Case Studies

Garland Science

Garland Science is part of the Taylor & Francis Group, and has been publishing scientific textbooks of the highest quality for the best part of two decades. In that time, Garland Science has established itself as one of the leading global textbook publishers in the fields of cell and molecular biology, immunology and protein science.

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Garland Science isa large global publisher based in New York and Oxford, and it is the unique relationships between the in-house teams, the authors and the books’ audiences that give the Garland Science list its strength.  Publications include Immunobiology and Introduction to Protein Structure; along with the enormously successful BIOS series of books, which includes textbooks for undergraduates and postgraduates as well as cutting-edge volumes by thought-leaders within the field.

Leading global publisher

The challenge set by Garland was to create a content-rich e-commerce website that would be a highly regarded destination for students and instructors in the biosciences (www.garlandscience.com).  The aim of the site was to draw in customers, and subsequently sell them products in the formats they needed.  The content was already available, but the platform in which to offer this and sell the additional content was missing, particularly as e-content.

Garland was particularly aware that their competitors were offering customers sophisticated e-commerce and e-publishing options,and that they needed to keep pace.

Leveraging Alfresco open-source software

Alfresco had successfully been used as an Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) by another subsidiary of the Taylor & Francis group, CRC Press, to implement their website (www.crcpress.com). The site adopted a Java based software stack, JBoss, as the J2EE container and JSF/Facelets/Seam for the presentation implementation.

Ixxus was given the challenge to demonstrate that the open-source capabilities of Alfresco could fulfil Garland’s requirements, when correctly implemented.  Ixxus was therefore engaged to re-build the Garland Science website to new design specifications. Garland also wanted to leverage their existing product database and supplement it with a new Alfresco-based web content management solution (WCM).

In-depth knowledge of the Publishing sector

Because of Ixxus’ in-depth and extensive knowledge of the Publishing Sector, they were able to understand in detail the challenges which Garland Science were facing and to quickly and effectively engage with them to provide a global solution.

The development was managed using the Agile Scrum methodology with two-week sprints over a four-month period, followed by an acceptance test phase.  As Garland’s main team are based in Florida, a team was sent over to the United States to interface directly with their architects; on top of this, daily transatlantic scrums were conducted to ensure that the teams remained in communication at all times.  With the testing team based over in India, this was a truly global project with a truly global outcome.

A global project with daily transatlantic scrums

There were 3 parts to the project based on the 3 areas of the website.  These were as follows:

  • Brochure Ware – product browsing and purchasing using a typical e-commerce shopping cart paradigm, allowing users to find information on all Garland Science’s books and multimedia, purchase printed texts and access e-book offers.
  • Instructor Resources – associated book material, supplements and resources to help registered instructors create courses and engage with students.
  • Student Resources – associated textbook material and resources to help students using a book on a course; complementarymedia including video clips, interactive flashcards, glossaries, quizzes and data sets etc. which are free and available to all.

Ixxus integrated and re-skinned the existing Garland Science e-commerce code to provide the shopping cart features.  Their expertise was used to setup new Alfresco clusters and ensure that the thousands of rich media content files for the new student and instructor resource centres were ingested efficiently.

Solr/Lucene integration and implementation

In addition to the existing product search capabilities, Ixxus implemented a new Solr-based search solution enabling users to search the instructor and student media resources.

Solr/Lucene was an ideal choice due to its query speed and its additional out-of-the-box features, such as faceted search; and since Lucid Imagination had recently become an Ixxus partner, Ixxus were able to utilise their considerable expertise.

The architected solution is illustrated in the diagram below:

Garland1

 

  1. Garland Science content editors manage book resources for Students and Instructors in an internally facing Alfresco WCM instance.
  2. The Alfresco WCM deploys content (using a File System Receiver) to an internally facing Solr server (acting as a master instance) , which imports and indexes the content.
  3. A second Solr server (acting as a slave) receives content updates from the master instance using Solr’s built-in replication capabilities.
  4. The Garland Science web-application submits searches to the Solr slave instance using the HTTP protocol in response to web site visitor requests.
Garland2

 The Results

After initial scepticism because of their past experiences with open-source, Garland Science were rapidly convinced by Ixxus that open-source could be leveraged effectively to suit their needs; it was simply a question of implementation, and Ixxus’ expertise in Alfresco made them more than qualified to develop a solution.

Ixxus successfully built the new e-commerce website and provided full training and guidance to the Garland Science team, enabling and empowering them to own and maintain the project themselves.  The website itself recently went live (http://www.garlandscience.com) and has revolutionized the way that users interact with the site.

Ian Cavey said, “Ixxus were a great partner to work with, and really showed us the true capabilities of open source software.  We are working with them to see where else Alfresco and Solr/Lucene can be leveraged across the company.”

 

Date Published : 23rd of October 2014