iPlayer on TV launched 10 years ago and has grown from small numbers to being the largest iPlayer platform. iPlayer’s success led to other BBC apps, and as smart TV capabilities have improved, so has the scope and ambition of the BBC’s interactive TV experiences.
TV application development comes with a wide variety of challenges. David Buckhurst and Ross Wilson explore the evolution of the BBC’s TV application architecture, from the early days courting different native technologies to the development of an open source library and standards-based platform that supports multiple BBC applications across thousands of TVs. Today the BBC supports multiple applications across thousands of different televisions, set-top boxes, and game consoles, but it has been a challenge getting there.
David and Ross explain how the BBC took 14 different codebases and our different apps—all complex, client-side applications—and brought them together into a single runtime, consolidating the architecture and eventually moving to a hybrid application driven by server-side rendering while retaining the feel of a client-side application. As well as evolving its architecture, the BBC evolved its approach to testing, moving from six-month release gaps to multiple releases per day, challenging its thinking continually in an effort to move faster and innovate continually.
David Buckhurst is an engineering manager at the BBC, where he looks after the teams who develop interactive TV applications such as iPlayer and Red Button. David has a long history of working with complex device-based challenges. He’s been a vocal advocate of automated testing for years, having really seen the value of automation while developing emulator technology such as Apple’s Rosetta. Previously, he led the development of Hive CI, the BBC’s device testing cloud, and adopted an open development approach that made many of the BBC’s testing tools available open source.
Ross Wilson is a senior software engineer at the BBC building connected TV experiences for products like iPlayer, News, Sport, and Red Button. Ross has helped the BBC develop a powerful platform to deliver applications to thousands of varied devices, a technical transformation that supports millions of audience experiences each day. More recently, Ross has been leading the adoption of modern technologies and tooling to allow the teams to continue to offer a flexible, powerful solution to the organization.
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