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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 World Cup: Online Media Application for Voice of America

World Cup Soccer fans can stay on-top of their favorite team’s progress via a real-time data push from the Voice of America.  As the 2014 World Cup got underway in Brazil, Fig Leaf Software launched an online media application for VOA to display real-time information about each World Cup tournament. The goal of the site is to deliver a real time experience of the entire World Cup to users in West Africa, and because West African internet infrastructure is somewhat limited the site has to be extremely fast, lightweight, and mobile friendly.

A half-hour before each game each VOA World Cup microsite is refreshed so that game information starts to update as the game progresses.  Web viewers can track their favorite game without having to refresh their page.  

Catch all the 2014 World Cup action live and in real time here:

VOA World Cup Microsites - Behind the Scenes:
Each country’s football microsite is built in WordPress, with backend Node.js applications. Caching for the WordPress sites is provided by the W3 Total Cache plug-in working with Amazon CloudFront as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Once implemented Fig Leaf Software setup JavaScript tracking to detect page load times. On average the sites are loading in 1.2 seconds globally, at between 3-6 seconds in West Africa, and in just .3 seconds in the United States and Europe.

For caching the initial HTML is delivered to the widgets, not the WordPress sites.  The system uses a dedicated Varnish server with a time to live (TTL) of 2 minutes. This is what gets embedded into the VOA web pages via an IFRAME: http://footballwidget.voanews.com/widget.php?type=full-game

  • Receives XML from a company that provides the real time data via FTP
  • Parses the XML and creates JSON
  • Writes the JSON to disk so the French and English WordPress sites can use it to display statistics about the games
  • Pushes the JSON to the second Node.js application

Faye Server with some security enabled:
  • Receives JSON from the Data-Provider
  • Broadcasts the JSON to web-clients who subscribe to it (Javascript in the HTML)

The entire system runs in Amazon
  1. Devevelopment server (small)
  2. English Production Server: WordPress, Node.js Data-Provider application, and Widget server (medium)
  3. French Production Server: WordPress (small)
  4. Varnish Cache Server for Widgets (small)
  5. Faye Server (micro)

Other links:
More VOA content: http://football.voanews.com
Team Stats: http://footballwidget.voanews.com/widget.php?type=squads

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