Bouncing bugs

Published on 18 July 2007 in , , , ,

The end of last week saw the launch of yet another raft of BBCi changes that I’ve been involved with. In fact it was a huge, chunky, bit-of-a-nightmare of a release, with most of the changes being behind the scenes so you’d never even notice, which isn’t really the most encouraging thing in the world!

The changes were all about migrating the feeds and systems which provide our Children’s services, into our new content production system, which has the catchy name of C3P. I say new. C3P has been going for a few years now, but the migration process takes time – and the Childrens services are the last major content area to be migrated, so it’s a bit of a milestone for the team.

One of the reason migrations take time is because it’s often an excuse to make some changes here and there. When we migrated the Weather service, it was an ample moment to re-organise the data there to make it more usable. When we had the Childrens stuff open, it just so happened that the CBeebies channel were about to have a bit of an on-air rebranding…

Cbeebies 'Bedtime hour' homepage on satellite

Which is why last week the CBeebies homepage got a nice new repaint. Satellite’s probably the flashiest – the background image changes four times a day to match the channel branding, which changes four times a day. Pressing a number key (1 to 5) changes the flowers in a slightly pointless, but rather pleasing way. And when you move the menu, the characters change – so Postman Pat waves at you. It’s rather simplistic animation effects (for horribly complicated reasons best not gone into here, infrastructure issues meant we couldn’t do anything more complex on satellite) but does seem to work rather nicely.

Cbeebies homepage on DTT

Over on DTT there’s something a little more fun. The design of the page hasn’t changed hugely (some graphics changed mainly), however some nice animating flowers have been added, and a bouncing “bug”!

A “bug” is the little yellow thing and it’s probably the most gratuitous thing we’ve ever built! It bounces along the screen, stops at a random point, pauses, bounces up and down on the spot, then moves off in a random direction.

It’s presence is there thanks to a bit of a delay in getting final designs, which saw the tech team run very low on work. Normally things are bit hectic, so a few days with little to do doesn’t happen very often (well, ever!) which saw one of our developers playing around with animation in MHEG. Some extra design work latter, and it became part of the designs. It’s rather fun and rather cute – especially when the bug stops right behind the middle flower, and then jumps up as if it’s been hiding from you! Wonderfully cute. It’s not often that the BBC’s interactive television services can say that.

Mind you the Bug’s wink and permanent grin is ever so slightly sinister…

Incidentally acronym fans may be interested to know that C3P stands for Cross Platform Publishing Process which means it actually should be CP3. However using the name C3P means that people can call it C3P0. Although no one does.