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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The project:

The Bulletin came to us with lovely design from Free Range Studios and we turned it into a powerhouse Web 2.0 website.


The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was established in 1945 by participants in the Manhattan Project in an effort to warn the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons. Over time their mission evolved to including information about threats to the survival and development of humanity from nuclear weapons, climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences. This award winning magazine conveys highly technical information with clarity and flair.

In late 2012 Agentic partnered with Free Range and The Bulletin to develop a new Drupal 7 version of the online journal. This was a project of significant scope and was defined by two main tasks - content migration and feature development.

Content Migration
Never a simple task, this particular scope was more complex than usual due to the history and scale of The Bulletin's archives. With six decades of content including thousands of articles by hundreds of authors stored in three distinct locations, each with its own unique technical architecture, Agentic needed to break the import down into a series of distinct tasks.

- Drupal 6 Content
The publically available content from the previous Bulletin website was evaluated and the fields mapped against the proposed new site architecture. Custom scripts were written to import the content using the Drupal 7 Feeds Module.

- Sage Archived Content
The Bulletin has partnered with Sage Publications, a respected international publisher of academic journals, for several decades and the paid content is accessed within their infrastructure. Agentic worked closely with Sage to create teaser nodes within the new site promoting each individual article while driving users to the Sage environment for the paid access. A particular challenge of this task was the use of individual XML files per issue, several hundred in total, with changing information architectures over time.

- Sage Future Content
A significant goal of the new site was to improve workflow for the site editors. Previously individual nodes needed to be manually edited for each article as a new issue was published. A new feed is being developed to simplify this workflow and create each article and issue node, triggered by an XML file provided by Sage upon publication.

- Google Books Archived Content
The earliest content from The Bulletin is available within a Google Books archive. While this is current accessible to the user, Agentic worked to integrate this content within the new site architecture to simplify the user experience and navigation. Also involving a series of custom scripts, this work is expected to be completed within the next 2-3 months at time of this case study.

Feature Development
There were three key goals of the new site design:

- refresh the creative design to appear more modern and reflect the influential status of The Bulletin as credible experts
- improve the content accessibility; make it easier for users to find what they are looking for
- improve the administrative workflow; easier and flexible solutions for creating, editing and featuring content

The sophisticated design from Free Range worked with the existing brand elements to create a highly readable and aesthetically pleasant experience. The clean, intuitive navigation showcases the main content areas for ease of access to the most current content and Agentic, working with our development partners Affinity Bridge, implemented Solr search facets to allow users to customize search filters for their specific areas of interest.

Content types and views were custom developed to allow the editors to specify any and all details of individual features and articles including:

- roundtables - related editorials by groups of selected authors on specific topics with structured navigation
- multimedia - a custom gallery of media including photo, video and editorial slideshows. O
ne particularly poignant slide show is The Faces that Made the Bomb which speaks to the characters of the very people that built the atomic bomb.
- expandable header - featuring the Doomsday Clock, the signature element of The Bulletin, exploring its history and featuring related content

As an organization founded and continually supported by scientists, The Bulletin's accuracy and attention to detail is second to none. Agentic believes this reputation for excellence is upheld by their new online home.