Flipster Q&A: Behind the Scenes of Making a Platinum Award-Winning Mobile App for Libraries

Technology | April 23, 2018

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Meet the Flipster® digital magazine development team, from left: Developer Rip Britton, Developer Tim Poore, Senior Scrum Master Kelly Duvall, Agile Development Manager Brian Smith, Product Owner Lucy Schley, and Developer Dale Hawkins. Learn some interesting facts about the development of the Flipster® mobile app, and the technology behind the award-winning digital magazine app.

EBSCO’s digital magazine solution, Flipster®, recently received the Platinum Award in the 2018 Modern Library Awards (MLAs) program, an advancement from receiving the Gold Award in 2017. The platform was specifically named for its enhanced Flipster mobile app, which allows patrons to download and read their favorite magazines from virtually any device and location.

Flipster Marketing Manager Julie Twomey and Product Manager Katie Sullivan interviewed the team responsible for developing Flipster’s mobile app and asked them about its inception, popularity and what it takes to stay current in today’s ever-changing technological environment. Here’s what they had to say:

How long does it take to create a mobile app?

Rip Britton, Developer: It depends on the complexity of the app. The time it takes for the initial development of a mobile app can range between 30 minutes to six months. Flipster took approximately six months to develop and publish. And because mobile apps are never truly finished, we are continually making enhancements to ensure a positive user experience.

How do you keep up with technological changes in the marketplace?

Dale Hawkins, Developer: New technologies and devices are propagated at a fast pace so as developers, we need to constantly read about the latest techniques, get trained, and master any and all new programming language.

Tim Poore, Developer: There are excellent resources available online. We follow many credible bloggers and YouTubers that help our team stay current with cutting-edge technologies.

Why is the Flipster app better than other options for libraries?

Brian Smith, Agile Development Manager: Flipster has many great features including a convenient “Find My Library” service which identifies a user’s current location to find the closest library that subscribes to Flipster. 

Kelly Duvall, Senior ScrumMaster: Flipster is so easy to use, I can quickly find my favorite magazines from virtually any device and location.

The Flipster app allows users to switch between libraries, which is particularly helpful for students who want to connect and download magazines from their school or college library and their public library.

What is your favorite feature of the Flipster mobile app & why?

Dale Hawkins, Developer: The Flipster app allows users to switch between libraries, which is particularly helpful for students who want to connect and download magazines from their school or college library and their public library. I also love the ability to read articles in text view.

Kelly Duvall, Senior ScrumMaster: I really like the text view feature. It allows users to quickly and efficiently get to the articles they are searching for.

What were some of the technical challenges that you had to deal with when developing the app?

Dale Hawkins, Developer: Integrating the Flipster app into the rest of the EBSCO ecosystem, particularly as it relates to authentication and checkouts, which was technically difficult. It involved making calls to numerous back-end services, performing data transforms to shape the data into only what we needed for the app, and optimizing the app for low memory and storage usage.

What is your favorite magazine to read on Flipster?

Rip Britton, Developer: Slam

Dale Hawkins, Developer: Car and Driver

Brian “Boo” Smith, Agile Development Manager: Blackbelt

Tim Poore, Developer:  Macworld because it’s entertaining to read, and keeps me updated on changes happening in the iOS ecosystem.

Kelly Duvall, Senior ScrumMaster: Discover

Product Owner, Lucy Schley: Rolling Stone

As librarians consider which digital magazine platform to offer their members, it’s important to understand that the Flipster digital platform was built specifically for libraries. The team behind the mobile application has been working with libraries for years and understands the user experience that librarians and library patrons need.

If your library would like a free trial of Flipster, click the button below or contact your local EBSCO representative for more information. 

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