Don't Panic! Teletext have got page numbers first! Don't panic!

Posted on 6 November 2004 in BBC red button, Interactive TV (No comments)

It's actually quite nice for the press release announcing that BBCi is launching page numbers to have finally been released. For starters it means I can start talking about it properly...

And with the forthcoming launch (I ain't going to give a day just in case it doesn't happen) I spent some time this morning lurking around some of the more 'opinionated' (read 'full of know-it-alls') message boards, seeing what people have been saying about the idea coming to the service. There wasn't much - general mumours that it was a good thing, but with some impressive comments from one person on Digital Spy's forums.

"I assume Teletext UK's decision to include page numbers on their new interactive service a few weeks back had an influence. "

post from the BBCi Ceefax Numbers thread

Later on the same person wrote:

"As I said, the point I was making is that Teletext UK got their first, BBCi have been given a kick up the backside and I'm glad to see BBCi are now pulling their finger out to catch up."

another post from the BBCi Ceefax Numbers thread

I find this rather amusing for several reasons. Partly because the poster seems to think that you can knock up a complex piece of software in a few days, but mainly because the poster seems to think that we were running around the office like headless chickens, in a major panic, shouting at each other "Argh! Teletext have launched page numbers! What are we going to do!?! Don't panic! Don't panic! Argh! Don't panic!" before frantically rushing off and building something in retaliation!

Of course, we should always remember Bods's top rule of development - a rush job, is a crap job - and those on the board with experience of the real world seemed appear to have put the poster in their place - things aren't that simple, aren't that quick.

And isn't that true! I actually started on the page numbers project back in September 2003, doing research and building up the proposition (whilst doing other things) before we started satellite build back in March 2004.

It's been a long project and hasn't been easy - we're crow-baring functionality into an existing service that was never built with such functionality in mind and it isn't quick and certainly isn't easy.

Of course it was mildly annoying that Teletext got their service up and running with page numbers before we did - ironically they launched mid October which was around the same time as we'd hoped to originally, but some times things don't always go as smoothly as you hope.

But if the poster prefers the fantasy that I've spent the last few weeks rushing around in a mad strop just because Teletext got there 'first' (farcical notion as actually Sky Text has had page numbers for years) well... who am I to spoil their dream world.

Personally I just hope that when the majority see it, they'll think it's worth the wait. But you'll just have to wait a bit longer...

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