backstage.bbc.co.uk has arrived

Posted on 11 May 2005 in BBC, Web Development (No comments)

Well you didn't have to wait long. backstage.bbc.co.uk went into public beta today.

Pretty much everything I said about opening up the News and Sport feeds to do cool things with, applies also for the plethora of feeds listed on backstage.bbc.co.uk - be it the extensive travel information available, or the Doctor Who RSS feed.

Okay, okay, the current stuff isn't earth shattering but there's more to come - not least opening up APIs into the BBC's search and postcoder systems.

But importantly it sets down the foundations for the future. The BBC has a large website built with a huge number of systems. The potential for data and APIs to be released is pretty big but these things take time and this is just the beginning.

On the site are a number of ideas and prototypes done by BBC staff in their free time, to get the site rolling. One of them is Martin's Where Is The BBC News that I mentioned in my last post and is one of my favourites.

I still haven't actually done any prototypes myself, but on the site you'll see two of my ideas. Not hugely exciting ones - not award winning, not sexy, not glamorous, but stuff I thought might be useful.

MyCommute is my favourite and involves using the BBC's extensive travel XML feeds to create a custom travel news page - I came up with the idea during the move of offices to White City where my old one train journey up the Northern Line changed into one tube, two trains and a bus! I've been messing with PHP and XML recently so I do intend to put up a working mockup of the concept at some point - if for no other reason than I would find it useful when going home!

My other idea, Road Trip!, is a bit daft but the idea is to create a sort of list of JamCams for people doing regular journeys - if you go down the A40 everyday, wouldn't it be good to have all the cameras on that route available on one page? Well I don't know - I don't have a car, but it sounded like it might be useful to someone! There's a mockup of Road Trip using a non-customisable journey in Southampton. If there was an XML feed of all the jam cams for each area, this would be a complete doddle to create, but scraping data off pages isn't quite my level of expertise!

There are other ideas BBC staff have had - some as mundane as mine, some far more exciting - and some pretty cool prototypes too. And I'm sure there are some even more exciting ideas out there in the world too!

Some really cool stuff came out of Google and Amazon releasing their APIs. Here's hoping the world likes playing with BBC stuff too!

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