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Friday, April 26, 2013

Recently Launched: Tarkett Sports CMS and Websites

An ongoing project I have been working on at Dynamo over the last year with Hugo Frappier is a custom CMS for Tarkett Sports, a division of the Tarkett Group, "a worldwide leader of innovative and sustainable flooring and sports surface solutions".

A multi-Site, multi-lingual CMS

Tarkett Sports required a multi-site, multi-lingual CMS to serve all the sites of their subdivisions. FieldTurf (North America) was the first to be launched on the new platform, followed by FieldTurf Europe and an API for their iPad sales tool, "Link". At the time of writing, Beynon Sports Surfaces and Tarkett Sports Indoor (North America) are set to launch within the month.

Built on Ruby on Rails and MongoDB

The CMS was built with the usual Rails stack, however MongoDB was used with Mongoid, an Object-Document-Mapper, instead of ActiveRecord and a relational database. This was my first venture in the world of NoSQL, and working with a schema less data store was a perfect match for the CMS. However, it did require a new way of thinking, such as being comfortable with de-normalizing data structures and ensuring those data structures can be properly index. For example, MongoDB does not allow indexing of parallel arrays.

Support a large content-base

Why a custom CMS? Why didn't we just use one of the prominent offerings such as RefineryCMS? I've implemented five RefineryCMS installations over the last couple of years, and Refinery's sweet spot is small websites. Tarkett Sports currently holds over 10,000 content items. Refinery's UI and tree data structure is just not appropriate for such a large content-base.

Publish content collections anywhere in the page hierarchy

We also took a novel approach to the page hierarchy. With platforms such as RefineryCMS and Radiant, structured content (think news and product catalog) containing large data sets are typically supported by creating custom Rails model view, and controller classes. There's usually wrangling to unify the site URLs with the routing system. The Tarkett Sports CMS supports the concept of a collection. A collection of structured content, small or large, can be published anywhere within the page hierarchy. No URL wrangling required, no custom controller class. Collections are a first class citizen.

Reduce custom classes, increase content type re-use

The benefit of all this is that it has reduced the number of custom classes required for a site by increasing the reuse of existing collections and content types. In the past, I have found myself creating custom controllers and models just to support a different content type with the same structure just so I can use it in a different part of the page hierarchy. The concept of publishable collections has solved this.

Below are a few screen shots, showcasing the different sites and portions of the administration screens.

FieldTurf (North America) Home Page

FieldTurf (North America) Home Page

FieldTurf (Europe) Home Page

FieldTurf (Europe) Home Page

FieldTurf Products

FieldTurf Products

FieldTurf Product Detail

FieldTurf Product Detail

Tarkett Sports CMS Admin: Pages

Admin Pages

Tarkett Sports CMS Admin: Page Detail

Admin Page Detail

Tarkett CMS Sports Admin: Page Publishing

Admin Page Publishing

Developing Ruby on Rails applications and custom Content Management Systems in Montréal. Contact Firsthand.