Behind the scenes: The new Virgin Radio website and what’s so special about it - Questers

Behind the scenes: The new Virgin Radio website and what’s so special about it


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A talk with Gabriel Dimitrov, Senior JavaScript Engineer at News UK team @Questers

gabriel.jpgAfter our insightful interview with Liwen Knight-Zhang, Head of Engineering at Product Platforms team at News UK, who made a comprehensive review of the project for the new Virgin Radio website, we are now talking to one of the many great engineers that had their hands-on on it – Gabriel Dimitrov. He is a Senior JavaScript Engineer in the Product Platforms division. Read how he and his team have contributed to the development of the new website.

Your team has been actively working on a number of tools that have been used in the creation of the new Virgin Radio website. Can you share some details about Product Platforms and the specific tools you have been working on?

Product Platforms is a division of News UK Tech, which is subdivided into three smaller teams that work closely together:

  • NewsKit API. This team is creating a federated GraphQL server, which provides a unified data point, used to receive the title’s data.
  • NewsKit Designs system creates components in React, which are used when building a website.
  • NewsKit Render: The actual application, built on Next and React, that can be used to scaffold a new website from scratch.

The idea of Product Platforms is to create a title agnostic solution to support various brands in the News Corp family. With one command, you can easily build the base of a working project that can become a fully functional website with just a few configurations (similar to create-react-app). We can even provide our titles with their very own sitemap.

What was your contribution to the development of the new website?

I have been part of NewsKit API for a year, where I worked on all parts of the application and gained in-depth knowledge of GraphQL and the application itself.

During the last six months, I’ve been working with NewsKit Render, where I took full advantage of the knowledge gained in NewsKit API. For this short period, I managed to significantly contribute to the project and also develop myself.

With regards to the Virgin Radio website, it was the first one to use our solution. NewsKit Design System provided Virgin Radio with the many components you see on the live site, including the radio player, cards, navigation and more. NewsKit API provided the middleware layer that allows data to be obtained from our various data sources and displayed on the Virgin Radio website.  NewsKit Render is the foundational platform that the web components sit upon, which ensures optimal web performance.

Me and my team helped with the setup, configuration and deployment of the new website. With the feedback from the Virgin Radio team, we were able to polish our project.

What’s the most challenging part of working in the Product Platforms team?

As I mentioned, Product Platforms is split into three teams, and the Render team is the consumer of the other two. The challenging part is that sometimes you might find something missing either from the design system or from the API, and no matter how closely we are working, it might take some time for the other teams to add it. That blocks our work for a while.

However, we always find a way to solve a given problem with good communication and mutual understanding.

Any other exciting projects you are currently working on?

We are just about to finish adding an Account section into our application, that again, is as flexible as possible so that our consumers can configure it the way they want to. In the near future, we’ll start implementing a Checkout section as well.

For a more high-level overview on this huge project read our talk with Liwen Knight-Zhang, Head of Engineering at Product Platforms.

Also, make sure to check out our vacancies for the News UK team in Sofia and be part of the next amazing project they are building.

Behind the scenes: The new Virgin Radio website and what’s so special about it | Questers


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