When developing a new platform, it’s always about choices. Choices that are depending on budget, future possibilities, company growth, personal development, browser support, business case, clients briefing, et cetera.

 

For a pharmaceutical platform the chances are that the client wants the website to perform perfectly in every browser, which includes older browsers. This means the focus might be completely different compared to a 3-week-campaign being promoted in TV commercials and cinemas.

 

"We had the privilege that the client actually wanted to create an award worthy project"

 

For Oasen, a water company in The Netherlands, we had the privilege that the client actually wanted to create an award worthy project. They wanted to trigger agencies to think out of the default ‘water company box’ and create a next level platform. As winning awards is what we do, this project soon became a high target within our organization.

 

From a technical point of view, this also triggered me. There has been a long due wish to create fully-responsive-one-page-sick-animation-platforms for a while now. This project fully suited this wish and made it possible to change our Javascript way of programming and create a new one-page architecture that would work for bigger platforms.

 

Maybe this needs a little more context regarding our past. We have been developing one-pagers for bigger platforms, but always with performance, architectural or budget issues. Because of those issues we didn’t have the flexibility to implement all the desirable animations, which caused us to fall back on the default browser behavior.

 

"This project needed a solid technical kick-off so I briefed a team of developers to invest time in different prototypes."

 

This project needed a solid technical kick-off so I briefed a team of developers to invest time into different prototypes. All with the same assignment; to setup a basic architecture requiring animation possibilities, data binding, easy routing/data handling and a learning curve that shouldn’t be too difficult for new developers on the project.

 

After a week of time investment, we had results with Durandal, Angular, Backbone, React, Meteor and a custom isomorphic setup. The first choice was to decide if we should work on a PHP/JS structure or go Isomorphic all the way through a meteor/node setup. The last option definitely was a big wish but became a no-go due to a big learning curve to fit in the scope of the project.

 

This left us with different Javascript frameworks. Each with their pros and cons but looking at a future proof setup we definitely wanted to use a popular framework that provides data binding all the way. We decided to go for ReactJS as codebase for the view components which we would complement with Director (routing connected to the REST API), GSAP (animation) and some custom code to link all the layers together.

 

"Choosing a new front-end framework with these high ambitions was more than enough thrill."

 

I think asking me “why these decisions?” would be a fair question regarding new technologies. Yes, in a new project we did start using Redux to complement React. And yes, we still want to try out an isomorphic setup in the future. But every project has its boundaries and choosing a new front-end framework with these high ambitions was more than enough thrill.

 

In the process it was pretty cool to see the interactions between our developers on the project. The two back-enders (at DPDK responsible for everything related to Database, PHP & Javascript architecture) did a great job on implementing the structure so the front-ender (at DPDK responsible for everything related to HTML, CSS & animations) could easily integrate custom animations without too much assistance.

 

"We actually won a Silver Lovie Award which is a pretty awesome achievement."

 

As technical lead, I want to motivate developers to challenge themselves. If we would’ve chosen a different -safer- approach we probably wouldn’t have a ‘shiny award-worthy one-page beauty’. In advance we now have three new projects running on the base that was created during this project, something none of our developers would’ve predicted 6 months ago.

 

In the end the customers of Oasen are really satisfied with the new website which is the most important goal of every project. And …wait for it… we actually won a Silver Lovie Award which is a pretty awesome achievement and hopefully the first step towards more recognition!

 

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