Dan Govan

2014 in review: voila widgets

Our site calls Voila “a toolbox for tracking shows you love today & discovering shows you’ll love tomorrow” and one of my jobs since joining Metabroadcast in the summer has been to make frontend prototypes built in JavaScript to showcase its power.

As Voila’s built on our very own Atlas it has a crazy amount of information about all sorts of programmes and people, and I’ve probably only scratched the surface!

the demos

We started with the suggestions endpoint which weighs up different factors to suggest the best things on tv, radio or on-demand for a given date. For example it surfaces primetime films and sinks news and daily programs. You can add filters (see below) to change the date or searches by genre and a click through for more details on a given program and you’ve got the first demo widget!

From there we riffed onto “people”, using the same framework but focussed on which people the shows featured, with clickthroughs giving more detail on the person and what upcoming shows they were also in. For simplicity we went with the most important person for each show but there’s normally quite a few.

Next we set up a simple episode guide that gives you the last few hundred episodes for a show, along with the associated image, descriptions and when and where they can be seen. As an alternate datasource for that we put together a search so you can get details on any programs you like. This widget currently makes way too many API calls though, definitely something to work on in 2015.

Next up we have a watchlist widget that’s still being worked on, it lets you add your favourite programs to a list and then gives you a custom schedule of when they’re on, as well as letting you curate your favourites list with search functionality too.

showcasing to clients, testing to colleagues

As well as the obvious fun of getting to know a multifarious API it’s been really interesting acting as an in-house client. We’re used to throwing a load of data at the system but adding a UI lets you see (part of) what actually comes out is an eye opener, and exploring our own systems from a different angle lets us see first-hand what improvements can be made, and even better where we can take them next!

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