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Social Networking Platform to Collaborate Faith Communities

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Social Networking Platform to Collaborate Faith Communities


Client Requirement

The client demanded a Social Networking Platform to Collaborate Faith Communities to further mutual goals for community health and wholeness. We build an interactive website that encourages better health among congregations with respect for diverse multi-cultural and multi- faith needs and preferences. Also, it builds the trust and relationships people have in their faith communities for health promotion and wellness of spirit, mind and body of the individual, families and communities.

The client wanted the below features:
  • Connect with your church family and friends
  • Connect on Sermons, Bible Study and live events
  • Learn about people in your church and community
  • Create your own marketplace and trade
  • Testify about personal events to inspire others
  • Create groups, manage and share information within specific communities
  • Meet other believers and get connected with people of faith around the world
  • Get access to global Bible study, global ministry directory, chats, blogs, video chats,events, photo album etc.
  • Admin to sign-up and invite other church members as well as manage all the church related activities

Project Challenges

Team faced the following challenges:
  • Incorporating and managing up-to-date information, news and related data on the backend through RSS feeds.
  • Ensuring a safe and secure transfer of data while integrating 3rd party API’s.
  • Embedded widgets into the website so the web addresses that customers see will be relevant to that of the client’s site.
  • Providing and maintaining the database of a wide range of interactive features like blogs, live events, groups etc. to ensure user participation.
  • Developing an active social networking site capable of handling millions of users at the same time without slowing the site down.
  • Incorporating web usability principles while developing numerous features designed for enhancing the users’ website usability.
  • Implementing stringent security measures that safely handle the vast transfer of data.

Technologies Used

Operating System & Server ManagementRed Hat Linux OS, Multi-Server Architecture with Staging & Production Environment through Version Controlling releases, Server Optimization, Security & SSL Implementation, Scheduler for Back-ups, Alert Monitoring System Integration, Server Performance Tuning at regular intervals, Software Firewall Configuration & Maintenance
Development Tools & EnvironmentsPHP5+, Symfony Framework 1.4, AJAX, HTML5, CSS3 etc.
DatabaseMYSQL Database Server, DB Clustering, DB Optimization, Master Slave Replication, Query Optimization, Scheduler for Backups

Manpower

Project Leader1
Developers2
Designers1
Quality Assurance Testers1

Planning

Keeping in mind the enormous structure of the website and the challenges involved a four-tier development approach was adopted consisting of:
  • The Database layer containing MySQL Server Database, Tables, Triggers and so on.
  • The Data Access layer containing the Data Access DLL responsible for accessing data from the database.
  • The Business Logic layer consisting of all the business logic procedures for modules.
  • The User Interface Layer which forms the Graphical User Interface of the website.

Architecture

Designed to be a powerful and robust social networking platform the design approach was built around PHP and MYSQL server. Modules like Blogs, Events, Groups etc. were developed in PHP such that they can be executed directly from the UI layer. User experience was enhanced through the implementation of live RSS feeds into the site.

In order to most effectively access the database in an object-oriented context,an interface translating the object logic to the relational logic was used to communicate with the relational databases in an object-oriented manner. An intermediary abstraction layer was created for accessing data from the database. Stored procedures were used only for complex retrieval of data from multiple tables and were entirely avoided with conditional syntax to ensure smooth performance of the website. The UI layer was kept free of any business logic with images, applications and data being called from their respective servers. Sub-domains were used for the different areas of the website to guarantee scalability.

Development Highlights

The site was equipped with a robust architecture for performing crucial operations. We used Symphony Framework to add interactivity to the website without the need of adding too much of code. The user experience was enhanced through implementation of live RSS feeds and the web usability guidelines were strictly followed during development. The interface was made easily navigable through judicious use of AJAX, CSS and HTML controls. The site was developed and fully functional within a span of 4 months.

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