region towards the bottom of the page an AJAX request was queued to load 50 more products. This process would continue as the user scrolled down the page until the user stopped scrolling or all of the products were displayed. The combination of these two solutions allows the Parametric Search to easily scale while still loading in under a few seconds for older browsers.

Theming, Migration, and Usability

In conjunction with the migration from the legacy platform, the IDT.com graphic design was also redesigned as part of the project. IDT's marketing team worked with a designer to create mockups and style guides. Mediacurrent then adapted the PSDs to use the grid-based AdaptiveTheme. The project team chose the AdaptiveTheme because all layouts are content first, supporting information (sidebars) second. The enriched semantic markup is lightweight, which means quicker page load and rendering times. AdaptiveTheme also fully supports both RDFa and ARIA Roles, further improving semantics and content findability.

Mediacurrent worked closely with the IDT team to ensure cross-browser compatibility and a uniform user experience. CSS3 and jQuery were used to implement features like rotating slideshow blocks and jQuery UI sliders.

Open Source

Ease of Use

The legacy site allowed for updating of content, but most users avoided making updates because they found the system too complex when adding data. To encourage the product managers to engage and update the new site, we engineered the site to allow for entry/modification of products in only one screen, leveraging data from existing products to reduce redundant input.
Content Strategy

Content Migration

The Migrate module was used to import tens of thousands of product-related data assets including node references. IDT can also utilize this module to import large batches of products at a later date. Additional Migrate scripts and plugins were written to allow data to be imported for content with custom field types, well beyond the standard field types.

Code

External Integrations

The new site references data from multiple external vendors to provide crucial product-related information to IDT customers. Mediacurrent combined multiple APIs (SOAP and REST) with a tiered caching system to provide the most up-to-date data to users while intelligently managing server load.

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Featured Modules

Development

Business Groups: The Business Group module tied users together with one or more business groups so users would only see the applicable fields (out of 200 possible fields) when they add/edit a product. This module was used to tie in with the Conditional Fields module.

Document Importer: The document importer module polls a local XML file generated by the Document Management System for updates to documents. If changes are detected, the operations are passed off to the Drupal Queue for the appropriate execution as well as moving the document to the correct location.

Field Rollup: IDT offers a very diverse product lineup. It is possible for one product to have hundreds of deviations of that product. An example would be a "Clock Generator" - product 5T929 shows two orderable product options that range in Core Voltage, Input Frequency, Input Signal, Output Voltage, Output Frequency Range and Output type. All of these different options need to be rolled up into the "Product Specification". Mediacurrent created a CCK module that allowed staff members to choose which columns/fields they wanted to show in the table. The module then consolidates all of the information from the product options and displays it as an easy-to-read tables. It was important that Views was not used to ensure the staff would only have to go to one screen to create/edit products.

Final Thoughts

Armed with cutting-edge Drupal tools such as the Migrate module and Apache Solr integration, the project team delivered on IDT's requirements and launched under budget. Employees in IDT offices around the globe report faster loading times compared to the old site, while product managers enjoy a system that is easier to keep current with the latest product information.

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