Backend development of a weather forecast page

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Services:
Backend development
Industry:
Media
Date:
2018
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The change and unpredictability of the weather is a popular topic of conversation - sometimes it is embarrassingly common in everyday life. It is perhaps not surprising that the often extreme weather conditions also pose serious challenges to the infrastructure of an online service on the subject. To serve unexpected visitor peaks and ever-changing datasets, the Cheppers team created a backend solution.

With more than four million monthly visits, Köpönyeg.hu is one of the largest weather websites in the country. Its embedded weather forecasts can also be found on better-known, high-traffic public and news portals. New Wave Media Group, which develops and operates the website, has launched a tender for the backend development of the site and the mobile application, which the Cheppers team has won and (spoiler follows!) successfully completed.

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Challenges

The complete redesign and related development was necessitated by the rather outdated source code of the old site. Some circumstances arising from the nature of the website and the related mobile application posed particularly unique challenges to the development team:

  • Frequent and sudden peak visits in the event of extreme weather events (eg. storms, thunderstorms) carried the risk of the system collapsing.
  • Data from external service providers in different formats. We also had to gather a huge variety and complex information from Ogim, Temis, Time and Date AS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Watermarking Service, the National Air Pollution Measurement Network, the State Public Health and Medical Officer Service, and the National Meteorological Service.
  • Collaborate with multiple external development teams and coordinate work (if one gets stuck, the other can’t move forward…).
     

... and the solutions

The project consisted of 4 developers, 1 tech lead and a project manager, with the support of the development manager if required - for a total of about 2,000 man-hours in 6 two-week sprints. A flexible framework was needed to serve individual needs, so we chose Laravel.

 

We brought the following answers to the challenges:

  • Due to the constant updating of weather data, short caching times had to be applied, but this puts a heavier load on the servers. The operations team helped plan the cache and manage the load that threatened to crash the system with performance optimization.
  • Overcoming the challenge posed by many data formats was the most complex, complex organization task. Finally, we managed to integrate all the information into a single interface, be it JSON, XML, satellite image, or HTML format. Functionality was verified by enhanced, partially automated testing.
  • In order to facilitate the efficient and up-to-date flow of information, we have continuously documented, e.g. We logged into a so called apiDoc so that developers working with a given API endpoint could work seamlessly. Teams from different locations were able to join the project discussions in the morning online.
     

The result:

The renovated website was handed over in September 2018. In addition to revamping the backend, the interface has also been given a more modern look. The main page looked like this before and after the development:

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After arming the website and admin interface, we started developing the endpoints and features that serve the mobile application. Some of the endpoints serving the website could also be used for the mobile app, but we had to develop several new API endpoints and functionalities because the application required a different operating logic. The application is mostly used via mobilenet, so optimizing data traffic (e.g. smaller images) was also essential.

The website and mobile application were developed in compliance with international industry coding standards, and the functionality was verified by a series of automated tests. At the end of September 2018, we handed over a completed, operational application to the customer.

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