Case study

Engineering for change with eLife Sciences

A laptop computer with computer code shown on the screen.

Leverage appropriate technical skills in response to emerging priorities

Digirati have worked closely with eLife Sciences over a five year period, providing engineering teams in addition to user experience and product capabilities. Initially we helped eLife design and deliver several iterations of their Libero publishing platform to support innovative approaches to delivering scientific research. Developing a thorough understanding of the scholarly publishing ecosystem and their specific data model challenges enabled us to effectively explore and deliver implementation and integration improvements.

Our work with eLife continued to evolve, covering a broad scope of areas from delivering front-end solutions to enhance journal article reading for users, designing and developing complex workflow management processes, microservice implementations, and developing a microservice “starter kit” to enable fast, consistent delivery of microservices taking advantage of continuous integration. We explored and implemented improved approaches to delivery and management of infrastructure and collaborated to validate how best to leverage these approaches with legacy applications.

There was a variety of technical skills and frameworks used throughout our engagement, and some of the key non-functional requirements that underpinned the engineering work included:

  • A continual focus on identifying and utilising best of breed open source solutions where available
  • Using cloud infrastructure and services to enhance reliability and reduce maintainability challenges
  • Strong focus on quality assurance, with test automation to support and augment agile delivery
  • Service oriented architecture consisting of independently scalable microservices
  • Rapid technical prototyping where appropriate to inform and support architectural decisions

Working with Digirati has always been productive for us at eLife because they understand the iterative and agile approach that we like to take when building software. They were able to adapt as we evolved our working practices together and the way the team was able to augment with our existing team, by mirroring skills and bringing their own experience to the conversations, helped us build a better product. Communication was always good with a mixture of on-site workshops, regular calls and remote pair programming so I felt we always knew what was going on and where we could best utilise all the people we had available to help.

Paul Shannon

Head of Technology, eLife

A flexible one-team approach to delivering innovative solutions

During our engagement, we worked collaboratively as one team, folding our resources and team into their evolving program of work. We took ownership for different elements of the projects we were involved in, for some we led the solution architecture development, user experience and implementation, for others we worked alongside their technical team to deliver modular services and components, whilst we also worked closely with eLife UX and design teams.

Our overlapping work in related domains and in our own product development activities were useful elements to bring into the collaborative relationship, providing ideas and examples to explore and develop.

We provided tailored technical support that suited eLife’s specific needs, balancing our resources and complimenting their own team. We later completed knowledge transfer and guidance to enable their team to take more ownership of their technical estate as they progressed further.

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