On Wednesday, 12 July Ruth Mason (Oxford Mosaic Web Team Leader) and Matthew Castle (Head of Application Development) from IT Services' Software Solutions group, gave a talk about the Oxford Mosaic journey—from inception to the current platform—at IWMW 2017, an annual 3-day conference for technical and content digital professionals in Higher Education.
The talk covered the major reasons for embarking on the journey to create the Mosaic platform arising from the untenable pattern of website implementations existing within the University prior to Mosaic. The large number of highly heterogenous solutions, utilising multiple toolkits and technologies, were difficult to secure on a piece-by-piece basis and meant that the same work was being paid for each time a new site was commissioned.
Ruth talked about how, from the very beginning, Mosaic was designed to tackle these issues. Starting with a Pilot phase, the Project demonstrated the kind of functionality end users could expect from the platform, and helped the team identify the scalability, design and architecture issues to be solved in the implementation of the Production platform. Improvements in these areas laid the foundations for the current platform, supported by the newly-operational Mosaic Service.
The presentation went on to provide an insightful description of the day-to-day life of the Mosaic team's work on the platform. Seizing the opportunity to implement an Agile development methodology - a first for Software Solutions - Matt described how the development of new features and maintenance of existing ones is planned and managed, while maintaining a frequent release schedule to ensure improvements to the platform are quickly rolled-out to users in a way that maximises benefit and minimises disruption.
Ruth and Matt received a lot of good feedback after the talk and genuine interest in the details around how the platform project had come into being and continues to be managed.
An overview of the talk and the slidedeck from it are available, as are Kevin Mears' sketchnotes, and you can watch a video of the talk below (29 mins):