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National Library – digitalnz.org web design & application development

Passion for sharing Kiwi culture online

DigitalNZ is a one-stop search site where you can find, collect and share Kiwi culture online. The site gives easy access to videos, photos, artworks, ads, interviews, news stories, maps and more; over 30 million items from more than 200 content partners.

To achieve this, the National Library needed to harvest varied digital content from disparate sources, standardise, index and present the content for easy searching, and distribute it freely via an open API. They wanted to do this at scale with legacy tools that were fragile, hard for the business to use, and costly to update.

Seeing an exciting opportunity to create something special, we prototyped a completely new solution in our own time. Delighted, the product owner asked us to move this into production.

Award-winning solution to complex problems

Harvests can now be set up and managed by staff with minimal training, speeding up the process. The new database infrastructure is robust and scalable. We rebuilt the tool in Ruby on Rails, which is designed to facilitate rapid development; as a result, it’s easier and cheaper to enhance. And being open source, the tool enhances the Library’s position as leaders in open data.

The resulting Supplejack platform is an award-winning world-first, adopted by local agencies such as Ngā Taonga and international players including New York Public Library, University of California and Europeana.

Agile approach enhances experience

DigitalNZ have since chosen us as their full-stack development partner and we’ve redesigned the site to improve the user experience. Our Agile approach allows us to make constant improvements based on user feedback; a feature called Sets—user-generated collections—was so popular we expanded it into Stories, letting you write about your collection and enrich the tale it tells.

We also provided Agile coaching to the DigitalNZ team, taking advantage of our position as leading Agile trainers to build client capability.

“Boost have been our development partners for many years; knowing that we have a team of developers who are as passionate about DigitalNZ as we are has been crucial.” Andy Neale, former Head of DigitalNZ