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Meet Grid, The Guardian's Image Management Service

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The British newspaper, The Guardian, has announced the release of its image management service, Grid, as an open source project on GitHub.  While a news organization may not be first thought of when it comes to modern software development, Grid is not their first project.  According to the Guardian’s Sébastien Cevey, Grid was developed in the past year in an Agile manner.

Cevey states that Grid currently manages 45% of the images used in the Guardian’s digital media and is heavily used in their print projects.  Currently the system holds over 3 million images, with 20,000 new images added daily.  What makes it interesting when Cevey discusses these statistics, is that usage of Grid at the Guardian is completely voluntary and only went into service roughly 8 months ago.

Architecture Diagram Courtesy of The Guardian

Looking at the technology behind the Grid, the system is based on a very modern software stack, including Scala, ElasticSearch, Amazon Web Services S3 & Dynamo DB, and the use of AngularJS for the central user interface.  From a development methodology standpoint, the development team consists of 4 programmers, a UX architect and a group product manager that follow a variation of developer anarchy.  The team works closely with their users to identify pain points and how the software can be improved to better meet their needs.  Cevey says this approach fosters empathy, invests the team in the success of the project, and “helps [to] dispel resentment driven by management barrier”.  Grid is available under the Apache License, Version 2.0.

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