So… much…. content…

Published on 5 February 2008 in , , ,

In the world of BBCi on Freesat, we’re moving towards our Phase 1 release – this particular release is one which won’t be publicly viewable, nor is it a complete package, but is in effect a working service that can be made public.

As we head towards a release that can only mean one thing. Testing. And lots of it. We test throughout the project and have a dedicated test team who do both automatic testing where scripts are written to test certain functionality, and manual testing where our test team sit in front of a TV screen pressing buttons to a test script.

However it’s not just the test team who get to have testing fun – as the Product Manager for BBCi on Freesat, it’s essential that what everyone builds and tests, is in line with my expectations. And that means I need to spend much of my own time glued to the TV set, checking everything looks right to me.

That was mostly what I did today as I sat with a colleague in the room known as Ada Lovelace where there are some comfy seats and a 50″ plasma TV.

It’s the first time in ages that I’ve been through huge chunks of the BBCi service in minute detail – going through almost every page of News, Sport, Business and Entertainment. We tracked down a few mysterious bugs and issues. And some content that we weren’t even aware existed – including pages and pages and pages of results and tables for various European football leagues. Want to know who is top of the Greek First Division? It’s there. Best bank account for the over 50s? According to, it’s Northern Rock’s Silver Saver Online. And don’t forget the latest premium bonds! Want to volunteer to be a comedienne on International Women’s Day? Well there’s the information.

My favourite page turned out to be a real good one though – and not for the content, but for it’s sheer size. The “Racing calendar for the month ahead” managed to come in at a whopping 115 pages. And co-incidentally gave more than a month – the data being until the end of the year! The same thing turns up on our live Freeview and Sky services.

Turns out it is a bug that was created when the Racing section was recently revamped, and a fix is being worked on. But given the average article or table is around 3-4 pages long, it was really nice to know that everything was scaling up when you put 40 times the normal amount of content in!