Yle Areena

Weaving way better ways of working

Our role: Backend and frontend development, DevOps

Back in 2012, Finland’s public broadcasting company Yle wanted to revamp not just their online service Yle Areena but also their ways of working. Having noticed that lean and agile development was the future, they picked us as their partner. That was clearly the right decision, as since we started working together, Yle Areena has grown to become Finland’s most popular online video service after YouTube. It’s also been rated as the most valuable online brand for several years in a row.

Yle Areena

About Yle Areena

Yle operates four TV channels, seven radio channels and Yle Areena, the leading online TV and radio platform in Finland. Yle Areena’s reach goes far beyond the browser, too. We’ve made sure the huge system handles every device out there, from smartphones to gaming consoles and smart TVs.

Visit Yle Areena

What we’ve done together

When we first sat down with the people at Yle Areena, they gave us a list of challenges. The organisational structure wasn’t ideal, they said: teams were working in isolation without clear shared goals. Bigger technical issues were sucking up people’s time. This was holding up bug fixes and efforts to launch new features, while creating a feeling of being always behind.

Yle was now ready for a more agile mindset, and together we adopted new working methods championing collaboration and communication. This collaboration extended across company borders, too. In practice, this meant us working as one team with Yle and all their different vendors to get the best results.

It’s clearly not just us who find these methods a huge success. In fact, the agile development management model (SaFe), adopted at Yle during the project, was recently chosen for the Lean Management award by the Lean Association of Finland.

Our modern technical solutions and architecture have helped cut the time it takes to release updates and features. The new cross-company collaboration has also brought the fantastic DevOps culture to Yle, taking their already efficient working methods to the next level. Read more about DevOps at Yle here.

Why we’re stoked about it

The modern development practices have transformed Yle Areena. It’s now a user-friendly and scalable service, with an amazingly quick turnaround time for new features and functions. In fact, some ideas have been implemented, tested and launched in less than an hour!

The service is now much more in tune with its users’ needs. They can enjoy content whenever, wherever and on whichever device they want. We’ve also added live shows and recommendations based on users’ earlier listening or viewing choices. In short, we’ve made it infinitely easier to enjoy an amazing free service to its full potential.

The tech talk

For Yle Areena development, Weave’s current mode of operations and DevOps mindset has become a cushion of convenience that speeds up onboarding and the day-to-day work of developers.

Traditionally, setting up a development environment meant installing everything, as in server software, on each laptop. This whole ordeal used to quickly spin sideways into non-productive, no fun territory, with lots of moving parts that needed power from our own internal APIs. This often relied on different versions of software. Imagine being new at a place and figuring out in which order to place all this on a system that still needed to function as a portable computer…

Now, many of the clunkier things like databases can be put in containers, separate from the development system’s OS, without limiting for example the developer’s favorite IDE, which for many of us is IntelliJ. Also, it’s a whole lot about spinning up standardised Docker containers, regardless of which operating system the developer runs on their laptop.

Likewise, standardisation has freed up a lot mindshare from managing servers with complicated Puppet setups. Server side isn’t yet fully containerised, but the case is clear to us: we see a future of less garbage all around.

We rely heavily on log management from Logstash and Kibana, and further monitoring, profiling and debugging from AWS, Jprofiler and New Relic. Metrics and monitoring are an integral part of Areena’s DNA, going way back, and it’s been crucial for running and improving the service.

We build stuff on Clojure, Scala and Node.js, among other things. It all ties up into a system where Yle Areena applications are based strongly on data driven UIs, meaning that both content and user interface chrome is delivered over the Areena API. This API handles application logic and translates into simpler user interface data models.

Needless to say, we’re very pleased with the end result for consumers: Yle Areena can accommodate new applications for new platforms on pretty much a whim. Apps rarely need to handle few things beyond the user interface.

“Our collaboration has brought the lean philosophy and agile methods into Yle’s development work. As a result, our operational efficiency has been revolutionised, and we can respond a lot more quickly to changing user needs too.”

Kari Haakana, Yle Areena Service Manager
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Want to know more?

Marko Loukkola
marko(at)weave.fi
+358 44 552 5952

Yle Areena

Digital service design, by the book