Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press is one of the largest publishers in the U.K. and the largest university press in the world. The company publishes a range of products from journals to online study centers.

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The Challenge

The introduction of new online media products (i.e. OED.com, American National Biography Online) required Oxford University Press to staff its own project team to create a new platform. This time, they wanted to produce a project in a way that would make it easier to handle similar projects in the future. So, they made a strategic decision to develop its new publishing platform simultaneously with the first product implemented on it: the Oxford African American Studies Center (AASC).

The AASC site needed to aggregate and publish at least 5 major encyclopedias; over 1,000 images; 100 primary sources; over 200 charts, tables, and graphics; over 140 thematic maps; and a timeline. The new platform would need to use and integrate content in a variety of formats, from different sources, and using different DTDs. It was critical that it did not dictate product features or capabilities.

For scalability, the platform could not place any constraints on the volume of content that could be supported. For the platform to be successful, the investment in features, hardware, and resource training needed to be leveraged between products. Each new product could not be a one-off proposition.


The Solution

In March 2005, Oxford University Press selected Mark Logic’s XML content server as the foundation
technology upon which to build its new product platform. MarkLogic Server provided three things:

A flexible database for the content that OUP would include in AASC and in all future platform-based projects. As a database, it was specifically designed for the structured XML documents that constituted OUP’s content.

A powerful search engine that would enable customized searching on a per-product basis.

The ability to use the XQuery language, a W3C standard that OUP chose to ensure longevity and extensibility.


Conclusion

Alex Humphreys, Oxford’s Director of Online Engineering concluded, “The key value proposition of this solution is flexibility. The platform provides us with the flexibility to respond to specific project and product requirements. That could mean launching new products more quickly, or it could mean scaling the platform’s hardware to handle a site much larger than AASC. We feel that this flexibility gives OUP a real advantage in responding to the rapidly evolving academic publishing marketplace.”

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