How do you digitise the largest leisure agenda in Flanders and Brussels?
The UiTinVlaanderen website is the starting point for thousands of fun enthusiasts every day. Whoever thinks UiTinVlaanderen, also thinks UiTdatabase: the largest activity database in Flanders and Brussels. Every year, more than 28,000 organisers add more than 215,000 activities to the UiTdatabase free of charge. A concert, performance, exhibition, or film? A sporting event, a walk, a card night or fair? Courses, workshops, or lectures? A lot of data to manage for publiq vzw, the organisation behind UiTinVlaanderen and the UiTdatabase.
Seamless integration with vast activity database
Centralized GraphQL backend
Collaborative agile development approach
Continuous user-centric enhancement
Room for an improved UiTinVlaanderen with Drupal
In 2019, the technical basis of UiTinVlaanderen was a Drupal website, with the focus mainly on the possibilities for the editors who provided the websites with essential content. They used Drupal purely for the editorial work: activities, trips, tips and more. Activities that come straight from the UiTdatabase.
There was no question regarding the choice of Drupal as an editorial system, something that we as Drupal experts could only applaud. However, there was room for an improved digital UiTinVlaanderen, with new links to improve functionality and external APIs. Think new integrations that make optimal use of the comprehensive UiTdatabase.
A centralised leisure agenda for Flanders and Brussels
A headless website and central GraphQL back-end layer for API integration.
UiTinVlaanderen inspires everyone with activities in the largest leisure calendar of Flanders and Brussels. Hiking and cycling, cultural performances and spots, events and all other possible activities, entered by organisers themselves. Choose from thousands of activities in every region and get out the door ... or experience it online.
GraphQL - for a reliable back-end foundation
For the GraphQL layer, the teams chose Apollo, partly at the suggestion of the iO specialists. With Apollo you have a well-known platform to build the GraphQL layer of the base in NodeJS. Apollo is supported by extensive logging functionality. The paid version is also an interesting option that provides continuous insight into the ups and downs of each API, in case of error messages, an above-average number of requests or executed API calls. Everything can be followed up completely online.
GraphQL makes APIs faster, more flexible, and developer-friendly. With GraphQL as an intermediate layer, developers can build requests that retrieve data from different data sources, all in a single call.
"A central GraphQL layer makes the link with the various customer systems (UiTiD, UiTPAS, UiTdatabase, Drupal) and thus provides a single point of contact for the front-end, so that it only has to focus on the presentation."
A close collaboration, ongoing and sprint-based
iO teams and the vzw public have been in close cooperation for three years now. To date, the website has been created through the joint efforts of developers from both organisations. They distributed code reviews among themselves, helped by the short lines of communication and the smooth de-escalation of technical problems. The in-house developers knew their own APIs inside out, as well as their own internal culture and that of the various stakeholders. A big advantage.
Because the customer was closely involved in this project, they were also able to monitor the process efficiently and pick up when certain functionality was not in line with the customer vision, for example, or catch new integrations that had no place on the internal roadmap. We had these conversations during the development phase, and at the end of each sprint. Our close cooperation meant we wasted less time and resources.
We helped UiTinVlaanderen with
A future full of (new) components
The iO and UiTinVlaanderen story is far from over, as a permanent partner we remain involved in the project providing aftercare and optimisation. Both teams regularly review the internal roadmap to determine the next steps. Today, these are redesigns of the Tips pages, as well as new components to improve the user experience.
UiTinVlaanderen also regularly enters dialogue with their users to gauge desired improvements, from minor change requests to complete redesigns. Our experts then link back their own insights, proactively and data-driven.