Uganda Radio Network, URN, is a subscription-based independent news agency in Uganda. News is distributed through an online article management system and having operated for half a dozen years, in early 2010, due to circumstances, they had to move away from their tried and trusted system to a locally created one.
Though serviceable, this system lacked a number of features and URN asked for a grant to have a proper article management system for them developed. Twaweza answered that call, hired me and the rest is history.
Predominantly, URN’s clients are radio stations from all over Uganda. The news distributed often includes audio files which can be used by these radio stations alongside the news items.
In the past, all news was only available to paying subscribers. However, from now on, all news becomes public after seven days, with the news younger than seven days being partially available to the public as well. The expectation is that the library of over 30000 articles will quickly generate a significant number of eyeballs and, perhaps, additional income through advertising.
The biggest challenge for building the URN website was not so much creating the article management system, but consolidating the content from the two previous systems into one, both having been designed along very different lines. Specifically because the most recent system was built in Drupal and, so it seems, no proper export module exists for Drupal, consolidating all these articles was the most time consuming bit of the job.
ugandaradionetwork.com consists of two parts. The more conventional, ‘corporate’, website was built on WordPress, the article management system was custom built using PHP, MySQL and jQuery. Here’s a list of tools, services and whatnot I consulted along the way.
+ Buttons were styled, based on an article on Particletree.
+ The geographical coordinates of physical locations are picked up from Tiny Geocoder.
+ CAPTCHAs are served by captchas.net.
+ Plenty of icons are from the excellent silk icon set from famfamfam.com.
+ Area52.nl helped me with a few Drupal tips and some extremely helpful code.
+ Search is done through Google Site Search.
+ WYSIWYG editing for contributors, journalists, is done with CKEditor.
+ The commenting facilities are hosted by Disqus.
+ The banner which currently crowns the WordPress pages was made by a URN employee. However, I adjusted a few photos by Flickr users for usage as banners. These might show up in the future. These photos were by Flickr users diga, John Connell, Kigali Wire, Internews Network and IICD.
You know, it’s almost like having colleagues.