Content eCommerce and Advertising Tool for Retail Stores

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Technology

  • Java
  • Spring
  • OpenAmeos – combines UML 2.0 Profile support and MDA® based Model Transformation
  • C# .NET 2.0
  • NetAdvantage for Windows Forms from Infragistics
  • IKVM – for Java-.Net bridging
  • JAX-WS – Java XML WebService for the online Shop.
  • SQL SERVER 2005
  • Firebird SERVER
  • XML and XSLT
  • FFMpeg – to convert video/audio contents into .FLV to be used into the flash advertising movies.
  • ActionScript – for generating flash advertising movies to be run on the scales and on the external displays.
  • FOP – to generate pdf reports.
  • InstallShield
  • Ant, Subversion – for automating the build process of the entire system.

Team size

  • 4 Java developers
  • 3 .Net developers
  • 1 Action script developer
  • 1 Database developer
  • 1 Install Shield developer
  • 2 Testers

Client description

The end client is one of the largest manufacturers of electronic weighing machinery in the world. The department IT Six worked with is producing electronic scales and equipment for the retail industry on 4 continents.

Business need

The need to create a more effective and complete solution determined the company to develop a software – the Content and Advertising for Retail (CAR) – which, together with state-of-the-art hardware equipment would create a complete solution for retailers. The software facilitates the creation and management of advertising content. This involves configuration, maintenance, storage and printing/displaying of different contents (with different formatting and calligraphic models) for terminals and also selling products to customers worldwide using an integrated online shop.

The solution

IT Six and its German partner created a software architecture, split into 4 modules:

  • A content administration tool – data protection, content administration, advertising organizer
  • Content online shop – enables a large amount of items to be purchased and transferred directly into the local database.
  • Content event server – responsible for the complete processing of the content (the events generated by the scale are processed by the event server and animation is created and returned to be played on different scale displays)
  • Impact player – A customized Flash player implemented as a separate module, developed to be used by the scales and/or external displays to display the advertising animations.

The Content Administration Tool is used for content administration and is provided with a very user friendly interface, with a unique flow of displayed information. The GUI is customizable for every user, thus providing comprehensive feedback.

The content event server and online shop modules are embedded into one single application. This makes the switching from the event server (which uses a local database) to the online shop easy and fast. Content can be downloaded from the online shop directly into the local database for further usage.

The challenge

Management challenges

  • Managing an international team and overcoming communication issues while keeping a close collaboration with the client.

Technical challenges

  • Combining very different technologies (Java – .NET – Action Script – C++) in a single system without sacrificing performance.
  • Creating a system for creating/displaying advertisings on the scales and on the external displays with reduced CPU and memory usage.
  • Optimizing processing large amounts of data without affecting the overall performance and responsiveness of the application.
  • Encryption, encoding and compression of data to ensure secured and reduced network traffic.
  • Compatibility with different database servers (e.g. MS SQL and Firebird).

Benefits for the client

  • Successfully built a complex R&D project, now running in supermarkets across the globe, at a very affordable cost, by using near-shore development teams.
  • The IT Six architects proposed a scalable, robust architecture while the programmers built a very user friendly Content Administration Tool (CAT), with a unique flow of displayed information. The GUI is customizable for every user, thus providing comprehensive feedback.
  • A cost-effective solution.
  • The CAT and COS modules are embedded into a single application. This makes switching from the CAT (which works on the local database) to the Content Online Shop very easy and fast. Content can be downloaded from the Online Shop directly into the local database to be used further.
  • In order to obtain advanced visual effects CAT was developed in .NET environment using NetAdvantage for Windows Forms from Infragistics.
  • A Java version was also developed for Linux. The Java version used the Spring Framework from Spring Rich Client Project for building Swing interfaces.