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How to Parse the Olympics

Over 10,000 athletes, 200 countries, 39 disciplines, 302 gold medals and 2 weeks of real time data feeds developed right up to the opening ceremony by an international committee. All of it in XML. Over 40 gigs of sweet XML.

And no happy path.


The Interactive News team at the New York Times worked with the Sports desk to cover the London 2012 Summer Games, creating a comprehensive news and results site for the American paper of record... And Australia's, and Canada's, and Brazil's... hurdling time zones and the International Date Line.
Several members of the team will be on hand to discuss the ways they handled this insanely complicated project, including:

  • modeling data for 36 sports the way you have to, not the way you want to.
  • localizing and translating, from kilometers to miles, Chinese to Danish
  • making your own happy path by faking the Olympics
  • scaling AWS around the world without breaking the bank.
  • beating the broadcasters by streaming images directly from the photographers
  • creating dev tools to help a large team with varying skills run an app of many, many dependencies
  • recreating the drama of a soccer match by turning esoteric codes into descriptive play-by-plays


You'll hear what worked, and what didn't, along with our recommendations for developing at this scale and complexity.

The team will also share their views on the one-eyed mascots, homologation, synchronized swimming, unfamiliar horse passports and the joys of LOCOG wine.

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    Margaret, it was a pleasure to meet you! We're all jealous of your Sochi pin. I hope our future Olympics projects meet your expectations—particularly if you get to attend *and* check online results in real time while you're there.

    December 12, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was very interesting, entertaining and informative. I went to the Olympics this year, so was intrigued to hear this was a nuts and bolts discussion of how the NY Times made their coverage happen.

    December 12, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks, attendees! It was our first time publicly talking about this stuff. You were a great, thoughtful audience and I hope it wasn't too opaque. We really did edit. A lot. It seems the Summer Olympics being big means slidedecks get a bit unwieldy, too.

    December 12, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great talk with loads of content and some fun quirky stuff.

    December 11, 2012

  • Luke M.

    Great war stories!

    December 11, 2012

  • Rashaun Snuggs S.

    8th floor Patricia

    December 11, 2012

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