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MILITARY.COM BREAKS FREE OF TECHNICAL DEBT

Military.com is a publishing website with 32 million users, 10 million of whom are logged in at any given time. After 10+ years on desktop-only Oracle Fatwire, Military Advantage, Inc. was eager to alleviate technical debt, and move to a powerful, responsive, modern platform. Chapter Three and Drupal 8 to the rescue.

Seamless rollout of new platform

The primary challenge with publishing websites is massive quantities of content. Military had over 15 years of legacy content, with dozens of new articles and updates being published every day. We migrated over 100,000 pieces of content from Fatwire and 7 Wordpress blogs in batches to minimize duplicative content entry.

Chapter Three designed and planned the re-platforming to minimize business impact for Military.com. We hedged against surprises and mistakes by breaking the project into several sub-projects and working with the respective product owners. 

Some mockups made with Balsamiq
Military mobile
Sample of code from the Military.com project

Flexible layouts to free editors

The flexible template system we engineered empowers editors to decide the best layout for their content. They can now cater to their specific audience, without influencing other editors or relying on developers. All of the layouts they can leverage are fully responsive, and ready to be digested by Google AMP. Editors can also create content feeds ad hoc, so other services can ingest the latest and greatest. With massive Brightcove and YouTube libraries, our integrations with both video providers empower Military's editors to create multimedia-rich pages.  

Home-grown user platform? No problem.

With 32 million users, Military.com made their own cookie-based "Shadow Login" system to minimize performance impact. User accounts are used to access gated content, like promotional offers and career-related content. We seamlessly integrated with their system, preserving existing cookies, so that logged-in readers wouldn't even notice when the new site launched. No logging back in. No change in registration forms. No lost bookmarked content. Smooth sailing.

Two ad servers? You got it.

Military.com was in the midst of transitioning from one ad platform, Open Ad Stream to a new one, AppNexus. This change-over was a massive shift planned over the course of a year for Military's parent organization, Monster Worldwide. Military.com needed to be ready to make the switchover at the drop of a hat. So the site we built was developed to integrate with both, with an easy toggleable interface for them to make the switch when the time came.

OAS Logo

Personalization for better ux

This project was our first chance to work with Acquia's Personalization Engine, Acquia Lift. But we didn't just integrate with Lift, we worked with Acquia's engineers to pass custom user information into Lift from the Military.com user management system. This allows Military.com to show more relevant articles to their readers based on their branch of service, their status in the military and other characteristics.

React.js comments

This project presented a unique opportunity for Military.com to break free of Disqus. We engineered a light-weight Javascript commenting solution using React. It's now a free project available to anyone on Drupal.org. A snappy, modern interface. Moderation and blacklisting. Threading. Open source. What more could you want?

On-brand Java apps

Military.com has a whole ecosystem of homespun Java apps for their users, like forums, job applications and more. These apps use a Java templating system called Thymeleaf to remain consistently on-brand with the main website. We created an easier way to position, edit and permission Thymeleaf templates via Drupal's ECK entities. And we migrated all the old ones for them.

...and so much more

There's a lot more that went into this project, and we'd be happy to chat more about it if you reach out. A short list includes assets served from Amazon Cloud Front CDN, templates for IBM Newsletters, integration with Adobe Analytics & DMP, importing news items from NewsCred, and enhanced search functionality through Google Search Appliance.

A bunch of screencaptures of the mobile experience within iPhone Xs.

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