BBC Four A-Z-o-tron

 by Martin Belam, 10 September 2004

The BBC Four web site got a design facelift and spruce up this week - and part of the project was a mini-CPS to allow the team to automatically generate subsets of their A-Z index for genres like music and documentaries. It was a great example of a how a quick idea being well specified can consequently be delivered rapidly - which I was very happy with.

However, I learnt a valuable lesson as a manager of these kind of projects - which is all about specifying the name of the project. Since I didn't, I am now the proud owner of an "A-Z-o-tron", which I can tell you looks just great when I list it amongst the portfolio of projects I look after!


hmm, is there any reason why bbc four has become an a-z index rather than the more traditional "this is what's on bbc four this week". When I click on "films and dramas" or "documentaries" I would normally expect to find out what films, dramas and documentaries are coming up, not be given a geeky a-z classification of these genres. to put it mildly, it seems odd.

a-z-o-tron? That's my kind of name! We need more like that :) Much better than Index Builder, Content Builder, Blanket Builder, Bed Builder, Roof Builder etall that we have in our department!

djt - I didn't input into the architecture of the site myself, so I haven't really looked around the site beyond the A-Z. It is my understanding that the genre sub-sections on the right-hand side of the homepage is where you will find links to all the latest content. Bear in mind, that like all of the BBC channel / station sites there isn't content made for every programme - it would be too expensive in our current set-up. The TV Listings are still there - and in Daily and Weekly printable formats as well.

Not too sure what the benefit of an RSS feed for an A-Z genre index would be...

Well my philosophy is that if we provide it then the lazyweb will probably think of something useful to do with it. In fact I *can* think of applications already - writing something to track the publication of new BBC Four content, or to track the publication of content featuring specific keywords / artists etc would be one possibility, and obviously it would be a lot easier for someone to build that on RSS rather than HTML scraping.

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