Thomson Reuters Eikon contains a large system of HTML pages that provide background information on areas of the financial markets, with key data, analysis and links into additional tools. These pages were created and managed using a traditional development model, meaning that changes had to be fully specified, development resources had to be secured and updates passed through acceptance testing before being deployed. As a result, even simple fixes might take 6-8 weeks.
The brief for PageExpress was to create a custom Content Management System (CMS) that would allow changes to be made live on production, without risking stability, and working with Thomson Reuters proprietary real-time data technologies. This would reduce turnaround time to a matter of minutes, allowing Product Managers to take direct ownership of the publishing and maintenance of their pages.
I analysed the existing pages and worked with Product Managers to establish the basic requirements for the system. The page editing interface needed to be simple to use, to ensure that Product Managers would adopt it, but also powerful enough to be able to construct useful pages. In order to get a first version up and running, there was a need to minimise the number of different component types that were required (Data grid, News block, Chart, Text).
The architectural requirements were for a robust system, working across multiple data centres, leveraging open-source technologies where possible, but ideally not creating a situation in which particular solutions were locked in. I worked with a team of developers and architects to explore the alternatives. I outlined the end-to-end requirements and provided feedback throughout the process, with the aim of avoiding technical decisions that would later constrain the delivery of user and business needs. We developed a modular approach, in which data storage, page editing, and page rendering duties were separated from each other, allowing for future flexibility.
I developed a strategy to deliver the greatest editing power with the smallest possible set of components. For each component I developed the for how it would appear in the final pages, including responsive solutions to cope with variations in page widths and the size of the block that component might be placed in. For each component, I also designed the editing interface that would be used to configure it within the CMS.
To prevent complete inconsistency in the layouts used for the pages, I developed a set of layout template, that offered a high degree of flexibility for editors, whilst improving consistency and the quality of the finished pages.
The first version of the system, focusing on the Commodities business, was implemented in the space of six months, delivering a vastly improved capability in time for the launch of EIkon 4.0.