If the existing Content Management System (CMS) is no longer up-to-date and the change to a more powerful new system becomes unavoidable, data migration moves into focus, especially for web applications with extensive content.
As the increase in web access via mobile devices made a responsive web design imperative, the information and communication platform "waldwissen.net" was faced with a Herculean task: it had to include around 3,000 scientific articles and half a million data sets consisting of ratings, comments and user data including favorites lists, from an outdated content management system into a state-of-the-art TYPO3 application. zdrei.com developed the new platform and designed the data migration in an automated process.
An intense time is behind us and I would like to thank you all very much for the constructive discussions, the professional setup, the clean implementation, the way you dealt with me, my questions and wishes and, finally, the smooth going live next to your two or three other jobs that burn under the nail ... The result is more than impressive.
Great job, thank you very much! I am very pleased.
Beyond the development of a modern and responsive design the website of the information and communication platform waldwissen.net was supposed to increase user-friendliness and to facilitate editorial work.
In addition to the accessibility via tablets and smartphones, visitors are offered increased research convenience through differentiated search and filter functions, in order to find the content and articles they are looking for much easier and faster.
In order to enable the editors to concentrate on their core competence of presenting scientific content in the process of creating articles, the technical hurdles in the placement of texts and images should be kept as low as possible.
The focus of the assignement was the question of how the already extremely comprehensive content of the existing website can be transferred from the outdated third-party system to the new TYPO3 application. An analysis specified this task: The volume of the existing content comprised approx. 3,000 scientific articles with a total of approx. 500,000 data records such as user data, ratings, lists of favorites, comments and other HTML pages that were to be migrated to the new application with the least possible manual effort.
The evaluation of the option of a complete manual migration quickly results in a short rough calculation: If one assumes (very optimistically!) That the manual migration of a single data record takes an average of two minutes, the total effort would be 16,666 person-hours, i.e. about eight person-years.
During the development of the migration concept it became apparent that the problem lies in the details when extracting the data: For example, data sets such as page content and user data were in different databases. Other content was not available in databases at all, but had to be parsed from the HTML pages.
After the complete data collection, another major challenge was to make the individual articles findable using the new, clearly differentiated filter and search functions. Special algorithms were developed for this purpose, which enabled automated allocations to the individual categories.
Another important aspect of the relaunch was the modernization of the website look, in which, not as in the previous application, images are used in a larger format. The automatic transfer and assignment of images was possible in itself - it turned out, however, that some images could not be scaled sensibly to the required image width due to the existing image quality. The images in question had to be manually exchanged with versions of a different image size, or completely replaced.
The site felt like it was from the 90s, now it's up-to-date again!
Programming the website as a Progressive Web App (PWA) made the additional development of a native app unnecessary. This made the website even more accessible for mobile use and, thanks to optimized caching, provides a high level of offline functionality.
The Enterprise CMS TYPO3 already offers ideal technical prerequisites for search engine optimization, which have been extensively exhausted. One potential SEO loss was that the new website with its numerous subpages received a completely new URL structure. The automated setting of "redirects" made it possible to ensure that the migrated content was forwarded from the old URL and thus can still be accessed despite the changed URL.
With differentiated search, sorting and filter functions, the website offers all users a high level of convenience for research. The content can be filtered either across the entire platform or within the main categories “Technology and Planning”, “Forest Management”, “Forest Habitat” and “Learning and Communicating” according to origin, topic, target groups and document types.
The search function:
The user decides whether he or she wants to search for a specific term either in a category (e.g. "forestry") or globally on the entire platform.
The information and communication platform waldwissen.net is a joint production of the four research institutions, the Forestry Test and Research Institute of Baden-Württemberg (FVA), the Bavarian State Institute for Forests and Forestry (LWF), the Federal Research and Training Center for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape (BFW) and Federal Research Institute for Forests, Snow and Landscape (WSL). In cooperation with partner institutes, this research community provides quality-assured specialist information on forests, people and forestry.
The basic idea is to network experts with different specializations in this field and to become the central contact point for forestry practitioners who do research and others who are interested in forest topics.
The platform waldwissen.net went online for the first time in 2005 with around 600 articles and developed rapidly. The number of readers has multiplied to 275,000 users per month since it was launched. By May 2020, 3400 technical articles had been published and rated more than 220,000 times.
Mobile end devices increased steadily and reached around 50% user share after 2010. A technical update became more and more urgent for what was meanwhile the most extensive online source of information about the forests in German-speaking countries.
For its 15th anniversary, the website appeared on October 2, 2020 after a comprehensive redesign and technical relaunch with a new look and numerous innovative functions that make research even easier for users not only on the PC but also via mobile devices.
Developing a result that is even approximately comparable in terms of quality and process efficiency within the framework of a waterfall model would have been simply unthinkable. We are therefore pleased to see how far our customer waldwissen.net has embarked on an iterative approach and the exciting agile process. In addition, it has become clear how important firstly competent and secondly committed project management is for success: short distances, quick feedback, well-founded decisions - in short: we are enthusiastic and look forward to further cooperation!