Skyscanner is a leading global online travel search company helping travelers compare and shop for commercial flights on airlines, hotels, and rental cars across the globe. The service is available in 30 different languages, with over 35 million unique visitors to the site monthly. With their award-winning apps being downloaded over 35 million times, Skyscanner is a serious player in the global travel industry.
We interviewed Paul Gillespie, Senior Architect at Skyscanner and Lynn Hailey, Senior Software Engineer and talked about what led Skyscanner to look for a Content Management platform and why they found the Nuxeo Platform to be a perfect fit for their needs. Skyscanner started an initiative to build an internal system that would become the central point in the organization to manage all its content and the Nuxeo Platform, because of its massive extensibility and customizability, provided a strong foundation on which this internal system could be built.
The Travel Content Platform Initiative
The Skyscanner team is dedicated to creating visual and appealing content, which will help inspire and inform travelers. Last year, the team started to think about how it can manage web content better. While the team looked at Web Content Management systems, they ultimately decided to build a platform that is focused solely on managing content, enabling other applications to make use of that content and developing rich and engaging services to help travellers. That was when the Travel Content Platform initiative came into being. This internal system is built on top of the Nuxeo Platform and is intended to become the central point in the organization to manage all content that is served to Skyscanner's various travel verticals.
Like all innovative companies, Skyscanner has a mobile first culture. It wanted the content to be flexible and not tied to a web page. A typical web CMS forces us to be page-centric and is heavily geared towards desktop web content and not towards mobile apps. So, Skyscanner chose to build the Travel Content Platform to manage its content instead of using a web CMS and was able to get away from page-centric constraints. It found web CMSes can be difficult for developers to work with and scalability can be an issue.
The Nuxeo Platform fits very well into what they wanted to accomplish because it supports APIs and provides seamless integration with other systems, which is why they decided to build their Travel Content Platform on top of the Nuxeo Platform.
"That’s one of the most appealing things about working with the Nuxeo Platform – it’s geared towards integration and towards APIs for developers to integrate into our systems." said Paul Gillespie, Senior Architect at Skyscanner
Nuxeo in the Travel Content Platform Architecture
The Travel Content Platform pulls content from the Nuxeo Platform and serves the content to the web pages and mobile apps. It uses the Nuxeo Platform as its backend CMS and Nuxeo Studio to configure a variety of content types. AWS is used for storage and CDN to serve them to the consumers. For textual content, there are processes that index the content from the Nuxeo Platform into Elasticsearch clusters across the data centers. REST APIs are used over all the services of their applications to send the data to the client applications.
Having such an extensible API allows them to create programmable content. Skyscanner wanted to have as many options as possible and integrate that content with the rest of the applications and potential third parties. The Travel Content Platform built on top of the Nuxeo Platform made this possible.
“We have an API which will not only work for preparing content for our webpages but it will also work for preparing content for our mobile apps. We can pull content into our mobile apps as easily as we can pull content into our webpage.” - says Paul Gillespie
The Development Process
First and foremost, it is the extensibility and customizability of the Nuxeo Platform that made the creation of this system possible. It was easy to connect and automate everything with the Nuxeo Platform. Skyscanner’s development team was able to write custom extensions or create configurations and install them effortlessly from Nuxeo Studio.
“From a development point of view, it has been great to work with the Nuxeo Platform. We know that it has been built by good developers.”, says Lynn Hailey, Senior Software Engineer at Skyscanner
“Pairing the Nuxeo Platform with the Travel Content Platform has made things a lot easier. Our developers will tell you how easy it has been to work with Nuxeo. The most important thing about it is that it doesn’t block us from doing what we need to do.”, says Paul Gillespie
The Skyscanner team hopes to make the Travel Content Platform a central location within the organization where all content presented to users is mined. It plans to do further work with images and article-based content, and there are also potential opportunities to connect the Travel Content Platform with other platforms within Skyscanner.